Search Committee of 12 tasked with finding Savannah State's next president

Two former City of Savannah Mayors among several local notable names on the committee

The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia (USG) announced on June 13 the names of members who will serve on the Savannah State University Presidential Search Committee. It will conduct a national search for a permanent president. The 12 members of the committee are tasked with helping to find the fourth President in the last five years at the Historically Black College or University (HBCU).

Current President Cynthia Robinson Alexander has held her interim role since July 1, 2023 following the resignation of former President Kimberly Ballard-Washington.
click to enlarge Search Committee of 12 tasked with finding Savannah State's next president
University System of Georgia member institutions
“Established in 1890, SSU is the first and oldest public HBCU in Georgia and was the first institution of higher learning in the City of Savannah,” said the USG press release posted online on June 13. “The Presidential Search Committee will guide the first stage of the search. AGB Search has been retained to provide executive search consulting services. After its work, the committee will forward the credentials of three to five unranked candidates to the (USG) Board of Regents for consideration.”

“The Presidential Search Committee’s initial meeting will be July 18, at which time the members will be formally charged with their roles and responsibilities in conducting the search.”
click to enlarge Search Committee of 12 tasked with finding Savannah State's next president
Patrick C. Jones
Patrick C. Jones is the search committee chairman.

“Jones is chairman of the board of PrimeSouth Bank, president of The Jones Company and president of Walker Jones Automotive Group,” the USG website says of him. “He spent over three decades of his career with Flash Foods.”

The members of the SSU Presidential Search Committee are:
  • Regent Patrick C. Jones, committee chair
  • Regent C. Everett Kennedy III
  • Regent (Board Chairman) Harold Reynolds
  • Regent (Board VP) Dallas T. Smith
  • Bert Brantley, president/CEO, Savannah Chamber of Commerce
  • Katelyn Green, president, SSU Student Government Association
  • State Rep. Edna Jackson, member, SSU Foundation; alumna
  • Otis Johnson, Ph.D.; former mayor, Savannah; professor emeritus; retired dean, SSU’s College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences
  • Ann Levett, Ph.D.; retired superintendent, SCCPSS
  • Ashley May, vice chancellor of external affairs and chief of staff, USG
  • Philip Omunga, Ph.D.; president, SSU Faculty Senate; associate professor
  • Harold Washington, president, SSU National Alumni Association
“For more than 130 years, Savannah State has played a central role in this city’s higher education community, and the person selected as its next president must continue that legacy while upholding its community and industry connections,” Jones said.

“I am honored to chair this committee and look forward to working with the other members to find candidates who understand SSU’s historic role while making sure it leads the system in academic engagement and student success.”

USG Chancellor Sonny Perdue was also quoted in the June 13 press release.

“Savannah State holds a distinct and critical role in educating Georgia’s students and helping the city and region thrive,” Perdue said. “This national search is about finding a leader who can build on that work, as SSU focuses on being a premier HBCU that prepares graduates for success and prosperity in the 21st century workforce.”

Perdue named Alexander the SSU Interim President in April 2023 and she began the job officially on July 1, 2023. Ballard-Washington had previously resigned from her position. Alexander was working in the Finance sector of USG before being placed into the President’s seat by Perdue. She was serving as USG’s Associate Vice Chancellor for Finance.
Search Committee of 12 tasked with finding Savannah State's next president
Cynthia Robinson Alexander

“Alexander has over 30 years of leadership experience in business and higher education after having successfully worked on highly complex financial and business transactions and led cross-disciplinary teams in implementing creative solutions to address challenges,” said the USG press release in 2023.

Ballard-Washington was an Interim President at SSU herself, for roughly two years, following Cheryl Dozier’s retirement announcement in January of 2019. In May 2021, Ballard-Washington was named the full-time President by USG after a search committee was formed in 2020 to find a replacement for Dozier.

Other notable members of the committee include former City of Savannah Mayors Otis Johnson and Edna Jackson, as well as Savannah Chamber of Commerce President Bert Brantley.
click to enlarge Search Committee of 12 tasked with finding Savannah State's next president
Bert Brantley

“I am honored to join this terrific group of state, regional, and local leaders as we look for the right person to maximize the incredible potential at Savannah State University,” Brantley said through a press release on the Chamber’s website. “Thanks to the Board of Regents and Chancellor Sonny Perdue for launching this national search for an institution that is critically important to the future of Savannah.”

The USG Board of Regents is composed of 19 members, four of whom are on the SSU Search Committee. According to its website, “The Board oversees the public colleges and universities that comprise the University System of Georgia and has oversight of the Georgia Archives and the Georgia Public Library Service.”


Travis Jaudon

Travis Jaudon is a reporter for Connect Savannah. He is a Savannah native and has been writing in Savannah since 2016. Reach him with feedback or story tips at 912-721-4358
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