Initially intended as a night school, Georgia State University was established in 1913 as the Georgia School of Technology's Evening School of Commerce. A reorganization of the University System of Georgia in the 1930s led to the school becoming the Atlanta Extension Center of the University System of Georgia and allowed night students to earn degrees from several colleges in the University System. During this time, the school was divided into two divisions: Georgia Evening College, and Atlanta Junior College. In September 1947, the school became affiliated with the University of Georgia and was named the Atlanta Division of the University of Georgia. The school was later removed from the University of Georgia in 1955 and became the Georgia State College of Business Administration. In 1961, other programs at the school had grown large enough that the name was shortened to Georgia State College. It became Georgia State University in 1969.
In 1995, the Georgia Board of Regents accorded Georgia State "research university" status, joining the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Georgia, and Augusta University.
The first African-American student enrolled at Georgia State in 1962, a year after the integration of the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech. Annette Lucille Hall was a Lithonia social studies teacher who enrolled in the course of the Institute on Americanism and Communism, a course required for all Georgia social studies teachers.
The Peachtree Road Race, was started in 1970 by Georgia State cross country coach and dean of men Tim Singleton, heading it in its first six years before turning it over to the Atlanta Track Club. The second year, he created the first valuable collectible T-shirt.
Over its 100-plus year history, Georgia State's growth has required the acquisition and construction of more space to suit its needs. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, numerous buildings were constructed as part of a major urban renewal project, such as the Pullen Library (1966), Classroom South (1968), the expansion of the Pullen Library in 1968, the Arts and Humanities Building (1970), the ten-story General Classroom Building (1971, now called Langdale Hall), the Sports Arena (1973), and the twelve-story Urban Life Building (1974). In addition, a raised plaza and walkway system was constructed to connect these buildings with each other over Decatur Street and parking structures.
In the 1980s, another round of expansion took place with the acquisition of the former Atlanta Municipal Auditorium in 1979, which was subsequently converted into Alumni Hall in 1982 and then to Dahlberg Hall in 2010, and currently houses Georgia State's administrative offices. That same year, the College of Law was founded in the Urban Life Building, and the Title Building on Decatur Street was acquired and converted into the College of Education's headquarters and classroom space. In 1988, the nine-story Library South was constructed on the south side of Decatur Street, which was connected to the Pullen Library via a three-story high foot bridge (officially referred to as a "link") and effectively doubled the library's space.
Georgia State continued this growth into the 1990s, with the expansion of Alumni Hall in 1991, the opening of the Natural Science Center in 1992, and the acquisition of the former C&S Bank Building on Marietta Street in 1993, which is now the home of the Robinson College of Business. Georgia State's first move into the Fairlie-Poplar district was the acquisition and renovation of the Standard Building, the Haas-Howell Building, and the Rialto Theater in 1996. The Standard and Haas-Howell buildings house classrooms, offices, and practice spaces for the School of Music, and the Rialto is home to GSU's Jazz Studies program and an 833-seat theater. In 1998, the Student Center was expanded toward Gilmer Street and provided a new 400-seat auditorium and space for exhibitions and offices for student clubs. A new Student Recreation Center opened on the corner of Piedmont Avenue and Gilmer Street in 2001. In 2002, the five-story high Helen M. Aderhold Learning Center opened on Luckie Street amid controversy over the demolition of historical buildings on its block. Most recently, in 2004, the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies was moved to the former Wachovia Bank Building at Five Points.
After the release of the 2006 master plan update, a host of new building activity occurred on campus. A $20 million refurbishment to the Pullen Library complex was completed during the 2006-07 school year. Multiple new units of on-campus housing were built, including the 2,000 bed University Commons in 2007, a new dormitory named Freshman Hall (later renamed Patton Hall) 2009 and a conversion of a former Wyndham Garden Hotel and a Baymont Inn & Suites into a new, 1,100 occupancy dormitory named Piedmont North. New Greek housing was built in 2010 along Edgewood Avenue. The Citizens Trust Building on Piedmont Avenue was purchased by the university to make room for offices and student services in 2007. The Parker H. Petit Science Center was completed in 2010, opening up state of the art science laboratories and teaching space. In May 2015, the School of Law was moved to its now building at 89 Park Place after the land was donated to the university.
