SPSU president, students shocked, angered by news
by Hannah Morgan
November 02, 2013 01:01 AM | 11500 views | 18 18 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print
SPSU students Yunji Kim, left, and Alia Griffith listen in almost disbelief as they hear the news of the merger.<br>Staff/Kelly J. Huff
SPSU students Yunji Kim, left, and Alia Griffith listen in almost disbelief as they hear the news of the merger.
Staff/Kelly J. Huff
slideshow
MARIETTA — Students, faculty and even the president of Southern Polytechnic State University were shocked and upset Friday at the announcement their school would be merged into the much-larger Kennesaw State University.

Many students said they were worried about class sizes, changes in tuition and the reputation of their degrees.

“That sucks,” said junior mechanical engineering major Heather Hatcher of the news that her school of about 7,000 students would be merging with KSU’s 25,000 students. “We don’t want to be a part of Kennesaw.”

Fellow student Brian Arnhart agreed.

“If my school doesn’t have the word ‘tech’ in it, it’s not OK,” the senior mechatronics and mechanical engineering student said.

Arnhart is worried that his degree would be diminished if not from a technical school, and that applying for jobs would be harder after graduation, he said.

Class sizes, sports teams, tuition

Students at SPSU were especially concerned for how the schools would merge classes, and feared that their prized small classes would be filled with students from KSU who operated on a different “level of curriculum,” said biochemistry senior David Hogan.

Close to 200 students gathered outside of the student center Friday afternoon to ask their president, Lisa Rossbacher, what changes they could be expecting.

Students asked how to list their degrees when printed on their resumes, and Rossbacher suggested they keep the SPSU name listed next to their degrees, followed by KSU’s name in parenthesis.

Jonathan Ruiz, a senior computer engineering major was concerned about class sizes. The transfer student from Georgia Tech came to SPSU for the small class sizes and accessibility of professors, he said, “the more students you have, you become a number.”

First-semester student Alex Laurain, a biology major, was scared that her classes would not be as valuable, as core-class sizes increased and hands-on labs filled with KSU students.

Her history class already felt large with more than 30 students, she said, and was angry that the number of her classmates could grow.

Rossbacher: ‘I found out yesterday’

Rossbacher, who was been president since 1998, stood in the sunshine and repeatedly told students, “there are a lot of things we don’t know.”

When the two schools merge, the president of KSU, Dan Papp, will be taking over as president of the school, a decision Rossbacher said surprised her.

“I was not consulted on this, I found out yesterday,” she said.

Rossbacher has been actively seeking employment at other universities since 2010, and has been among the finalists at Wichita State University in Kansas, University of Alaska and New Mexico State.

Faculty voiced concerns about the security of their jobs, and the particulars of merging overlapping departments at both schools, like physics and mathematics.

“I am concerned about how that will affect the way we operate the physics department,” said Philip Patterson, chair of the university’s physics department.

Patterson said he was worried for his job after Rossbacher told the crowd, “I can’t promise that no jobs will be lost.”

Jalen Jeter, a junior biology and pre-med major said that the merger could increase the number of women on campus, and that he was excited to have a football team.

“It will liven up the school spirit,” he said.

Rossbacher could not say Friday afternoon how the merger would affect tuition prices.

“I would prefer if it was separate,” said SPSU sophomore civil engineering major Joey Gemuenden, of his small school, and said he was worried that there might be a tuition increase.

Rumors floated for months

Rumors of the merger have been floating around campus for a few months, although students were surprised that the merger was official.

“It’s not something I thought would actually happen,” said junior mechatronics major Jalynn Young, who found out about the merger when she received a text Friday afternoon.

She is a resident assistant on campus, and wondered as to how the merger would affect the male-to-female ratio at the school, especially at campus parties.

This is not the first big change to be considered for SPSU.

The school flirted with the idea of buying nearby Life University back in 2003, but the plans eventually fell through.

KSU students take news in stride

Students at KSU were not as frazzled by the announcement as it will not affect the name on their degree. Tye Chesnut, a sophomore political science major and the vice president of the Student Government Association at KSU, said while he has many questions about the details of the merger, believes it’s good for the university system of Georgia.

“I believe that it will provide our university with lots of opportunities and financial savings,” Chesnut said.

Chesnut tweeted and posted on his Facebook page Friday afternoon to try to get reactions from his fellow students, he said.

Junior nursing major and KSU’s SGA President Katherine Street was excited that there would be engineering classes offered at her school, but was not concerned with how both student government associations would merge.

The consolidation of both schools is not expected to be fully implemented until January 2015, Rossbacher said.

Comments
(18)
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Trish Buchanan
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November 05, 2013
I believe that President Rossbacher is quoted incorrectly in this article. I heard her say that those who graduate after January 2015 should list their degrees as 'Kennesaw State University,' followed by '"In parentheses...(formerly known as Southern Polytechnic State University),' like she does for one of her degrees. She is being incredibly gracious about all of this.
ricsum
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November 04, 2013
This is not right, and to not have SPSU involved in talks but only KSU? This sounds like a push by KSU wanting the student body of SPSU to support the push for KSU to get a football tems whish is not right and a very poor decission if they go ahead with this.

SPSU Alumnus
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November 04, 2013
In my experience SPSU excels above other institutions in two areas. It maintains a diverse community with over 45% enrollment in non-white demographics and it excels in integration with the Technical College System of Georgia.

KSU skews to a more homogeneous demographic and, as noted often, they are not focused on technology as SPSU is.

