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 pursued an ambitious vision for the future of Georgia State University and has led the institution into an unparalleled period of growth and advancement. Reflecting his vision of the modern public research university, the university adopted a dynamic 10-year strategic plan that has fueled Georgia State’s emergence as 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. Under his leadership, Georgia State’s graduation rate has already increased by 10 percent, and the university has become a widely recognized national leader in the introduction of innovative programs and initiatives to foster student success. 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 records for enrollment, graduation rates and total graduates. Becker has also placed high priority on ensuring financial support for students, and need- and merit-based scholarship funds distributed by the university have tripled since his arrival. Under Becker’s leadership, Georgia State has set fund-raising records.
Becker’s passion for student success has been matched by his commitment to increasing multidisciplinary research and economic development through the creation of new research centers, the Second Century Initiative—an ambitious program to hire 100 senior faculty members to serve in interdisciplinary research clusters, and an 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 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. Becker is particularly committed to developing strong partnerships with universities in rapidly growing economies. As a result, the university is strengthening relationships with counterparts in Brazil, China, South Africa, South Korea and Turkey.
Becker has aggressively advanced the campus’ physical development and Georgia State is widely acknowledged as a major catalyst in the revitalization of downtown Atlanta. The university has made major additions to campus housing and dining, research and academic facilities, and 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 – Football Bowl Subdivision level of NCAA competition.
Throughout his career Becker has served on boards and committees of civic, government and professional organizations. 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 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 doctor’s 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.