Dr. Russell T. Keen Named Finalist for Augusta University Presidency

Staff Report

Friday, June 7th, 2024

The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia (USG) voted today to name Dr. Russell T. Keen as the sole finalist for president of Augusta University (AU).

Keen currently serves as executive vice president for administration and chief of staff to the president at AU, where he’s served in an executive leadership role since July 2015. AU President Brooks Keel announced in September that he plans to retire on June 30, 2024.

“As a native of the Augusta area, Dr. Keen understands the challenge of maintaining AU’s momentum in the climb from good to better to best as a research university and innovator in medical higher education,” USG Chancellor Sonny Perdue said. “Russell has a tremendous history within our system and is dedicated to fiscal management and student success. His combination of skills and energy will keep the university on track to being a world-class institution.” 

President Keel’s retirement concludes a remarkable 40-year career in research and higher education administration. Dr. Keel has helmed AU since July 2015, during which time he oversaw significant growth in enrollment and funding, and was previously president at Georgia Southern University, where he and Keen first met.

“It is an immense privilege to be considered for this position, and I’m grateful to the board and Chancellor Perdue for their confidence in me,” Keen said. “My time on campus and in Augusta has prepared me for a seamless transition into this role, and I would be honored to continue the legacy of a president I consider a mentor. I’m wholeheartedly vested in advancing the university’s success through its current initiatives and into its next chapter.”

A first-generation college student and a Georgia Southern graduate, Keen has worked within the university system for over 22 years. Prior to joining AU, Keen spent 13 years working at Georgia Southern where he held several administrative positions, including vice president for external affairs and vice president of governmental relations and community engagement. He also worked as the major gifts officer at the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Georgia. 

“Russell is an obvious choice to lead AU,” said Regent Jim Hull, chairman of the presidential search committee. “He has the unique combination of experience and drive to jumpstart the university’s growth and its continued contributions to health sciences education and translational research in Georgia. AU also has a unique and exciting opportunity with Wellstar Health System to improve Georgians’ clinical healthcare outcomes. Russell is the right leader to work strategically with faculty, staff, students and Wellstar to transform lives and create more opportunity to save lives and collaborate with other research universities in Georgia. I am delighted for Russell, his wife, Karen, and their family.”

Keen holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and an M.Ed. in higher education administration from Georgia Southern. He earned an Ed.D. in higher education management from UGA. He serves with the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, the Rotary Club of Augusta and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. He and his wife, Karen, have two children and live in Augusta.

The Board will take action on the position at a future board meeting no sooner than five days from naming a finalist.