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Georgia Regents Pick First Black Woman as Interim Chancellor

Georgia Regents Pick First Black Woman as Interim Chancellor


A Black woman was chosen last week as interim chancellor of the state’s university system.

Corlis Cummings, currently one of three senior vice chancellors, was named to the position by the Board of Regents during a teleconference.

She will head the university system after Chancellor Tom Meredith leaves — probably next month — to lead the higher education system in Mississippi.

Cummings is an Atlanta native. She has a bachelor’s degree and a law degree from the University of Georgia. She is the first woman and the first Black person to serve as interim or permanent chancellor of the university system.

Cummings was expected to be named to the position two weeks ago when the board met in Atlanta for its monthly meeting, but Chairman Tim Shelnut announced the decision would be postponed until details about the interim chancellor’s job description could be worked out.

Several members of the board said privately that the delay was prompted by a desire to assure Gov. Sonny Perdue the board had considered all options, including other candidates, in filling the position.

Shelnut would not say if the governor’s office submitted any other names for it to consider, saying “that really is covered in personnel issues.”

However, he added, “It would be a horrible mistake for us in judgment not to keep the governor fully up to speed on our plans. But, yes, he has certainly met with Corlis and was very pleased with his meeting with her and supports our actions.”

The university system enjoys special constitutional status to protect it from political interference, but governors appoint members of the Board of Regents. To date, Perdue appointees occupy 10 of the 18 board slots.

Shelnut said the contract which Cummings will be given as interim chancellor will impose no special limits on hiring or other decisions she may be called upon to make, but the job won’t lost long under the current plan.

Although Meredith’s departure is uncertain, his new job in Mississippi takes effect Oct. 1, so Cummings certainly would take charge by then. The board hopes to name a permanent chancellor in December.

The interim chancellor will not be considered in the search for a permanent chancellor, Shelnut said.

Although he was given a new, one-year contract earlier this summer, Meredith is leaving the system largely because of pressure from Perdue for the unprecedented, midyear tuition increase he proposed last year when the governor demanded more budget cuts from state agencies.

Associated Press

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