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.