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Carl Patton

      . . . is President of Georgia State University. Dr. Patton has led Georgia State to it's highly visible role in the heart of Atlanta, Georgia, fully incorporating its downtown presence into the metropolitan area's life. With additional programs in over 30 nations around the world, Georgia State students come to Atlanta from every state in the US and 117 other countries. Dr. Patton shares his planning expertise with many local and national organizations. His undergraduate and masters degrees are in community and urban planning and public administration, he earned a PhD in public policy from UC-Berkeley.

Excerpts4:17 secs

      Put a university in the heart of a city and both benefit, according to Dr. Carl Patton. He is President of Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia, an urban planner and a driving force in the city.

      Carl Patton has led Georgia State to it's highly visible role in the heart of Atlanta, fully incorporating the University's downtown presence into the metropolitan area's life. Dr. Patton earned undergraduate and masters degrees in community and urban planning and public administration and a PhD in public policy from UC-Berkeley.

      Universities, he declares, are shaping the future. More and more people are going to college at the time in their lives when their attitudes are formed, their thinking processes developed. That gives colleges and universities a tremendous impact on this nation and the world.

      He's confident that the interaction between an institution of higher education like Georgia State and a large metropolitan area like Atlanta enhances both. From the university's perspective, he declares they always remember their founding goal: to serve the people who live and work in this great city. Today their mission in broader: to be a university that's integrated with the community, not separate from it.

      Students come to Atlanta and Georgia State from every state in the US and 117 other countries. And many Georgia State students take advantage of additional programs Georgia State has in more than 30 nations around the world. What's the effect of this cross-cultural mix? When Georgia State students study abroad, it changes their lives. And when students from other countries come to US universities and return home, they take fundamental thought processes back with them. That includes ideas as basic as democracy.

      As ideas about assessing the value of education change, Dr. Patton has a personal measure of success, whether you're an undergraduate finishing a mini-mester or a degree, a continuing education student brushing up on a subject or an Executive MBA graduate building on an existing career. He thinks you'll know you've succeed when you can discuss what you've learned with somebody and feel good about it, know that you command the material.

      Amidst culture wars and territorial battles, when "jammy" (pajama) learning challenges experiences where interpersonal skills are a powerful byproduct, what's the "bottom line" of a college education? Dr. Patton is unequivocal: To teach a person how to think. That's a worthy theme song for both a great university and a great city.

Conversation 1

Carl Patton, President of Georgia State University (GSU) and an urban planner, tells Paula Gordon and Bill Russell why cities are ideal places for universities. He gives a glimpse of the many ways higher education has changed.

Conversation 2

Because many GSU students work, the University has instituted a number of innovations, which Dr. Patton describes. He tells why it is exciting to combine being an urban university president and a city dweller. He gives examples of the kinds of non-traditional students who are making new demands on higher education. Assessing success and learning have changed, he declares, and explains how. Because people learn differently, Dr. Patton describes a variety of ways Georgia State helps people graduate. He describes the wider range of opportunities now available in higher education, and why each is vital to life long learning. He tells about serving people who have "stopped out."

Conversation 3

Place matters, Dr. Patton assures us, applying the power of that idea to Georgia State and Atlanta. He recalls how the 1996 Olympics changed Georgia State and Atlanta, both of which have very different attitudes than 30 years ago. Georgia State's mission, Dr. Patton assures us, is to be a university that's integrated with the community, not separate from it. He explains what that means. He tells why, ironically, urban sprawl has actually benefited Georgia State. He dispels old myths about Ivory Towers and Eggheads, articulating why both basic research and applicable studies are critical to a great university.

Conversation 4

The key to a university guiding us into the future is to hire good faculty members, recruit good students and provide them all with excellent facilities in which they can learn together, according to Dr. Patton. He elaborates. He offers his definition of successful leadership, with examples. He shares the university's vision of pushing the community, state and nation to find new solutions to common problems. The constant challenge of communicating within a large institution is on-going, according to Dr. Patton, who gives personal and professional examples. He holds to the idea of students as consumers whose demands must be met.

Conversation 5

With programs in over 30 countries and 32,000 students from 117 countries in addition to the US, Dr. Patton gives specifics about how Georgia State's impact reaches far beyond it's campus in downtown Atlanta. He worries about "jammy education" while championing both Internet/technical education and experiences that include personal interactions. He connects that to the importance of the Arts and Sciences. The key to everything, Dr. Patton believes, is "How do you think?" He expands, convinced that a university education must prepare the student for his or her next 60 or 80 years, not just the first 6 months in the first job. He gives examples of how universities make decisions.

Conversation 6

When the media criticizes universities for "political correctness," it is talking about fringe elements, Dr. Patton reassures us. He describes what Georgia State and others have done to assure on-going opportunities for professors to have their work evaluated before, during and after tenure so that high quality scholarship is assured. Appropriate research must find funding and funding is important, he declares, but funding should not drive the university. Dr. Patton explains why he believes universities are shaping the future.


Frances Stone, Dr. Patton's able assistant, is a source of constant inspiration. We thank her for being instrumental in bringing us together with Dr. Patton at The Commerce Club which, as always, offered a warm welcome and superlative service.

Related Links:
There's a lot more to know about Georgia State University
Many of these critical issues surrounding higher education were also addressed in our conversation with Dr. Nancy Dye, President of Oberlin College.
We also talked about the critical role of education with Dr. Tom Insel, Director of the Center for Behavior Neuroscience, one of 5 new National Science Foundation Science and Technology Centers.

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