Kemp appoints 2 new regents as chancellor stalemate persists

ATLANTA (AP) — Gov. Brian Kemp on Wednesday named two new members for seven-year terms to the Board of Regents, which governs Georgia’s university system.

Kemp nominated Richard “Tim” Evans to the seat representing Georgia’s 6th congressional district in suburban Atlanta. Evans is chairman of Alpharetta-based Evans General Contractors, which he founded in 2001. Evans replaces banker Kessel Stelling, who retired as CEO of Synovus Corp.

Jim Syfan has been named to the seat of Northeast Georgia’s 9th congressional district. Syfan founded a trucking business in 1984 and sold it in 2006. Today he is CEO of Turbo Truck Center and Turbo Truck & Auto Sales, both based in Gainesville. Syfan replaces Philip A. Wilheit Sr.

Stelling and Wilheit’s terms on the 19-member board expired earlier this month.

Governors usually appoint their main supporters as regents, and Syfan and Evans are no exception.

Syfan, his wife Gloria, and their businesses have been prolific political donors, mostly Republicans, giving Kemp’s campaigns more than $94,000 during his political career, state records show.

Evans gave Kemp’s campaign more than $18,000 last year, state records show. He and his company have in the past made large donations to both former Gov. Sonny Perdue and former U.S. Senator David Perdue, who is challenging Kemp in the Republican primary, according to nonprofit Open Secrets. that tracks campaign finance.

Sonny Perdue sought to become chancellor of the system, but his candidacy was apparently blocked by internal opposition from some regents. The council instead appointed Teresa MacCartney as interim chancellor on June 30.

The “acting” title might have meant that the Regents expected MacCartney, previously Executive Vice-Chancellor for System Administration, to hold the post for only a short time. She was not appointed as Acting Chancellor, as her predecessor Steve Wrigley was appointed before the Regents decided he should lead the system permanently.

There has been no public movement since then to find a permanent chancellor, although the regents said in June they were still looking for a permanent leader for the 340,000 student system.

In May, the Regents hired a new research firm after the previous firm left, citing “misinformation”. The new recruiting firm was supposed to review existing candidates and recruit new ones. The agency that accredits all schools asked in April whether there had been undue political pressure to appoint Sonny Perdue as head of the system. In June, responding to a public records request from The Associated Press, the system said no one had ever responded to that request.

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