The newest incarnation of the Strategic Plan gives an outline for the universities growth from 2011 until 2016 and a brief overview that will be amended for up to 2021. In 2016, an extension to the Petit Science Center was completed. Plans exist for the building of graduate student housing behind the Center.
On the May 31, 2012, the athletics department released a new facilities master plan. The plan includes upgrades and renovations to the GSU Sports Arena including new outdoor sand volleyball courts (which have since been completed) as well as plans to build new baseball, softball, and soccer stadiums. These would replace the current stadiums in Panthersville. In May 2014, the university announced its intentions to pursue the 77-acre Turner Field site once the Atlanta Braves Major League Baseball club moves into SunTrust Park in 2017. The university intends to retrofit Turner Field into a 30,000 seat open-air football stadium and build a new baseball field on the site of the former Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, incorporating the wall where Hank Aaron hit his record-breaking 715th home run. Additional retail and student housing development is also planned for the parking areas surrounding Turner Field.
On December 21, 2015, the Atlanta Fulton County Recreation Authority announced that Georgia State's bid to redevelop Turner Field has been accepted. On August 18, 2016, Georgia State and the Atlanta-Fulton County Recreation Authority reached a tentative purchase agreement for Turner Field, and the purchase and redevelopment plan was approved by the Board of Regents on November 9, 2016. On January 5, 2017, the sale of the Turner Field property to Georgia State was officially closed, with the stadium conversion project beginning in February 2017.
Consolidation with Georgia Perimeter College
On January 5, 2015, news broke that Georgia State and Georgia Perimeter College would merge. Over a year later, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia approved the merger of Georgia State University and Georgia Perimeter College. The board also announced that the current president of GSU, Dr. Mark Becker, would remain the president of the combined university, which retained the name Georgia State University. The merger created the largest university in the state of Georgia at about 54,000 students.
The school's coat of arms is registered in the College of Arms in London. The Latin motto means "Truth is strong and will conquer" (or alternatively, "Truth is valuable and shall overcome"). The panther holds the symbol of education, with the quill in red to symbolize the fire in Atlanta's city emblem. The gold coin indicates the university's beginnings as a business school. The crown august is a representation of the Stone Mountain granite. The center flame is an eternal flame in honor of the first president, George Sparks, and represents flames of scholarship and the burning of Atlanta.
The President of Georgia State University (currently Mark P. Becker) is the head administrator and is appointed and overseen by the Georgia Board of Regents.
The university is composed of ten colleges (although those divisions use "college", "school", or "institute", those titles do not indicate any distinction between them):J. Mack Robinson College of Business
College of Law
Byrdine F. Lewis School of Nursing and Health Professions
Andrew Young School of Policy Studies
College of Arts & Sciences
School of Public Health
College of Education
Institute for Biomedical Sciences
﹡It should be noted that unlike the other colleges that make up the university, students accepted to Perimeter College only have access to campuses associated with that college and not the main campus. A Perimeter College student must apply for acceptance to the main downtown campus for access to bachelor's degrees.
From Georgia State's days as a single building night school into the university it is today, Georgia State has built itself into the heart of urban Downtown Atlanta. Whereas the school's nickname—dating from the early 1960s—of "the Concrete Campus" was once a source of mild embarrassment, the name has been embraced by the university community. The university embraced the slogan, "a part of the city, not apart from the city" as its growth into Downtown Atlanta increased. This has led to the widening of sidewalks around the campus, and a focus on Decatur Street as becoming the "Main Street" of the campus.
