SPSU community petitions to stop merger
by Rachel Gray
November 03, 2013 12:29 AM | 14432 views | 43 43 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Southern Polytechnic State University President Dr. Lisa Rossbacher addresses a gathering of students, faculty and staff on the commons area outside Joe Mack Wilson Student Center on Friday to announce that SPSU would likely be merging with Kennesaw State University. Rossbacher, who has been president of SPSU since 1998, said she was not consulted by University System of Georgia and only found out about the merger the day before.<br>Staff/Kelly J. Huff
Southern Polytechnic State University President Dr. Lisa Rossbacher addresses a gathering of students, faculty and staff on the commons area outside Joe Mack Wilson Student Center on Friday to announce that SPSU would likely be merging with Kennesaw State University. Rossbacher, who has been president of SPSU since 1998, said she was not consulted by University System of Georgia and only found out about the merger the day before.
Staff/Kelly J. Huff
slideshow
MARIETTA — Students, alumni and faculty of Southern Polytechnic State University are uniting to stop a “hostile takeover” of the SPSU campus by the University System of Georgia.

On Friday, the University System of Georgia announced it will ask the Board of Regents later this month to sign off on a plan to merge the Marietta-based SPSU with Kennesaw State University, ten miles northwest. The consolidation would need final approval in January 2015.

By Saturday morning, 550 supporters had signed two different petitions on change.org, an online forum that allows people to campaign on a wide range of issues.

“SPSU and KSU merger: Stop the merger” and “Stop Kennesaw State from merging with Southern Polytechnic State” even had parents of enrolled SPSU students and high school seniors who planned to apply to the school voicing their complete opposition to the merger.

Some more outraged comments by the petitioners criticized KSU for being a liberal arts school that was in need of land.

KSU, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in October, is the third-largest university in the University System of Georgia.

Other SPSU students voiced concerns about class sizes increasing and SPSU degrees having a lower value once the merger places both schools under the Kennesaw State University name.

Brady Powers, a software engineering major in his fourth year, said SPSU is a small institution where students are able to easily meet with professors.

“SPSU has a unique culture; after all, we’re a niche school,” Powers said. “I believe I speak for almost everyone at SPSU when I say that we are geeks, and we are proud of that.”

Powers added the SPSU curriculum is focused on teaching skills to apply after graduation in the engineering field.

Former professor: Two schools are like ‘oil and water’

A manager of the “Keep SPSU and KSU Separate” Facebook page, Liv Hood, who also manages SPSU’s radio station, WGHR, said the mission of the two school are completely different.

“We love this college, we all actively didn’t choose KSU because of the academics and atmosphere,” said Hood, who added she thinks the merger could lower the standard of academic excellence SPSU maintains.

KSU President Dan Papp, who will serve as president of the consolidated university, said most, if not all, of the degree programs offered by SPSU will remain, and the high quality of the SPSU education will continue.

Lisa Rossbacher, who has been president of SPSU since 1998, told a group of 200 students gathered outside of the student center Friday afternoon she was not consulted by University System of Georgia and only found out about the merger the day before.

Hood said seeing Rossbacher so shocked and knowing the SPSU staff had not been warned has left her “with a seriously uneasy feeling about even staying at SPSU and not transferring out.”

Roberta Gates, a retired tenured English professor at SPSU, signed one of the petitions Saturday morning.

As the first female faculty member who started with the college in 1962, Gates remembers the history of how the school transitioned over the years.

“I have a real heart for Southern Tech,” Gates said.

Southern Technical Institute was founded in Chamblee in 1948 and moved to Marietta in 1961. In 1970, it became a four-year college. The name was changed to Southern College of Technology in 1987 and changed again to Southern Polytechnic State University in 1996.

Gates taught business and technical writing, as well as literature and poetry until 1986. She said there is no need to expand the amount of liberal arts classes offered to SPSU students.

Gates said she understands the reasoning behind mergers the state has already done, but not the consolidation of SPSU with KSU, which are vastly different types of schools.

The State Board of Regents merged eight Georgia colleges into four in January in an effort to reduce administrative costs and relieve some of the burden on state funding of higher education.

“It is liked trying to mix oil and water,” Gates said. By signing the petitions, “I have to hope that somehow we can make a difference.”


