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Regent Elridge McMillan Receives Board of Regent’s First “Lifetime Achievement Award”

Atlanta — December 1, 2004

Elridge McMillan, the longest-serving current member of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia (USG), has been singled out by his peers as the inaugural recipient of the board’s “Lifetime Achievement Award.” In a double nod of recognition for McMillan’s long career serving higher education, the regents also announced the award will be officially named “The Elridge McMillan Lifetime Achievement Award.”

McMillan was presented with the award at the University System of Georgia Foundation’s “Celebration of Excellence in Education Gala,” held on Nov. 19 at the Georgia Tech Conference Center in Atlanta. The event also honored three outstanding USG faculty members and three notable alumni of USG colleges and universities.

“Elridge McMillan is a model public servant,” said J. Timothy Shelnut, vice chair of the Board of Regents and chair of the University System of Georgia Foundation. “There are so many people throughout this state who respect and admire Regent McMillan as he quietly goes about demonstrating what true public service looks like. There was no question he was the right choice for this inaugural lifetime achievement award.”

McMillan was first appointed to the Board of Regents in 1975 by Gov. George Busbee and has been reappointed by four succeeding governors to serve five consecutive terms. He served as chair of the Board of Regents in 1986-87, becoming the first African American to lead the governing body of Georgia’s 34 public colleges and universities.

During his tenure on the Board of Regents, McMillan has witnessed the University System grow from a few tens of thousands of students to more than a quarter million students. He played a major role in the implementation of federally ordered desegregation plans for the USG’s colleges and universities in the 1970s and ’80s, and later helped drive the System’s improved academic quality and national reputation in the 1990s. McMillan also has been a voice for students from disadvantaged backgrounds who required academic intervention and additional support to meet the University System’s enhanced admissions requirements, which became effective in 2001.

From his first appointment as a teacher in the Atlanta Public Schools in 1954, through his current post as Scholar-in-Residence and education consultant at Atlanta Metropolitan College, McMillan has been an advocate for educational opportunity and access at the local, state and national levels.

In 1965, he was the first African American hired in the Southeast Regional Office of Economic Opportunity as its program operations supervisor. In 1967, he was named chief of the Education Branch of the Office for Civil Rights for Region IV of the U.S. Dept. of Health, Education and Welfare.

In 1968, McMillan began a 33-year career with the Southern Education Foundation (SEF), becoming the first African American to lead the organization. He began his tenure at SEF as its associate director and in 1978 was appointed the organization’s executive director. McMillan served as the president of SEF from 1978 until his retirement in 2001. Today he serves as SEF’s president emeritus.

McMillan also is a former board member of the Council on Foundations, the Consortium for the Advancement of Private Higher Education, the Atlanta Urban League and a founding member and former board member of the Association of Black Foundation Executives. He has been named the Black Georgian of the Year by the State Committee on the Life and History of Black Georgians. McMillan also was awarded the W.E.B. Du Bois Award in Education by the Atlanta NAACP, and the Distinguished Community Service Award from the Atlanta Urban League. In 2002, he was awarded the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges’ “Distinguished Service Award” for Outstanding Service in College and University Trusteeship.

A native of Georgia, McMillan received his undergraduate degree from Clark College (now Clark Atlanta University). He earned his master’s degree from Columbia University in New York, where he also did post-graduate work. McMillan also has served for many years on the Board of Trustees of Clark Atlanta University.

For a JPEG photo of Elridge McMillan, please e-mail

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