Papp: KSU poised to become ‘next nationally prominent university'

As Kennesaw State University prepares to celebrate its golden anniversary this October, its…

Georgia (Apr 12, 2013) — As Kennesaw State University prepares to celebrate its golden anniversary this October, its president described the state of the university as solid and growing.


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Dan Papp, 65, a grandfather of three who lives in east Cobb with his wife, Sue, became president in 2006.

The difference between what he thought of KSU then and now, he said, is, “I am even more impressed by the quality of Kennesaw State and its faculty, and I am even more convinced of our potential to become the next nationally prominent university.”

KSU has a projected fall enrollment of 25,020 students, an increase of 1.69 percent over last fall’s enrollment of 24,604.

A campus under construction

Seven KSU construction projects have been completed, begun or approved this year.

The university’s Sturgis Library was awarded $4.4 million in bonds for renovations by the Georgia General Assembly. This follows a $1 million renovation project that created a graduate library on the Sturgis Library’s third floor and a $300,000 renovation to create a book repository. Papp said while KSU still needs more library space, in three years it will have spent almost $6 million on improving its library.

Last fall, KSU opened the $21 million, 73,000-square-foot science laboratory building, with six teaching labs, 17 research labs and an open-air atrium. The new lab building allowed KSU to move forward with two new master’s degree programs in chemical sciences and integrative biology.

Also last fall, KSU began constructing the $3 million Zuckerman Art Museum, a 9,200-square-foot museum that will house KSU’s art collection and serve as a cultural and teaching resource on contemporary art.

KSU also recently began construction on the $20 million addition to the Bagwell College of Education building. This building will provide much-needed classroom and office space for the university’s education college, which graduates more teachers than any other teacher program in the state: 616 students for fiscal year 2012.

A residential campus

KSU also opened a 451-bed residence hall called University Place II this year that brings the number of beds on campus to almost 3,500.

“While it is perhaps hard to believe that only 10 years ago KSU was not a residential campus, it is undeniable that having students living on campus has totally transformed the nature of this university,” Papp said.

This fall will see the groundbreaking on the Dr. Betty Siegel Student Activity & Recreation Center, a $39 million, 176,000-square-foot project expected to be a world-class recreational facility, named after Papp’s predecessor. Plans call for indoor and outdoor pools, an outdoor and four indoor basketball courts, a multi-activity court large enough for soccer, eight tennis courts, a weight and fitness area, a rock-climbing wall, an indoor track, a wellness center and sand volleyball and racquetball courts.

President Papp gets an A

Among those in the audience at the Bailey Performance Center where Papp gave his State of the University speech Thursday was Shaddi Abusaid of Marietta, a senior communications major who serves as the news editor for the campus newspaper, The Sentinel.

Abusaid gives Papp two thumbs up.

“I think he’s done well,” Abusaid said. “I’d give him an A, especially because he’s working hard to get football for us and all that. I know a lot of students are excited about football.”

Connie Engel of Vinings, a partner with Childress Klein Properties who chairs KSU’s foundation, is another fan of Papp’s.

“I couldn’t be more pleased,” Engel said. “I just think he’s the right guy at the right time, so it’s been great.”

One challenge Papp is working on is the graduation rate. In 2008-09, the six-year graduation rate for first-time full-time freshmen who entered KSU in fall 2002 was 35 percent. Three years later, in 2011-12, KSU graduated 41 percent of the freshmen who started at KSU in fall 2005. While that was a 6 percent increase in three years, Papp said the university must do better.

A $900 million annual economic impact

Another problem Papp wants to overcome is alerting the community to how much KSU contributes to its success.

According to the Selig Center for Economic Growth, KSU’s overall economic impact is almost $900 million, Papp said.

“This is not an ivory-towered university that has walls around it that does not get involved and involved deeply with virtually all aspects of the community,” Papp said.

To better promote the university, Papp is hiring an executive director of community engagement this summer.

“A number of things prompted it,” he said.

A few years ago he was dining at Shillings on the Square when the people at the table next to him began to talk about the wonderful free clinic at MUST Ministries, he said.

“This was just sort of a searing memory,” Papp said. “Well, yeah, the clinic is at MUST Ministries, but it’s the KSU Clinic at MUST Ministries and they don’t know it. The message needs to get out there better.”

The university’s budget remains tight, he said. For five years, the state has provided no funds for salary increases. And KSU must find more funds for scholarships for students in need, he said.

A coach who knows football

“Despite these challenges, I am convinced that as we begin our second half-century, the state of Kennesaw State is excellent,” he said.

The university’s new student-centered production company, Night Owl Productions, has already had a major concert by American Idol winner Philip Phillips in KSU’s Fifth Third Bank Stadium. Nearly 5,000 people attended the concert. A music festival under the direction of Night Owl Productions is expected to attract as many as 25,000 people to the Sports and Recreation Park on April 20.

And with the hiring of Brian Bohannan as KSU’s first football coach, Papp is preparing for KSU’s first football game in 2015.

“I assure you, with Coach Bohannan’s background as a coach at the Naval Academy and Georgia Tech, he knows how to do football right,” Papp said.


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. 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