The Relationship Between a University and its City

My parents choose to move to Johns Creek, Georgia because they heard it had excellent schools, and I know many of my friends’ parents did the same thing. My parents, like many others, associate the quality of the town with the quality of the school. At the lower education level, good schools are synonymous with good neighborhoods. When it comes to higher education however, the relationship between a college and its city is much more complicated. I want to examine the relationship between Georgia State University (GSU) and the city of Atlanta. Overall, Georgia State has had a positive effect on Atlanta through the reduction of crime, expansion of the local economy, and fostering a sense of community within the city.

First, we can examine the nature of Georgia State’s expansion since its inception as the Georgia School of Technology’s (now commonly referred to as Georgia Tech) Evening School of Commerce in 1913. 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, a member of Georgia Tech’s administrative staff, directed the school during its early years. In 1947, after Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia became incorporated into the University System of Georgia under the Georgia Board of Regents, the Regents decided that the Georgia Tech Evening School of Commerce should be an independent college. In 1947 it was incorporated by the Board of Regents into the program of the University of Georgia. At that time the institution became the “Atlanta Division of the University of Georgia.” By 1955 the Board of Regents came to realize that the Atlanta Division was acquiring a destiny and a unique identity of its own, and proceeded to establish the college as its own university. You can find more on Georgia State’s history here.