Celebrating 50 Years
On Oct. 9, 1963, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia
chartered Kennesaw Junior College. Since then, Kennesaw State has grown
into a comprehensive university offering more than 90 bachelor’s, master’s and
doctoral degree programs to nearly 25,000 students representing 130
countries. Throughout its history, Kennesaw State has been defined by its
entrepreneurial spirit and sense of community that has helped transform lives.
We invite you to explore this site to learn more about Kennesaw State’s past,
present and future and to find out how you can participate in our celebration.
Celebrating Our Past, Igniting Our Future
1963 – 2013
50 Years of Excellence
The story of Kennesaw State begins formally on Oct. 9, 1963, when the Board of Regents for the University System of Georgia met to decide on the creation of a new junior college in Cobb County. Although the board was unanimous in its decision to form a new school, the vote followed a “spirited contest” among several communities in North Georgia.
During the 1962 gubernatorial campaign, the eventual winner, Carl Sanders, had campaigned on placing a public college within commuting distance of all but the most isolated Georgians. A drive to bring more accessible and affordable education to a larger portion of the population was behind a striking increase in the number of colleges during the 1960s.
In 1963 alone, the Regents chartered three new junior colleges (including Kennesaw) and converted two older junior colleges into four-year schools.
At the time, the only public college in the area of northwest Georgia was Southern Technical Institute in Marietta, which focused on architecture and engineering.
During that 1962 campaign for governor, Sanders had promised to build a junior college in neighboring Cartersville. But boosters from Cobb County – who had long wanted a school with its own identity – worked hard to win over state officials and the Board of Regents to bring a new college into the Marietta area.
Thanks to the defense industry, Cobb County tripled in population between 1940 and 1960, growing from 38,272 people to 114,174.
Early in 1963, Cobb County Commissioner Herbert McCollum and the school boards of Marietta and Cobb petitioned the Board of Regents for a new college. They argued that Cobb was one of the largest counties in the state without a liberal arts school. They promised to donate the land for the campus, sell bonds to construct the buildings, pay for the landscaping, and provide roads and all utilities.
After the Regents selected Cobb as the site of the new junior college, the governments of Marietta and Cobb County decided to pay for the new college by selling bonds, of which $425,000 would be issued by the City of Marietta and $1,925,000 by the Cobb County Board of Education.
The voters of Cobb County overwhelmingly supported a referendum for public funding of the new school, with its campus site located between Steve Frey Road and Frey Lake Road. By November 1964, the Regents broke ground on the new junior college. Even before the groundbreaking, local leaders had begun to dream not just of a two-year school, but an eventual senior college, which is known today as Kennesaw State University.
From the day it was chartered by the niversity System of Georgia’s Board of Regents, this educational institution situated in the heart of Cobb County had no official name. Back then, locals referred to the unnamed entity as Cobb County Junior College, Cobb-Marietta College or Kennesaw Mountain Junior College. It wasn’t until two years after the official charter, in August 1965, that the Board of Regents approved the institution’s name as Kennesaw Junior College.
For 12 years, this suburban institution operated as Kennesaw Junior College or KJC, until the Board of Regents (BOR) approved another name change. Kennesaw College became its official name in September 1977 as part of the College’s conversion to a four-year status. Then in 1988, during the College’s 25th anniversary, the BOR approved yet another name change for the institution, Kennesaw State College. With a new decade came one last name change and an elevation in status. In 1996, the Board of Regents elevated the institution to university status, changing its name to Kennesaw State University – the name that has remained for the past 17 years.
The campus of Kennesaw Junior College was small at the beginning, with just eight buildings designed to house its academic and administrative programs.
The Administration Building was the first to open its doors on the 152-acre campus on Jan. 13, 1967. The one-story, buffbrick building housed the president, as well as the controller and other upper administration offices. The Administration Building then housed the External Affairs and University Advancement divisions, which operated there until 2006. The original 9,365-square-foot building is now the hub for the Department of Public Safety.
As the campus grew over the years, more buildings were constructed, and the expansive campus green became flanked by larger, more stately structures. The President’s Office moved to Kennesaw Hall in 1998, shifting the administrative epicenter eastward to the edge of the campus green. The original quad – currently the location of the Sturgis Library, Social Sciences and University College – remains an important area of student activity.
When the campus opened in 1967, the eight buildings totaled 182,899 square feet of office, classroom and laboratory space. Today, 90 campus structures, including three stadiums, four parking decks and on-campus residential student housing, bring the campus expanse to more than 5.9 million square feet of living and learning space.
In its 50-year history, Kennesaw State has been guided by just three presidents, who all played important roles in making the University into the major institution it is today. The Board of Regents selected Horace W. Sturgis, a Georgia Tech associate registrar, to serve as president of the junior college on May 12, 1965. During his 15-year tenure, Sturgis dreamed of growing a start-up Kennesaw Junior College into a fouryear institution. Under his leadership, the school made the conversion to senior-college status, and in June 1980, during his final commencement, he awarded Kennesaw College’s first bachelor’s degrees.