Sparks Hall was the first building designed and built specifically for the school. It was designed by the Atlanta architectural firm of Cooper, Barrett, Skinner, Woodbury, and Cooper. Construction took place between 1952 and 1955 and cost about $2 million. The first classes were held in the building on April 21, 1955. On June 8, 1960, the building was named for George McIntosh Sparks, former president of the college. Currently, the building houses Undergraduate Admissions, the Student Advisement Center, and the One Stop Shop. It also primarily houses classrooms and computer laboratory space.
After the 1996 Summer Olympics were held in Atlanta, Georgia State acquired its first on-campus dormitories in the 2,000-bed Olympic Village housing complex located at the southeast corner of Centennial Olympic Park Drive (formerly Techwood Drive) and North Avenue that was used to board Olympic athletes during the Games. The Village was later sold the Georgia Institute of Technology and renamed the North Avenue Apartments.
In August 2002, the 450-bed University Lofts opened at the corner of Edgewood Avenue and Courtland Street on the northeast side of campus as housing for undergraduate students and student athletes, as well as students with families and graduate students. In 2008, the Lofts were converted into multiperson dormitories as well as apartment style dorms, raising the bed count to its current number of 550 residents in 231 apartments.
On August 10, 2007, Georgia State opened the University Commons, a $165 million complex housing 1,992 students, occupying a city block bounded by Ellis Street, Piedmont Avenue, John Wesley Dobbs Avenue and Jesse Hill Jr. Drive. A GSU economics professor estimated the new dorm could have an economic impact of $10–12 million on downtown Atlanta. The university plans to ultimately accommodate 20% of its enrollment in housing near the downtown campus. With the planned opening of University Commons, it was announced on March 7, 2007 that the Georgia Institute of Technology was acquiring the Olympic Village housing, which is located across North Avenue from the Institute. In 2011, the Commons were voted "best overall dorms in the country" by DormSplash.com. This was followed in 2012 by The Fiscal Times rating the Commons as some of the most luxurious dormitories in the country, rated 3rd most "insanely luxurious."
In the fall of 2009, Georgia State opened a 325-bed residence hall exclusively for freshman students, originally named Freshman Hall. Renamed Patton Hall in 2013 after former Georgia State president Carl Patton, the dorms are located on the corner of Piedmont and Edgewood Avenues, approximately 0.2 miles from the heart of GSU's campus. The facility includes a 24/4.5 dining hall offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a buffet style. The dining hall is open to all Georgia State students, and all residents of Patton Hall are required to have meal plans for the dining hall.
For the 2010 academic year, Georgia State opened its Greek Housing facility, located adjacent to Patton Hall on Edgewood Avenue. Each townhome in the complex features a chapter room, kitchen, and bedrooms ranging from 9-19 beds.
Most recently, following its plan for expansion, Georgia State acquired two hotels in downtown Atlanta, the Wyndham Garden Hotel and Baymont Inn and Suites on Piedmont Avenue. The hotels and grounds have been renovated and changed into dorms, Piedmont North Buildings A and B, contributing to the university's transformation into a more traditional campus. The complex now includes living and study space for approximately 1,100 students, as well as greenspace, recreational areas, and a brand new 12,000-square-foot (1,100 m2) dining hall, the Piedmont North Dining Hall.
On May 14, 2014, ground was broken on a new, 1,152 bed residence hall named Piedmont Central. The hall received its first residence in fall semester of 2016. The facility includes a 15,000 square foot dining facility, conference rooms, communal kitchens, study rooms, and laundry facilities.
The department is composed of more than 160 state-sworn police officers, 60 full-time security guards, 10 part-time security guards, 16 communications dispatchers and eight staff members, making it the largest campus law enforcement agency in Georgia.
Perimeter College consists of five different campuses around the Metro Atlanta region. Campuses in Alpharetta, Clarkston, Decatur, Dunwoody, and Newton County each offer different amenities. The Alpharetta campus consists of two buildings, with students enrolled at that campus having free access to a nearby private gym, as well as access to the other Perimeter campus' amenities. The Clarkston campus is a full campus with athletic facilities, (tennis courts, soccer field, gym) and 14 buildings. The Decatur campus includes greenhouses, tennis courts, as well as six academic buildings including a Student Success Center. The Dunwoody campus includes a gym, weight room, soccer field, tennis courts, an observatory, a gazebo, and eight academic buildings. The Newton campus consists of a baseball field, a softball field, a health and recreation center, and two academic buildings.
