ATLANTA – University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley Tuesday announced plans to retire on July 1 after 36 years in public service.

Wrigley has been serving in the university system’s top spot since 2017. Before that, he spent decades in the university system and elsewhere in state government.

“It has been a great privilege and honor to serve the citizens of Georgia,” Wrigley said in a statement. “During a career in education policy and administration, I have worked with many incredible people and made countless cherished friendships.

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“I am grateful to my family and members of the Board of Regents for their support and guidance, and I especially appreciate the support and leadership of governors [Brian] Kemp and [Nathan] Deal during my time as chancellor.”

“For several decades, Chancellor Wrigley has devoted his career to serving his fellow Georgians,” Kemp added. “Since assuming his role as chancellor of the University System of Georgia, he has helped our higher education system achieve new heights.”

Wrigley has emphasized shoring up graduation rates during his four years running the university system.

Georgia’s 26 public colleges and universities experienced an almost 10 percentage point increase in four-year graduation rates during his tenure, while the system 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.

Despite the pandemic, the system awarded 70,879 degrees this past fiscal year, the most in its 89-year history. Enrollment during the just completed fall semester systemwide was a record 341,000 students.

The system also has held the line on tuition on Wrigley’s watch. He told members of the system’s Board of Regents Tuesday that tuition has risen an average of only 0.9% during the last five years, less than the rate of inflation. Three of those five years saw no tuition hikes.

Before taking the reins as chancellor, Wrigley served as the university system’s executive vice chancellor of administration and, before that, in leadership roles at the University of Georgia.

During the 1990s, prior to joining the university system, he served as chief of staff to then-Gov. Zell Miller.

The Board of Regents has yet to formulate a plan for hiring Wrigley’s successor.

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