The Board of Regents selected Betty L. Siegel as president of Kennesaw College – the first female president in the University System – on Aug. 19, 1981. She served as president through two name changes and growth in academic and athletics programs that brought Kennesaw State University onto the national stage. Siegel was instrumental in transforming the campus, including the creation of the first residence halls. Her vision for an ethical, service-oriented university took shape during her 25-year presidency. Siegel created the Center for Leadership, Ethics & Character, which was renamed the Siegel Institute after her July 2006 retirement.
After Siegel retired, Daniel S. Papp, the University System of Georgia’s senior vice chancellor for academics and fiscal affairs, was selected unanimously as the third president of Kennesaw State University on Feb. 16, 2006, by the Board of Regents. Now in the seventh year of his presidency, Papp is making his imprint on the University like his predecessors. Progress has been particularly apparent in the awarding of the first doctoral degrees; the increased focus on applied research, global initiatives and community service; rising retention and graduation rates; and the expansion of student housing and recreational facilities and programs.
One of the most important aspects of Kennesaw State University’s success during its first 50 years has been steady growth in student enrollment.
Before the campus was completed, Kennesaw Junior College began with 1,014 students in the fall of 1966, the first quarter KJC offered classes.
By the fall of 1967 – the first full academic year on the new Kennesaw campus – 1,278 students were enrolled. Since those early years, the institution’s annual fall headcount has risen almost every year, with enrollment topping 24,600 students for fall 2012.
In fact, Kennesaw State University has seen significant enrollment growth over the past 15 years, and has only experienced enrollment decline a few times in its history.
In 1983, two decades after its founding, fall enrollment reached 5,000. By 1990, just seven years later, the College’s fall enrollment had doubled, soaring to a record 10,030 students. Kennesaw State University saw its largest jump in enrollment in fall 2002, with 1,703 more students – a 12.2 percent – enrolled than the previous year.
Today, Kennesaw State has a projected fall 2013 enrollment of 25,020, an increase of 1.69 percent over last fall’s enrollment. The University is expected to grow to 27,000 students by 2017.
Students have always been the real pioneers since first stepping foot on campus. So it’s no wonder that throughout Kennesaw State’s first 50 years, new programs and organizations have added to the ever-expanding student community and to the number of firsts that make up Kennesaw State’s history.
The first issue of the student newspaper, The Sentinel, was published Oct. 3, 1966, with a staff of six writers and two photographers. Decades later, OWL Radio, the student-run campus radio station, began streaming live via the Internet with its first student DJ broadcast July 9, 2007.
Bob Myatt was appointed the first Student Government Association president in 1967, and the first alumni president, J. Edward Mulkey, was named in 1977. Only five student organizations existed when the Kennesaw campus opened. Today, that number is 198.
The first fraternity, Theta Chi, came to campus in 1987, followed by two sororities in 1989. Today, 10 sororities and nine fraternities have chapters on campus.
As student activities and the campus population grew, the James V. Carmichael Student Center was the first new building to open since the original eight. The facility was dedicated Oct. 2, 1975, and was the first to be named for an individual.
In 1969, President Horace Sturgis gathered a few civic leaders to help raise funds for student scholarships, and the Kennesaw Junior College Foundation was born.
The 23 trustees and its first chairman, Robert T. Garrison, planned the first annual campaign for scholarships, but the KJC Foundation also aided faculty members with the costs of completing their dissertations and supplementing administrative salaries. During its first fundraising effort in the 1969-70 academic year, the Foundation raised more than $21,000.
One of the earliest endowments, the Margaret Giles Garrison Scholarship, was established in 1973.
When the school made the transition to university status in the 1990s, the group became the KSU Foundation. It has become a major source of support for Kennesaw State by assuming fiduciary responsibility for private gifts to the University.
The Foundation experienced challenges in the 1990s, but the KSU Foundation subsequently recruited top business leaders who were instrumental in land acquisition and building campaigns that brought dramatic changes to the University.
“Friend-raising,” as President Betty Siegel once called it, would enable the institution to raise funds to become a residential university. The KSU Foundation was instrumental in acquiring the KSU Center (Continuing Education) and KSU Place student housing in 1999, as well as building student housing at University Place (2002) and University Village Suites (2008), The Commons dining hall (2009), the Soccer Stadium and KSU Sports Park – Phase III (2012) and University Place II (2012). The KSU Foundation also provides annual distinguished faculty awards.
Kennesaw State has experienced record-breaking fundraising over the past 10 years. Today, KSU has an endowment of $29.9 million.
Research has flourished at Kennesaw State over the past few decades, with funding from external grants exceeding a combined $10 million in the 2012 fiscal year. Over the years, grants have been used to study diverse subjects, acquire innovative equipment and create educational programs.
Faculty paved the way for research funding in the mid-1980s, when Patricia Reggio and Linda Hodges, both chemistry professors, independently received significant grants. Kennesaw College’s first National Science Foundation grant was awarded to Hodges in 1985. The $25,000 grant was used for “Advanced Instrumentation for a Directed Study Program in Chemistry.”