The university provides shuttles circulating around campus following 4 different routes; the blue route, red route, green route, and purple route. The blue route circulates from the parking lots of Turner Field to the heart of campus with stops at Langdale Hall and Sparks Hall, and is active on weekdays from 7:00am to 10:30pm. The red route circulates between the main campus and the Aderhold Learning Center with stops at the Arts and Humanities building and at the Rialto Center/Aderhold. It is active on weekdays from 7:00am to 12:00am. The green route is active from 7:00am to 12:00am on weekdays with stops at the Student Center, the University Commons, and Piedmont North. The purple route is active on weekends from 5:00pm to 12:00am with stops at the Arts and Humanities building, the Student Center, the University Commons, Piedmont North, and the Rialto Center/Aderhold.
Atlanta's mass transit system, MARTA, provides Georgia State students with access to the system at a reduced rate when bought through the university. Georgia State is serviced by three stations; the Georgia State Station next to the Petit Science Center on the Blue and Green lines, Five Points Station on the Red, Gold, Blue and Green lines with accommodations for both the Aderhold Learning Center and main campus, and the Peachtree Center Station on the Red and Gold lines, giving access to the Aderhold Learning Center, the University Commons, and to the Piedmont North dormitories.
In December 2014, streetcars returned to Atlanta for the first time in 60 years. The current route transverses the campus along Edgewood and Auburn Aves. It connects the main campus to the Aderhold building and Rialto Theater in Fairlie-Poplar as well as the Sweet Auburn Curb Market.
The university has numerous parking locations, with restrictions in some to faculty and staff. Parking attendants are only on duty from 6:30am to 10pm on weekdays, after which parking permits must be used. Some dormitories have built in parking such as Piedmont North and the University Commons, however parking in these dorms is restricted to students living in those dorms. The University Lofts allow access to permit holders who are primarily residents of the Lofts, the Greek Housing, and Patton Hall. It also allows access to some non-resident holders, faculty and staff. The G Deck is reserved for use by Georgia State faculty and staff, although on days in which the Sports Arena is in use it becomes visitor parking for that game or event. The K and T Decks are available for students using cash or a budget card with a valid student parking permit. The N and S decks are for general parking, while the M Deck is reserved for students with a lottery-won permit.
Georgia State students are allowed access to the Turner Field parking lots just south of campus, although access to those lots is limited to weekdays between 7:00am and 11:00pm. Those times are further limited on Atlanta Braves home game days. Due to its distance from the university, shuttle services run from the parking to the main campus.
There are five student-run media organizations:The Signal, weekly newspaper
GSTV, an on campus TV channel produced and aired by students
WRAS-FM (Album 88) radio, with the highest power (100,000 watts) of any college radio station in the USA
New South, literary journal
GSUTV, a statewide TV channel produced by students and broadcast over the GPTV Knowledge channel.
Georgia State University is the most ethnically diverse college in Georgia and one of the most ethnically diverse in the country. Georgia State has been recognized for being one of the top producers of degrees awarded to African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asians.
The on-campus Recreation Center features racquetball courts, a squash court, a 7,000 square foot free-weight area, an aquatic center, a 35-foot climbing wall, game rooms, exercise rooms, aerobics, dance, and martial arts studios, and a gymnasium containing four basketball/volleyball courts. The top level includes a running track and omni gym. The aquatic center features a 9-lane lap pool with a 1-meter diving board, a "leisure pool" with vortex, a spa, and a sauna. The omni gym is outfitted to allow for multiple different sports, including badminton, basketball, fencing, arena flag football, indoor soccer, and volleyball.
