Kennesaw State University

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Kennesaw State University
Kennesaw State University seal.svg
EstablishedOctober 9, 1963 (1963-10-09)
Endowment$37.2 Million[1]
PresidentPamela S. Whitten
ProvostRonald H. Matson (interim)
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Students37,576 (Fall 2018)
Location, ,
CampusSuburban, 581 acres (2.35 km2)
ColorsBlack and Gold[2]
AthleticsNCAA Division IAtlantic Sun
MascotScrappy the Owl, Sturgis
Kennesaw State University logo.png

Kennesaw State University (KSU) is a public university in the U.S. state of Georgia with two primary campuses, one in Kennesaw and the other in Marietta. KSU also holds classes at the Cobb Galleria Centre, Dalton State College, and in Paulding County (Dallas).[3] Present enrollment is over 35,000 students, making it the third-largest university within Georgia and one of the top 50 largest universities in the United States.[4][5]

KSU is part of the University System of Georgia.[6] The university has a multitude of academic programs in business, education, engineering, nursing, physical sciences, information technology, criminal justice, and sports management. Both the Kennesaw and Marietta campuses are located in suburban areas on a combined 581 acres (235 ha) of land.[7]

Since 2005, Kennesaw State's athletic teams (except football) have been a NCAA Division I member of the Atlantic Sun Conference. The football team is a FCS member of the Big South Conference.


University village at dusk

1964: Kennesaw Junior College[edit]

The university was officially founded by the Georgia Board of Regents approved the establishment of a junior college tentatively to be named Cobb County Junior College. In December 1964, Horace Sturgis was designated to serve as the future college's first president. When the school opened in fall of 1966, it was named Kennesaw Junior College and had an initial enrollment of 1,014 students.[8]

1976: Kennesaw College[edit]

Thirteen years later, in 1976, the former Kennesaw Junior College became a four-year college and was redesignated Kennesaw College.

Betty Siegel became the second president of Kennesaw College in 1981, and the first female university president in the University System of Georgia.[9][10]

1988: Kennesaw State College[edit]

By 1985, KSU had initiated its first graduate degree programs, in business and education, and began a period of rapid growth, including residential housing. Finally, in 1988, the former Kennesaw College was renamed Kennesaw State College and associate degrees were discontinued, except for a program in nursing.

1996: Kennesaw State University[edit]

Kennesaw State's baseball and softball teams won the NCAA Division II national championships in 1996. The winning Owls continued excelling in athletics, including the Lady Owls 2003 win of the NCAA Women's Division II Soccer Championship and the men's basketball team win of the 2004 NCAA Men's Division II Basketball Championship. In part due to their winning Division II in 2005, the Owls joined Division I and the Atlantic Sun Conference.

2004: Named a National Center of Academic Excellence[edit]

In 2004, KSU was recognized by the Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education. At the time, this placed KSU among 67 other institutions recognized as CAE/IAEs with this recognition. KSU was recognized again in 2007.[11]

2006: Dr. Daniel S. Papp[edit]

In the summer of 2006, Dr. Daniel S. Papp, PhD, became the university's third president.[12][13]

KSU also began its first doctoral programs in Education in Leadership for Learning, Education, and a doctorate of Business Administration.[14]

2007: Apollo 16[edit]

On October 17, 2007, Apollo 16 astronaut Charles Duke donated several relics from the 1972 lunar mission to Kennesaw State, including a lunar map and a checklist from the flight. It was reported to be the only checklist from an Apollo flight to be in a university library anywhere in the world.[15]

2015: USG merger[edit]

On November 1, 2013, the University System of Georgia announced that Kennesaw State University would merge with nearby Southern Polytechnic State University in 2015. Kennesaw State would be the surviving institution, with President Papp serving as president of the merged university.[16][17][18] On January 6, 2015, the Georgia Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia approved the consolidation of Southern Polytechnic State and Kennesaw State. In honor of SPSU's legacy, Kennesaw State established Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology as one of its 11 colleges.

2016: Doctoral Research Institution[edit]

On February 8, 2016, KSU was classified as a doctoral research institution with R3 status by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Learning.[19]

Papp announced his retirement on May 10, 2016, and the University System of Georgia's Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Houston Davis, was named interim president, effective July 1, 2016. In September 2016, information leaked from University System of Georgia sources indicated that Georgia state attorney general Sam Olens would likely be named the next university president. The potential appointment of Olens, a Republican who litigated Georgia's stance on same-sex marriage, was seen as controversial by some students and faculty, resulting in organized protests.[20] On October 3, 2016, the University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby notified the KSU community of Olens' official request for appointment to the job via an email to all students and faculty. The following day, Olens officially interviewed for the job, with an executive board vote expected October 12, 2016.[21] On October 12, 2016, the University System of Georgia announced publicly that Olens was appointed to the office of President of Kennesaw State University, effective November 1, 2016. He will resign as attorney general, and his successor will be appointed by Governor Nathan Deal.[22] On December 14, 2017, Sam Olens announced that he would be stepping down as president, effective February 18, 2018.[23] Pamela Whitten was announced as KSU's President on July 16, 2018.


