USG announces Georgia State’s presidential taskforce

Photo from Georgia State University President website

On Sept. 15, The Signal reported that a nationwide search had begun for Georgia State’s next president after the announcement of Georgia State University President Mark Becker’s retirement. 

On Oct. 29, the University System of Georgia named the members of the Georgia State University Presidential Search Committee to find Becker’s replacement. 

“[Georgia State] is a national leader in student success with significant increases in graduation rates. Our national search seeks someone with the knowledge, energy and skills to lead [Georgia State] to greater heights. We are excited about the future of [Georgia State],” Chancellor Steve Wrigley said.

The committee will contain 23 members ranging from professors, counselors and even Georgia State’s Student Government Association University-Wide President Kaelen Thomas.

 Members of the Presidential Search Committee are as follows:

  • Regent Neil L. Pruitt Jr., committee chair
  • Regent and Board Chairman Sachin Shailendra
  • Regent Sarah-Elizabeth Langford Reed
  • Regent Rachel B. Little
  • Regent Lowery Houston May
  • Regent T. Dallas Smith
  • Regent Philip A. Wilheit Sr.
  • Neda Barqawi, Georgia State alumnus, chief executive officer and managing director of Knovalytics
  • Michelle Brattain, associate professor, Department of History, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Carol Cohen, assistant vice president for university advising, University Advisement Center
  • Cynthia Cornelissen, director, Center for Translational Immunology; distinguished professor and associate director, Institute for Biomedical Sciences
  • Donna Frazier, freshman admissions counselor III; chair, Staff Council
  • Catherine Henson, Georgia State alumnus, former chair, Georgia State University Foundation Board of Trustees
  • Kevin Lofton, Georgia State alumnus, chief executive officer emeritus, CommonSpirit Health; member, Georgia State University Foundation Board of Trustees
  • Rodney Lyn, interim dean, senior associate dean for academic and strategic initiatives, associate professor, School of Public Health
  • Arun Rai, Regent’s Professor, J. Mack Robinson Chair of IT-Enabled Supply Chains and Process Innovation; director, Center for Digital Innovation; Computer Information Systems Department, J. Mack Robinson College of Business
  • Sally Robertson, professor of theater, interim chair, Theater/Fine Arts Department, Perimeter College; member, Senate Executive Committee
  • Todd Shutley, Georgia State alumnus, executive vice president and chief specialty banking officer, Ameris Bank; chair, Georgia State University Foundation Board of Trustees
  • Jessica Siemer, graduate student and Ph.D. candidate, Chemistry Department, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Andrew Sumner, Sc.D., associate professor, Joe Taylor Chair in Health Administration, associate professor and director, Institute of Health Administration, J. Mack Robinson College of Business
  • Kaelen Thomas, university-wide student body president, Student Government Association
  • Anne Tucker, professor, College of Law; director, Legal Analytics and Innovation Initiative
  • Regynald Washington, president, Paradies Lagardère Travel Retail Dining Division North America

The President Search Committee will initially begin Nov. 16, on the Atlanta Campus. This meeting will establish each member’s responsibilities and roles while conducting the search. 

The committee will use Parker Executive Search to provide search consulting services. After its assistance, the committee will send the credentials of three to five unranked candidates to the Board of Regents for consideration.

Becker began his tenure as president of Georgia State in January 2009, joining the university at a crucial global financial time.

“Leading Georgia State for more than a decade, starting in the middle of a global financial crisis and concluding with a global pandemic, has been challenging and stimulating,” Becker said in an email to students, faculty members, employees and supporters. 

Under Becker’s leadership, Georgia State has set records for enrollment, graduation rates and total number of graduates.

“President Mark Becker’s outstanding leadership has helped Georgia State University set the national standard for innovation in student success, resulting in dramatic increases in graduation rates for students of all backgrounds,” Wrigley said.

Becker has led Georgia State to become one of the nation’s leading and fastest-growing research institutions, increasing research spending by more than 153% over the last decade, making Georgia State one of the fastest-growing research universities in the country.

As a first-generation college graduate and someone who began his educational career at a community college, Becker made it a point of his tenure that students from all backgrounds succeeded. 

In 2006, after Georgia State’s consolidation with Georgia Perimeter College, it brought the university’s enrollment to more than 50,000, making Georgia State the largest university in Georgia.

Becker quickly advanced the Atlanta campus’s physical development, allowing Georgia State to be a standard in the restoration of downtown Atlanta. 

He has positioned Georgia State faculty and students to thrive in any complex circumstance local or abroad. Becker has worked with faculty leaders and international partners to enhance Georgia State’s global profile. 

Global engagement was another crucial component in Becker’s vision of modern research universities. He was committed to developing strong partnerships with universities in rapidly growing economies.

Becker strengthened Georgia State’s relationships with counterparts in Brazil, China, South Africa, South Korea and Turkey.

Also a statistician, Becker has had a decorated career in biostatistics and public health sciences. For most of his professional career, he was a member of the Department of Biostatistics at the University of Michigan, where he also held faculty positions in the Institute for Social Research and the Department of Statistics. 

Becker was also the highest-paid president of any public university in the state while at Georgia State. He held a yearly compensation package that included deferred payments and allowances equalling more than $1 million.

Before becoming president of Georgia State, Becker held numerous leadership positions at other universities. 

He was EVP for academic affairs and provost at the University of South Carolina, dean of the School of Public Health and assistant vice president of public health preparedness and emergency response at the University of Minnesota.