With the arrival of October we are well into the semester and the calendar is filled with many campus-wide events, including those organized around Homecoming to welcome alumni and friends back to campus. Homecoming week is October 17-22, and this year we will honor five graduates with Distinguished Alumni Awards. This year’s honorees are: David Dodd (B.S. Mathematics ’71, M.S. Mathematical Statistics ’77), CEO of VaxyGen Holdings; Dr. Rhonda Scott (Ph. D. Nursing ’97), Chief Nursing Officer and Senior Vice President of Patient Care Services at Grady Health System; Kathy Berry (A.B. Journalism ’72, M.B.A ’86), former executive director of the Georgia Press Association; Carolyn Curry (M.A. History ’79, Ph. D. History ’87), founder and director of Women Alone Together and Scott Slade (A.B. Journalism ’89), WSB Radio anchor. These are exceptional GSU alumni, and we look forward to recognizing them for their many and varied accomplishments.
As I have reflected back on the words of inspiration bestowed on the Class of 2015 by Jonathan Safran Foer, author of Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, at our Freshmen Convocation I have come to appreciate that much of his advice is equally applicable to GSU institutionally as it is the individual members of the freshmen class. In particular, his advice to “change, but don’t change” is very apropos in the light of our strategic plan for the next decade. The successful implementation of the five goals in Georgia State’s strategic plan will lead to much positive change, and I encourage those of you unfamiliar with the plan to review it at http://www.gsu.edu/strategicplan/. But as we look to the future with much anticipation, there are parts of Georgia State that should remain unchanged, even as we push forward. For nearly a century GSU has focused on academic programs and research that are relevant to the needs of Atlanta and Georgia — We have worked efficiently with limited resources; we have been nimble, and we have been gritty. Those are qualities that have helped Georgia State evolve from an evening School of Commerce in 1913, to a major research university in 2011, and they are qualities that will help GSU to become a national model for an urban, research university.
As always, I thank you for your service to Georgia State University, and I hope you have a safe and productive October.
Mark P. Becker