The group of 40 faculty and administrators met Monday to discuss which colleges will be given the Southern Poly brand name within the KSU system.
The merger committee has been under pressure from SPSU students, faculty and alumni to preserve the Southern Polytechnic moniker for engineering degrees.
The Board of Regents voted in November to merge KSU and Southern Poly as part of an ongoing cost-saving plan that could eventually include other mergers.
Kennesaw State President Dan Papp said after the consolidation there will be “zero threat” of closing down a degree program because of lack of interest or low graduation rates.
KSU presented Monday a “preliminary draft of a possible college structure,” which gave the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology the Southern Polytechnic moniker.
The list of the possible 13 colleges did not break down the physical location of each program, meaning which schools will host classes on the main KSU campus or the SPSU satellite campus.
SPSU faculty asked Monday why all the fields offered at the Marietta campus, like software engineering, architecture and construction management, were not given the Southern Polytechnic distinction.
Ken Harmon, vice president for academic affairs for KSU, said the civil engineering and engineering technology is the “best known” and “most prominent” curriculum at SPSU.
An associate professor of SPSU’s Civil and Construction Engineering program, Sonny Kim, asked Harmon why the list had two schools of engineering separated into computing and engineering technology.
“I think it makes sense to have all the engineering under one umbrella,” Kim said.
Papp said the proposed structure is similar to the course distinctions and naming offered at Georgia Tech.
Areas broken down into groups
For nearly two hours, the group met for the first time at the KSU Center on Busbee Drive off Chastain Road to hash out details.
Although a core implementation committee of 28 members has already met a few times, this was the first meeting for an expanded group, which included more faculty ranging from administrative staff, department chairs and deans from both schools.
The expanded group met Monday afternoon to start finalizing the merged vision and mission statements, as well as the organization structure for the consolidated university.
Next meeting set for Jan. 22
SPSU President Lisa Rossbacher said the expanded group will meet five times over the next five weeks, with the next meeting Jan. 22 at 10:30 a.m.
“This group has a focused agenda,” Rossbacher said.
The target date to complete necessary documents is Feb. 14, said Papp, in order to get the proposed pieces on the Board of Regents agenda in April.
“Is this fast? Yes,” Papp said about the deadline.
Rossbacher said the Board of Regents has advised the committees to make decisions by consensus instead of voting. No votes or final decisions were made at Monday’s meeting.
To help move quickly down the consolidation path, the implementation team has created 81 “operational work groups,” which need eight to 10 members each and must begin meeting no later than Jan. 30.
Issues still to be resolved by small groups include the library system, faculty promotions and pay, student financial aid, donor relations, community engagement, tuition and fees, a combined budget, student organizations, housing and sports programs.
Papp said work groups can have external participation, such as alumni.
Further opportunities for consolidation
At Monday’s meeting, Associate Vice Chancellor Shelley Nickel, who has led the consolidation of eight University System of Georgia institutions into four, advised the group about being transparent and getting information to both campus bodies.
Rossbacher agreed everyone at SPSU and KSU needs to get current and consistent information.
“Something that has been clear to me from the very beginning is communication,” Rossbacher said.
On Monday, Rossbacher said information about the merger has been handled well. But, when she faced students moments after the announcement was made Nov. 1, Rossbacher said, “I was not consulted on this, I found out yesterday.”
Nickels also said it was a benefit to have the Board of Regents decide on the consolidated name of Kennesaw State University. She admitted, however, “the people from Southern Polytechnic have angst about that.”
In the past, Nickels said having a consolidation team pick a merged name “created havoc.”
Nickel also reminded the group Monday that one of the reasons for the consolidation is to reduce costs by operating KSU more efficiently.
Nickel advised making the list of schools smaller than the 13 presented Monday to combine administrative resources even further. For instance, the College of Arts and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences could be consolidated into the College of Liberal Arts.
Papp said the two smallest colleges on the proposed list, the College of Arts and College of Architecture and Construction Management, each have 1,100 students.
KSU and SPSU will submit written plans for the merger to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in October. The process of combining the schools is expected to be complete by August 2015, although if the plan is approved, both schools will operate under the KSU name starting January 2015.
‘Preliminary draft of possible college structure’
* College of the Arts
* College of Architecture and Construction Management
* Michael J. Coles College of Business
* College of Computing and Software Engineering
* College of Continuing and Professional Education
* Leland and Clarice C. Bagwell College of Education
* Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology
* Graduate College
* WellStar College of Health and Human Services
* Honors College
* College of Humanities and Social Sciences
* College of Science and Mathematics University College