5 things from the AJC’s interview with Chancellor Sonny Perdue

Sonny Perdue is marking his first year as chancellor of the University System of Georgia. (Bob Andres / AJC file photo 2022)

Credit: robert.andres@ajc.com

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Sonny Perdue is marking his first year as chancellor of the University System of Georgia. (Bob Andres / AJC file photo 2022)

Credit: robert.andres@ajc.com

Sonny Perdue, chancellor of the University System of Georgia, has now spent a year on the job.

He sat down March 22 with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for a wide-ranging interview. Here are five things from that discussion:

On the fatal UGA crash

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

In January, University of Georgia football recruiting analyst Chandler LeCroy crashed a speeding vehicle, killing herself and football player Devin Willock. The driver’s blood alcohol concentration was more than twice the legal limit when she died. Another player, Jalen Carter, later pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and street racing in connection with the crash.

Perdue said he’s spoken to UGA President Jere Morehead about the situation.

“We’ve just insisted on transparency and honesty forthcoming. I think there probably is some room to shore up the cultural reputation regarding our athletic program there. Hopefully that will be done as we go along,” Perdue said.

He declined to elaborate.

“It’s best not said here about that,” said Perdue. “But, I think again, we want moms and dads to feel really good about sending their athletes to University of Georgia.”

On working with faculty

Credit: Hyosub Shin

Credit: Hyosub Shin

“I have been pleasantly surprised with our relationship with the faculty,” said Perdue, who said he’s spoken candidly with professors. “Even if they may not agree with the overall ending policy, if they feel like the process has been fair ... there’s been a respect toward the shared governance of honoring their opinion.”

He added: “We know the heart and soul of faculty is really what creates a higher education institution. You need the administration to help manage and guide some things, but it’s really those educators in the classroom that make a university.”

On hiring college presidents

“My primary job is getting the very best leaders I can at these institutions. If you get the best leaders there, so much else follows,” said Perdue.

He believes in “growing your own” leaders. That means promoting from within the University System when it makes sense: “We want to give people who aspire to higher responsibilities the opportunity to know that it can happen here.”

Perdue said there is a place for nationwide searches, particularly should a presidential vacancy open at one of the state’s top-tier, research universities.

On his relationship with Gov. Brian Kemp



While the Board of Regents names the chancellor, the governor appoints the 19-member board. Perdue has said his interest in the job stemmed from a conversation with Kemp after former Chancellor Steve Wrigley announced his plans to retire.

“I talk to him on an as-needed basis,” Perdue said of Kemp. “We’ve probably gone three or four weeks sometimes without talking, but then we can talk two or three times a week.”

Kemp pushed for state money for a new electronic medical records system for the Medical College of Georgia, part of Augusta University. The state Board of Regents recently approved a deal for Wellstar Health System to fund and manage the AU Health System.

“His charge to me was to make sure that we educate our kids to the best of our abilities,” Perdue said.

On literacy training

Georgia’s education colleges must be “bastions of teaching.” Graduates who become elementary school teachers must be prepared to teach children how to read by the third grade, Perdue said.

“We’re the biggest supplier of educators in Georgia, and it begins there. We want to make sure our colleges of education are producing students who really know about the science of reading,” he said. “That’s fundamental. As we educate educators, that should be our purpose — of helping young people grasp the concepts of language and reading.”

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