Jeff Amy

Kemp names 2 new regents as chancellor impasse lingers

January 12, 2022 GMT

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

Kemp named 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 was named to northeast Georgia’s 9th Congressional District seat. Syfan founded a trucking company 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.

The terms of Stelling and Wilheit on the 19-member board expired earlier this month.

Governors typically name their top supporters to be regents, and Syfan and Evans are no exceptions.

Syfan, his wife Gloria and their companies have been prolific political donors, mostly to Republicans, giving Kemp’s campaigns more than $94,000 over the course of his political career, according to state records.

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

Sonny Perdue has sought to become chancellor of the system, but his bid has apparently been stymied by internal opposition from some regents. The board instead appointed Teresa MacCartney as acting chancellor on June 30.

The “acting” title could have signified that regents expected MacCartney, previously the system’s executive vice chancellor of administration, to hold the post for only a short while. She wasn’t named the interim chancellor, as predecessor Steve Wrigley was named before regents decided he should lead the system permanently.

There’s been no public movement since then on finding a permanent chancellor, although regents said in June that they were still looking for a permanent leader for the 340,000-student system.

In May, regents hired a new search firm after the previous firm quit, citing “misinformation.” The new search firm was supposed to reexamine existing candidates and recruit new ones. The agency that accredits all the schools asked in April whether there had been undue political pressure to appoint Sonny Perdue as the system’s leader. In June, responding to a public records request by The Associated Press, the system said no one ever responded to that inquiry.


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