Kennesaw State strong in face of fiscal challenges‚ says President Daniel Papp

To read the full text or listen to an audio of Dr. Papp's address ‚ visit: www.kennesaw.edu/…

Georgia (Apr 27, 2009) — To read the full text or listen to an audio of Dr. Papp's address ‚ visit: www.kennesaw.edu/president/address.html"

The challenges of the institution’s current fiscal climate ––including a $10 million budget reduction –– have not derailed Kennesaw State University from achieving strategic objectives of enhancing academic quality‚ improving student life and building external and funding support‚ said KSU President Daniel S. Papp Wednesday in his 2009 “State of the University” address.

Papp delivered his third annual address to nearly 1‚000 KSU faculty‚ staff and students in morning and afternoon sessions held at the Dr. Bobbie Bailey & Family Performance Center on the university’s campus.

Papp has served as president of Georgia’s third−largest university since July 2006. He joined KSU after serving as senior vice chancellor of academics and fiscal affairs for the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia for six years.

“Fiscal year 2009 has been a challenging year for KSU . . . but the good news is that KSU has met the challenges well‚” Papp said. “The bad news is that serious challenges will continue in the upcoming year and beyond. However‚ I am confident we will meet and surmount the challenges.”

Fiscal challenges

The most significant challenge the university has faced in the past year is a 10.5 percent cut in the institution’s state allocation‚ Papp said‚ prompting a series of actions to balance the budget.

“To weather this cut‚ we have hired fewer faculty and staff‚ delayed the start dates of (new hires) by up to three months‚ cut technology . . . asked for reduced travel‚ closed the university for four additional days over the December and January holidays‚ and delayed repairs of facilities‚” he stated. Accordingly‚ Papp said‚ “if no other (USG) budget reductions occur this fiscal year‚ we will make it to the end of the year without requiring additional austerity measures.”

A “destination campus”

On the positive side‚ as an affirmation of KSU’s progress‚ Papp noted that in late 2008 KSU was named by U.S. News and World Report as an “Up and Coming University.” This distinction was earned by only 70 of 3‚500 U.S. higher education institutions.

The president also spoke to the changing demographics and the stronger academic performance of the institution’s student population. He said KSU is accommodating the changing needs of the growing number of students today who attend the university — 21‚500 this academic year. Those students are better prepared academically‚ are younger‚ and are more apt to live and spend more time on campus.

Five years ago‚ two−thirds of KSU students carried a full course load‚ Papp noted. That number is now three−fourths of the student body. The average age has gone from 26 a decade ago to slightly under 24. SAT scores of entering freshmen are more than 50 points above the national average — and 80 points above students in the USG. The times when KSU students take classes also has changed. A decade ago‚ 20 percent of the university’s students were exclusively evening students. Today‚ that has decreased to 14 percent.

“We are now a destination campus‚” Papp said. “Students want to come to KSU‚ stay at KSU‚ and graduate from KSU. This is a place where students want to be.”

New degrees‚ new buildings‚ new land

Over the past year‚ the university added three new master’s degrees and a bachelor of arts in dance. KSU recently added a third doctoral program‚ a doctorate in Nursing Sciences‚ this spring‚ and expects to add a fourth one‚ a Ph.D. in international policy‚ later this year.
Faculty received more than $5 million in grants and contracts this year‚ up from $4.3 million last year.

KSU also continues to add buildings to accommodate the university’s growth. A new‚ 1‚500−seat dining hall in the heart of campus‚ scheduled to open in August‚ will have an immense social impact on campus‚ Papp said. The $60 million Health Sciences Building‚ slated to open in 2010‚ is ahead of schedule and on budget. The Joe Mack Wilson Annex has been added to KSU’s facilities inventory. A new lab sciences building for the College of Science and Math is expected to break ground in 2010.

With KSU enrollment continuing to grow‚ the recent acquisition by the KSU Foundation of 88 acres east of I−75 will provide land for fields and facilities for intramurals‚ club sports and intercollegiate athletics. The new land‚ to be called the Student Recreation and Sports Park‚ will have as many as nine athletic fields‚ jogging trails and possibly a track‚ tennis courts and a small multi−use stadium‚ in addition to a 12−acre lake. Two sports fields will be ready for use by August. “Currently‚ for 21‚500 students‚ we have a 1.7−acre field‚” Papp said. “By any measure‚ this is not enough.”

The cost for the recreational facilities will be covered by student fees and by a shared−use agreement KSU is negotiating with Cobb County government. “We also are conducting discussions with an outside source to possibly construct a multi−use stadium‚” he added.

Diversity as a strategic goal

Papp stressed his commitment to creating “a more welcoming and warmer environment for diversity at KSU‚” and he cited that a sixth goal would be added to the university’s strategic plan focusing on diversity. The action steps associated with the new goal will be aimed at improving hiring practices related to diversity‚ better educating students to “live in a global society‚” and graduating alumni who “both understand and appreciate all of the various dimensions of diversity‚ multiculturalism and internationalism.” To achieve this agenda‚ Papp said the university “must implement programs‚ policies‚ practices and procedures that recognize the unique contributions that all types of people who are different in many ways can make.”

“The KSU community should engage in an open and honest conversation about race and ethnicity‚” Papp said‚ “to ask the questions‚ ‘Are we doing all we can to be a warm‚ welcoming‚ and inclusive community‚ and if not‚ how can we improve?’” He stated that KSU stands “at an ideal juncture to accelerate our progress . . . and to serve as a national model” in the diversity arena among higher education institutions. The president indicated that he will appoint a task force to tackle these questions‚ headed by KSU’s new Chief Diversity Officer Jennifer Wade−Berg.

Strained and stretched‚ but steady and strong

Touching on other operational areas‚ Papp reassured the campus community that KSU is investing significantly in technologies to enhance campus security. He also praised the foundation’s role in funding the university‚ and applauded the success of the university’s current $75 million capital campaign‚ which has raised nearly $45 million in its first year.

In conclusion‚ Papp reassured the KSU campus community that the university continues to thrive. “In short‚ we are doing an excellent job with limited resources‚” he stated. “Times are tight‚ but they will get better. We are strained and stretched‚ but we will remain steady‚ strong‚ and self−confident as we strive to become the best learning−centered university in the nation.”



 

A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its approximately 41,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status, and one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu

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