Merger possible for KSU-SPSU? Chancellor Huckaby doesn’t say yes or no as consolidation plans emerge
by Jon Gillooly
October 21, 2011 11:59 PM | 14831 views | 25 25 comments | 34 34 recommendations | email to a friend | print
University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby, right, strolls across the campus Thursday with Kennesaw State University President Dr. Dan Papp. Huckaby is studying criteria for the possible merger of some of Georgia’s 35 institutions and would neither confirm or deny that a merger between KSU and SPSU is possible.<br>Staff/Special
University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby, right, strolls across the campus Thursday with Kennesaw State University President Dr. Dan Papp. Huckaby is studying criteria for the possible merger of some of Georgia’s 35 institutions and would neither confirm or deny that a merger between KSU and SPSU is possible.
MARIETTA — University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby, who has proposed consolidating some of the system’s 35 institutions, would not rule out a merger between Kennesaw State University and Southern Polytechnic State University when asked about it Thursday.

Huckaby, who oversees a system of about 310,000 students, told the faculty at SPSU during a tour there that he has not yet begun to look at which universities to consolidate in his plan. Before he does that, he is developing the guiding principles to be used in the consolidation process, he said.

“I would say right now, candidly, all 35 institutions are at the same point,” Huckaby said. “Obviously some opportunities for consolidation will make more sense than others, but we’re not there yet.”

Huckaby said his goal is to have those guidelines identified by the end of next week.

“We’re putting some straw men out there for (the Board of Regents) to look at and respond to, and then ideally if that goes well I would like to have three or four proposals on the table in December, January at the outside,” he said.

Some of the proposals under consideration are geographic proximity, similarity of mission, size, and the opportunity to improve the breadth and quality of academic offerings, he said.

“We want to save money in terms of administrative overhead, but not save money just for the sake of saving money,” he said. “What I hope we will do is put those administrative savings back into the academy in terms of programs, hiring faculty, those kind of things.”

The Technical College System of Georgia recently underwent a similar and successful consolidation process by shrinking from 33 colleges to 25. It did this by merging 15 colleges into seven to realize an annual savings of $6.2 million, spokesman Mike Light said.

State Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs), who chairs the appropriations subcommittee on higher education, said while he is unsure at this point about a KSU/SPSU merger, he supports what Huckaby is doing.

“I think it takes a lot of guts to stand up and say ‘we need to look at this,’” Ehrhart said. “Who is he responsible to? The taxpayers and the students or a bunch or alumni who want to protect their turf at students’ and taxpayers’ expense? I’m a fan of Hank Huckaby’s. I’m going to play on that team. The one that’s there for the students and taxpayers. Not for the ones that are going to protect their turf.”

SPSU President Dr. Lisa Rossbacher said she sees no advantage in a KSU/SPSU merger for higher education in Georgia. Cobb benefits greatly in having two separate public universities, she said.

“Southern Polytechnic and Kennesaw State have different missions, sizes, and approaches to higher education,” Rossacher said. “I believe that we serve Cobb County, the region, and the state in ways that are strengthened by our uniqueness and different purposes; I believe that, together, we serve the community and the region best when we preserve the unique characters and special areas of focus for our two institutions.”

During a press conference at KSU earlier in the day, Huckaby spoke about a new Board of Regents’ policy that went into effect this year designed to discourage illegal aliens from taking advantage of in state tuition.

“I think the policy that the Board of Regents put in place was an appropriate one at that time given the circumstances that they faced,” Huckaby said. “I think we need some time over a couple of years to see how they work. I certainly would not be in favor at this point of repealing them. We’ll try to implement them as effectively and efficiently and fairly as possible.”

Huckaby was also asked if he supports bringing a football program to KSU and if, as some critics have complained, it would detract from academics. While he didn’t know all the details of KSU’s football proposal, he said, “what I do know is the plan is a multi-step plan, and that as certain benchmarks are achieved along the way, then the school will progress to the next level, and I think that’s a very logical and rational way to go. Athletics does not have to detract from the academic mission and goals of an institution, and I’m confident given what has happened here over the last 40 years in terms of always growing upward trajectory of the quality of education here that the leadership, the faculty will not allow that to happen.”