Land in Indian Creek was purchased by the university in 1938, and in 1974 operation of the swimming pool in the facility was taken over by Recreation Services. Tennis courts, Indian Creek Lodge, and the rest of the 15.5 acres were taken over by Recreation Services in 1991.
The university's outdoor intramural fields are currently located in Panthersville, a suburb of Atlanta. These facilities include two large lighted fields, a sundeck, restrooms and parking. New land has been purchased by the university east of the University Commons to make room for new intramural fields.
Georgia State University operates Cinefest Film Theater, a student-run movie theater in the school's University Center. Cinefest exhibits a wide array of motion pictures including international cinema, art house films, revival house movies, and second-run Hollywood fare. Cinefest also has had numerous classic 35mm film festivals including the Film Fatale Film Festival, and the Summer Camp Nightmare Festival. These festivals often feature rare prints that cannot be seen anywhere else. It has played host to various special events including screening films for The Atlanta Underground Film Festival, the Atlanta Asian Film Festival, the Atlanta Philosophy Film Festival, and DragonCon. The theatre has 135 seats and is free to all Georgia State students, or $3 before 5pm and $5 after 5pm. The theatre was first named Cinefest in 1991, but was known as the Lyceum Film Series.
There are two dining halls at Georgia State, one in Freshman Hall and another in Piedmont North dorms. In addition to these, there are food courts in the University Center and in the Student Center, as well as restaurants in the bottom of Kell Hall.
Georgia State University makes notable contributions to the cultural vitality of the downtown Atlanta community. A prominent cultural stage is the Rialto Center for the Arts, an 833-seat performing-arts venue located in the heart of the Fairlie-Poplar district in downtown Atlanta. The venue is home to the Rialto Series, presenting the best of national and international jazz, world music, and dance; School of Music performances; the Atlanta Film Festival, and many others. The School of Music holds concerts featuring faculty, students, and guest performers in the Kopleff Recital Hall throughout the year. In addition, the university's Art Galleries, based in the Ernest G. Welch School of Art and Design, feature special exhibitions, student and faculty works, and visiting artist collections.
In 2010, Georgia State University established its first ever marching band. The marching band began its inaugural season in the fall of 2010. 150 students successfully auditioned for the band. In its first year, the band performed at all home football games, a high school marching band exhibition, and (most notably) during the Georgia State vs. Alabama football game on November 18, 2010, in Tuscaloosa. The band is a drum corps style unit that focuses on precision musicality and movement. Like most ensembles, the band features a colorguard section, but in a departure from typical marching bands, the traditional auxiliary front sideline percussion section, or pit, has been replaced by a four-piece rock band consisting of a lead guitar, bass guitar, drum set, and keyboard synthesizer. Just after its third full season, the Georgia State University Marching Band participated in the Presidential Inauguration Parade in January 2013. In the fall of 2014, the Georgia State marching band performed at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
The Digital Arts and Entertainment Laboratory (DAEL), housed in the Department of Communication, offers a full range of equipment and facilities for digital media research and production. It also includes state-of-the-art equipment and facilities for producing and manipulating extraordinarily high quality moving images. In addition, DAEL provides state-of-the-art facilities and equipment for assessing audience responses to film, television, computer animation, and interactive media. The DAEL also holds a media festival featuring different productions and media produced by students.
Georgia State hosts a high-end multimedia lab allowing students access to multimedia-editing workstations, professional software, technology training workshops, and high end equipment that can be checked out. The facility also hosts a pro-level recording studio featuring full soundproofing, a dual-screened Mac Pro, a keyboard, and two microphones, although the area is set up to allow for students to bring their own equipment.
GSU is one of four research universities in the University System of Georgia. More than 250 fields of study are offered through some 52 accredited degree programs at the bachelor's, master's, specialist, and doctoral levels. Students may enroll in day or evening classes and in part-time or full-time study. In 2011, $58,492,317 in external research funding was received by Georgia State investigators. In 2013, Georgia State University was one of six universities in the nation named a "Next Generation University" by the New America Foundation for its commitment to high-quality research and the success of its diverse student body.
