State of the University
Papp talks about university’s achievements and challenges at fourth annual “…
(Mar 25, 2010) —
Papp talks about university’s achievements and challenges at fourth annual “State
of the University” address
KENNESAW, Ga. (March 25, 2010) — As it closes in on its first half-century in 2014, Kennesaw State University continued
to make progress in the past year and is well positioned to become a national university,
President Daniel S. Papp told students, faculty and staff during his fourth annual State of the University
address at the Dr. Bobbie Bailey & Family Performance Center Thursday morning.
“We have come a long way in 46 years,” Papp said. “In four years, we will be a half-century
old. In five years, we will begin our second half-century. So the question I pose
today is straightforward: what must we do during the next four years –– as we close
our first half-century –– to make Kennesaw State a national university by the first
year of our second half-century?”
The president said he has appointed a committee headed by Provost Lendley Black to
plan and think strategically about what KSU can do over the next four years to become
a national university, even as it faces fiscal challenges and continues to evolve,
now as a doctoral-granting institution.
Papp has served as president of Georgia’s third-largest university since July 2006.
Under his leadership, KSU has risen in prominence. In the past year alone, the university
completed its transition to NCAA Division I, opened a state-of-the-art student dining
hall, launched a football exploratory committee headed by legendary coach Vince Dooley,
and kicked off construction of an 8,300-seat, one-of-a-kind women’s soccer stadium.
Papp, who said the university will remain fiscally conservative as it continues to
face budget cuts, stressed that its biggest challenge in the near term remains the
budget. In the past two years, he explained, KSU has lost more than $17 million in
state funding. Although those losses have been offset partly by increases in formula
funding allocations, increased tuition and fees, and federal stimulus funds, as student
enrollment grows “faculty and staff are doing more and more with less and less,” Papp
“This cannot continue,” the president said. “If funding reductions continue, at some
point we will unavoidably begin doing less and less with less and less.”
Despite fiscal challenges, KSU is looking to the future. The new planning committee
appointed by Papp also will work on a new strategic plan for the period of 2012-2017.
Papp said that KSU has not been able to achieve some of the key goals of the university’s
current strategic plan for 2007-2012 because of budget cuts. Several action steps
in that plan –– such as reducing the student-faculty ratio to 25:1 and increasing
library holdings by 25 percent –– had to be eliminated or scaled back.
To shape the context for KSU’s future vision, Papp painted a picture of how far the
university has come as it ends its first half-century, and how much it has changed
even in the past five years.
KSU is now a doctoral institution offering more than 70 degree programs, including
a new Ph.D. in international conflict management. Not only has the university’s enrollment
grown dramatically in the past 20, 10 and five years, Papp said, but SAT scores have
climbed as well. The student body today is 22 percent minority, and the university
has 1,600 international students, up from 800 students 10 years ago. More than 3,100
students now live on campus, and the average age of undergrads is now under 25, down
from over 26 a decade ago.
“We have almost 23,000 students from nearly 140 countries and 789 full-time faculty,”
Papp said. “And we are no longer a local college, but a well-respected institution
on the verge of becoming a national university.”
Last year, KSU awarded almost 5,000 degrees, up from 3,000 in 2004, Papp said. And
while 10 years ago KSU had 22,000 alumni, today it has nearly 60,000.
The university’s academic profile has also risen: in 1990, KSU had granted 88 master’s
degrees. Last year alone, the university conferred almost 1,000 master’s degrees.
“We now award so many master’s degrees that we have a separate master’s commencement
ceremony each semester,” Papp said. “And our first doctoral hoodings will occur later
But as Papp boasted about how far KSU has come, he also pondered what the university
will look like in the near future. One of its challenges is deciding how to position
and brand the university.
“What capabilities do we want our university to have? What identity do we want it
to have? How should we position and brand ourselves in the higher education marketplace?
These are difficult questions to answer, but as we prepare for our second half-century,
we must answer them, and soon,” Papp said.
To manage enrollment growth in the future, Papp suggested KSU may have to raise its
admissions standards again. KSU currently has 22,400 students, and over the past decade
the student population has grown by 900 a year.
Papp said university officials have to work harder at improving student retention,
progression and graduation rates, where KSU lags against its peer institutions, Papp
stated. Though KSU has shown remarkable improvement in its freshman-to-sophomore progression
rates –– from 17 percent in fall 2000 to 61 percent in fall 2009 –– it still underperforms
relative to many of its peers.
Papp said he has tasked the dean of KSU’s University College, Ralph Rascati, to conduct
a detailed study on retention, progression and graduation rates over the next few
While the fate of state-funded buildings in the near future remains unknown, Papp
said that –– with assistance from the KSU Foundation –– the university will add 1,800
new beds to the current inventory of 3,200 on-campus beds, taking KSU’s residential
capacity to 5,000 beds over the next four to five years.
# # #
Kennesaw State University is the third-largest university in Georgia, offering more
than 70 graduate and undergraduate degrees, including doctorates in education, business
and nursing and a new Ph.D. in international conflict management. A member of the
35-unit University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State is a comprehensive, residential
institution with a growing student population of more than 22,300 from nearly 140
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 41,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the second-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 126 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. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.