As a first-generation college student who began his educational career at a community college, President Becker has been personally and professionally committed to ensuring students of all economic backgrounds succeed. The university leads the nation in eliminating disparities in graduation rates based on race, ethnicity or income. As one of the most diverse universities in America, Georgia State is first in the nation among nonprofit institutions in graduating African American students.
In 2010, Georgia State added football to its athletics program. Here, President Becker is photographed with the inaugural team, Head Coach Bill Curry (center) and then-Athletics Director Cheryl Levick before the team’s first game, a 41-7 win over Shorter University. Just three years later, Georgia State introduced beach volleyball and moved to the Sun Belt Conference to advance into the Division I – Football Bowl Subdivision level of NCAA competition.
With the addition of 17 buildings to its Atlanta Campus since 2010, President Becker has overseen the university’s dramatic and award-winning expansion that has revitalized the city’s core. In 2013, during the university’s centennial year, Georgia State opened the renovated Atlanta Life Financial Group building at 100 Auburn Ave. and aptly renamed it Centennial Hall. Here, President Becker, Ambassador Andrew Young (left) and then-Mayor Kasim Reed unfurl a banner during the building’s grand opening.
President Becker began his tenure as Georgia State’s seventh president in January 2009. Here, he addresses an audience gathered for his State of the University address in 2013, during Georgia State’s centennial celebration.
President Becker meets Pepper the robot during the 2017 opening of the Creative Media Industries Institute. Becker has led Georgia State’s rapid emergence as one of the nation’s leading research institutions. Research expenditures have increased more than 153 percent over the last decade, making Georgia State one of the fastest-growing research universities in the country.
President Becker has placed a high priority on ensuring financial support for students, and under his leadership the university has set fundraising records. Here, he addresses an audience during the kickoff of Georgia State’s $300 million Burning Bright capital campaign — the largest fundraising effort in university history.
In May 2015, President Becker, an avid mountaineer, invited a handful of students to join him as he climbed Mount Baker, a 10,786-foot mountain in the North Cascades of Washington State. On May 31, the entire group reached the summit. Atop Mount Baker are (from left) Chelsea Zakas, Becker, Nate Anthony and Mac Kweon. Anthony, a former defensive back for the Panthers’ football team, called the climb “the best experience of my life, by far.” (Photo by Carson Tortorige)
In February 2020, Georgia State honored three women who sued to desegregate the university in the 1950s — Myra Payne Elliott, Barbara Pace Hunt and Iris Mae Welch. Provost Wendy Hensel, Elliott and President Becker are shown here after the inaugural Groundbreaker Lecture. In their honor, Becker has endowed a scholarship to provide financial support to students who embody the commitment to social justice exemplified by Elliott, Hunt and Welch.
President Becker meets with former U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson during one of the senator’s visits to the Atlanta Campus. Isakson praised Georgia State’s commitment to student success during a Senate committee meeting in 2014.
President Becker meets with the media during the opening of Georgia State Stadium in 2017. Becker led the university’s acquisition and renovation of Turner Field in downtown Atlanta, originally built for the 1996 Summer Olympics and the previous home of the Atlanta Braves of Major League Baseball. In August, the university entered a naming rights agreement, and the stadium was renamed Center Parc Stadium.
Along with city, state and judicial leaders, President Becker cuts the ribbon during the Sept. 9, 2015 ceremony for the new College of Law building at 85 Park Place.
President Becker oversaw Georgia State’s consolidation with Georgia Perimeter College in 2016, which brought the university’s student enrollment to more than 50,000, making it the largest university in Georgia and one of the largest in the nation. Here, Becker and Peter Lyons, Perimeter College’s first dean and vice provost, share a laugh during the new college’s opening. In just a few years, Georgia State has dramatically increased graduation rates and eliminated all disparities in graduation based on race, ethnicity or income for Perimeter College students.
President Becker talks to students during the opening of the new Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute. Under Becker’s leadership, Georgia State has been ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top three most innovative universities in the country for the past three years.
President Becker crowns Perimeter College’s Makiya Singleton as Georgia State’s 2019 Homecoming Queen. Becker plans to take an educational leave following his presidency to conduct research and write, but will remain a fixture at Georgia State football games and events.