Oconee County resident and former UGA administrator Hank Huckaby is resigning as chancellor of the University System of Georgia at the end of the year, he announced at a Board of Regents meeting today.
“Public higher education touches all aspects of our society. It is the fabric that holds us together and is an investment that pays dividends for life,” Huckaby said in a news release. “The University System is one of the great strengths of Georgia, and I am grateful to have been able to serve with the faculty and staff who bring it to life every day to serve our students. The University System holds an incredibly bright future for the next generation.”
Huckaby served as Gov. Zell Miller’s budget director, head of the Department of Community Affairs and UGA’s vice president for finance and administration during the Michael Adams administration. He was elected to the state House of Representatives in 2010. The following year, with Gov. Nathan Deal’s backing, the Board of Regents named him chancellor.
As chancellor, Huckaby oversees 29 public colleges and universities with more than 300,000 students and a combined $8 billion budget.
He smoothed over relationships with legislators that had soured during his predecessor Errol Davis’ tenure. He also embarked on a cost-cutting mission, letting it be known that the era of Adams-style empire-building was over and merging several colleges and universities, including Gainesville State and North Georgia College into the University of North Georgia..
The Board of Regents has not announced a timetable for choosing Huckaby’s replacement. The timing of the announcement presumably means they could have someone in place by Dec. 31.
Huckaby’s longtime deputy, Steve Wrigley, will take over on an interim basis. Wrigley’s always been a behind-the-scenes guy—both at USG and in government relations at UGA—but one wonders whether he has the inside track on the permanent job. Deal has a certain comfort level with people he knows and has shown that he prefers to hand out appointments to those who are loyal and trustworthy. Of course, technically the regents hire the chancellor, but make no mistake—it’s the governor’s call.