Georgia Southern University President Jaimie Hebert announced Wednesday he will step down effective June 30, to pursue other opportunities. Hebert has served as president of Georgia Southern since July 1, 2016.
“Dr. Hebert is a lifelong champion of higher education and contributed significantly to the creation of the new Georgia Southern University,” said University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley. “I thank Jaimie for his dedication and service and commend him for his staunch commitment to serving students and supporting faculty. On behalf of the University System, we wish him the very best.”
In April, the Herald and other media outlets reported that Hebert was a finalist to become the senior vice president for Academic Affairs and Provost at the University of Houston-Clear Lake and a candidate for provost for the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. No announcement was made if Hebert has accepted either of those positions.
In preparation for the transition, Wrigley named Shelley Clark Nickel as Georgia Southern’s interim president. Nickel currently serves as University System executive vice chancellor for strategy and fiscal affairs and treasurer for the Board of Regents. Nickel’s 17-year career with the University System also includes serving as interim president at Gordon State College in Barnesville, Ga.
The University System will conduct a national search for Georgia Southern’s next president. A campus-based presidential search committee will be formed and announced. Members of the committee will include representatives from Georgia Southern faculty, staff, the student body, alumni and the community and will be appointed by Wrigley and Board of Regents Chairman James M. Hull. Nominations for the search committee should be submitted to the Board of Regents.
The campus-based presidential search committee will be responsible for the search and screening of candidates. A Regents’ Special Committee will also be formed and comprised of Board of Regents members.
At the conclusion of its work, the campus-based committee will forward the credentials of three to five unranked candidates to the Regents’ Special Committee for consideration. The Board of Regents has sole authority to appoint the next president.
In Nickel’s current role, she oversees strategic leadership for the System’s 26 institutions, focusing on fiscal affairs, information technology and research and policy analysis. Among other initiatives, she has led a system wide consolidation effort reducing the number of USG institutions from 35 to 26 and reallocating savings to the classroom to better serve students.
“Shelley’s extraordinary talents have lent themselves to almost every facet of the system, and she is well-suited to lead Georgia Southern during this important transititonal period,” Wrigley said. “She is a proven leader and will be a strong advocate for the institution, its faculty and students. Shelley’s incredible commitment to student success is a hallmark of her career, and she will serve the students of Georgia Southern well.”
Nickel, a native of Pennsylvania, earned a master’s degree in Public Administration and a bachelor of science in Community Development, both from Penn State University. She is a life member of the Penn State Alumni Association and served on the College of Liberal Arts Alumni Society Board.
In an email sent to Georgia Southern faculty and staff, Hebert wrote:
“The past two years at Georgia Southern University have been an extraordinary, fulfilling experience for me. I am very proud to have served this institution during this critical phase of transition. It has been an honor to serve with some of the most remarkable people I have ever met in my career. The professional relationships and life-long friendships that resulted from my time here are truly treasures.
“I know that this decision is best for me and my family, both professionally and personally. I will always cherish my time here at Southern – I am a better person because of you.”