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With Marsh, Statesboro keeps voice on Regents
UGA Law alumna has close Georgia Southern ties
W marsh
Gov. Nathan Deals appointment Friday of lawyer Laura Taulbee Marsh to the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia means that the 12th District seat on the board will continue to be held by a Statesboro resident. - photo by Special

Gov. Nathan Deal’s appointment Friday of lawyer Laura Taulbee Marsh to the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia means that the 12th District seat on the board will continue to be held by a Statesboro resident.

Marsh, a partner in the Taulbee, Rushing, Snipes, Marsh & Hodgin law firm, was selected to serve through 2019, filling the unexpired term of Lori Durden, who is also from Statesboro. Earlier this month, Durden resigned as a regent to become president of Ogeechee Technical College in the separate Technical College System of Georgia.

As a regent, Marsh will serve on the board that makes policy and top hiring decisions for the state university system, whose 29 colleges and universities serve about 318,000 students. The regents also oversee the state’s public library system and archives.

“I’m humbled and I’m honored and I’m very excited to be given the opportunity to serve in this capacity,” Marsh said. “It’s going to be a new experience, and I’m sure I have a lot to learn, but hopefully I can bring some experience in different areas of both business and law to helping on the Board of Regents.”

Marsh attained her law degree at the University of Georgia School of Law after first receiving a bachelor’s degree in finance from Florida State University. Also a Statesboro High School graduate, she left town for those college experiences and a few years in New York after law school, but has been back in Statesboro working with the same law firm since 1998.

She and her husband, Randy, have two children. Marsh previously served on the board of the Boys & Girls Club of Bulloch County and was one of its founders. She did the legal work for free to establish the club as a tax-exempt corporation.

 “While I’m not an educator myself, I do believe there’s not a greater calling or responsibility than teaching and empowering our state and our country’s youth,” Marsh said. “I think that the greatest resource and legacy we can provide for this generation, and future generations, is to make sure that they’re well educated.”

A Deen Day Smith Service to Mankind Award recipient, Marsh is also past president of the Statesboro Service League and a founder of the Professional Women of Statesboro and served on the local American Heart Association board.

Durden wasn’t reached for a direct comment, but one was forwarded by an Ogeechee Technical College spokesman.

“Kudos to Governor Deal on this smart pick!” Durden said. “An accomplished lawyer in her own right, Laura also brings a parent's perspective and a set of strong Christian values to the board that will benefit all students. She will do a great job representing the 12th District.”


Durden’s new job

Deal had appointed Durden to a seven-year term as regent beginning in January 2013. At that time she was Ogeechee Tech’s vice president for economic development, and for more than three years a technical college staffer served on the university system board.

But upon accepting the promotion to Ogeechee Technical College president, Durden cited this as a potential conflict and resigned as a regent June 2. Already with a recommendation for the permanent job, Durden becomes interim OTC president July 1, the day departing OTC President Dawn Cartee starts as director of the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education.

Unlike Durden, Marsh did not attend Georgia Southern University. But her mother was a Georgia Southern instructor, and the university’s baseball stadium is named for Marsh’s grandfather, the late J.I. Clements, longtime coach and athletic director. Several years ago Marsh received a Business Mentor Award from the university’s College of Business Administration for her work with students.


1 district, 2 regents

The Board of Regents has 19 members, including one from each of Georgia’s 14 congressional districts plus five appointed from the state at-large.

Georgia Southern has the largest enrollment of any educational institution in the 12th District, and East Georgia State College, based in Swainsboro, also has a Statesboro campus. But the district stretches south to Douglas, hometown of South Georgia State College, and north to Augusta, home of Augusta University. Regent James M. Hull, one of the at-large members, hails from Augusta.

Marsh said she looks forward to visiting all of the system’s schools in the district. She also wants to continue something Durden did, attending student government association conferences to meet student presidents from around the state and hear student concerns.

“I’m just going to do my best to provide whatever service I can to ensure that Georgians continue to receive the best and most cost-effective education in this country,” Marsh said.

As of Friday afternoon, she did not know when she would be sworn-in, but she plans to attend the next regularly scheduled regents meeting, in August.

“The governor looks forward to Marsh's tenure as a member of the Board of Regents,” emailed Jen Talaber Ryan, Deal’s deputy chief of staff for communications. “He believes she is highly qualified and very capable and will add great value as a member.”


Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.


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