Kennesaw State awarded $3.2 million grant from U.S. Department of Education

Campus Green Generic Image of Kennesaw Hall

University partners with two-year colleges to enhance transfer and graduation rates among…

Georgia (Sep 30, 2014)University partners with two-year colleges to enhance transfer and graduation rates among underrepresented and low-income students

KENNESAW, Ga.  (Sept. 30, 2014) — Kennesaw State University has been awarded a $3.2 million “First in the World” grant from the U.S. Department of Education – the second largest grant in the university’s history – to increase transfer and completion rates for underrepresented and low-income community and technical college students seeking four-year degrees.

The four-year grant will support the Transfer Advocacy Gateway (TAG), a new program that will combine the areas of enrollment services, advising and academic support to provide transfer students from two-year colleges to Kennesaw State with a more streamlined and enhanced pathway to obtaining a four-year degree. The university plans to serve 4,000 transfer students over the period of the grant.

“This grant is a significant achievement for Kennesaw State and is in direct alignment with our strategic goal of improving retention, progression and graduation rates,” said Daniel S. Papp, president of Kennesaw State. “The TAG program will enable us to help transfer students receive a high quality education and prepare them for leadership roles while promoting an inclusive campus environment.”

The university will partner with Georgia Perimeter College, Chattahoochee Technical College and Georgia Highlands College, KSU’s three largest feeder schools. Working with its partners, Kennesaw State will create a “one-stop shop,” giving students access to the institution’s transfer graduation coaches, enrollment services specialists, peer mentors and transfer advisors, from the time of transfer until graduation. Students also will have the opportunity to engage in specially designed learning communities offered by Kennesaw State’s University College, as well as participate in co-curricular experiences that support their academic, personal and career needs.

In 2012, Kennesaw State released findings from a comprehensive study that showed retention rates for transfer students had been declining due to a myriad of reasons, including financial and academic concerns and confusion with the transfer process. In addition, 93 percent of students transferring into KSU do not complete their two-year degrees prior to transferring and almost half of all transfer students self-identify with an underrepresented racial or ethnic group. Through the program, students will be encouraged by enrollment services specialists to complete their associate degrees prior to transfer.

“Kennesaw State will combine its successful program models for first-year and underrepresented students with our existing Transfer Orientation program resources,” said Ken Harmon, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “We also will provide transfer students with the information they need and a strong support system in an effort to help them achieve academic success.”

In 2010, KSU received a grant from The Goizueta Foundation to develop strategies aimed at improving the retention and graduation rates of Hispanic and Latino students at the university. One of the strategies called for the creation of graduation coaches who worked with individual students to help keep them on track. Through the program, students participating in two cohort groups experienced a nearly 85 percent rate of retention compared to 77 percent for non-participating students.

“We believe that the successes we have seen through Kennesaw State’s program for Hispanic and Latino students, as well as similar programs for other first-year students, provide an excellent foundation for the TAG program,” said Jennifer A. Wade-Berg. Wade-Berg is campus executive director of the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance, program administrator of The Goizueta Foundation grant and assistant professor of human services at Kennesaw State. “Through this program, we are hopeful that both transfer numbers and graduation completion rates will increase, the amount of time students take to graduate will be shortened, and students will have a better transfer experience.”

Wade-Berg will serve as the grant’s project director. The project team also includes Ralph Rascati, associate vice president for advising, retention and graduation initiatives and founding dean of the Honors College; Stephanie Foote, associate professor of education in University College; and Carolee Larsen, University College assessment director, all of whom were instrumental in securing the grant.

# # #

Kennesaw State University is the third-largest university in Georgia, offering 90 graduate and undergraduate degrees, including doctorates in education, business and nursing and a Ph.D. in international conflict management. A member of the University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State is a comprehensive, residential institution with a growing student population of 24,600 from 130 countries.


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