Georgia State’s Becker to resign after leading transformative change

    Georgia State University President Mark Becker announced Tuesday he is stepping down at the end of the school year. Becker led the school through a massive expansion of its downtown Atlanta footprint and during a merger that created the largest university enrollment in Georgia. Courtesy Georgia State University

    Georgia State University President Mark Becker is stepping down from his position in June after more than a decade in charge of the state’s largest college, he told members of the university community in an email Tuesday.

    In his letter, Becker did not give a reason for his departure, but said he was announcing his plan now to give the Board of Regents ample time to choose his replacement.

    In 2016, Becker led the consolidation of Georgia State University and Georgia Perimeter College, which created the largest university enorollment in the state and one of the largest in the nation with more than 54,000 students.

    He pushed for an expansion of the university’s footprint as well, bringing major student housing additions  to its downtown Atlanta neighborhood. Georgia State’s football team debuted the year after he arrived and now plays in the former home of the Atlanta Braves, Turner Field.

    “Leading Georgia State for more than a decade, starting in the middle of a global financial crisis and concluding with a global pandemic, has been challenging and stimulating,” Becker wrote. “It has been my most rewarding professional experience. What we have accomplished together over the last decade is remarkable and exemplifies Georgia State’s more than 100-year legacy of adapting to meet the ever changing needs of the city of Atlanta, the state of Georgia and the nation. I have been inspired throughout my presidency by the innovation, culture and indomitable spirit of our community.”

    In 2017, the Georgia State Panthers football team moved into what is now Center Parc Stadium. The university partnered with private developers to build student housing and retail near the stadium.

    The developments not only transformed the campus, but prompted renewal of nearby neighborhoods. Long known as the “concrete campus” the school is putting the finishing touches on the transformation of an old classroom building carved out of a parking garage into a greenspace plaza linking classrooms to student common space.

    Georgia State is also known for graduating as many minority students as any other university in the country. The school tracks students through analytics that identify students who are falling behind to offer them counseling to help them make it to graduation day. Becker has a doctoral degree in statistics.

    “His vision transformed the university’s physical campus and lifted intercollegiate athletics to new heights,” said University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley. “He guided a complex institutional consolidation to a successful outcome and has been a leader off-campus in the city and region. All the while, he provided excellent counsel to me and has become a valued friend. While we will organize a national search soon to find the university’s next president, I’m grateful for his service to our students and the University System of Georgia. Georgia State has transformed thousands of lives because of Mark’s leadership, and we will miss him greatly.

    Ross Williams
    Before joining the Georgia Recorder, Ross Williams covered local and state government for the Marietta Daily Journal.Williams' reporting took him from City Hall to homeless camps, from the offices of business executives to the living rooms of grieving parents. His work earned recognition from the Georgia Associated Press Media Editors and the Georgia Press Association, including beat reporting, business writing and non-deadline reporting. A native of Cobb County, Williams holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Atlanta's Oglethorpe University and a master’s in journalism from Northwestern University.