Former Georgia Governor Elected Board of Regents Chair
Atlanta — June 12, 2002
Former Georgia Governor Joe Frank Harris today was elected to a one-year term as chair of the Board of Regents, the 16-member governing body for the University System of Georgia. He is the first former governor in the nation to chair or serve on the board of a public higher education system.
Harris will serve as the board’s chair from July 1, 2002, through June 30, 2003. Harris served as Governor of Georgia for two terms from 1983-91. He was appointed to the Board of Regents to represent the Seventh Congressional District in 1999 by Gov. Roy E. Barnes.
Harris’ administration is known for having made improvements in education through the Quality Basic Education Act (QBE) and for enhancing the state’s economic development activities through the creation of 850,000 new jobs. Before his gubernatorial election, Harris served 18 years as a member of the Georgia House of Representatives, the last eight as chairman of the Appropriations Committee. His fiscal management brought higher bond ratings for the state and, during his term as Governor, Georgia was rated among the country’s top 15 best-managed states by Financial World magazine.
“Ensuring that public higher education remains strong and responsive to the needs of this state’s citizens is critical to Georgia’s continued growth and prosperity,” Harris said. “I am very pleased to have been asked to serve in this leadership role for the University System of Georgia.”
Barred by law from seeking a third term as Governor, Harris returned to life as a private citizen in 1991. He is chairman of the Harris Georgia Corporation and a member of the boards of directors of AFLAC, Inc., and Bankhead Railway Services, Inc.
He is the first Distinguished Executive Fellow at Georgia State University, where he is a public-affairs professor in the Department of Public Administration and Urban Studies. The royalties from his autobiography, Joe Frank Harris: Personal Reflections on a Public Life, are being donated to the Georgia State University Foundation to support the Governor Joe Frank Harris Scholarship Fund.
Harris earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia. He and his wife, Elizabeth, live in Cartersville. The couple’s son, Joe Frank Harris Jr., is a Cartersville attorney.
The Board of Regents is a constitutional body that governs and manages the University System of Georgia, comprised of 34 public colleges and universities. Currently, more than 217,000 students are enrolled in System institutions and there are more than 30,000 faculty and staff.