Monday, June 28, 2010

Georgia Foundation for Independent Colleges Names Baxter as Next President

The Board of Trustees of the Georgia Foundation for Independent Colleges (GFIC) has appointed Susanna L. Baxter, Ed.D., as its new president. Currently serving as chief operating officer of the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association, Dr. Baxter will begin her presidential duties on August 15.

“We are extremely pleased to have Susanna Baxter in this important role,” said GFIC Board Chair Bonnie Wurzbacher. “She brings decisive leadership, extensive experience and, most importantly, enthusiastic vision for independent higher education. We believe she will increase the visibility and appreciation not only of Georgia’s independent colleges and universities and the exceptional opportunities they provide, but also for all higher education institutions across the state. She will be a true asset to our organization and its future.”

The final selection was made after a four-month national search that included more than 100 highly qualified candidates. The search committee included five college and university presidents and four community and business leaders.

“Susanna clearly has a passion for independent higher education,” said Dan McAlexander, DMA, president of LaGrange College and chair of the presidential search committee. “Throughout the selection process, her enthusiasm advocating for private education and for creating collaborative initiatives that benefit the operations and goals of each member institution was evident. She is a highly respected leader among her peers and knows how to attract both ideas and funding to accomplish goals and initiatives. She will implement GFIC’s strategic plan of supporting private higher education through public policy, public awareness, fundraising for student financial aid and collaborative projects in partnership with institutions, businesses and community leaders. ”

In her new role, Dr. Baxter will emphasize the importance and value of independent education to Georgia, working closely with elected officials, foundation officers, state institutions, and influential business and community leaders. She will be responsible for creating an effective political base that can assist elected officials in the creation of policies and practices that benefit private higher education in the state. Among her priorities will be advocating the benefits and equality of continuing and increasing student aid programs, such as the Georgia Tuition Equalization Grant and the HOPE Scholarship. She also will seek ways to initiate collaborative programs and partnerships that will benefit the member institutions and the 60,000 students who attend them.

“Private colleges and universities in Georgia are an important part of the State's educational legacy and are poised to be strategic partners in meeting its educational goals for the future,” said Dr. Baxter. “I am pleased about this opportunity to advocate for students seeking a high-quality, affordable education in a diverse educational environment that best fits their academic, social and spiritual needs. To this end, I look forward to working with GFIC member presidents, corporate partners, elected officials and civic leaders.”

Dr. Baxter has focused her career on independent higher education. She joined the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association (TICUA) in 2000 as director of Member Services and Grants, working with the 35 member institutions. In 2001, she became vice president of the department. With her thoughtful approaches and diligent work style, she become known for offering informed, entrepreneurial and collaborative solutions when addressing concerns and needs of member institutions. Using grants from foundations and government agencies and soliciting sponsorships, she provided services to the Tennessee membership either affordably or at no cost.

In 2007, Dr. Baxter was named chief operating officer of TICUA. