Kennesaw State has 40,000 students, largest freshman class in Georgia

08/17/2020 - Kennesaw, Georgia - Kennesaw State University freshman Kyle Johnson wears a mask as he works on his computer during the first day of classes at Kennesaw State University's main campus in Kennesaw, Monday, August 17, 2020. (ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)


Kennesaw State University keeps growing.

The university welcomed more than 40,900 students for the fall 2020 semester, an 8% increase from the 2019 enrollment of about 38,000 students, the school said Tuesday in a news release.

KSU’s freshman enrollment exceeds 8,100 students, which is a 25% increase from the 2019 freshman class. KSU now has the largest freshman class enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program in the state, the university said. In 2010, fall enrollment was just 23,000.

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University spokeswoman Tammy Demel said about 27% of KSU’s undergraduate students are taking all of their classes virtually this semester.

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KSU President Pamela Whitten said the growing enrollment reflects the variety of degrees and programs the university offers and “the dedication of our faculty and staff who work every day to ensure the success of students.”

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“Given the current challenges and uncertainty, it is especially gratifying to see that our students and their families are prioritizing a college education,” she said.

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The state’s four largest universities also reported new highs. Georgia State now has a record 54,000 students, including 5% more black freshmen. Georgia Tech accepted 4,150 new students and the University of Georgia reported 31% of new students identified as being part of a minority group.

Kennesaw State reopened to students for the fall semester Aug. 17 after closing in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. The university will provide cloth masks to everyone on its two campuses and clean most areas several times a day to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Some of the KSU programs experiencing growth include the KSU Journey Honors College, which saw a 7% increase since fall 2019, and Michael J. Coles College of Business, which saw its enrollment jump by 4% from last fall. The Honors College allows qualified students to enroll in specialized courses and participate in interdisciplinary seminars, community service, undergrad research, study-abroad options and leadership activities. KSU also said its graduate programs have experienced a 13% spike in enrollment since last year.

Growth is also apparent at Kennesaw State’s Marietta Campus, the university said. Enrollment at KSU’s Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology program grew by 5% last year to an enrollment of more than 5,000 students. The College of Computing and Software Engineering program’s enrollment grew by 11% from a year ago, KSU said.

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Despite having more students, Kennesaw State kicked off the fall semester with fewer employees. KSU said it had to lay off 24 workers due to a state mandate that the University System of Georgia reduce spending by 10.8% for fiscal year 2021.

Demel said since the Board of Regents prohibited universities from using mandatory furlough days to meet the 10% cut, the university had to “take the difficult, but necessary step” to reduce its staff positions. Demel said no faculty positions were included in the cut.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Eric Stirgus contributed to this report.