Dr. G.P. "Bud" Peterson, president of Georgia Tech

Good afternoon. It is a great pleasure for me to be here in Metz and on behalf of Georgia Tech I want to thank our many friends in government and business and industry who have partnered with us to make Georgia Tech Lorraine the success it is today.  There are many people and honored guests here, including many who were so supportive in helping to establish this partnership, many who have helped it to grow and prosper and many who will help sustain it in the future.

I would also like to welcome those who are joining us by satellite, the cultural attaché of the French Embassy in New York, and members of the Department of Education as well as other government officials and special guests in Atlanta, Georgia.

This is my first visit to Metz and our campus here and I have been delighted to discover Metz and its beautiful region.  As I listened to the other speakers who preceded me and reflected on the important roles they played in establishing the campus, I fear that I may know less about GT Lorraine that any of them.

Today, we are celebrating a shared vision and an international partnership with a proud past and a limitless future. It is especially nice to have one of our alums here to join us in this celebration, Mr. John Brock, president and CEO of Coca-Cola Enterprises. John graduated from Georgia Tech 40 years and two days ago.  His presence is significant since Coca-Cola sponsored the first two scholarships for students here at Georgia Tech Lorraine.

We have heard a great deal about the history of Georgia Tech Lorraine from the previous speakers and I think it is fitting therefore that I focus on the future, because in many ways, Georgia Tech Lorraine is symbolic of the direction of our Institute.

When I accepted the position as president of the Georgia Institute of Technology nearly fifteen months ago, an important first step was to lead the development of a 25-year strategic plan to define what the Institute might be like in the year 2035, when we celebrate our 150th anniversary.  We have nearly completed that process and a draft copy is available on the web.  I invite you to participate in the process and to take a look at it and provide feedback to us. 

Our vision is that Georgia Tech will define the technological research university of the 21st century.  As a result, we will be leaders in influencing major technological, social and policy decisions that address critical global challenges.  Included in our mission is leadership in improving the human condition in our state, the U.S. and across the globe.

Today forty percent of our undergraduates participate in an international experience before they graduate, and we would like for that number to increase.  It is interesting to note that about one fifth of our students study a foreign language, even though it is not required.  Here in Europe, speaking multiple languages is more common, but we’re catching on in the States!  

In the past 20 years, more than 2,500 students have participated in the Georgia Tech Lorraine program.  Many of them have studied both here in France and on our campus in the U.S., and they represent 25 nationalities.  When they graduate, they not only have a degree from a top research university; they also have experience learning, working and living alongside some of the best and the brightest students from throughout the world, and are uniquely prepared for success in an increasingly global environment.

In the last four years, Georgia Tech Lorraine has seen a tremendous growth in its research program thanks to a very successful partnership with CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, the UMI laboratory), which enables transatlantic research cooperation.

Another benefit of Georgia Tech Lorraine is the opportunity it presents for business, industry and government from both countries to work together to take advantage of mutually beneficial opportunities, such as the Institute LafayetteYves Berthelot will talk about the tremendous potential of that agreement in a few minutes. 

Georgia Tech Lorraine was Georgia Tech’s first international campus, and we are proud to say that it is a unique model that has been studied by many other institutions.  We have since added international programs in Singapore and Ireland, and dual degree programs in China, Germany, Great Britain and Mexico.

What we are doing here at Georgia Tech Lorraine fits very well with our 25-year strategic vision and is tremendously important to Georgia Tech, our students and the world.  Many of the problems we face today are ‘global” in nature, impacting all of humanity – things like energy, climate change, water utilization and resources and health care. It is therefore only fitting that we utilize global resources and develop global solutions to the problems. 

One of the most important resources is the talent that lies in our young people and teaching these young people to understand and collaborate in global environment and to be good global citizens is one of the most important tasks at hand.  It is for this reason that we so committed to this joint endeavor – committed to fostering international alliances to enhance learning experiences, building research collaborations, and promoting economic development across international boundaries.

In closing, I want to again thank all of those who have joined us here today, especially those who were so supportive in helping to establish this partnership, those who have helped it to grow and prosper, and those who will help sustain it in the future. Working together, there is no limit to what we can accomplish.


George P. “Bud” Peterson is the 11th president of the Georgia Institute of Technology.

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...