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Friday February 12th, 2016 12:35AM

Hundreds sign petition against Ga. college merger

By The Associated Press
MARIETTA, Ga. (AP) More than 1,000 people have signed a petition on Change.org against a plan to merge two metro Atlanta universities.

The University System of Georgia announced late last week that the Board of Regents plans to merge Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta with Kennesaw State University. The plan calls for the consolidated school to be keep Kennesaw State University's name, University System of Georgia officials have said.

Some Southern Polytechnic State University students have said the merger is a bad idea because their school's atmosphere wouldn't mix well with that of Kennesaw State's. Students would lose the advantages of attending a more tight-knit and specialized institution, and wouldn't be able to forge the same types of relationships with their professors, SPSU students have said.

``SPSU has a unique culture; after all, we're a niche school,'' said Brady Powers, a software engineering major at SPSU. ``I believe I speak for almost everyone at SPSU when I say that we are geeks, and we are proud of that.''

Kennesaw State University president Dan Papp said would serve as the president of the consolidated university, and the Marietta Daily Journal reported that SPSU President Lisa Rossbacher told a group of students she was only told about the plan to merge the schools a day before the announcement and wasn't contacted by University System of Georgia officials before then.

The quality of education offered by SPSU won't be compromised in the merger, Papp told the newspaper.

The merger is the latest in a series of consolidations across the system. State officials say the mergers strengthen the combined campuses and save money on administration and operations.

The University System of Georgia choses to consolidate nearby schools based on six criteria, including avoiding duplication of similar academic programs, enhancing regional economic development and streamlining administrative services.

Kennesaw State is Georgia's third-largest university with an enrollment of more than 24,000 students and recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. Enrollment at Southern Polytechnic State University has grown by more than 4,400 students in the past six years and the schools have a combined economic impact of about $1.15 billion on the industry, according to University System of Georgia officials.


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