KSU interim president: Students come first

 Houston Davis

Houston Davis addresses faculty and staff at Opening of the University

KENNESAW, Ga. (Aug 12, 2016) — Houston Davis has been Kennesaw State University’s interim president for just over a month, but the campus community already has made a big impression on him.

“I have had the opportunity to spend time on many college campuses across the country, and not all of them have the sense of place and connection that we enjoy here at KSU,” Davis said. “I love that we are a bold institution with a desire to be seen as the Southeast’s next truly great comprehensive university.”

Davis addressed faculty and staff Thursday during the annual Opening of the University program at the Convocation Center. He issued a student-centered challenge for the 2016-17 academic year, asking everyone in the University community to focus on support for students, easing financial barriers to enrollment and ensuring a strong culture of accountability.

“While it is clear that at KSU we value quality and continually seek to improve, we are being held to higher and higher levels of accountability – by the federal government, the Board of Regents, the legislature, accrediting agencies and the community,” he said. “We have to compellingly demonstrate that we are effective, mission-driven stewards of the public trust.”

At a time when college costs are rising across the country, Davis stressed that Kennesaw State must ensure that students’ investment in their education counts. “We have to be steadfast in making certain that every single dollar that is charged to students – whether it is a part of the tuition amount or the required, mandatory fees – must be defensible and must stand up to scrutiny,” he said.

Building on his “students first” theme, Davis lauded Kennesaw State’s recent elevation to a doctoral research institution under the Carnegie classifications, which opens the door for more faculty research grants, greater support for students pursuing doctoral degrees and further development of doctoral programs. Though a significant milestone, Davis affirmed the University’s focus will remain on undergraduate education.

“In fact, our core mission as a comprehensive university remains as strong as ever as we strive to meet the state of Georgia’s charge that KSU be a world-class academic institution,” he said.

During his address, Davis highlighted several key areas of focus – student initiatives, academic innovation and continued forward momentum for the University.

One example of an innovative strategy to help students succeed, he said, is the College of the Arts’ Academic Resource Center for Students. The Center is designed to holistically educate and advise students, emphasizing undergraduate research and scholarly work, counseling support, coaching opportunities and direct career connections.

“This is an example of Kennesaw State firmly planting our flag and declaring that student success is of utmost importance to the entire campus,” Davis said.

Additional innovative academic programs are on the way, as this week the University System of Georgia Board of Regents approved two new degree programs at Kennesaw State – a Bachelor of Business Administration in Entrepreneurship and a Master of Science in Engineering Management. Also, the University’s honors program is celebrating its 20th anniversary of offering challenging coursework to top students, and the new Cybersecurity Institute will bridge multiple colleges at KSU on cybersecurity, information assurance, public policy, and computer and information systems instruction.

“I suspect that our collective efforts are approaching a distinctive claim that across all majors at KSU, a student can – in addition to outstanding curricular experiences – expect to leave our university with a co-curricular experience that differentiates them from their colleagues graduating from other universities,” Davis said.

Click here to read the transcript of Dr. Davis' address


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 kennesaw.edu