Georgia State University President Mark Becker in early December took his first trip to Israel, where he shared best practices with counterparts and sought to strengthen ties with some of the country’s top institutions, according to The Signal, the student-run newspaper. 

Dr. Becker traveled with five other American university presidents on a trip backed by the American Jewish Committee’s Project Interchange, which has been operating weeklong seminars exposing complex issues facing the country since 1982. The organization says it has hosted delegates from 100 countries and all 50 U.S. states. 

According to a notice notice on its website, the University Presidents mission included meetings with government officials, academics and civil society leaders on topics such as innovation, Israeli-Palestinian cooperation and Israel’s humanitarian aid approach. 

The group was also slated to travel to Ramallah in the West Bank to meet with Palestinian authorities and experts. 

Israel is a key ally of the U.S., but it’s also a major economic partner, despite its small size. Atlanta has been a magnet for Israeli companies, with many using the city as their jumping off point for the U.S. market. Some have been sold for hundreds of millions of dollars. 

Georgia State has some new innovations of its own that could serve to make it a more attractive partner for Israeli institutions. The J. Mack Robinson College of Business recently announced a new fintech lab, while  Israel, for its part, is a leader in payments and cybersecurity. The college also announced a new bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship starting this spring. 

The Signal caught up with Dr. Becker and asked him to reflect on his visit — read more here

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...