Georgia lawmakers propose changes to Regents selection process

The Georgia Board of Regents discusses tuition for the 2019-2020 school year during a meeting in 2019. AJC FILE PHOTO
The Georgia Board of Regents discusses tuition for the 2019-2020 school year during a meeting in 2019. AJC FILE PHOTO

Credit: Eric Stirgus/AJC.com

Credit: Eric Stirgus/AJC.com

A group of Georgia state senators wants to change the selection process for the influential group that approves tuition and the educational goals of its largest public universities.

If Senate Resolution 36 is successful, 14 of the 19 Georgia Board of Regents members would be chosen through the state Legislature. Currently, all 19 members are selected by the governor, like most state boards.

Under the resolution, all 14 congressional districts in Georgia would have one member on the board, elected by a group of state lawmakers who represent each congressional district. Five at-large members would be selected by the governor.

State Sen. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, the resolution’s lead sponsor, said he proposing the changes so lawmakers can have more direct input with the board. Regents members, who serve seven-year terms, are sometimes called as “the fourth branch of government” because of the board’s influence and the large budget they oversee. The board oversees the University System of Georgia, which includes the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, Georgia State, Georgia Southern and Kennesaw State universities.

Republican state Sen. Brandon Beach on the floor of the Georgia Senate in February 2016. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM
Republican state Sen. Brandon Beach on the floor of the Georgia Senate in February 2016. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

“We write a check to the Board of Regents and we have no say on issues like fees and tuition,” Beach said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

Beach said the proposed selection process is similar to how Georgia Department of Transportation board members are selected. Beach, a former board member, said he felt accountable to state lawmakers.

“I was ‘Johnny on the spot’ getting back to them because they were my bosses,” he said.

The resolution would require a change to the state Constitution.

Beach said he presented the plan to the governor’s office. An email seeking comment from the governor’s office Tuesday was not immediately returned.

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