Kennesaw State University is located on two campuses with a combined 581 acres (235 ha) of land, of which about 230 acres is located in Marietta and the remainder is located in Kennesaw. The Kennesaw campus is located adjacent to I-75 (similar to three other Georgia universities, Georgia Tech, Dalton State College, and Georgia State University) where views of the campus can be seen from the highway, including Kennesaw State's University Village.

Social Sciences Building[edit]

The Social Sciences Building and the Spaceship Earth sculpture

The Social Sciences building is located on the west section of campus on Campus Loop Road adjacent to the original campus historical district. The 163,000-square-foot (15,100 m2) building features a 302-seat auditorium, a 100+ seat cinema classroom, a digital media lab, and 40 classrooms with advanced technology. The lobby features a Starbucks and study area. The Social Sciences building also meets Silver Rating LEED Green Building requirements and is the first building in the University System of Georgia to meet these specifications.[24]

Spaceship Earth[edit]

Located adjacent to the Social Sciences Building is a 350,000-pound (160,000 kg) sculpture entitled "Spaceship Earth", created by Finnish American artist Eino.[25] The sculpture was commissioned by the Maxwell Family Foundation in memory of the late environmentalist David Brower. The sculpture was intended to be a permanent reminder to future generations to take care of their delicate planet.

In late December 2006, only three months after installation on campus, the structure collapsed. After the collapse, Eino attributed the disaster to vandalism, but later reports that surfaced associated the collapse with poor construction.

Reconstruction was to have begun in February 2007, but was delayed until July 2007, and was finally completed on October 26, 2010.[26]

A. L. Burruss Building[edit]

The A. L. Burruss Building in spring

The A. L. Burruss Building is home to the Michael J. Coles College of Business. It is situated in the east section of campus overlooking the Campus Green. The ground floor contains a food court with table seating for eating and studying surrounded by numerous lecture halls. The fourth floor of the Burruss Building is a computer lab open to students and one of the campus data centers. This building is one of the more dominant features of this sector of the campus, which contains other large structures. At night, the tower that extends from the center of the Burruss Building facade lights up with the letters "KSU". A sidewalk west of the Burruss building leads north to university housing communities University Village and KSU Place. Easy access to the developing arts district northwest of the Burruss Building (Stillwell Theatre, Performance Hall) is offered from the west exit of the Burruss Building.

Campus Green[edit]

The Campus Green is a grass area in the center of campus. It offers students an area to relax, study, or throw a football or flying disc between classes. During the spring and fall, student activity on the green can be seen during the noon and afternoon hours. During graduation ceremonies, the Campus Green is no longer used as a reception area. Signs from the east parking deck lead students and visitors to the Campus Green surrounded by the towering buildings in the area (Burruss Building, Kennesaw Hall, and the Student Recreation and Wellness Center) which offer a unique atmosphere on this suburban campus. The Campus Green offers direct access to Kennesaw State's James V. Carmichael Student Center.

Kennesaw Hall[edit]

Kennesaw Hall in early spring 2007

Kennesaw Hall is home to the Bagwell College of Education and administrative offices of the university. The Office of the President resides on the top floor of the building that can be seen from Barrett Parkway (a busy Kennesaw road a few miles away) and Kennesaw Mountain. Kennesaw Hall overlooks the Campus Green and is one of the largest buildings in the east section of campus.

Convocation Center[edit]

The Convocation Center is located southeast of the Campus Green and houses the NCAA Division I men's and women's basketball programs at Kennesaw State University. The Convocation Center is a multipurpose facility that supports academic classes, lectures, concerts, theatrical performances, athletic events, graduations, and convocation ceremonies. The facility has locker rooms, training rooms, and offices for the athletic department. The third floor of the center houses hospitality and conference suits that overlook the arena floor. KSU's Convocation Center is the largest of its kind in northwest Georgia, with seating for 4,800.

Bentley Rare Book Gallery[edit]

The Bentley Rare Book Gallery and Special Collections, named in honor of Fred and Sara Bentley, brings together a world-class collection of 15,000 items that spans the history of the written word in the Western World. This collection provides undergraduate students the opportunity to study original works firsthand. Recent additions to this collection include a fourth-folio Shakespeare dated 1685b and a first-edition complete works of Chaucer dated 1542. Located on the basement floor of KSU's Sturgis Library, the Rare Book Gallery can be reserved for classroom visits, meetings, and presentations, and is open for research by appointment.

