Meet the President
MARK P. BECKER
Georgia State University
Since beginning his tenure as Georgia State University’s seventh president in January 2009, President Mark P. Becker has provided a vision for the future of Georgia State University and led the institution into a period of marked growth and advancement. Reflecting his vision of the urban public research university for the 21st century, the university adopted a dynamic 10-year strategic plan that has Georgia State well on its way to becoming one of the nation’s premier urban research universities.
As a first generation college student who began his educational career at a community college, Becker is personally and professionally committed to ensuring that students of all economic backgrounds succeed and are given opportunities to compete on a level playing field. Under his leadership, Georgia State’s graduation rate has already increased by 10 percent, and the university is becoming a national model for undergraduate education. It leads the nation in eliminating disparities in graduation rates based on race or ethnicity, and, as one of the most diverse universities in America, is first in the nation among non-profit institutions in graduating African-American students.
By promoting the achievements of the university, making it more visible locally and nationally, and demonstrating the value of a Georgia State degree, the university under Becker’s leadership has set a series of university records for enrollment, graduation rates and total graduates. Becker has also placed high priority on ensuring financial support for students, and as a result need- and merit-based scholarship funds distributed by the university have tripled since his arrival.
Becker’s passion for student success has been matched by his commitment to increasing multidisciplinary research and economic development as facilitated by the creation of new research centers, the Second Century Initiative—an ambitious program to hire one-hundred senior faculty members to serve in interdisciplinary research clusters, and an enhanced emphasis on the translation of faculty research into products and companies. This commitment has brought the university to new heights of research accomplishment, as reflected, for example, in new university records for sponsored research funding and federal research funding.
Being globally connected and engaged is another important component of Becker’s vision for the modern research university. Seeking to position Georgia State faculty and students to thrive in an increasingly complex and global landscape, Becker has worked with faculty leaders and international partners to enhance Georgia State’s global profile. In 2010 the university partnered with Beijing Language and Culture University to establish a Confucius Institute with an emphasis on business and commerce. In 2012 the institute was named a “2012 Confucius Institute of the Year.”
Becker is particularly committed to developing strong partnerships with universities in rapidly growing economies. As a result, the university is working to strengthen relationships with counterparts in Brazil, China, South Africa, South Korea and Turkey. These partners are the basis for the development of new student and faculty exchanges, study abroad programs, research collaborations, executive training initiatives, government and private sector networks, and dual-degree programs.
Becker has aggressively advanced the campus’ physical development and revitalization of downtown Atlanta. This has included major additions to campus housing and dining, research and academic facilities, as well as intramural and athletics facilities. In 2010 the university added football to its athletics program, and in 2013 added sand volleyball and moved to the Sun Belt Conference to advance into the Division I – FBS level of NCAA competition.
Throughout his career Becker has served on boards and committees of civic, government and professional bodies. He serves, for example, on the boards of the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities, World Affairs Council of Atlanta, Georgia Chamber of Commerce, Georgia Aquarium, Georgia Research Alliance, Woodruff Arts Center, and the Atlanta Committee for Progress. He also serves on the executive committees of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, Atlanta Regional Council for Higher Education (Chair) and Central Atlanta Progress.
Trained as a statistician, Becker has had a distinguished career in biostatistics and public health sciences. For most of his professorial career he was a member of the faculty in the Department of Biostatistics at the University of Michigan, where he also held appointments in the Institute for Social Research, and the Department of Statistics. He was made a Fellow of the American Statistical Association, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Becker has been principal investigator on research grants from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. He has published extensively in leading journals, and his doctoral students have gone on to successful careers in leading higher education institutions and with multinational companies. Becker served on multiple editorial boards, was co-editor of Sociological Methodology, and was a guest editor for Sociological Methods and Research and for the Journal of the American Statistical Association.
Prior to his appointment as president of Georgia State, Becker was executive vice president for academic affairs and provost at the University of South Carolina and dean of the School of Public Health and assistant vice president of Public Health Preparedness and Emergency Response at the University of Minnesota. From 1989 to 2000, Becker was a professor in the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health, where he also was associate dean for academic affairs. He has held academic appointments at the University of Washington, the University of Florida and Cornell University.
Becker attended Harford (Md.) Community College, earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Towson State University in 1980 and his Ph.D. degree in statistics from the Pennsylvania State University in 1985. Becker grew up in Havre de Grace, Md., near Baltimore. He and his wife, Laura Voisinet, have two adult children, Matthew and Julia.