Georgia Southern chief is only finalist for Georgia Regents University

Brooks Keel, president of Georgia Southern University, has been named sole finalist to lead Georgia Regents University.

If approved by the state's Board of Regents, Keel will replace outgoing president Ricardo Azziz, who steps down today from GRU. Azziz was named president of the Medical College of Georgia in 2010, and led the merger of Augusta State and Georgia Health Sciences universities in 2012, which created GRU, the University System of Georgia's fourth research university.

Keel has led Georgia Southern in Statesboro since January 2010.

"It's an honor to be considered for the role of President of Georgia Regents University," Keel said in a statement. "I love the Eagle Nation and am proud of all we've accomplished together. If fortunate to be selected by the Board of Regents, this would be a unique opportunity to return to both of my alma maters that now comprise GRU."

Keel received a bachelor’s degree in biology/chemistry from Augusta College and a doctorate in reproductive endocrinology from the Medical College of Georgia, and he did post-doctoral work at the University of Texas Health Science Center and the University of Dakota School of Medicine.

A search committee of Regents, representatives of the Augusta community and health care professionals was appointed in February to find Azziz's replacement. At the time, the search committee was charged with recommending three to five candidates to the Regents for consideration.

The Board of Regents, which typically doesn’t meet in June and July, will vote on the leadership position at a specially called board meeting on July 8.

GRU administrator Gretchen Caughman will serve as interim president until the position is filled. Caughman currently serves as the university’s provost and executive vice president for academic affairs.