Other selected buildings[edit]

Student Center

The historic district of the university (Original Campus) is located in the west section of campus and includes the University College,[27] formerly the Social Sciences Building, Pilcher Public Service and Library, Willingham Hall, Nursing, Advancement, and Technology Annex buildings. These buildings served primarily as the home to the College of Humanities and Social Science until construction on the Social Science Building was completed at the end of 2006. In 2009, a new two-story, 1,500-seat dining hall known as The Commons opened.[28] In 2008, a new $46,000,000, 915-bed freshman residence hall called "University Suites" opened.[29]

Dr. Bobbie Bailey and Family Performance Center[edit]

The Bailey Performance Center opened its doors in October, 2007. The $9 million facility contains a 630-seat auditorium designed to accommodate a variety of performance ensembles, the Gwendolyn Brooker Rehearsal Hall, and the Don Russell Clayton Gallery. While serving as the heart of Kennesaw State's School of Music, the center hosts rehearsals, masterclasses, recording sessions, and recitals for the music faculty and students.[30]



Kennesaw State University is accredited by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and is a public institution in Georgia and is overseen by the Georgia Board of Regents. As of fall 2016, 34,600 students were enrolled, making this the largest enrollment in Kennesaw State University's history.[31][4] Over three-quarters of the student body come from Cobb, Cherokee, or Fulton Counties,[31] while 9% of the student body come from over 136 countries worldwide.[32] About 70% of undergraduates are full-time, while the figure for graduate students is 31%. As of spring 2007, 56% of undergraduates are under 23 years old; over half (57%) of its graduate students are between 23 and 34 years of age.[31]

For fall 2006, 36% were in its Bagwell College of Education; 35% of graduate enrollments were in the Coles College of Business. That semester also had the university continue its trend of having significantly more female (61%) than male (39%) students. As of 2004, KSU has the third-largest university enrollment within the University System of Georgia, out of the 34 universities and colleges in the system.[31]

Of the 607 faculty members at Kennesaw State, 37% are assistant professors;[33] 38% of faculty are tenured and 43% are on a tenured track. Kennesaw State is currently ranked 10th among other four-year USG institutions with faculty having a doctoral degree, at 74%.[33]

In 2008 for the first time, U.S. News polled top college officials to identify schools that had recently made the most promising and innovative changes in academics, faculty, students, campus, or facilities.[34] Kennesaw State was among 70 colleges that received the most nominations, and was the only public institution in Georgia cited on the list of "up-and-coming" schools.[35] Kennesaw State was also the only college in Georgia recognized for its efforts to help freshmen acclimate to the rigors of college life. For the sixth consecutive year, the magazine cited KSU's First-Year Experience program as a "Program to Look For".

In 2014, U.S. News and World Report ranked KSU as 31st in the South Region among all public universities. The school was ranked 30th out of all colleges and universities in the "Best Colleges for Veterans" category, and its part-time MBA program was ranked 38th.

In September 2016, U.S. News elevated KSU from the category of "regional university" to "national university", joining a list of 297 other universities in that category. This was in part due to the university's new status as a research university with R3 designation by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Learning, indicating a university that engages in a "moderate" level of research activity.[36]

Colleges and degrees[edit]

The university is divided into 13 colleges[37] and offers 52 bachelor's degrees, 21 master's degree programs, one specialist degree, and five doctoral programs; according to Kennesaw State's Registrar's Office, the university offers 80 undergraduate and graduate degrees.[38]

  • College of the Arts
  • Coles College of Business
  • University College
  • College of Science and Mathematics
  • Bagwell College of Education
  • WellStar College of Health and Human Services
  • College of Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Graduate College
  • Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology
  • College of Computing and Software Engineering
  • College of Continuing and Professional Education
  • College of Architecture and Construction Management
  • Honors College

Continuing Education[edit]

Kennesaw State's Department of Continuing Education, the largest in the nation, is housed in the KSU Center, located a mile away from the main campus.[39]

Kennesaw State is home to the state's largest Educational Technology Training Center (ETTC).[40] The ETTC is one of 13 such centers around the state. Teachers and other school personnel from around the state come to the KSU ETTC for professional development.

KSU's Computer Science and Information Systems department hosts the Center for Election Systems,[41] which certifies and monitors the direct recording electronic machines used in Georgia elections and trains local elections officials.


