Kemp announces more changes to Georgia’s Board of Regents

Gov. Brian Kemp, shown at a business breakfast meeting earlier this month in Atlanta,  is further shuffling Georgia's Board of Regents. (Nathan Posner for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Nathan Posner for the AJC

Credit: Nathan Posner for the AJC

Gov. Brian Kemp, shown at a business breakfast meeting earlier this month in Atlanta, is further shuffling Georgia's Board of Regents. (Nathan Posner for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Gov. Brian Kemp is further shuffling Georgia’s Board of Regents, which governs the 26 institutions of the University System of Georgia.

Kemp announced that Sachin Shailendra and Rachel Little are no longer on the board because they no longer live in the congressional districts they were appointed to represent. Shailendra had lived in the 13th Congressional District and Little had lived in the 4th District, but that changed after lawmakers drew new lines.

Kemp shifted Cade Joiner of Brookhaven from an at-large seat to representing the 4th District, while he was shifting Neal Pruitt of Atlanta from the 11th District to one of five at-large seats that can be filled by anyone statewide, the governor announced Friday.

Kemp also announced homebuilder Tom Bradbury as the new regent representing the 11th District in the northwest Atlanta suburbs. Bradbury has a history as a major homebuilder and founded his current company, Woodstock-based Smith Douglas Homes.

Governors typically name their top supporters to be regents. Bradbury and his wife have given tens of thousands of dollars to Kemp's campaigns for governor.

Kemp has not announced a replacement for the 13th District.

The redistricting affecting Shailendra and Little came about when Kemp signed Georgia’s new political maps into law Dec. 30.

In regards to the regents who were drawn out of their districts, Kemp said, “Sachin and Rachel have both been exceptional leaders in our state and on the Board of Regents. Their contributions have had a meaningful impact, and I am grateful for all they have done to make our university system better, our workforce pipeline stronger and to help us maintain Georgia’s ranking as the No. 1 state for business. Given their exemplary service on the board, I look forward to working with them in different leadership capacities in the future.”

Kemp earlier this month named commercial contractor Richard “Tim” Evans to the seat representing Georgia’s 6th District and named trucking entrepreneur Jim Syfan to the seat representing northeast Georgia’s 9th District.

The latest changes further shuffle a 19-member board that must decide on a permanent leader for the 340,000 student system.

Former two-term Gov. Sonny Perdue has sought to become chancellor of the system, but his bid has apparently been stymied by internal opposition from some regents. The board instead appointed Teresa MacCartney as acting chancellor on June 30.

The “acting” title could have signified that regents expected MacCartney, previously the system’s executive vice chancellor of administration, to hold the post for only a short while. She wasn’t named the interim chancellor, as predecessor Steve Wrigley was named before regents decided he should lead the system permanently.

There’s been no public movement since then on finding a permanent chancellor, although regents said in June that they were still looking for a permanent leader.

In May, regents hired a new search firm after the previous firm quit, citing “misinformation.”

The new search firm was supposed to reexamine existing candidates and recruit new ones. The agency that accredits all the schools asked in April whether there had been undue political pressure to appoint Perdue, who served as U.S. agriculture security under President Donald Trump, as the system’s leader. In June, responding to a public records request by The Associated Press, the system said no one ever responded to that inquiry.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution first reported Perdue’s interest in leading the state student system, and he later confirmed he was pursuing the job, saying that his experience as governor and as the agriculture secretary prepared him for the post.

However, a groundswell of students and faculty members held rallies against Perdue’s candidacy, noting he has no higher education leadership experience.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution staff writer Eric Stirgus contributed to this Associated Press report.