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 the 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 that 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 both 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 University’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 University on July 1, 1992. Dr. Mark P. Becker, the seventh president of Georgia State University, began his tenure on January 1, 2009.
The University Mace is carried in front of the Platform Party for convocation, presidential inaugurations, commencement ceremonies and other significant university events. The Mace is a symbol of dignity and authority and displays a variety of symbols unique to the University. The Georgia State University Mace was created in 1990 for the university’s first presidential inauguration ceremony.
The presidential medallion is an integral part of the President’s graduation regalia. It is unique to the university and will be passed on to the next University President. A competition was held in 1990 asking students to design a medallion to be used at the University’s first official inauguration ceremony. The design of Masters of Fine Arts student, Julia Woodman, was selected. The Georgia State University medallion is a combination of sterling silver and 14-karat gold.
Alma Mater, we are loyal to the name of Georgia State.
Love and honor we accord thee and devotion from our hearts.
In respect and veneration we shall always hold thy name.
Nurturer of light and knowledge we shall ever tell thy fame.
Happy are thy sons and daughters spread abroad throughout the land.
Knowing that we are forever part of thine own faithful band.
Where the paths of life are crowded, we have known thy pleasant bond;
And the love of Alma Mater we shall never pass beyond.
Georgia State University’s Alma Mater was written by former Dean of Students, Kenneth England. It is sung to the tune of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy.