The change comes as the regents are to begin searching for a new president at the University of Georgia, the state’s flagship school and largest institution with nearly 35,000 students. The University System of Georgia has five other presidential vacancies, including Georgia Perimeter College.
Regents Chairman Ben Tarbutton said the number of openings didn’t prompt the new rule.
The previous 14-day review period put the system at a disadvantage because some candidates were uncomfortable with extensive public vetting and withdrew their names, Tarbutton said.
The regents declined to provide any specific examples of candidates who had withdrawn.
Other states have a smaller window or none at all, Tarbutton said.
The change guarantees the public still can learn about the finalists while putting the system in a better position to attract world-class leaders, he said.
“We’ve wanted this for a while because it is what’s best for the system,” Tarbutton said. “Strong campus presidents are good for the entire state.”
The Attorney General’s Office added the provision to the bill after the regents and other groups agreed to the change, spokeswoman Lauren Kane said. Manheimer said it was added at the last minute.
The exemption for the regents was one of the compromises reached during extensive negotiations on the rewrite of the law. Overall, the sweeping revisions to the law strengthen public access to records and documents. The changes clarify responsibilities for public agencies and increase penalties for those who break the law. The revised law also reduces the cost to copy public documents and records.
UGA junior Haleigh Hoffman said she doubted college students would be able to review finalists for president in just five days. Students already struggle to balance classes, studying and work, she said.
“We won’t have enough time to make an impact on the decision,” Hoffman said. “I know I don’t want a president to come in and make changes I don’t approve of.”