----

UNIVERSITY SYSTEM OF GEORGIA’S SIX PRINCIPLES TO ASSESS POTENTIAL CONSOLIDATION:

1. Increase opportunities to raise education attainment levels.

2. Improve accessibility, regional identity, and compatibility.

3. Avoid duplication of academic programs while optimizing access to instruction.

4. Create significant potential for economies of scale and scope.

5. Enhance regional economic development.

6. Streamline administrative services while maintaining or improving service level and quality.

Comments
(43)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
M. Edwards
|
November 17, 2013
My kid no longer wants to go to southern poly if it turns into ksu. This young adult wants his/her degree to read "Southern Polytechnic State University" which can aid in getting a career started. Kennesaw degrees are considered low rent. This kid is ready to go out of state and foot the bill on credit. How sad to work so hard in school and have the privilege of getting a prestigious degree from SPSU all to have the rug pulled out by a greedy University system. University system of Georgia....you ARE going to lose some of your brightest students on this debacle. Southern Poly has a fantastic reputation on the entire East Coast! I knew about this college living in Pennsylvania! the Kennesaw name is crap. This is a move by Kennesaw to get a good name and will only serve to tarnish it further. Don't steal our engineering school!
ricsum
|
November 06, 2013
This is nothing more than a push by KSU to gain students to support a football team which I am against. The cost going up for SPSU students? They serve the same markets? The Board of Regents I feel needs to be replaced if they go through with this. This would prove they have no intest in the students or the educational choices of the students.

To do this in support of one over the other is very very poor and needs to be stopped.
SPSU 2001 Alum
|
November 04, 2013
Having read some of the comments on here, it's worth noting some yet unwritten reasons this "merger" is a breach of trust. Both KSU and SPSU are fine schools in their own right, but part of the objective of working one's whole academic life to get into an institution is for not only the education but for the brand equity of that specific school for future employability. Recruiters notice. SPSU may not be impossible to get into but it's darn hard to stay in and graduate from. I live 900 miles away from Georgia now and this is a well-known fact nationwide.

I had many fellow students transfer back whence they came after attempting the difficult SPSU curriculum. I paid my way through, stuck it out academically, and I don't appreciate the bait and switch from the Board of Regents. Referring to both schools as being in the "same market" simply b/c they are physically 10 miles apart with no reference to the actual degrees offered is intellectually dishonest. Additionally, since the Dean of SPSU had no idea until 24 hours before the announcement I question seriously the "homework" done for how many of SPSU students are actually from the area. Having a local address does not mean you did not move from statewide to get one of the best Architectural or Engineering degrees in the region.

Lastly, to the KSU students claiming foul for the push back. Yes, you have a natinally renowned Nursing & Education school as do we for Arch and Engineering. I'd assume you would not want to pay 40K so your resume could then say you have a Nursing degree from a Technical College anymore than we want to say we now have an Civil Eng degree from a Liberal Arts college. Both schools are great, but they co-existed for 50 years for a reason.
ricsum
|
November 06, 2013
All good points but you left out that KSU needs the added student body to support their push for a football team which will raise the SPSU cost atleast $1,000.00 each term. KSU is now land locked so gainning SPSU eases that for them and seems this was done by KSU with Board and did not include SPSU at all.
Ptatoyyo
|
November 04, 2013
Save your breath and anxiety. This merger will happen and does not care what anyone thinks about it.
Jim Smith
|
November 04, 2013
Graduate 1961 E&C. STI was founded as a 2year school and was one of the first schools to offer an Associates Degree. It was associated with GA Tech which made it even better. It gave people like myself that had a family at 19 years old to get a jump start on their future. This merger is the most ridiculous asinine idea I have ever in my life of 73 years heard of. That is one of the things that is wrong with our society today. If a kid can't or doesn't want to go to a college he is doomed to failure by the "educated stupid people" who have no common sense.

This merger needs to be stopped dead in its tracks and SPTU needs to get re acquainted with GA TECH. It was rumored that STI was founded to give the kids that couldn't make it at Tech a place to go to school. That may have been true cause there were lots of them that started at tech. What ever the case STI was a Godsend for me as I fashioned a very sucessful career in the Electrical Industry from my education at STI. Its time for all Alumni to "Rise Up" and stop this tragedy for going any further.
SPSU Student
|
November 04, 2013
Why isn't Chancellor Huckaby the one running these forums and answering the questions? This is his idea and he should be the one answering questions instead of making the University Presidents field questions for an idea they did not concoct and were only told about the day before everybody else.
SPSU Alum
|
November 04, 2013
This merger smacks of one thing, and one thing only - UGA! Remember Georgia just got approval a couple of years ago to have an engineering school. Now by absorbing SPSU into KSU allows monies to be reallocated to UGA that normally would have gone to SPSU's program. No way does this 'save' money outside of some central staff in administration. And that's a drop in the bucket. Ehrhart, are you listening? None of the labs built at SPSU can easily or cheaply be replaced at KSU. So what does that mean, keeping the Marietta campus open. Again, there goes the savings.