One of KSU’s biggest challenges is that while it continues to see a spike in enrollment, it is landlocked. Huckaby said that challenge was one he and Papp discussed earlier in the day.

“There’s no question that we wish people had been more foresighted 50 years ago and bought a lot more land a lot cheaper, but that didn’t happen,” Huckaby said. But KSU is in the middle of a strategic planning process, he said.

“I think there will be some opportunities hopefully in the future to identify land acquisitions,” he said. “We hope to be supportive of Kennesaw in doing that, but one of the last things we want to do is talk about possible real estate acquisitions at this point. The price goes way up if we start talking about that.”
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Mac Morgan
November 02, 2013
Kennesaw State, Southern Poly to merge

I really hope they keep the two schools as they are.

I respect both KSU and SPSU and think they are two great schools the way they are.

Each school has it's own identity and it should remain that way. A Technical school represents one thing and a Comprehensive school represents another thing.

When the Board of Regents (BOR) recently combined Augusta State University and the Medical College of Georgia, it was not perceived very well by the alumnus nor the community in Augusta, Georgia. They combined the two and it is now called Georgia Regents University. The identity of two great schools was removed and now it is a shrine to the BOR.

If the reason for the combination is due to fiscal reasons that some reports have stated, then the BOR should just proceed and combine all the the schools under one name and be done. Next! See wasn't that easy, do not drag it out. What is your agenda? How would all the other universities in the system and the people who graduated from them like that move?

I failed to see a position in the Georgia BOR organizational chart ( for an "executive school renamer engineer", therefore this tells us that the other people in that chart are not doing their their expected task and have focused their energies on renaming schools. They are either being overworked or do not have a meaningful job responsibility to perform and have run out of purposeful tasks to perform. I guess we could raise taxes and hire an official "executive school renamer engineer" to alleviate the others and they can get back to doing their jobs that we were originally signed on to perform. Perhaps we contract it to the private sector and let an expert do the branding or maybe even here what the people have to say and let them vote on it.

If the BOR has run out of meaningful things to do other than rename schools, then due to fiscal reasons, a tax payer and alumnus, I would recommend that we should look into the BOR, their purpose and perhaps cut back on the jobs down at the BOR!

Mac Morgan

SPSU 2008

December 07, 2011
Merging SPSU and KSU together would be a nightmare. SPSU and KSU could loose most of their accreditation. KSU is not a tech based college like SPSU. After a merger any degree from the new university would be as valuable as toilet paper. The chancellor would destroy these two fine universities, so he could line his pocket with more money. If he wants to save money, He needs to cut his pay check in half. I'm sure they could hire 10 PHD professors for that amount.
November 16, 2011
I am an SPSU student. I understand why most SPSU students are against this because we are two different schools. I think the merger can benefit both schools. This allows KSU to expand into Math, Science, and Engineering; this also allows SPSU to become a part of a much larger school while still retaining its small community. I believe most students (KSU and SPSU) would appreciate this if this was to occur. To SPSU students: our funding is horrible; more than half of our buildings are outdated (including equipment), finally got a parking deck, a new engineering building. Most of the SPSU students do not engage with each other because they are stuck in their shells and don't know how to interact with people. SPSU is an underrated yet overrated college in terms of campus, students, and curriculum. We need to stop trying to be like GT and just be SPSU (if that requires us to go in an unpredicted direction then so be it.)
SPSU student
November 15, 2011
Personally, I don't see what the issue is. If the college's name is such a concern then why don't we just change the colleges name once they're both merged, maybe to something that doesn't even have Kennesaw/Southern Poly. It is most definitely true that both colleges have a different mission and size, but that doesn't mean that both can't join to provide a wider variety for both students from separate colleges. SPSU provides majors that some KSU students may be interested in if they find that their major is not for them, and vice versa. That way they don't have to go through the trouble of transferring and all of that hassle. Even if these colleges merge, I think that SPSU will still stand strong in regards to it's computer and engineer majors because it stands out. I am much more concerned with how well the higher-ups will use the tax money that they have saved.
Curtis Ray
November 02, 2011
I am a Student at Southern Poly not KSU, I respect KSU as an institution but the only merger I would ever support is SPSU/GT merger. we are a tech school and we need to stay a tech school. Companies recruit us here because we are well educated in smaller numbers to do Architecture, Computing and Engineering. I support our SPSU President and say NO to a merger.
SPSU Annie
October 24, 2011
SPSU Computing and Engineering students are courted by companies every semester. SPSU has cut budgets already and has no good reason to merge with anyone.

