External Affairs Division

Sonny Perdue Named Chancellor of the University System of Georgia

Atlanta — March 1, 2022

Sonny Perdue.
Sonny Perdue, 14th chancellor of the University System of Georgia. USG photo

The Board of Regents today named former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue as chancellor of the University System of Georgia (USG).

Perdue will begin his duties as the system’s 14th chancellor on April 1, 2022. The Board began its national search in January 2021, following an announcement by Chancellor Steve Wrigley that he would retire July 1, 2021. In the interim, Executive Vice Chancellor for Administration Teresa MacCartney has served as acting chancellor.

“The Board is excited to work with someone who has both the leadership and executive experience that Gov. Perdue does and who is passionate about the University System of Georgia’s core mission of teaching, research and service,” Board Chair Harold Reynolds said. “Gov. Perdue is a product of the university system, and knows well the challenges both USG and this state face in filling critical workforce needs and meeting industry demands for highly skilled graduates. Our students and institutions are world-class, and we have hired a leader who will keep USG moving forward as one of the best public university systems in the nation.”

A former two-term governor of Georgia, George Ervin Perdue III, known throughout his life as Sonny, served as Agriculture Secretary from 2017 to 2021. There, he managed a workforce of 110,000 employees in the U.S. Department of Agriculture with the stated objective of being the most efficient, effective and customer-friendly agency in the federal government. Perdue led the USDA to stabilize and secure the food supply chain during the pandemic and launched the Farmers to Families Food Box program to ensure the most vulnerable Americans were fed.

A veterinarian and agribusiness owner, Perdue served as Georgia governor from 2003 to 2011. He reformed the state budget and focused on eliminating wasteful spending simply because Georgia had to as it faced unprecedented twin recessions. His fiscal management during those eight years prepared Georgia to excel when revenues returned. It is notable that even during the Great Recession, his sound fiscal management allowed Georgia to maintain its Triple-A bond ratings. During his term, high school graduates in Georgia posted the highest graduation rates and SAT scores in state history.

Perdue also served in the Georgia Senate from 1991 to 2001, where he chaired the Senate Higher Education Committee and eventually became Senate President Pro Tem.

It was during his time in the Senate that lawmakers worked with Georgia Gov. Zell Miller to craft one of the most innovative higher education programs in the nation, the Hope Scholarship. Perdue in his role as higher education chairman also helped recruit USG Chancellor Stephen Portch to Georgia. This work reinforced Perdue’s passion for higher education that continues today, including a commitment to maintaining the connection between a world-class university system and economic success for the benefit of the state and all Georgians.

Born in Perry, Georgia, on Dec. 20, 1946, and raised on a farm in Bonaire, Perdue graduated from Warner Robins High School and earned his doctor of veterinary medicine degree from the University of Georgia. He is also a veteran, serving four years in the U.S. Air Force. He is married to the former Mary Ruff, also a UGA graduate. They have four children, 14 grandchildren and have served as foster parents for eight children awaiting adoption.

“I appreciate the Board’s confidence in me and look forward to working together with them, our campus leadership and faculties, our elected representatives and most importantly, our students, to provide opportunities for students, faculty and staff to be successful and to produce even more outstanding results,” Perdue said. “This may be the most important job yet. I can’t think of a better way to make a difference than to help prepare the next generation – educating them for prosperity, themselves, their families and ultimately our state. I’m excited to get started.”

The Board also thanked MacCartney for her leadership and service in the role of acting chancellor for the university system. USG’s 26 public colleges and universities enroll more than 340,000 students and employ more than 48,000 faculty and staff to fulfill the system’s teaching, research and service mission across the state.

“Teresa has been an incredible leader and strong supporter of USG students and the people who serve our public colleges and universities no matter the challenges we have faced over the past year,” Reynolds said. “The Board is grateful for her steady hand and keen insight, and we know the university system is better for her commitment and continued service to students and the state.”

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