After more than five years years as president of Georgia Southern University, Dr. Brooks Keel is leaving to become president of Georgia Regents University in Augusta, effective July 20.
The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia approved him for the new position Wednesday.
The Board of Regents issued a further statement announcing that Dr. Jean Bartels, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Georgia Southern, has been named to serve as the university's interim president beginning July 20.
"Brooks Keel brings a proven track record as a strong leader within our University System," Board of Regents Chair Neil Pruitt said in a news release. "We are excited about the future of Georgia Regents University and the positive momentum Brooks will bring for the benefit of our students and our partnership with the Augusta community."
As lead spokesman for "the Eagle Nation," Keel is known for proclaiming Statesboro-based Georgia Southern "the greatest university in America" at every opportunity. But the move to Augusta is a return home for him.
Keel graduated from both Augusta College, which later became Augusta State University, and earned a doctorate from Medical College of Georgia, which later became Georgia Health Sciences University.
"I had the great fortune to earn both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Augusta, and I'm eternally grateful for the fantastic opportunities in research, scholarship leadership they have brought to my life," Keel said in the statement. "I am honored and humbled to return to Augusta and rejoin Georgia Regents University at this exciting time."
Jan Bond, Georgia Southern's associate vice president for marketing and communications, congratulated Keel on his new assignment in a statement issued on behalf of the university.
"Dr. Keel has been a dynamic leader, continually advancing the bright and successful future for this university," Bond wrote. "We are certain he will do the same for GRU. He will be greatly missed by faculty, staff, students and the entire Eagle Nation."
Keel became the 12th president of Georgia Southern in January 2010, replacing Bruce Grube. Under his leadership, GSU launched the Allen E. Paulson College of Engineering and Information Technology and the Institute for Interdisciplinary STEM Education. Also, the state of Georgia transferred the Herty Advanced Materials Development Center to management by Georgia Southern two years ago.
Keel will replace Dr. Ricardo Azziz as Georgia Regents University president. Azziz was appointed in July 2010 and resigned in January to take a year of paid educational leave beginning July 1.
Augusta State University and Georgia Health Sciences University were consolidated as Georgia Regents University under Azziz in 2013.