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Steve Wrigley to retire as chancellor of University System of Georgia



GEORGIA – Steve Wrigley, chancellor of the University System of Georgia, said Tuesday he will retire on July 1.

Wrigley has served as chancellor of the University System since 2017, where he oversaw 26 public colleges and universities with a $9.8 billion annual budget, 48,000 faculty and staff and more than 341,000 students.

The Board of Regents said it is discussing next steps for choosing USG’s next chancellor.

During his time as Chancellor, Wrigley focused on three top priorities for USG: make college more affordable, more efficient and ensure more Georgians enter the workforce with a college credential.

Wrigley spent a total of 36 years in public service. Before becoming chancellor, he served as USG’s executive vice chancellor of administration. He formerly served in leadership roles at The University of Georgia as senior vice president for external affairs, vice president for government relations and director of the Carl Vinson Institute of Government. Prior to his service in the University System, he served as chief of staff to former Georgia Gov. Zell Miller and worked on a number of key issues including the creation of the state lottery and the groundbreaking HOPE Scholarship.

“It has been a great privilege and honor to serve the citizens of Georgia,” Wrigley said. “During a career in education policy and administration, I have worked with many incredible people and made countless cherished friendships. The mission of the University System of Georgia is essential to our state, the work of its faculty and staff invaluable and the leadership of its presidents and board extraordinary.

“For several decades, Chancellor Wrigley has devoted his career to serving his fellow Georgians,” Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said in a statement. “Since assuming his role as Chancellor of the University System of Georgia, he has helped our higher education system achieve new heights. More than any time in recent history, it is critical that we maintain a laser focus on educating and training the next generation to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Chancellor Wrigley has been a tireless advocate for our students and faculty throughout the University System and, thanks to his dedicated leadership, the Peach State is well-positioned to continue providing a world-class education to our best and brightest and produce a workforce that serves as a model to the country.”

“The Board and I want to thank Dr. Wrigley for his commitment to public service, his dedication to education and to serving our students, faculty and staff,” said Board of Regents Chairman Sachin Shailendra in a statement. “Personally, I want to thank Steve for his leadership as Chancellor and for his friendship, and we congratulate him on his well-earned and much deserved retirement. We will miss him.”

The University System of Georgia noted that under Wrigley’s leadership, it:

  • Launched the data-driven “Momentum Year” student success initiative to focus on increasing college completion rates, help more students earn a college degree and close gaps in academic achievement.
  • Experienced an almost 10 percentage point increase in four-year graduation rates – a rate that has risen for each of the past 6 cohorts of entering freshmen.
  • Saw among the largest increases in the nation over the last five years for six-year college completion rates, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.
  • Awarded 70,879 degrees this past fiscal year, the most in the system’s 89-year history. Since 2011, the number of USG degrees awarded annually has increased by more than 29%.
  • Received the 2019-2020 Exceptional Agency Award by the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) which recognizes leadership, dedication and innovation in state higher education policy and administration.
  • Kept average annual tuition increases over the past five years to 0.9%, less than the rate of inflation. USG has not raised tuition for three of the last five years, including for the current academic year, while its spending per degree over the last six years has declined 7%.
  • Reduced the number of USG institutions since 2011 from 35 to 26 and reinvested an estimated $30 million in savings from those consolidations into student programs and expanded academic course offerings.
  • Increased the use of free or low-cost textbooks as an alternative to expensive traditional textbooks, including launching the Affordable Learning Georgia initiative. USG students in Spring 2020 alone saved $27 million using no-cost and low-cost options. And through the system’s eCore program, students can take the entire core curriculum online and the textbooks are free.
  • Recorded a record-high enrollment in Fall 2020 of more than 341,000 students.
  • Completed a Comprehensive Administrative Review of all 26 institutions and the system office, with a focus on improving administration by finding ways to be more effective with state resources. This initiative reduced administrative costs by more than $110 million and reinvested those savings into programs that directly impact students, including hiring more advisors to ensure students take the courses they need to graduate on time.
  • Created the Mental Health Task Force to continue to evaluate and address the growing concern of mental health challenges on college campuses.