History and Academic Tradition
Georgia State University was founded in 1913 as the Georgia Institute of Technology’s “Evening School of Commerce.” Holding classes in rented space in downtown Atlanta, the school moved its location several times to surroundings that could accommodate its increasing enrollment. Wayne S. Kell, distinguished member of the Georgia Tech staff, directed the School during this early period. Kell Hall is named in his honor.
In 1928, Dr. George M. Sparks became director of the institution at a time when Georgia and the nation moved into a severe depression. He later served as the first president. Sparks Hall, a major building on the campus housing administrative offices and classrooms today, recognizes his contribution to the institution.
When the reorganization of state government created a Board of Regents to govern the University System of Georgia, the Regents decided the Georgia Tech Evening School of Commerce should be an independent college in the new System. Independent throughout the Depression and World War II, the Tech School of Commerce was incorporated by the Board of Regents into the program of the University of Georgia in 1947. At that time the institution became the “Atlanta Division of the University of Georgia.”
In 1955 the Regents separated Georgia State from the University of Georgia, it was given the title “Georgia State College of Business Administration.” By 1961 the Board of Regents changed the name to “Georgia State College.” In 1957 Noah Langdale Jr., became second president upon the retirement of Dr. Sparks. In recognition of the academic advances made by the institution and the services it offered to students and to the community the Board of Regents changed the name once more to Georgia State University in 1969. The university acquired research status in 1996.
The Board of Regents named Dr. William M. Suttles Georgia State’s third president in 1988. On July 1, 1989, Dr. John Michael Palms became the university’s fourth president. The fifth president, Dr. Sherman Day, served as acting president from 1991 to 1992. Dr. Carl V. Patton was appointed the sixth president of Georgia State on July 1, 1992. Dr. Mark P. Becker, the seventh president of Georgia State began his tenure on January 1, 2009.