Regents Approve First Black President At Georgia State University

Georgia’s largest public university will be led by M. Brian Blake, an academic from George Washington University.
Georgia’s largest public university will be led by M. Brian Blake, an academic from George Washington University.
Credit Alison Guillory / WABE
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The current provost at George Washington University will become president at Georgia State University in August.

Regents voted Thursday to name M. Brian Blake as president of Georgia’s largest public university, days after naming him as the sole finalist for the job.

“I know that with help from the campus community, we can further the institution’s national reputation and innovative environment and create a truly unique education experience for students,” Blake said in a statement.

Blake has been provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at George Washington, a 28,000-student private university in Washington, D.C., since 2019.

He will be the first African American to lead Georgia State.

Blake became provost at George Washington in 2019. Before that, he was an administrator at Drexel University in Philadelphia, at the University of Miami and Notre Dame. He began his academic career as a computer science professor at Georgetown after working as a software developer.

Blake is a Georgia native and first-generation college graduate who earned a bachelor’s degree from Georgia Tech, a master’s degree from Mercer University and a doctorate from George Mason University.

He will take over Aug. 9 for outgoing Georgia State President Mark Becker, who announced last September that he would retire June 30. Over 12 years, Becker won widespread acclaim for increasing the number and share of students graduating from Georgia State, even as the school has grown to nearly 54,000 students. He oversaw a merger with the former Perimeter College and worked to increase financial and other support for students.

Under Becker, Georgia State also marched into the highest tier of college athletics and increased research and academic productivity at an institution that was founded as a night school aimed at working white men but which has grown into a major institution that anchors downtown Atlanta.

Blake was a finalist to lead the University of Rhode Island in April but withdrew from the search.