The 19-member Georgia Board of Regents voted unopposed a month ago to name Perdue chancellor. A handful of current and former members of the Regents attended the hour-long ceremony in Lawrenceville, along with around 300 guests.
Perdue, 75, a Republican, has said little publicly about his specific goals for the job. He wrote in a cover letter indicating his interest in the position that the Georgian system is not immune to the “challenges of modern higher education”.
Perdue also made several references to the importance of a college education in helping young people succeed in the job market. Friends and former colleagues believe workforce development will be one of Perdue’s main goals as chancellor.
“It’s a high calling to prepare someone for a better quality of life and to think about the future and what you can do and give them the skills to become valuable members of the workforce. work,” he said on Friday.
Perdue appeared at ease on Friday, cracking jokes with Joseph during the ceremony. The search for the Chancellor had its dramatic moments. A company originally hired to manage the research withdrew from the process. Some members of the Regents were privately opposed to Perdue.
Perdue’s cousin, former U.S. Senator David Perdue, is challenging Governor Brian Kemp for the Republican Party nomination this year.
Perdue comes to USG at a time when college leaders, locally and nationally, face demands to make tuition more affordable as a higher percentage of students come from low-income households. .
The 340,000-student system saw a slight drop in enrollment last fall, its first in about a decade. System leaders have been candid about projections of steeper declines around 2025 due to falling birth rates nationwide. Several of the schools in the system have six-year graduation rates below 50%.
Meanwhile, professors – many of whom opposed Perdue’s candidacy for the job – are at odds with system officials over recent changes to the postgraduate review process, which they say will make harder for faculty to speak candidly about campus issues lest they lose their jobs.
Rebekah Ward, a leader of the United Campus Workers of Georgia, Local 3265, who has criticized the revision changes, said she hopes Perdue will reassure professors that the system will guarantee academic freedom.
“I hope Sonny is committed to listening to educators, staff and students to determine his priorities as Chancellor. Unfortunately, if his track record is any indication, I’ll be disappointed,” said Ward, former president of the statewide organization and associate professor of biology at the college.
Ward, who said she was not speaking on behalf of the college, added that she hopes Perdue pushes for annual increases in the cost of living, especially in light of rising inflation. The university system has approximately 48,000 employees, many of whom work in service and maintenance jobs.
Perdue has spent the past few weeks meeting with university system staff and administrators at her 26 colleges and universities to prepare for her new job. Teresa MacCartney, who served as interim chancellor for nearly a year, has agreed to remain in the system as executive vice chancellor for administration.
Perdue’s annual compensation will be around $524,000, the same as former Chancellor Steve Wrigley.