Scrappy's retired mascot during new student orientation

Kennesaw State University's athletic teams are called the Owls. The school colors are black and gold.[42]

The Owls participate in Division I of the NCAA and the Atlantic Sun Conference. Athletics began in the 1981-82 academic year, with KSU joining both the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and the Georgia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GIAC). James "Spec" Landrum was named the school's first Athletic Director, after football coaching stints at both Georgia and Georgia Tech. Success in initiating a new program, particularly in men's golf and women's basketball, highlighted Landrum's tenure. After Division I's Gulf Star Conference dissolved in 1987, Commissioner Dave Waples replaced the retiring Landrum that fall. The school won its initial National title in 1994, as coach Mike Sansing's baseball team won the NAIA championship. In the fall of 1994, KSU officially joined the NCAA, Division II, Peach Belt Conference. The Owls dominated the loop for the next 11-years, including DII National crowns in softball (1995 and 1996, coach Scott Whitlock), baseball (1996, coach Sansing), women's soccer (2003, coach Rob King) and men's basketball (2004, coach Tony Ingle). Kennesaw State is one of two division II schools to win a national championship in four different team sports, Grand Valley State University being the other. KSU also won several other regional and divisional championships. Both men's and women's cross-country coach Stan Sims and women's basketball coach Colby Tilley made numerous appearance in NCAA, DII, National competition.

In 2005, the Owls began the painful four-year transition to Division I of the NCAA. The university fully transitioned to Division I status in the National Collegiate Athletic Association at the beginning of the 2009–10 season. Vaughn Williams was hired in April 2011 as the university's third director of athletics. He had previously served for six and a half years as UConn's associate athletic director, where he was responsible for strategic planning, facility master planning, and policy and procedure improvement.

Kennesaw State University's mascot is Scrappy the Owl. The Kennesaw State Athletics Association unveiled their new Scrappy mascot on October 13, 2012, during their basketball season preview called Flight Night.

The Owls field a Division I Football Championship Subdivision football team. KSU announced on November 14, 2013, their first football game. They took on the East Tennessee State Buccaneers in Tennessee on September 3, 2015. It was the first in a home & home series between the schools. East Tennessee faced off against the Owls in Kennesaw for the 2016 season. The Football Owls are the only athletic program at this time to play in the Big South Conference, and took on 6 Big South Schools in their first year. Head Coach Brian Bohannon has stated that Kennesaw State has no interest in playing any games in exchange for guaranteed payments in the team's first few years. "We want to build a winning culture."[43]

The Owls will play home games in the Fifth Third Bank Stadium in Kennesaw, current home to the KSU Women's Soccer and Lacrosse Teams. Planned renovations look to expand the 8,300 seat stadium to just over 10,000 seats by the time the Owls first kick off.[citation needed]

Student life[edit]

Student groups[edit]

KSU has over 200 registered student groups and organizations for student participation. Some of the more active organizations in recent years have been Greeks, Religious Life, and Club Sports.[44] There are seven line-item student organizations, Student Government, Kennesaw Activities Board,[45] African-American Student Alliance,[46] Global Society, International Student Association, Graduate Students Association and Student Media. These organizations are awarded a line-item budget yearly ranging from $30,000 to $144,000 that is spent on student programming and activities. Many of these groups give stipends to their members up to 100 percent of tuition and fees. All other student organizations have the opportunity to spend up to $350 per year on programs from the Student Life budget. The budgets for student organizations are awarded by the Student Activities and Budget Advisory Committee (SABAC), which is a majority student, faculty, and staff run advisory committee to the vice president of students. This committee meets regularly during the fall and spring semesters approving new organizations, funding requests and by-law changes.

Student media[edit]

  • The Sentinel (KSU) is the official newspaper for KSU. It is printed weekly during fall and spring semesters and twice during the summer semester.
  • The Talon is the feature magazine for Kennesaw State University.[47]
  • Share is KSU's national award-winning magazine that features the work of KSU students.[48]
  • Owl Radio is the student-run online radio station for KSU. Content is streamed online with SHOUTcast and available on the Radio FX mobile application.[49]
  • Talisman is the name of the former student yearbook for KSU.

Fraternities and sororities[edit]

Kennesaw State University is home to twenty-one fraternities and sororities: five of the North-American Interfraternity Conference (IFC), seven of the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC), All nine of the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), two of the National Multicultural Greek Council (MGC) and two service Greeks.[50] Less than seven percent of the undergraduate student body identify as Greek.[51]

Notable people[edit]


Professors and scholars[edit]


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External links[edit]

Coordinates: 34°02′16″N 84°34′52″W / 34.037876°N 84.58102°W / 34.037876; -84.58102