July 21, 2005

Arlethia Perry-Johnson (404) 656-2318

Meredith to Accept New Higher Education Post in Mississippi

University System of Georgia Chancellor Thomas C. Meredith today announced that he has accepted the position of commissioner of higher education for the State Institutions of Higher Learning, after the body's 12-member board of trustees acted this morning at their headquarters in Jackson, Miss., to approve his appointment.

Meredith will assume responsibility this fall for the eight-campus system of public higher education, which serves 66,000 students.

Meredith has served as chancellor of the University System of Georgia since January 2, 2002, when he assumed the post after serving as chancellor of the University System of Alabama, which he joined in June 1997.

Meredith has held higher education positions in Mississippi in the past, so the new appointment takes him back to a state he loves and knows well. He previously served as vice chancellor for executive affairs at the University of Mississippi, from 1987-88, and adjunct professor of higher education and executive assistant to the chancellor from 1984-1987. Meredith also served as an academic programs officer and as an associate director for programs and planning for the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning from 1974-1981. In addition, Meredith's wife, Susan, is a native of Mississippi.

"Susan and I are pleased with this opportunity to go back home," Meredith stated. "It is an honor to be invited to come back to Mississippi and be of service. I am looking forward to working with the leadership of the governing board and of the eight universities to ensure that students have access to the highest quality higher education available. The current momentum in the state bodes well for the future."

Incoming Board of Regents Chair J. Timothy Shelnut said Meredith's service to the University System of Georgia is greatly appreciated. "Tom Meredith has served the University System and its students extremely well," he stated. " He has steered us through some of the most challenging times and fiscal constraints public higher education in Georgia has ever faced. We thank him for all of his contributions, and wish him much continued success as he takes on this new challenge in Mississippi."

During his tenure as chancellor, Meredith has placed strong emphasis on efficiency and accountability in the University System Office and on the campuses, as well as preserving academic quality and increasing access to higher education by the state's citizens. In addition, he oversaw long-term planning aimed at increasing the system's physical capacity to accommodate burgeoning enrollment growth, including the approval by the legislature of a 35th campus of the University System in metropolitan Atlanta's Gwinnett County.

Meredith also has significantly improved USG campus audit ratings through a particular emphasis on that area of business operations. In 2002, only 19 percent of USG institutions earned the best audit rating. By 2003, that figure had increased to 72 percent. External support and extramural research funding of the System's research universities also increased significantly during Meredith's tenure, as did the national rankings of several USG institutions.

Meredith also is credited with implementing efforts to increase graduation and retention rates in the University System, as well as the GeorgiaGO initiative aimed at increasing high-school graduation and college attendance by native Georgians.

"I've been pleased to lead the University System during the tough budget times that we've experienced during the past several years, and I thank the Board of Regents for the opportunity," Meredith stated. "This University System is well served by an extremely talented and dedicated cadre of faculty, staff and administrators with whom I have been fortunate to serve. I thank everyone for their many contributions during my tenure."

A native of Owensboro, Ky., Meredith holds a bachelor of arts degree in social studies from Kentucky Wesleyan College, a master of arts degree in education administration and supervision from Western Kentucky University, and a doctor of education degree in administration and supervision with an emphasis in secondary and higher education from The University of Mississippi. He also completed the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard University and was a participant in the Higher Education Roundtable at Oxford University.

Meredith serves on numerous educational and corporate boards. He was president of the National Association of System Heads (NASH), an organization comprised of the chief executive officers of the 51 public higher education systems in the United States. Meredith also is the immediate past chair of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU). In 2002, Meredith also was named to a three-year term on the Executive Committee of the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB).