From the President

A National Model: Georgia State is demonstrating how students from all backgrounds can succeed

MarkBeckerillo_FINALIn this centennial year we are building on the foundation created by alumni, faculty, students, staff and supporters in Georgia State’s first century. This is a time to reflect on the commitment and dedication of the members of our community in the past, but it is also a time to pursue a new vision for Georgia State with renewed vigor and purpose. We are making huge strides in the implementation of the strategic plan we introduced in 2011, and nowhere is that more evident than in the work we are doing to help students reach their dream of earning a degree.

I’ve had the good fortune recently to share with a variety of audiences that Georgia State is recognized nationally as a leader in using creative and individualized approaches to ensure each student reaches his or her full academic potential.

The first goal in our strategic plan is to become a national model in demonstrating how students from all backgrounds can achieve a college degree and career success, and we’re making great strides to that end.

Under the direction of Vice Provost and Chief Enrollment Officer Tim Renick, Georgia State is implementing innovative programs aimed at ensuring student success. Our work in this area is gaining significant national attention, in the media and among policy makers. National Public Radio, for example, recently featured a story about our programs to help students of all backgrounds earn a college degree.

With the goals of increasing graduation and retention rates to levels where they will change the national conversation on what is possible, the university introduced a new advising system in August 2012 that tracks students’ academic performance and identifies key markers that may indicate future outcomes.

We have already used the system to advise nearly 13,000 students.

This multi-faceted and highly collaborative effort is working extremely well. The institutional graduation rate has improved 19 points since 2003. This past year alone, it climbed 3.5 points, reaching a record of 51.2 percent, and it is on pace to increase another 2 to 3 points this fall. Almost no other university can claim those levels and consistency of improvement over the same period. That is why our efforts are being recognized nationally.

We believe this impressive progress has come from a commitment to the systematic use of data in identifying roadblocks, detours and pitfalls that all too often inhibit student progress and success. With vast amounts of data at our disposal we develop and test ways of addressing those challenges, and move forward at scale with those experiments that produce promising results. We are one of only a handful of universities who have introduced innovative support programs capable of helping students on a large scale.

Our work in this arena holds great promise for our state and nation because greatly increased numbers of college graduates are needed to fuel economic growth and America’s competitive position on the global stage. Because they educate the majority of our nation’s college and university students, large public universities like ours will have the greatest impact in ensuring student success and fostering a more highly educated society. I am proud that our university is leading the charge.


Mark P. Becker