The Regents made a show of impartiality Tuesday, allowing three representatives of SPSU to address them before they vote. But their minds had already been made up, as their votes soon showed.
Moreover, the vote was less than a minute old before Regents PR flacks began handing out copies of a news release describing the consolidation plan.
It’s something the Regents should have been doing months ago — making the case for why two schools of dramatically different sizes, different missions, different backgrounds and different makeups had to be combined. The Regents offered vague promises the merger would save money, but that was about it.
And though the Regents had announced a year ago that they were considering such a merger, that was the last anyone had heard about such a possibility, at least publicly. There was nothing done to lay the groundwork with those it would most closely affect — the students, faculty and administrators.
In short, the Regents’ bombshell was rolled out so ineptly, and with so little consideration of the impact on those involved, that it made the unveiling of New Coke — or the Obamacare website — seem successful.
That said, what is done is done. The merger is now a fact. The clock is ticking on SPSU. The task now is to somehow blend those differing missions and curriculums and campuses and do so in a way that enhances both. It won’t be an easy task, and it’s one that the Regents have made significantly more awkward for Dr. Papp by the way they have gone about doing what they’ve done.
Papp will need the support not just of those at his school but of those now at SPSU to make it work. He’ll also need the support of the broader Cobb community. And though many are angry at the Regents, we’re confident those feelings will pass and that most, if not all, will ultimately and enthusiastically support the “new” and enhanced KSU.