By MORGANA KENNEDY
KENNESAW, Ga. – The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia presented a goal to increase the number of meaningful degrees earned by Georgia college students to 60 percent in the coming years, Wednesday at Kennesaw State University.
“I view it as a moral obligation to obtain and graduate students that we accept,” Vice Chancellor Dr. Rob Anderson said.
The Board of Regents held two sessions on Oct. 13-14. During the second meeting, status reports were given by Anderson and KSU President Daniel S. Papp.
Anderson gave an outline of the Board’s strategy for an increase in the number of adults with credentials. The USG joins all postsecondary education partners in working toward an overall goal of 250,000 degrees above and beyond what was produced in 2010, he said.
To make this goal a reality, Anderson proposed the “15 to finish” campaign. With the federal policy increase in the number of credit hours needed to graduate, students should be encouraged to take more than the recommended 12-hour semester. According to Anderson, students who take 12 hours per semester spend an extra year in college and have delayed entry into the work force.
“It leads to a scenario where many students incur extra expenses and incur extra debt,” Anderson said.
This initiative provides students and their parents with greater freedom, he said. From 2012-2014 a six percent shift in students taking 15 or more credit hours saw positive results. Anderson recognized that this is not a plausible situation for everyone, but the objective is to allow students to make an educated decision on how many credit hours to take.
The meeting shifted to the USG’s high impact strategy for transforming remediation. Roughly 20 percent of 50,000 entering students require some learning support, Anderson said. In previous years learning support classes yielded poor results, costing students time and money just to get to square one.
A co-requisite model that embeds developmental content in credit-bearing classes was tested at participating universities and the results were positive. The success of the test led to the implementation of this model to all universities that offer developmental courses, Anderson said.
President Daniel S. Papp took over to give the consolidation report for the merger of Southern Polytechnic State University and KSU. The Board approved the consolidation in 2013, and it was completed in 2015.
“This was and is the largest consolidation ever attempted in the United States,” Papp said. “We hit it out of the ball park.”
After being reviewed by a seven-member subsidize change team from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), no recommendations for improvement were given. KSU completed the integration successfully, Papp said.
Some of the challenges KSU faced during this merger were animosity from SPSU alumni, loss of identity, worry over loss of employment, curriculum integration, and financial aid issues. But, they met all of these challenges head on.
Moving forward, KSU will use redirected funds to implement some of the strategies mentioned by Anderson to move toward higher graduation rates. According to Papp, KSU will expand advising, reduce student/faculty ratio, increase internship opportunities and increase emphasis on undergraduate research.
“We are truly committed to being a worldclass academic institution,” Papp said.