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Georgia Southern gets many voices in search for new president
GSU-educated regent leads one committee; other almost all local
GSU.3D EagleHead WEB

To search for the next president of Georgia Southern University, the state Board of Regents has created two committees, one made up of seven of its members and the other of 17 representatives of the university and the Statesboro area plus the director of the Governor's Office of Planning and Budget.

The search is starting about three months after Dr. Brooks Keel, Georgia Southern's president for more than five years, left in early July to become president of Georgia Regents University in Augusta. The larger, campus-based committee is slated to meet Sept. 30 to be assigned its responsibilities.

Georgia Southern and Statesboro are prominently represented even on the seven-member Special Regents' Search Committee. Board of Regents Chairman Neil Pruitt chose 12th District Regent Lori Durden, a Statesboro resident with two degrees from Georgia Southern, to chair the committee.

"I'm excited to be a part of the process," Durden said Monday. "Of course it will be a national search, and I think this search will draw a lot of interest from all over the country. Georgia Southern has a changed a lot over the years, and we certainly have a lot to offer. ... I love that school, I love my community, and I only want the best for it."

Durden received both her Bachelor of Business Administration and her MBA from Georgia Southern. As vice president for economic development at Ogeechee Technical College, she is the only employee of the separately governed Technical College System of Georgia to serve on the governing board of the state University System.

The other regents named to the special search committee are Pruitt, Ben Tarbutton III, Kessel Stelling, Scott Smith, Don Waters and Larry Walker. Smith also has a degree from Georgia Southern, according to his brief biography on the Board of Regents' website.

Pruitt also appointed the 18-member Presidential Search and Screen Committee. The press release also referred to this as "the campus-based committee," and a majority, but not all, of the members do work on the GSU campus.

The members are Dr. Stephen P. Vives, GSU biology department chair and professor; Dr. Danny Bauer, GSU writing and linguistics department chair and professor; Dr. Kelley G. Chester, principal at C3 Informatics LLC and also an adjunct professor in the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health at Georgia Southern; Dr. S. Todd Deal, director of the GSU Office of Leadership and Community Engagement; Dr. Melissa Garno, associate professor, GSU School of Nursing; Dr. Anthony Barilla, associate professor, GSU finance and economics department; Sea Island Bank President Darron Burnette; Julian I. Deal, CPA; Dr. Mark Edwards, the Fuller E. Callaway professor, GSU physics department; GSU Student Government Association President Charles Glover; Dr. Barbara Christmas Golden, Georgia Southern University Foundation chairwoman; Dr. Patricia Humphrey, GSU Faculty Senate moderator and Senate Executive Committee chairwoman; Dr. Lissa M. Leege, GSU Center for Sustainability director and biology professor; Michele Martin, GSU Staff Council chairwoman and University Wellness program director; Dr. Beverly Graham, GSU communication arts associate professor; GSU Dean of Students Patrice Buckner Jackson; Statesboro Mayor Jan Moore; and Governor's Office of Planning and Budget CFO and Director Teresa MacCartney.

"I want to thank our Georgia Southern University stakeholders for their commitment to the institution, the University System and the State of Georgia by serving on the presidential search committee," Pruitt said in a press release. "Led by Regent Lori Durden, who lives in Statesboro, there is comprehensive representation of faculty, staff, alumni, students, the foundation, the Statesboro community and the Board of Regents, and their roles in this search are critical to the future of Georgia Southern University."

The campus committee's duties include developing a job description, placing announcements and conducting on-campus interviews, the press release said. A private firm, Parker Executive Search of Atlanta, has been engaged to assist the search committee.

At the conclusion of its work, the campus committee will forward information on three to five unranked candidates to the regents' committee. The regents' committee will recommend finalists to Chancellor Hank Huckaby, who will then make a recommendation to the full Board of Regents.

Dr. Jean Bartels, previously GSU provost and vice president for academic affairs, is currently serving as interim president and has said she expects to do so until a permanent president is hired. On being named to the interim post in July, Bartels said she did not know whether she would want to be considered for the permanent job.

A university system spokesman at that time noted that the regents have sometimes made an exception to a general rule against considering interim presidents for the permanent post. But a Georgia Southern spokeswoman responded by email Monday: "By Board of Regents policy, Dr. Bartels is not eligible to be a candidate."

GSU Communications Director Jennifer Wise also provided this statement on behalf of the university: "We are pleased that the search for our next president is underway. We thank Chairman Neil Pruitt, Regent Lori Durden and the entire Board of Regents for their dedication and commitment to ensure that all Georgia Southern University stakeholders are part of this important process."



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