SPSU is growing in enrollment without adding football. There are International students from many different countries that come here for their Masters (Yes, I work here and see paperwork that they are Legal!).

If KSU really needs Football, maybe they can find a way to be affiliated with an existing University that has a team? I have been to KSU, and can say they have a great Business program and beautiful campus. I hope we both will be let to stand alone as we are.

The writer of this article is causing panic by hand picking our two names and making assumptions. NOTHING has been drawn up yet. "all 35 institutions are at the same point".

We can spend forever saying "What If?". Just give me the facts.

I am Proud to work at SPSU!
October 24, 2011
This whole concept was glamorized by the author of this article with his headline! There probably are some colleges that could be merged in the University System.. but these two aren't on that list. They have entirely different missions and serve two entirely different segments of students. To merge them would water down both and be a disservice to all involved. Both universities are absolutely thriving.. why stifle that with a merger?

Ridiculous concept glamorized by the author with an inappropriate headline - that's all this is.
October 23, 2011
A merger makes sense if KSU moves its math, sciences, and computer science to the SPSU campus. The SPSU campus would become the College of Science and Technology or possibly the College of Engineering and Science. Although, they'd have to come up with a totally new name for the new university.

Another possibility is to merge with Georgia State. The advantage of that for SPSU is that it would become and be funded as a research university.

But it sounds as if SPSU would fight a merger as it would seem the much larger and richer KSU would dominate the merger.
February 08, 2012
SPSU is a research university. In fact not that long ago SPSU received funding from the military for additional research equipment.
October 22, 2011
October 22, 2011
As an Alumni of Kennesaw State University, we will not tolerate talk of our great University, merging with SPSU. KSU and SPSU served two different niche markets.
November 01, 2013
Hahahahahaha This is a joke right? Lol KSU prestigious. Get back to work, your SPSU alum boss is looking!!


SPSU class of 2002
November 01, 2013
Hahahahaha this is a joke right? LOL @ KSU and prestigious. Get back to work, your SPSU alum boss is looking!


SPSU Class of 2002
October 22, 2011
Well I think it makes perfect sense - but based on the comments from SPSU students and supporters apparently SPSU wants to be the surviving entity as they do not want to be a part of KSU's becoming the "next UGA." What is wrong with THAT??? We need to get over our egos and look at what can save money and resources across the board. If the question of survival and the "name" is an obstacle, why not merge the two names? And the argument that they have two separate focuses is silly. SPSU's campus could be the college of engineering, etc. So it will work if both institutions will think outside the box and check their egos at the door.
Southern Tech Alum2
October 22, 2011
To Ik21hot- Been there done that with Southern Tech & GT together. Fought to break it up. I will fight a merger with ALL the voice I have.

