Georgia’s college system still hasn’t named a permanent chancellor. What’s next?

Dive Brief:

  • The University System of Georgia has failed to name a permanent replacement for its current chancellor, Steve Wrigley, who retires Thursday. 

  • The system’s governing board last week appointed Teresa MacCartney, the executive vice chancellor of administration, as interim chancellor for an unspecified period.

  • The hunt for Wrigley’s successor has been complicated by political pressures among the board members. They reportedly have been divided on whether to hire Sonny Perdue, a former Republican state governor and Trump administration official. 

Dive Insight:

USG is one of the most prominent public higher education networks in the U.S., and it has been closely watched for its consolidation efforts and student success initiatives. It enrolls around 341,000 students.

Wrigley announced his retirement in January after serving in the chancellor role since 2017. Despite the system’s prestige, its regent board has run into trouble naming his replacement. 

Some board members favored Perdue, who was the Agriculture Secretary under the Trump administration. Other members of the panel dissented over the pick, and the board paused the search in late April. 

The system’s accreditor also warned officials in April that a politicized search could put it out of compliance with the agency’s standards. The initial search firm that USG tapped departed suddenly in May. Board members voted to hire another agency later that month. 

A contingent of students and faculty members has also resisted Perdue’s appointment, taking issue with lack of higher ed experience. 

Perdue confirmed his interest in the job in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published in early June, arguing that he could stabilize and inject conservative values into the system.

It’s unclear what the regents’ next steps are. A system spokesperson did not respond to an emailed request for comment Tuesday on how many candidates the board is currently considering or how long MacCartney would be in the post. 

MacCartney, in her former role, oversaw daily management of system departments including cybersecurity, leadership and institutional development. She will be paid $438,000 as acting chancellor, according to the Journal-Constitution.

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