5 things to know about the University System of Georgia chancellor job

University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley addresses the state's Board of Regents during its Oct. 13, 2020 meeting. (Courtesy: University System of Georgia)
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University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley addresses the state's Board of Regents during its Oct. 13, 2020 meeting. (Courtesy: University System of Georgia)

Being chancellor of the University System of Georgia is one of the most influential jobs in state government.

There’s been a lot of attention about the job lately after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution learned first in March that some state Board of Regents members thought former two-term governor and U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue was the best person for the job. The AJC has reported there wasn’t yet enough support among the state Board of Regents to tap Perdue for the post. Perdue told the AJC Thursday he’s willing to serve, if selected.

The previous chancellor, Steve Wrigley, retired at the end of June 2021 after 36 years in state government. The Regents selected Teresa MacCartney as interim chancellor.

So what does the chancellor do? Here are five things to know about the job and its duties.

1. It’s a big job. The chancellor oversees policy decisions and curriculum development for the state’s public university system. The system consists of 26 schools, including the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, Georgia State and Kennesaw State universities. The chancellor and his staff provide guidance and set policy on everything from what academic programs are offered; tuition and fees; student disciplinary regulations and, over the last year, the schools’ coronavirus pandemic response.

2. It has a big budget. The system will spend more than $2.2 billion this fiscal year on classroom instruction. Its total budget is about $10 billion. Some state lawmakers call the system “the fourth branch of state government” because of its size and budget.

3. It is an appointed position. The chancellor is chosen by the Georgia Board of Regents, a 19-member group selected by the governor. Most Regents members are business leaders or have strong political ties. Wrigley’s current annual compensation package is about $524,000.

4. It requires political skill. The chancellor has many constituencies, and it’s often difficult keeping them all happy. There are its 340,000 students in the system and 48,000 employees, along with parents, college presidents, state lawmakers and the governor.

5. The chancellor wears many hats. Gov. Brian Kemp appointed Wrigley to his initial coronavirus task force in early 2020. The chancellor also serves on the Georgia-based Alliance of Education Agency Heads, a partnership with the governor’s office and Georgia’s education agency heads.

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