A Grand Consolidation

Alexa R.

Staff Writer

Recently Kennesaw State University (KSU) has been growing larger and larger. Getting a football team, building more student housing, and expanding their grounds are all some steps they have taken to intrigue students to attend their school. However, KSU was looking at their own best interests when they decided they wanted to expand even more by merging with Southern Polytechnic State University (SPSU) while keeping the KSU name. Since SPSU is primarily a science-based college that specializes in engineering, technology, and architecture, its students are worried the combining of the two schools will interfere with their ability to get a specific job out of college. The name they made for themselves is being thrown away, in their minds.

The University System of Georgia Board of Regents voted the merger plausible for the fall semester of 2015 on Tuesday, November 12th.  SPSU students rallied outside the building fighting the decision because they feel the decision was made without enough research on how it could affect everyone educationally. Even alumni question what will happen to the quality of their degree now that the name is gone. Ms. Zayance, WHS technology teacher, agrees, “I am concerned that engineering students at SPSU will no longer have the SPSU diploma, which may hinder their ability to maintain good positions for work.” British Literature teacher, Ms. Yvonne Widmer has a son currently attending SPSU; she says, “My son is probably going to transfer schools because of the merge. He said it doesn’t make sense to him why they would do it. An engineering degree from KSU isn’t as credible as it would from Georgia Tech or Mississippi State, where he had received a lot of scholarships previously.” However, SPSU assures them that their degree will hold credibility; if anything, the merge will make the degree even more significant. “The new Kennesaw State University will be in a strong position to broaden its academic and research mission and expand its scope not just locally and statewide, but nationally. We are confident that the unique degree programs at Southern Polytechnic will be enhanced and strengthened,” said Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby.

KSU is well known for academic programs in business, education, nursing, criminal justice and sports management, which differ significantly from those of SPSU. Not only is the academic aspect of KSU different from that of SPSU, but the students also feel it is socially a different atmosphere. Since SPSU is more technology based, the school has more clubs and organizations for those purposes. SPSU students have made their opinions on the merge clear through a Facebook page named “Keep SPSU and KSU Separate” and a Twitter account to go against the situation. Looking to grab the attention of others to support their protest, these students continually post their pictures and opinions all over the wall, also receiving over 5,000 signatures for a petition. The students have felt shut out of the decision to combine universities, but it was never intended by The University System of Georgia for that to happen. They have previously combined eight other colleges successfully and were looking for the same outcome with this choice. They intend to save money by making the change: 5 to 7.5 million dollars.

More reason to believe this merger will be a beneficial decision is the fact that the merge consists of two different universities within the same county only ten miles from one another. They may have different academic missions, but some overlap, and the ones that do not will help the schools grow as a whole. However, even the core classes, like English, are different from KSU to fit the technological needs of SPSU students. This will help broaden the SPSU student’s knowledge to new and exciting things they were closed off to before. Ms. Zayance, technology teacher, says, “I think it is great for KSU because they are absorbing a wonderful engineering program. I also think it is nice for SPSU because they’ll have more financial resources, which will help broaden their programs.”

With collaboration between leaders at both KSU and SPSU, the schools head into this change full-fledged. Even with angered students, the merge is not likely to be halted. The University System of Georgia already has their mind made up ready for action. They plan to work out the kinks as they move forward and will make everything fit to the needs of all types of students. Knowing other colleges who have merged in the past that have been successful has helped to ease some of the tension in the matter. Other merged colleges all admit it was difficult to start but feel and see that it was a smart decision now. For any of the problems they come across, the universities will have extra money to use on fixing the issues due to this merger. Students could gain new technology and equipment and even become better prepared for real-life scenarios.

Although some people fail to see the benefits of this consolidation, The University System of Georgia seems to have all the right intentions and hopes for this growth for KSU. With new majors from SPSU coming to KSU and another location, this will pull in even more students. Students tend to be drawn to a bigger state school with a high reputation, which is exactly what Kennesaw is becoming.

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