We’re a Community of Change-Makers
In a world that changes at breakneck speed, Georgia State’s ability to adapt and act quickly has become increasingly crucial — and keeps turning heads.
U.S. News & World Report magazine now ranks us the No. 2 among national universities for innovation and commitment to undergraduate education. Thanks to our steadfast commitment to student success and a willingness to pursue new directions, we have earned a reputation as a catalyst for metro Atlanta’s growth and development. I thought I’d share some examples.
The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia announced last month the formation of the Georgia FinTech Academy, a statewide initiative to create a talent pipeline for Georgia’s fast-growing financial technology (fintech) business sector. Georgia State will play an integral role, with the Robinson College of Business serving as the FinTech hub for all 26 colleges and universities in the university system. We’ll educate more students than ever for careers in financial technology.
Financial technology is a thriving industry in metro Atlanta, and significantly more professionals are needed. More than 40,000 Georgians are employed in the fintech sector, and about 70 percent of all global financial transactions pass through companies headquartered here. By 2020, the region will need an additional 5,000 fintech professionals, particularly in software development and data science, local experts say. The Georgia FinTech Academy will be a public-private partnership, and Georgia State is helping to lead the way on this important workforce development initiative that promises to have long-term value for students, the fintech sector and our local economy.
While we’re proud to be widely recognized as the first, and perhaps only, public university in the U.S. to have closed achievement gaps based on race, ethnicity and income, we’re continuing to push ourselves to find even more ways we can help our students succeed. For the past two years, we’ve been developing a new initiative to make career preparedness — and not just graduation — a large part of our students’ academic journeys. It’s called College to Career (CTC), and we will begin to implement it in early 2019.
Relying on advanced analytics and technology like some of Georgia State’s other hallmark programs, CTC will leverage existing coursework to help students accomplish three things: become aware of their career competencies, connect those competencies to the work they do and demonstrate their proficiency in transferable skills. We are not aware of any other national university that’s tackling the challenges of transitioning from college to full-time work like we are.
Georgia State has also led the way in response to Atlanta’s and Georgia’s booming $9.5 billion entertainment industry. As you know, the university established the Creative Media Industries Institute (CMII) in fall 2014 with help from a $22.8 million gift from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation. We transformed a former SunTrust Bank building at the corner of Edgewood Avenue and Park Place into the facility that now houses CMII and its digital media programs.
CMII has assembled a team of scholars and professors of practice who work with students on theory and practical industry knowledge. Members of our CMII team bring a variety of backgrounds and strengths to the institute. They include Pulitzer Prize–winning author and documentary filmmaker Doug Blackmon and Candice Alger, who has created advanced visual effects for some of Hollywood’s biggest feature films.
One of our goals is to prepare Georgia State students for careers that transcend traditional degree programs. We have created two “design-your-own” degree programs for undergraduates interested in game design and media entrepreneurship. In the media entrepreneurship program, students begin by taking coursework in the Robinson College of Business and then follow up with CMII classes tailored to media industries. The balance of the program is filled with classes in the core artistic areas: film, graphic design, music industries and game design. The game design program guarantees internships to all seniors, and we’ve partnered with Hi-Rez Studios, Georgia’s largest video game development company, to train them for industry needs. After just two years, our CMII programs enroll more than 600 students.
We hosted the first national conference of the National Association for Collegiate Esports last summer and welcomed 84 participating colleges. We are at the forefront of this growing field, and we are even providing small, privately funded scholarships for game competitors.
We’re building CMII into a hub that encourages collaboration and interaction among entrepreneurial students, faculty, startups and larger companies.
Changing, adapting and innovating are parts of our Georgia State DNA. Throughout our 100-year-plus history, Georgia State has met the challenges facing our region. We will continue to respond to an evolving city and evolving industries as we foster the most relevant and stimulating educational culture in the country. As the demand grows in our society for intelligent, thoughtful and creative young people who can apply their knowledge and skills in established and emerging fields, a college degree has never been more valuable.
Mark P. Becker