Georgia State’s Mark Becker expects continued growth

By Maria Saporta

More and more students are being drawn to Georgia State University, according to its relatively new president Mark Becker.

Becker recently spoke to the Kiwanis Club of Atlanta saying “the future is nothing but bright” for Georgia State University.

Despite the recession, the number of applications to the university was up about 20 percent; and GSU accepted its largest freshman class ever — 3,000 students.

“In 1995, only 2,225 applied to go to GSU. We had 12,000 applications this year,” Becker said.

As he sees it, students are drawn to GSU because its student population is representative of the state and the nation. About 28 percent of the student body is African-American; 12 percent is Asian; about 8 percent hispanic and about 4 percent of multi-ethnicity.

Currently, about 3,000 students live on campus, and there’s a waiting list of 700 more students who want to live on the urban campus.

“You can expect to see us adding to our inventory (of student housing) as resources and time permit,” Becker said. “You will see more students living on campus.”

Looking to the future, Becker said he would like to advance Georgia State in three areas. First, he wants a “continued commitment to be recognized for excellence in education and as research institution.”

Next, he wants GSU to be “an integral part of downtown Atlanta” and embark in constructive community partnerships. “We have to be connected, and we have to be engaged,” Becker said.

Lastly, Becker is committed to making Georgia State more globally-oriented and help students become better prepared to have an international perspective.

Becker has been at Georgia State since January. Asked about his biggest surprise and disappointment, Becker said: “The place is better than I ever could have imagined. The biggest disappointment? The global recession.” But then he added: “You deal with the reality you’re given.”

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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