I suggest that the cost of keeping SPSU functioning alone is a good investment for our community because SPSU is leading educational growth in those two areas which sorely need it.

The merger will inevitably lead to a saturated environment which does not cater to either area particularly well.
Sorry, SPSU
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November 03, 2013
As a faculty member at KSU, I can sympathize with SPSU students, staff, faculty and even administration. It was quite unprofessional for Dr. Rossbacher to find out with so little notice and to be excluded from the discussions. At a minimum she deserves some professional courtesy. Ever since Chancellor Davis, the USG has operated like a business and not as a public good (no, I am not a bleeding heart liberal). You want to cut the pork, start at the top, which is over run with admins making a disproportionate amount (4-6x)compared to regular faculty, but I digress.

Yes, SPSU students should be concerned about class sizes. You will become a number. And tenure track faculty at SPSU my advice to you to is look at KSU's faculty handbook and department guidelines, because if expectations are different between KSU and SPSU, and you don't adjust to KSU's, you will be screwed, regardless of when you apply for T&P. I've seen it happen at KSU when we made the switch from a teaching emphasis to a quasi-research one.
B-ORG
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November 03, 2013
According to open.Ga.gov

Total Salaries for the Board of Regents w/ travel included.

28,082,318.72 (Chancellor 497,000.04)

Total Payments Made to companies by the Board of Regents

151,694,733.10

Professional Services:

60,561,134.87

Total Obligations by the board of Regents

7,465,434.35
SPSU student
|
November 02, 2013
A lot of SPSU students in the article pretty nailed their biggest concern. we have nothing personal against Kennesaw what so ever. but that college is known more for business, biology, and so on while we are known for engineering. if we wanted to study Business we would have went to KSU. if we cared for College Sports we would have went to GSU or Bama or Auburn or some college in Florida. we attend SPSU for their focus in Engineering Programs...Kennesaw students don't care cause life just continues as normal while their college just gets another department.
Retiree1
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November 03, 2013
"...would have went..."??? Apparently SPSU does not offer English classes?
Hmm?
|
November 03, 2013
"would have went" is grammatically correct, you know. Nice try though. *sigh*
SPSU MS Grad
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November 04, 2013
Would have went is not correct, but I don't expect better from most students these days. Communication is a lost art. At least it wasn't "would of went."

On a content-related concern, I fully agree. SPSU needs to retain its technical focus and continue providing student-centered education. This is a flagrant money grab from the already-bloated USG Board of Regents.
KSU English prof
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November 08, 2013
"Should have went" is bad grammar. It should be "should have gone." The present tense is "go," the past tense is "went," and the past participle is "gone." Modal expressions such as "should have," "would have," "could have," etc. always co-occur with the past participle.
Just Sayin'....
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November 02, 2013
Rossbacher was "unaware" of something like this happening? That seems a bit of a stretch. Regardless, this is a necessary move for SPSU and the state of Georgia. We can no longer fund numerous institutions with tuition only or tax subsidies only. Cuts in administration need to be made, and quite frankly, no university presidents have made deep enough cuts on their own. Economies of scale will hopefully lower overhead.
John Galt
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November 12, 2013
Copied from above - but this should be reiterated. It's clear where some cost savings can come from. Also - how much would it cost to have a new name that acknowledges SPSU's legacy. Combine schools that are similar at least. This was idiotic (just like people who use the term "just sayin'").

Total Salaries for the Board of Regents w/ travel included.

28,082,318.72 (Chancellor 497,000.04)

Total Payments Made to companies by the Board of Regents

151,694,733.10

Professional Services:

60,561,134.87

Total Obligations by the board of Regents

7,465,434.35

Bob Bummer
|
November 02, 2013
Mine as well merge the 2 year Chattahoochie Tech into KSU as well if saving money is what is important. KSU and SPSU cater to different students just as UGA and GA Tech do. I don't see this helping create any new jobs at all. In fact since 1990 downsizing hasn't stopped and I see no end to it.
TraceyL
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November 02, 2013
Only those who have attended SPSU will understand! Stay strong and stay positive!
proud students
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November 02, 2013
These students are right to be proud of their school! This is just another bad (liberal) idea, toss everyone into the same pot! Fight it, SPSU, and hope you win.
LRA
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November 02, 2013
This is a good thing. KSU will benefit from the influx of strong technical degree programs and faculty while SPSU will gain a much larger set of academic and co-curricular opportunities that are currently unavailable to them.

The concerns regarding increased class sizes by some SPSU students are justified, but the fiscal model for small class sizes throughout all four years of a curriculum are unsustainable in the present funding climate for [public] higher education.

Ultimately, all universities are going to need to become more entrepreneurial and self-funding and this merger will help both institutions do that better while also refining their organizational efficiencies.
ClarkonCampus
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November 03, 2013
If the students of KSU want a "strong technical degree program" then they can just head down to SPSU in the first place. This is just a small version of merging Georgia Tech and UGA, is that the next great scheme?
I don't understand?
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November 04, 2013
We have enough classes to get our degrees at SPSU now, why do we need a larger set of academia? In fact, we have more than enough that is offered to us. I don't know if you've ever taken tech courses here but there are some that are extremely hard and having smaller class sizes helps as well as giving students and professors enough time to benefit 1 on 1 help. I wouldn't be able to get near as much help from my professors if I was at a larger campus let alone acknowledged as a hard working student. I don't want to be just another number....
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