KSU President: ‘Student success is our No. 1 priority’

KENNESAW, Ga. | Aug 10, 2017

Sam Olens welcomes faculty and staff to start new academic year

Sam Olens
Sam Olens

Kennesaw State University President Sam Olens welcomed faculty and staff to campus Thursday for the 2017-18 academic year, and encouraged them to take advantage of “the unique opportunity we have to transform the lives of our students.”

Speaking at the annual Opening of the University program at the Convocation Center on the Kennesaw Campus, Olens emphasized that “student success is our No. 1 priority.” He tasked the campus community to do their part to ensure that Kennesaw State students develop the skills and adaptability needed to succeed in today’s global economy.

“The fall represents a new beginning, a new adventure for everyone,” Olens said. “All of us look forward to assisting and watching our students’ intellectual growth, encouraging them to gain from their experiences at KSU, so that they may successfully spread their wings and fulfill their dreams. Our state and country are counting on your leadership and our students’ future leadership.”

Olens discussed the strides Kennesaw State has taken to help students with the cost of attending college, starting last year when mandatory commuter meal plans were eliminated and the University assumed operation of the dining halls on both campuses. Additionally, tuition for the University System of Georgia’s eCore online courses has been reduced, and the Kennesaw State University Foundation has increased its funding for need-based scholarships.

At the same time, Kennesaw State is becoming a more competitive school for students to attend. Under the Competitive Admissions Model that will begin in Fall 2018, acceptance to KSU will be determined by a combination of a student’s high school grade point average with SAT or ACT score, and meeting the University’s minimum requirements may not guarantee admission to Kennesaw State.

“This change is essential to help us better manage enrollment growth and facilitate students’ timely degree progression,” Olens said. “Our expectation is that this will have a positive impact on clearing some of the bottlenecks that have prevented some of our students from progressing through their programs in a timely manner and will help improve our retention, progression and graduation numbers.”

Olens reiterated a goal he set when he became president in November, to boost the internship, co-op and career opportunities for Kennesaw State students. He praised the Department of Career Planning and Development for its efforts to host 562 employers on campus and approximately 2,000 students to intern for academic credit in 2016-17.

While presiding over his first Opening of the University, Olens welcomed new Kennesaw State leaders, including Chief Institutional Auditor Lesley Netter-Snowden, Associate Vice President for Government Relations Michael Parkerson and University College Dean Lynn Disbrow.

“University College’s first-year and transfer student programs never have been more essential to our students’ academic success, and we look forward to working with Dr. Disbrow,” Olens said.

A new academic year also brings physical changes to the Kennesaw Campus, including an expanded science lab, a new Student Government Association headquarters and larger spaces for housing the Student Disability Services Center and the Center for Young Adult Addiction and Recovery. Also, construction has begun to renovate and expand the engineering lab on the Marietta Campus.

Looking forward, Kennesaw State officials are set to begin developing the University’s next five-year strategic plan and are preparing the 2018 report for reaffirmation of accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Olens told the assembled faculty and staff that their commitment to Kennesaw State’s Quality Enhancement Plan, strategic plan and reaccreditation “are essential to our University’s growth and the fulfillment of its mission.”

“Thank you for all you do to make Kennesaw State University such a special place,” Olens said. “Kennesaw State has experienced remarkable growth, with larger enrollment, new academic programs, more research and a nimbleness and creativity seldom found at institutions of higher learning. It is the dedication of all of you that has made this possible, and we look forward to working with all of you, and in particular our shared governance bodies, to continue to enhance the value of this great University.”

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 43,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.