Members of the Georgia Board of Regents prepare Monday to discuss a replacement for Chancellor Steve Wrigley. Ross Williams/Georgia Recorder
The Georgia Board of Regents Wednesday selected Teresa MacCartney, a veteran of state higher education and government, to temporarily take command of the state’s university system in July, delaying, at least, former Gov. Sonny Perdue’s chances of landing the job.
The regents voted unanimously Wednesday to approve MacCartney as acting chancellor after Steve Wrigley steps down from the post June 30. The vote came after a two-hour closed-door meeting Monday about the search to replace Wrigley.
MacCartney has been the University System of Georgia’s executive vice chancellor for administration since 2019, overseeing the university system’s day-to-day management of numerous departments.
Before that, she served in the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget, including as its director under Gov. Nathan Deal. She holds a master’s degree in public administration from Georgia Southern University and has also worked for the Georgia Department of Education and Student Finance Commission.
Wrigley, announced his plans to retire early this year. He became chancellor in 2017. The university system board plans to continue its search for a permanent replacement while MacCartney is acting chancellor.
“I appreciate the Board’s confidence in me to ensure USG and our 26 institutions remain focused during this transition on doing all we can to help more Georgians’ earn their college degrees,” she said in a statement Wednesday.
Board of Regents Chairman Sachin Shailendra also stressed the potential fleeting nature of MacCartney’s title in a statement.
“We are grateful to Teresa for stepping into this interim role,” he said. “As a member of the university system’s senior leadership team and a veteran public servant, she will keep a steady hand on USG’s progress as the Board finds the next chancellor of one of the top university systems in the nation.”
The regents are still working with the executive search firm WittKieffer to identify the system’s next chancellor, but groups opposing Perdue as chancellor are calling the decision a win.
“We did this. We WON,” the Students Against Sonny coalition said in a tweet Wednesday afternoon. “Students, union workers, and organizers took down Sonny Perdue’s political quest to take over the University System of Georgia. ORGANIZING WORKS. Young people have the power to build a better future, and we’re proud USG chose to value students over politics.”
Though he was never named as an official finalist, rumors that Perdue was being considered sparked outcry among some students, who noted he has no experience in higher education.
Some see MacCartney’s appointment as a sign that a chancellorship for Perdue has become a long shot.
“Just reading the tea leaves on choosing an acting, I don’t think the regents are going to come around on Mr. Perdue,” said president of the Georgia chapter of the American Association of University Professors Matthew Boedy.
The board of regents announced in April it would pause its search after the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on disagreements among members over bringing Perdue on. The original firm hired to select a new chancellor, Parker Executive Search, withdrew from the search the following month.
The choice of MacCartney got some positive initial responses, including from the office of House Speaker David Ralston.
“The Regents have chosen well in selecting Teresa MacCartney to lead the University System of Georgia,” said Ralston’s spokesman, Kaleb McMichen. “Her experience is unmatched and her dedication to this state and its young people is unquestionable. Speaker Ralston congratulates her on this well-deserved appointment and looks forward to continuing to work with her in this new role.”
Boedy expressed optimism about the choice as well.
“She is obviously very highly qualified and has spent extensive time in the USG, she meets the criteria of a good chancellor. It was a good choice by the regents,” he said. “I would assume that they would have confidence in someone who had spent some time in the USG, and having good working relationships across the state with university leaders is always good.”
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