Max Burns, dean of the Mike Cottrell School of Business at North Georgia College & State University, has been named president of Gordon College in Barnesville.
Burns will replace Shelley Nickel, who began serving as interim president after Lawrence Weill retired in the summer of 2010.
Burns will officially take the position Jan. 1.
“I’m certainly grateful to the regents and the confidence they have shown,” Burns said. “It’s all about opportunities ... This hasn’t come around in my lifetime and probably won’t again.”
He said he looks forward to bringing Gordon College, which was chartered in 1852, to a greater level of excellence. With middle Georgia’s growing population, he said there is a need for education in the area and he is ready to help the school meet it.
“I look forward to a long and productive tenure there,” Burns said. “They serve a different role and a different mission in a different area of our state. I want to continue to grow its programs and I’m looking forward to partnering with our sister schools.”
He said he wanted to apply for the position not because he was looking for a new job, but because the opportunity “to lead a very dynamic education enterprise” was too good an opportunity to pass up.
He’s had a lot of opportunities in his lifetime. Burns was elected as a Republican congressman from Georgia’s 12th district in 2002. He campaigned for re-election in 2004 but lost to Democrat John Barrow.
His accomplishments also include teaching positions at Massey University in Auckland, New Zealand, University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, Georgia Southern University in Statesboro and Georgia State University in Atlanta, according to a news release from the University System of Georgia.
Burns said his background in politics and higher education was “mutually supportive” to the new position.
“Just the fact that I’ve engaged at the national level with education policy and worked with a broad range of constituents,” he said. “Certainly I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve as a public servant but my passion has been teaching.”
Other finalists for the position included Delmas Crisp, executive vice president and academic dean at Methodist University in Fayetteville, N.C., and Donna Henry, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Meyers.
“Dr. Burns stood out from a strong field as the person with the right experience and expertise needed to lead Gordon College,” University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby said in the news release. “We have a strong and growing institution in Gordon College, and his selection as president promises great days are ahead for the college and its students.”
Patricia Donat, vice president for academic affairs at North Georgia, said she was happy for Burns.
“This is a great opportunity for him and a great opportunity for the system to find leadership from within,” she said.
Donat said Richard Oates, the university’s associate vice president for academic affairs, will serve as interim dean when Burns begins his duties at Gordon College. A national search to find a permanent new dean will begin this fall, she said.