Follow the money, it leads back to UGA.
Don Bryant
|
November 04, 2013
I hope ALL Alumni from SPSU (and all those who graduated when it was call SOUTHERN TECH) will stop all further donations if this merger goes through. This is a real dis-service to those students who are currently enrolled at SPSU. While I can understand the Board of Regents wanting to cut every dime of expense, except their own salaries, this is the most asinine idea I have heard of in quite some time. I graduated from SOUTHERN TECH (SPSU) with an Electrical Engineering Degree. I sit on a panel to interview engineers who are applying at the company where I work. We will NOT be hiring any "engineers" from Kennesaw State University.
GSUGRAD86
|
November 04, 2013
Scrappy30101-best comment on the article! Maybe some of these great engineering students can design better buildings for KSU. This is also a decision by the Board of Regents. This is not just KSU trying to swallow up neighboring schools. Why is it that core classes at all USG schools transfer to the other schools? It seems as though their is an arrogant attitude coming from the SPSU side. I don't understand the logic behind thinking that KSU would somehow dumb down courses once this merger takes place. When I was at GSU, I found it funny that some of my high school classmates who went to UGA and flunked out, came downtown to an "easier" school only to find out it was every bit as difficult as Athens. Undergrads remember this; your alma mater only helps you somewhat on getting that first job. After that its what you do on the first job that matters!
ddk
|
November 04, 2013
The laughable part of your comment is you went the GSU (the easier school) and you think you can comment to engineers!! so whats your degree business? REALLY!
David Miller
|
November 04, 2013
I don't want to have to explain to potential employers why my degrees in Computer and Electrical Engineering Technology are from a school that has never had any form of strong science department, much less anything engineering-related.
Dan F.
|
November 04, 2013
One of the things that differentiates SPSU and KSU is the focus on teaching and the small class sizes that SPSU is known for. This creates a better learning environment for both the students AND the professors. The professors can get to know the students better and we can offer more extra help and personal attention than professors at bigger universities can. If class sizes get bigger as a result of this merger (which seems likely), the quality of the education our students receive will certainly suffer.
AKB100
|
November 04, 2013
This merger will only help KSU students. For SPSU stundents tuition will increase we have to pay more for housing and meal plans. If you really look at that too you will see why SPSU student don't like that idea
KSU faculty
|
November 04, 2013
Instead of leaving comments here, send them to BOR or to Southern Association of Schools and Colleges . Or write a letter. This merger is a very bad idea of Southern Poly esp and likely for KSU, as well.
anonymous
|
November 04, 2013
signing a petition is not going to stop a merger, sorry. BoR has spoken and it will not change. I thknk it will be a good thing. Allow KSU to delve into the engineering/technology side of things a bit more.
SPSU Student
|
November 04, 2013
I don't want our engineering school, which has been building its reputation in the technology and engineering community, to be swallowed up by a general studies mega-school. I'm sure KSU will enjoy their little addition, but we are loosing our identity as a school.
David Miller
|
November 04, 2013
But what about those of us at SPSU? There's nothing KSU has to offer us that's better academically than what we have.
Adios Lockheed
|
November 04, 2013
After engineering and computer science crumble as part of the "nurses, teachers and administrative assistants" program at Kennesaw College, Lockheed LEAVES town and Marietta is OVER. Kennesaw wins again. Can't we get Kennesaw's politicians? Surely we have more money to pay them than Kennesaw has, so why do we keep LOSING to Kennesaw?
FOOTBALL FAIL
|
November 04, 2013
Football is expensive. The football coaches' salaries have to come from somewhere, and KSU has nothing like a Hartman fund.

It seems KSU couldn't find any money for football coaches within their own walls, so they just tackled the closest school via targeting that will stand on review.

If that is the plan, why not take over Life University instead of SPSU?

Life University is way more fitting with KSU than SPSU ever could be. Or is a Life University takeover the next step in the plan after assimilating SPSU? Resistance is futile, it seems.

Me thinks Owl Football is off to as good a start as Obamacare.com. It's clearly a HUGE disaster!

With this move Kennesaw just lost me from supporting their football problem I mean program. Yes folks, true to form as a Cobb citizen, I was for it before I was against it.

i dont get it
|
November 04, 2013
Rossbacher has a proven track record of growth and success over a decade at SPSU, while Betty at KSU with the same record retired and some new guy is at the helm. He does not have the proven track record of either Rossbacher or Betty, so what gives? Could good ole boy politics at play in Georgia? Say it ain't so!

