KSU-Southern Poly merger plan is shocker of the year in Cobb
by Don McKee
November 03, 2013 11:31 PM | 4724 views | 5 5 comments | 36 36 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Don McKee
Don McKee
This could be the shocker of the year in Cobb County. It’s the proposed merger of Kennesaw State University and Southern Polytechnic State University.  

It came as a shock at Southern Poly from the president on down as reflected in comments to the Marietta Daily Journal after Friday’s announcement of the plan. Chancellor Hank Huckaby of the University System of Georgia said he will ask approval by the Board of Regents in a couple of weeks with an effective date of Jan. 1, 2015.

The chancellor said the plan “offers us some exciting possibilities to enlarge our academic outreach through the existing talent and resources at both these institutions.” It remains to be seen how state officials can mix and stir an engineering and technology school with a liberal arts school that is focusing on nursing, business, information systems and education degrees.

The merged entity will be Kennesaw State University, and current KSU president Dr. Dan Papp will head the combined institution. He said most of the Southern Poly degree programs will be continued. He also said he believes there will be millions of dollars in savings from the merger, the largest yet in Georgia’s university system.

Southern Poly students and grads don’t like losing their identity in what essentially is a merger of their school into KSU. Their university’s name disappears and their president, Lisa Rossbacker, likely will exit the scene. After the announcement, she told students, “I was not consulted on this.” She learned of the plan only a day before it was announced. She’s been looking for another top university job, but it probably won’t be at KSU.

The SPSU faculty and staff are concerned about what happens to them. They won’t know for perhaps another year. And of course, the merger has to be formally approved by the regents. So it’s not surprising that University System spokesman John Millsaps said no decision has been made on what faculty positions would be considered repetitive, or overlapping, and thus no longer needed. But if costs are to be cut, the first place to look will no doubt be the source of most expenses, faculty. In confirming that office staff will be cut to reduce expenses, Dr. Papp promised to look at all positions and “handle any cuts with the greatest sensitivity possible.”

It surely will be a tough challenge to figure out a workable solution to combining the two universities. It seems that the most difficult part will be to maintain the status of the engineering and technology programs in the merged institution, but maybe state officials have a plan for that. Maybe they will even come up with a way keep the essence of the SPSU name, for example the Southern Polytechnic School of Engineering and Technology at Kennesaw State University or something similar that at least preserves a link to the Southern Poly that was.

Regardless of how it’s done, it’s a sad thing to lose your university.



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Georgia Tech Alum
January 28, 2014
Reply »|Report Abuse|Judge it!|#122 hrs ago

What a huge mistake and sell out. SPSU has a national reputation for being an outstanding school of technology. Graduates have always been well respected in the work force and have represented the school, and state well. One of a few polytechnic universities in the USA and I am very sorry to see them dissolved. Dr. Lisa Rossbacher ought to be condemned and ashamed of the huge retirement plan granted by the Board of Regents to go along with this plan. I have hired and worked along side many SPSU graduates for years. If anything, the merger should have been with Georgia Tech. I remember when they left around 1980 as they were getting better and sometimes higher paying jobs than some or our graduates. Hit the ground running was something I always admired about the SPSU graduates. Sorry to see this end. Liberal arts and technology, what a mistake!
November 04, 2013
PPlus regarding the merger:

KSU/Southern Poly will have a stronger voice at the table with UGA and Georgia State regarding allocation of resources.

KSU's minority enrollment, as of the 2012-13, was 31%. KSU is not the university of even 8 years ago when the minority enrollment was only 20%. Also, KSU has students from 123 different countries. Doesn’t seem that the population make up is that much different between the two universities, and KSU would benefit from increased diversity.

A majority of KSU students work, many full-time, while taking classes. My guess is SPSU’s population in similar.

Because of the different academic foci of the two universities, fewer jobs will be lost compared to what would happen if two universities with more similar programs were to merge.

If Southern Poly were to merge with a university with more similar programs (i.e., Georgia Tech), would most of the programs survive? My guess is no. Also, would the majority of SPSU students meet the entrance requirements of Georgia Tech? Once again I don’t know, but my guess is that they would be attending Georgia Tech if they did. KSU is no slacker in educational quality. US New and World Report ranks it as #30 in its Southern Regional Public University category, while SPSU is #45. KSU was listed as #4 in the USNWR Southern Regional Up and Coming University category. Seems that joining KSU would increase SPSU’s reputation.

Just some thoughts.
SPSU Alumnus
November 04, 2013
In my experience SPSU excels above other institutions in two areas. It maintains a diverse community with over 45% enrollment in non-white demographics and it excels in integration with the Technical College System of Georgia.

KSU skews to a more homogeneous demographic and, as noted often, they are not focused on technology as SPSU is.

I suggest that the cost of keeping SPSU functioning alone is a good investment for our community because SPSU is leading educational growth in those two areas which sorely need it.

The merger will inevitably lead to a saturated environment which does not cater to either area particularly well.
November 04, 2013
This is disgraceful. What the Board of Regents is doing, in effect, is simply doing away with SPSU. I am sure Papp is dancing on his desk! People who are gifted with the kind of brains that engineers have are not to be sneezed at. We should not close the school, but instead nurture it and give it money when it needs it. This school has been a credit to this community. I am outraged.
Southern Tech 87
November 03, 2013
1) Why zero explanation on reason to keep KSU name? Really no discussion??

2) Exactly how is this good for previous graduates?

3) Why not merge GSU and GaTech? Much bigger Admin savings? Why not? Keep GSU name. Sounds like a winner as GSU is bigger than GaTech.
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