Q&A With President Mark Becker

President Mark Becker provided the following answers to the questions about the consolidation’s affect on Georgia State.

Georgia State and Georgia Perimeter have a long history of collaboration and mutual benefit. Nearly 1,500 Georgia Perimeter students annually transfer to Georgia State, and those students have performed at an academic level equivalent to students who began their four-year program at Georgia State. Georgia State’s nationally recognized and continuing work on programs aimed at ensuring student success will have a significant impact on improving graduation rates at both institutions. Overall, the number of students who earn their undergraduate degrees is expected to increase significantly.
The consolidation will dramatically increase Georgia State’s impact and extend the university’s reach. The university has become a national model for undergraduate education by demonstrating that students from all backgrounds can achieve academic and career success at high rates. This consolidation is in keeping with Georgia State’s commitment to increasing access and helping students earn their degrees.
This consolidation makes Georgia State the largest university in Georgia and one of the largest in the nation. Georgia State has a growing reputation as one of the country’s premier urban research universities. It has been recognized as the 6th-ranked “Up and Coming National University” by U.S. News and World Report, 17th-ranked university in the nation for return on investment for students by Best Value Schools and 10th-ranked university in the nation for graduation-rate performance by Eduventures. In December, President Barack Obama lauded the university as a national model of student success. All of Georgia State’s momentum in these areas will continue to grow with this consolidation. By joining with Georgia Perimeter, Georgia State will not only gain a larger national profile, it will provide greater opportunities for students from both institutions. With campuses throughout the metro-Atlanta region, the consolidated Georgia State University will have the flexibility to more readily deliver quality academic programs throughout the metro region. It will be able to deliver a greater number of courses at more times of the day and in a wider range of delivery formats, and it will use the nationally recognized approaches to student success it has pioneered to greatly enhance graduation rates for students across the consolidated campuses. Georgia State will continue to admit students to its downtown campus on a highly selective basis and will be ranked by the standards of a top-tier national research university. The highly selective admissions standards, academic quality and growing research profile remain the same.
The University of South Carolina (USC), for example, includes Palmetto College, which serves an access role and admits students predominantly into associate degree and certificate programs on four campuses across the state. USC is a highly selective, tier-one research university that admits students to the Columbia campus. Students enrolling at the Palmetto College campuses are admitted through a different process that is consistent with the access mission of those campuses, and they take their classes at one of the Palmetto campuses, not in Columbia. Many of them ultimately transfer to another campus of the University of South Carolina, or elsewhere, to complete a baccalaureate degree. Others use their certificate or associate’s degree to immediately enter the workforce. Another similar example, though a non-public model, is Oxford College of Emory University.

In addition, this consolidation is consistent with the growth and rising profiles of large, public research universities in metro areas. For example, Arizona State University (Phoenix metro area) and the University of Central Florida (Orlando metro region), have enrollments well exceeding 50,000 and have greatly increased their national profiles and the value of their degrees as they have grown. The consolidated Georgia State University is on a similar trajectory.

Georgia State will continue to grow its academic quality and vibrant research enterprise on the downtown campus. Admissions will continue to be highly selective. Courses offered downtown (and in other existing Georgia State locations such as Buckhead) will enroll only students who have been admitted to the downtown campus. In the future, we anticipate that this consolidation will lead to more students pursuing four-year degrees at Georgia State, and we have the capacity to address growth in the student population.

This also is an opportunity to expand Georgia State’s programs throughout the metro area. Georgia State now offers programs downtown, in Buckhead and Alpharetta. Georgia Perimeter offers courses at five campuses in Newton, Clarkston, Decatur, Dunwoody and the Alpharetta campus adjacent to Georgia State’s Alpharetta campus. The consolidation will give Georgia State students more opportunities to access the university’s high-quality programs at additional locations.

No. Georgia State will continue to be ranked as a top-tier public research university. Because of its distinct mission, Georgia Perimeter’s academic enterprise will be evaluated and measured separately from Georgia State’s bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs by organizations that rank institutions.

Georgia State will continue to admit students into its bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs by the highly selective standards of a top-tier national research university. The Georgia Perimeter portion of the newly consolidated Georgia State University will continue to admit students into its associate’s and certificate programs by standards consistent with its access mission. Georgia Perimeter students who wish to enroll in bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral programs offered at the downtown campus will have to apply and be admitted into these programs, just as Georgia State bachelor’s students who wish to enroll in a master’s or doctoral program at the downtown campus must apply and be admitted to their program of interest.
The first step is to form an implementation committee, including students, faculty and staff from Georgia State and Georgia Perimeter, who will spend the next year examining and working through all aspects of the consolidation. The work of the committee is to be submitted to the Board of Regents for its consideration in January 2016, with implementation finalized by the beginning of the fall semester in 2016.
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