Well hang on a second, maybe the plan is to oust the KS-new guy and replace him with Rossbacher. If that's the plan maybe that would not be so bad. It would also explain the "Kennesaw" name being applied to the combined entity. Ah I get it. That's the trade off. Rossbacher takes Papp's job but the whole place takes the name "Kennesaw". I wonder if the Kennesaw guy will fall for whatever they're promising him?
anonymous
|
November 04, 2013
Stop trying to ride Betty. She ezpanded without proper infrastruture which has really hurt KSU, but she sure made herself look good and has stayed on the payroll over there since she has left.
Dan F.
|
November 03, 2013
SPSU, as a polytechnic, serves a unique and special mission within the USG. By merging us with KSU the USG is going to lose a valuable and irreplaceable resource. There is nothing to be gained by merging us with KSU, which has a completely different mission and philosophy. This decision shows a remarkable lack of foresight by the USG and will cause a great deal more harm than good.
B-ORG
|
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
Tuition is Expensive
|
November 03, 2013
If the two schools can be merged, then merge them. Call it a school of engineering under KSU, and cut out the cost of SPSU administration.

Brandon@SPSU
|
November 03, 2013
And ruin the value of our degrees by merging us with a cut rate underwater basket weaving school?

I've cross-registered for courses at the KSU campus in the past; there is a clear difference difficulty and rigor. Honestly, few at KSU seem to give a damn.
MrFunkhouser
|
November 03, 2013
Tuition will be MORE expensive at SPSU as we'll have to pay for your stupid sports teams.
SSlater
|
November 04, 2013
Cutting out the costs of "SPSU Administration" means cutting out jobs. This DOES NOT benefit the faculty and staff at both universities.

Wow...
|
November 04, 2013
Have you looked at USG's fiscal affairs budget reports? KSU has the highest operating budget of all 13 state universities (roughly $335 mil). West Georgia follows with $173 mil- nearly half of KSU. SPSU's operating budget is a little more than $83 mil.

KSU bleeds money and to say cutting the cost of SPSU administration is the solution is like someone handing you a teaspoon to remove water from a flooding boat.

The only things this will accomplish is to dilute SPSU's reputation, give KSU more funding to mismanage, and allow USG to reclassify KSU as a research institution (which has higher mandatory fees).
David Miller
|
November 04, 2013
And put my educational future in the hands of people with no idea what engineering is? No thank you!
DavidM@SPSU
|
November 03, 2013
If you want to help stop this merger you can sign the petition at the link below.

http://www.change.org/petitions/university-system-of-georgia-board-of-regents-stop-kennesaw-state-from-merging-with-southern-polytechnic-state
SPSU Mom
|
November 03, 2013
If this merger will help with the total lack of availability of administrative staff at SPSU, then this is a great opportunity to raise the level of service to the students and parents who attend this school. Try reaching, student aid, student accounts, the President's Office, registrar's office or any other office at SPSU. Their email boxes are full and can not take any more calls and forget them EVER answering a phone call and if they answer your email, it takes days. I personally emailed the President and still 3 months later, no answer. The administration at SPSU needs a major shake up.
solT
|
November 03, 2013
Please don't trade the big issue for the little one!

NCas
|
November 04, 2013
Absolutely! I had much the same experience, multiple times, times 10. I hope KSU can help :)
Alan McKnight
|
November 03, 2013
As a graduate of both schools, I feel as though I really need to weigh in on this merger. To say I am shocked is an understatement. I am still trying to wrap my mind around the whole thing.



Regardless of all the BS I keep reading online (about both schools), I had a great experience at both, but they were so totally different.



I am afraid that this merger will take away SPSU’s identity as the so very special school that it was and is. SPSU produces some of the best “real world” engineers around. I know; I was one. I earned a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering Technology from Southern Technical Institute back in 1984 and had a wonderful first career as a Professional Engineer for 12 years. I worked with engineers from various other institutions and found that Southern Tech graduates were ready to hit the road running more than anyone else. The school currently offers its students the best ROI of ANY public college or university with an average starting salary of $55K. This place is an unknown gem!



I’ll have to say that my wife Bachelor of Electrical Engineering Technology 1984), who I met at Sothern Tech, is none so happy about the merger. The name and reputation will be lost forever in her mind. I can’t disagree with that.



I also graduated from KSU in 1992 with an MBA in Finance. My degree has afforded me the opportunity to earn a great career in finance. The business school was and is a great one, but these two schools are nothing alike! KSU was and is much larger than SPSU. It lacks the charm that SPSU has.



Nothing against KSU, but I think that current students and alumni of SPSU are getting the shaft and a double cross. I understand all of the political and financial reasons that this merger is taking place, but it does not make me feel any better about it.



I suppose only time will tell.
James D
|
November 04, 2013
Excellent summary Alan. Thanks, and please continue to voice your opinion from your very unique POV.

BSMET 1998
*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, and spam will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides