President Mark P. Becker spoke to the faculty, staff and student body in his 3rd annual State of the University Address on April 13.
President Becker was introduced by Brad Ferrer, President of the Alumni Association Board. The agenda for the address included an update on the strategic plan for campus like future expansion, the university’s current financial status and the recognition of highlights from the year.
Becker discussed the goals of the strategic plan which are currently undergoing implementation as an effective policy.
“The hard work that our university community put into this plan will not have been in vain,” he said. “So long as we actually use the plan to shape the future of Georgia State, and that indeed is what we are doing.”
Becker applauded the Strategic Plan Committee for their work on the plan. He explained that the efforts of the plan were focused on recognized excellence in an effort to make Georgia State one of the nation’s premiere research universities. He listed the five goals of the strategic plan.
The first goal of the plan is geared towards making the university a model for undergraduate education through showing that students of different backgrounds can achieve academic and career success. This initiative focuses on funding for both merit- and need-based scholarships.
Goal two outlines the growth of graduate professional school programs in order to cultivate the next generation of researchers, as well as increased funding for doctoral students.
“This goal is aimed both at changing the nature of graduate professional programs and also in increasing our competitiveness for outstanding graduate students,” Becker said.
The change in the graduate and professional school programs will increase the distinction and quality of the programs. It will also draw attention to the university’s exemplary work in graduate and professional studies. Becker used a new Ph.D. program as a model.
“For example, our newly approved Ph.D. program in public health has taken Urban Health as its emphasis,” he said. “This Ph.D. program will become the nexus for interdisciplinary work and will produce a natural interest in Georgia State.”
A new doctoral fellowships program was also recently launched that will provide support for doctoral programs at the university, falling in line with goal two.
The third goal regards research and the ability to address the most challenging issues of the twenty-first century. Increases in recruiting capability and faculty with the ability to conduct federally-funded research projects are ways the new Second Century Initiative program will work towards that goal.
New university-level research centers are also major initiatives of the plan. The first research center was established in January.
“These centers are absolutely essential in order for our faculty to successfully compete for the larger research grants that will permit them to make major breakthroughs that will significantly benefit society,” Becker said.
The fourth goal centers on campus location. The challenges of having a university in the city and solutions to the problems that the city faces as a whole will be analyzed and used to create effective solutions. These issues include, but are not limited to, governance, transportation, housing and quality of life.
The final goal is about globalizing the university. Becker recognized the existing international programs on campus. A partnership with the Beijing Language and Culture University and the launch of the Confucius Institute, along with the founding of the World Affairs Council of Atlanta, were cited as recent successes in globalization.
Pres. Becker stated that these collective goals all relate to one another and when implemented will improve the overall progression of the university.
Becker also discussed the academic year’s highlights.
“We have set, this year, an all-time record for fall freshman applications, with more than 12,100 applications for the fall,” he said. “This past year we enrolled more than 31,000 students and our one-year retention rate topped eighty-four percent for the first time ever.”
The freshman class set records for the highest GPA and SAT scores in university history. The president also intends to set new records for enrollment, GPA, SAT scores and diversity for the upcoming freshman class.
Published April 19, 2011 in “The Signal”