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The Best-Kept Secret No Longer

When I arrived at Georgia State in 2009, a refrain I heard often was that the university was Atlanta’s “best kept secret.” Georgia State was accomplishing much, but it remained under the radar. Headlines and front pages were much more likely to feature Georgia Tech or the University of Georgia, I heard, and few outside of Atlanta knew of Georgia State’s growing reputation.

I’m pleased to say that is no longer the case. The word about Georgia State is out and it is spreading. The university’s national reputation for graduating students from all backgrounds is resonating from the White House to the pages of The New York Times. National outlets such as NPR’s Marketplace and The Wall Street Journal are citing Georgia State’s groundbreaking use of big data to help students succeed.

For the past couple of years I have participated in bi-annual dinners in New York City with members of the national news media and a handful of other college and university presidents. In these candid roundtable discussions, which include writers and editors from The New York Times, NBC, The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg News, among others, I have found great interest in the work we are doing at Georgia State. I have discovered that same interest in my individual visits to newsrooms at The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and other media outlets.

The university’s continued revitalization of downtown Atlanta has consistently made front-page news in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Atlanta Business Chronicle. We’ve been mentioned in more than 500 AJC stories this year, on par with coverage of Tech or UGA.

Our researchers, too, are also now prominently featured on the national stage. Dr. Richard Plemper made international headlines with his breakthrough measles treatment, with articles in publications like Scientific American and U.S. News & World Report. Astronomy professors Dr. Gail Schaefer and Dr. Hal McAlister were featured in The Los Angeles Times and The Guardian. Dr. Benoit Chassaing and Dr. Andrew Gewirtz generated major news coverage with their groundbreaking research linking food additives to chronic disease in media from NBC News to The Los Angeles Times.

These are just a few examples of the hundreds of media outlets who have written about our work.

In November, our marching band performed in front of 50 million viewers at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Watching our students march through the streets of New York City and being introduced by Al Roker was yet another reminder that Georgia State is a secret no longer.

The national coverage generated by our men’s basketball team in the NCAA tournament in March–more than 5,000 stories in news outlets across the nation–made a major contribution to Georgia State’s national name recognition. Nearly 2.4 million people watched the Georgia State vs. Xavier game and millions more followed the story across the country.

Georgia State is rising in local and national prominence, and our best days are in front of us.