Georgia State houses three university libraries. Additionally, many academic departments provide libraries for their students. The University Library (formerly known as the William Russell Pullen Library), housed in Library North and Library South, contains more than 1.4 million volumes, including 8,000 active serials and nearly 22,000 media materials. The library provides access to numerous electronic periodical and resource indexes (many with full text), more than14,000 electronic journals, and about 30,000 electronic books. It is also a Federal Document Depository and holds more than 820,000 government documents with electronic access to many additional titles. The University Library has received significant media attention for a multiple armed robberies and other crimes against GSU students within the facility.
On August 31, 2006, Georgia State announced that it would be participating in a supercomputing grid with the installation of an IBM P575 Supercomputer in its Network Operations Center. Through an initiative known as SURAGrid, eventually 24 universities in 15 states throughout the Southeast United States will form the research backbone and at its peak, the network will be able to perform over 10 trillion calculations per second. University of Georgia and Kennesaw State University are also part of the SURAGrid.
Physics at Georgia State is split between physics and astronomy. Areas of research range from biophysics, condensed matter physics, neurophysics, nuclear physics, and physics education and innovative instruction. The astronomy program utilizes many observatories, including the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona and the Small and Moderate Aperture Research Telescope System (or SMARTS) in Chile, and the CHARA array on Mount Wilson, California, Hard Labor Creek Observatory in Rutledge, Georgia, and the Urban Life Observatory, all of which are operated by Georgia State. Astronomy is now also a partner in the Apache Point Observatory 3.5m telescope.
Biological research at Georgia State is divided into four categories; applied and environmental microbiology (AEM), cellular molecular biology and physiology (CMBP), molecular genetics and biochemistry, and neurobiology and behavior. The AEM program concentrates on the environmental, industrial, and medical aspects of microbiology, including bioremediation, toxicology, genetics, cellular responses and natural product biosynthesis. Cellular and molecular biology and physiology focuses on the function and regulation of eukaryotic cells and organisms, doing research including signal transduction, cancer immunology, virology, immunology, and diabetes research. The MGB program ranges from lower eukaryotic programmed cell death to viral RNA replication. The neurobiology and behavior program is involved in research focusing on topics such as neurobiology, behavior, hormonal action, developmental neurobiology, and vertebrate sexual plasticity, to name a few.
Georgia State is currently the only university in the United States operating a BSL-4 lab (the highest bio-safety level) at level 4 conditions. These labs are currently used to investigate Herpes B virus, Hantavirus, and Ebola.
The College of Arts and Science is home to several centers, institutes and areas of focus, under which the departments of chemistry, biology, psychology, and other college-wide departments can collaborate on interdisciplinary subjects.The Language Research Center: Specializes in language research, researching with bonobos and chimpanzees. Kanzi, a male bonobo raised at the Center, has become famous after learning to communicate via lexigram with his researchers.
The Center for Neuromics: Promotes the study of the nervous system using informatics and computational approaches.
The Neuroscience Institute: Comprises neuroscience faculty in all departments across the College of Arts and Sciences.
The Center for Research on Atypical Development and Learning: Founded in 1998 to stimulate basic and applied research spanning developmental, clinical, and education psychology, neuropsychology, special education, and speech-language pathology.
Likewise, several university-level institutes exist, allowing collaboration between departments throughout the university as a whole.The Center for Behavioral Neuroscience: Composed of more than 60 researchers over seven other Atlanta institutions, including Emory University and Georgia Tech. The institute was originally established in 1998 by a grant from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation and expanded in November 1999 to become one of the National Science Foundation's Science and Technology Centers.
Center for Diagnostics and Therapeutics: Housed in the Petit Science Center, the Center's goals include developing highly sought-after biomarker-guided therapies and imaging agents and translating that research into clinically useful diagnostic and therapeutic agents.
