KENNESAW — “Come visit Kennesaw State University” is the message President Dan Papp has for anyone who hasn’t had an opportunity to check out how much the campus has grown or see what’s on the horizon.
“This is your university,” Papp said. “We want to be deeply engaged in the community, to participate in economic development and for you to be a part of the social fabric of this university.”
Papp, who moved to Cobb 40 years ago and raised his four boys here, joined the KSU staff in 2006 following the retirement of 25-year president Betty Siegel. He was previously the senior vice chancellor for academics and fiscal affairs with the University System of Georgia.
“I cannot think of a better position to be in,” Papp said when asked why he applied for the opening originally. “This is a university that has great public support, wonderful faculty and staff and a great student body. It’s just a wonderful place to be.”
Since coming to KSU eight years ago, Papp has overseen a number of enhancements, including $329.5 million in construction projects, or 2.3 million square feet of facilities and 88 acres of new land.
Doctorate programs were introduced and the number of on-campus residences increased to 3,500, in addition to student organizations and Greek life opportunities.
KSU was also designated as a comprehensive university earlier this year.
Papp helped in the school’s transition from a Division II athletic association to a Division I program in the Atlantic Sun Conference. The school’s first football program is set to kick off in 2015.
KSU is also now the third largest university in Georgia, serving nearly 25,000 students from 132 counties. About 18,000 students were enrolled when he was first named president.
In looking at the future of KSU, Papp said he’s encouraged by construction and expansions of the Bagwell College of Education, Betty L. Siegel Student Recreation and Activities Center, Horace W. Sturgis Library, Bernard A. Zuckerman Museum, KSU Recreation Park, Activity and Storage Building and the Skip Spann Connector.
This is a total of $85.2 million in upgrades and additions to the university.
Papp said he is also excited about what the next 50 years will offer with the addition of new programs, possibly in the math and science colleges with approval from the Board of Regents.
In an effort to recognize the school’s successful past and what will become of the future, Papp organized a 50th anniversary committee. The group helped organize a five-day celebration of Founder’s Week events.
“People are extremely proud of this university and with reason, it’s not every year that you turn 50 years old,” he said. “The timing is very, very good for KSU because there’s a lot of great stuff going on right now.”
Students, staff excited about future of KSU
“Our university is on a fast track to becoming a world-renowned university, especially as a result of the huge emphasis KSU places on international engagement,” said KSU Student Government President Katherine Street.
The Woodstock native and nursing major who started at KSU in 2011 said some of the future projects she believes will have an impact on the campus include the new football program and the development of the Honors College.
“It will be wonderful to come back to campus years from now as alum to tailgate and cheer at a football game,” Street said. “This program will provide wonderful opportunities for students to connect on an even greater level with our campus as they join with friends and family to celebrate our unique KSU community in the Fifth Third Stadium.”
Street, 20, also said the Honors College will help provide high-achieving students with unique ways to set themselves apart in college while preparing for their careers.
Valerie Whittlesey, KSU’s associate vice president for curriculum and professor of psychology, said she is most proud of KSU having slightly over 90 major programs for undergraduate, master and doctorate students.
“That’s been really exciting,” she said. “I really enjoy working at KSU, it’s a really vibrant place that’s always growing.”
Whittlesey, who lives in Smyrna, has worked at the school since 1992.
On the horizon, Whittlesey said they are looking at adding doctorate programs in nursing, analytics and data science.
“A lot of doctorates in nursing are kind of going away,” she said. “There is a need for nursing faculty, because of that shortage.”
According to 2012 data, there were 220 students enrolled the WellStar School of Nursing at KSU.
To learn more about what construction projects are underway or to see which programs KSU offers, visit kennesaw.edu.