By Associated Press - Tuesday, September 15, 2020

ATLANTA (AP) - The president of Georgia’s largest public university is stepping down from the post at the end of June.

Georgia State University President Mark Becker made the announcement Tuesday, saying he would take leave to research and write.

Becker’s tenure at Georgia State has drawn national notice for the university’s success in helping more students complete their degrees. In a 10-year period, the university’s graduation rate increased by 22 percent. That push has benefited the school’s minority enrollment, with the university coming first in recent years among nonprofit institutions for the number of degrees awarded to African American students.

Becker also oversaw a merger with the former Georgia Perimeter College in 2016. The addition of what had been the state’s largest community college vaulted Georgia State to tops statewide in enrollment with more than 50,000 students. Under Becker’s leadership, Georgia State has expanded throughout downtown Atlanta and also started a top-level football team, taking over the former Turner Field in 2017 after the Atlanta Braves baseball team relocated to suburban Cobb County.

Becker has also led a push into research for an institution that began as a night school that taught classes, among other places, in a former parking garage.

“Georgia State has transformed thousands of lives because of Mark’s leadership, and we will miss him greatly,” University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley said in a statement, promising a national search for Becker’s replacement will be organized soon.

Becker was earlier a high ranking administrator at the University of South Carolina, the University of Minnesota and the University of Michigan. Before becoming an administrator, Becker was a professor of biostatistics and public health sciences.

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