That same year, Reggio received a $60,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health for her study of the molecular structure of cannabinoids, the compounds in marijuana that make them hallucinogenic. During Reggio’s 20-year tenure at Kennesaw State, she garnered about $3 million in grants from various agencies.
In the past five years, state-of-theart biomolecular research instruments used for multidisciplinary research and education in biological and chemical sciences were purchased with the help of three grants totaling more than $650,000 from the National Science Foundation.
Kennesaw State received its largest grant award to-date in 2009 with the $8.9 million Teacher Quality Partnership grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The funds from the five-year grant have been used to establish an innovative teacher preparation program in urban public schools.
Today, funding for research comes from a variety of sources including the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.
Building a tradition of excellence has been at the heart of Kennesaw State’s athletics programs since they began a little more than 30 years ago.
Athletics became a part of the campus community in 1982 under James “Spec” Landrum, the school’s first athletics director, who served until 1987. The program began with nine sports teams.
Kennesaw State President Daniel S. Papp said of Landrum, who died Nov. 10, 2011, “He left a legacy of excellence in athletics that still lives on. Spec built the foundation of what is now an NCAA Division I athletic program.”
Landrum was succeeded in 1987 by Dave Waples, who served for 23 years before retiring in 2010. Waples led the Owls’ transition from NAIA to NCAA Division II status in 1994.
During Waples’ tenure, Kennesaw State teams won national championships in baseball, women’s soccer, men’s basketball, softball and cheerleading, as well as fielded individual champions in cross country and track and field. Kennesaw State won 38 Peach Belt Conference championships and 26 NCAA Regional championships during the next 11 years. In 2005, the Owls moved from NCAA Division II to NCAA Division I.
During 2009-10, KSU’s volleyball, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, women’s tennis and softball teams reached the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament in their first year of eligibility. Waples was succeeded on an interim basis by Scott Whitlock, a nationally respected softball coach.
After a nationwide search, Papp tapped Vaughn Williams to be KSU’s director of athletics in spring 2011.
As KSU Athletics enters its 31st year, it fields 15 men’s and women’s teams. Recently, women’s lacrosse entered the lineup, and starting in 2015 – football will launch under head coach Brian Bohannon.
When the doors of equal opportunity opened, Terri Arnold was standing there.
Although she was the first African-American secretary hired at Kennesaw Junior College in June 1971, the then 19-year-old Terri Ferguson had no intention of being the “trailblazer” colleagues from throughout her 40-year career described when she retired in 2010.
A Marietta native, the present-day Terri Arnold recalls that coming to Kennesaw State was a chance to escape the dawn-to-dusk ordeal of traveling by Greyhound bus from Marietta to Atlanta, walking several blocks to catch another bus along Peachtree Street to her job at a financial company, then doing it all in reverse each night.
“I learned from a friend of my mother’s that Kennesaw Junior College was looking for a secretary for HEAP [a federal program designed to give minority and high-risk youth from Cobb and Atlanta access to college],” Arnold said.
But Arnold was not just any secretary. Even though she was on a college track, she had excelled in typing and shorthand at Marietta High School, which she helped integrate in her junior year. Having faced down the awkwardness and fears of being a “first,” she says she was confident and comfortable in her own skin. More importantly, she had completed two years toward a degree in secretarial science at Morris Brown College.
“It may be hard to believe that someone would go to college to become a secretary,” she said, “but in those days, there weren’t many things young black females could do. I knew I had to be the best. … That’s how a lot of black women moved up.”
Recognizing Arnold’s potential, Carol Martin, then dean of students, asked her to interview to replace his departing secretary.
Arnold got the job, becoming one of the first black employees at the college. Charles Williams, a cook and food supervisor, had been hired in January 1971. Previously, Dorothy Freeman worked as a maid, and Ray Evans was a food service assistant at the college. Later in 1971, Kennesaw Junior College hired its first black faculty member, Bobby L. Olive, a HEAP counselor. A year later, the first black members of the teaching faculty — Karen P. Maples in biology and Ruth I. Rundles in economics — were hired.
Arnold worked seven years for Martin, before her next assignment as assistant to Roger Hopkins, then controller for the Division of Business and Finance.
“It was while working for Mr. Hopkins that I learned the inner workings and the financial aspects of a college campus,” says Arnold, who worked in that department 25 years under Hopkins and his successor, Earle Holley.
Colleagues who knew her through those years described Arnold as a “point guard,” “ardent supporter” and “mentor” to blacks and women as their ranks grew at the burgeoning college.
Arnold, who earned a bachelor’s degree from Kennesaw State in 2002, spent the last four years of her career as manager for planning and strategic initiatives in the Office of External Affairs. She came out of retirement in June 2010 to continue working part time in that position.
“I have really felt part of a family here … been exposed to opportunities I never could have imagined and really grown as a person,” Arnold said. “Kennesaw State was the best thing that ever happened to me.”