To Huckaby-I will also fight to make your stay as Chancellor a short one.
October 22, 2011
Southern Poly has a proud tradition of producing engineers that rival GT or any school in the world. Kids come to Poly from all over the world because of the great engineering education you receive at half the cost. Most fortune 500 companies such as Honeywell, Georgia Pacific, Ga Power, Lockheed, Boeing, UPS, Home Depot hire Poly students by the bunches. The past CEO of Ga Power Mike Garrett and Current Executive Vice President Ga Natural Gas Catherine Waters I cant see us merging with KSU. Nothing against KSU but you cant mention KSU in the same sentence with Poly because Poly is in the same category as GT as far as difficulty and rigor. If a merger were to happen it would make more sense to merge GT / Poly together.
October 22, 2011
does this thing work
Mike O> Bedenbaugh
October 22, 2011
HISTORY on both SPSU and KSU: SPSU stared as a 2 year techinical institute of Ga. Tech a 4 year Engineering institue ( The reason for YELLOW JACKETS and GREEN HORNETS). Everybody knows where Ga. Tech is; but Southern Tech started in the old Navy Air Station in Dekalb what is now Peachree- Dekalb Airport in the old WWII wooden 2 story buildings as Naval Air Station was built in Marietta around 1959-1960. Southern tech was lobbied for by COBB COUNTY and was built where the old Ga. drive-in theatre (oh happy days of kissing and oh well) used to be on (General L.) Clay Street now S. Marietta Loop. It Later was also home to the Ga. Fire Acadmey which was under Ga. Tech's umbrella like Southern Tech in the USG system. Southern tech became a 4 year college and later was name SPSU. The GA. Fire Acadmy was moved under the State Public Safety Dept. and now has a large campus in Forsyth,Ga. . Kennesaw Jr. College was founded at Kennesaw, Ga. at Chastain and Frey Roads named after two of Cobb's pioneer families. I-75 was being built along in the late 60s and early 70s and land bought from different families' farms between the (old Cobb County Park) Pinetree Country Club and I-75 was started and built up to what it is today JUST named one oif the TOP 25 COLLEGES OR UNIVERSITIES IN THE NATION. I have a grandson and granddaughter who are fist year students their. I do not believe the two should be merged because their EDUCATIONAL SPECIALTY FIELDS ARE DIFFERENT as stated in another comment below. AS for the Technical schools they are needed because not everybody wants to be an enigneer or CEO; besides we do need some physical hands on workers.
October 21, 2011
The fact that Hank Huckaby is USG Chancellor is an afront to higher education in general. And if Earl Ehrhart is a Huckaby fan, that's another strike against him.
Cobb County Resident
October 21, 2011
If there is a merger, how about calling the school Kennesaw Southern University? Both names show up AND the KSU abbreviation remains the same.
A Taxpayer
October 21, 2011
A merger of these two colleges would be an absolute disservice to the alumni of Kennesaw State University AND Southern Polytech. These are not private corporations subject to "mergers and acquisitions" -- they're state institutions of higher learning from which thousands of students have graduated. Don't cheapen our degrees by doing something stupid!
Southern Tech Alum
October 21, 2011

As a Southern Tech (yeah the old names) graduate, I certainly do not want to be merged with KSU. My group fought hard to break from GA Tech, so I certainly do not want to be "merged" again. Many people may not remember that Ssouthern Tech was part of GT until the 80s.

SPSU was started BEFORE KSU was ever built. There was talk years ago when Kennesaw was in the formation stage of making Southern Tech, like Auburn- engineering and all other disciplines in education. If anything has to be merged, then KSU should be absorbed into SPSU.

If KSU is landlocked & cannot buy more land, then why don't they stop increasing class sizes & building dorms. Kennesaw Junior, yeah another old name, started as a community college and is now trying to be the next UGA. Stop at the size they are until more land can be obtained & stop just trying to increase the number of students. Quality not Quantity always works best.

NO merger of SPSU (Southern Tech) and KSU!
October 21, 2011
It makes sense! The range of academic programs would be incredible. They could offer all the core classes at both locations for commuters and on-campus residents, with all the dining, living and other campus resources available.

Not sure how the whole thing would work as far as naming. Maybe each campus keeps it's own identity, but everything else is merged.

Maybe KSU could finally have that men's soccer team, since it's the only school in the Atlantic Sun without one!

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