Center for Nano-Optics
Center for High Angular Resolution Astronomy: Georgia State University hosts one of the world's most powerful optical stellar interferometers, the Center for High Angular Resolution Astronomy (CHARA), atop Mt. Wilson, California; in 2007 this telescope array became the first to actually image the surface of another sunlike star. The array is composed of multiple telescopes, each containing a light-collecting mirror 1 meter in diameter. The combination of these telescopes works as a single unit, allowing for ultra high resolution imaging.
Center for Obesity Reversal: Fosters research projects to help fight and reverse the growing obesity epidemic in the US and around the world.
Center for Advancing Brain Imaging: A joint venture between Georgia State University and Georgia Tech providing state-of-the-art neuroimaging facilities for studying brain-behaviour relations in children and adults.
It should be noted that the Institute for Biomedical Sciences operates as its own college within the university.
The College of Arts and Science also maintains several Areas of Focus for cross disciplinary study:Molecular Basis of Disease: A program in computational biomedicine stretching over six departments and supports undergraduate and graduate research.
Brains and Behavior: Promotes research broadly related to the neurosciences, sponsoring student fellowships and seeds grants for research.
Biosensors and Diagnostics
Biomolecular Structure and Interactions
New Therapeutic Agents and Approaches
The 16 Georgia State varsity athletic teams participate in the NCAA's Division I FBS as a member of the Sun Belt Conference. The university has won conference championships in basketball (men's and women's), baseball, golf (men's and women's), softball, soccer (men's and women's), women's tennis, and beach volleyball. The beach volleyball team has been ranked in the top 10 of all programs every year since its inception in 2013.
Georgia State began competition in all sports in the Sun Belt Conference in 2013, although it had already played all individual sports in the Sun Belt during the 2012-13 season. This marked a return to the conference that Georgia State had helped found 37 years earlier in 1976. Prior to joining the Sun Belt, GSU played in the CAA from 2005-2013, participating for only one season (2012) as a football school. Prior to joining the CAA, the Panthers competed in the (then Trans America Athletic Conference, or TAAC) Atlantic Sun Conference, joining in 1983 and leaving for the CAA in 2005.
Georgia State University charges a fee to each student that enrolls at the school (called the "Athletic Fee"). The fee is currently $283.00 and is charged every semester along with other academic fees. This fee is used for athletic scholarships and other costs associated with competitive athletics. The athletic fee allows students to use their Panther Card (Student Identification Card) for free access to athletic events.
The Panthers' most historic rivalry is with the Georgia Southern Eagles with basketball being played between the two since 1972. However, rivalries have grown since, including with South Alabama with the two programs starting football within a year of one another and playing each other and having played one another every season since Georgia States football's inception except one.
The university also boasts several non-varsity sports, including badminton, rowing, rugby, and wrestling
Georgia State University was utilized during the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, with the GSU Sports Arena hosting the badminton matches. Georgia State's prominent position in Downtown Atlanta allowed the city to build some of its venues with adaptive reuse in mind to be utilized by the university. The first on campus dormitories at the university, the Village, was constructed as part of the Olympic Village to house athletes. This began the metamorphosis of GSU from a commuter college to a massive urban research institute, as well as one of the largest universities in the United States. Centennial Olympic Stadium, host of the opening and closing ceremonies of the olympics and later Atlanta Braves home stadium Turner Field and the surrounding grounds were purchased by Georgia State in January 2017. The university is in the process of converting the stadium to a football field for the universities football team, build a new campus baseball stadium in the outline of the former Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, and new classrooms and housing on the lot.
Georgia State University is home to twenty-nine fraternities and sororities: five of the North-American Interfraternity Conference (IFC), five of the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC), Eight of the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), and thirteen multicultural organizations operating as the Multicultural Greek Council (MGC). Greek life at Georgia State continues to grow with the addition of Greek Housing in 2010.
Since its opening, Georgia State has graduated more than 227,000 alumni. Currently, it is estimated there are 100,000 alumni living in the metro Atlanta area.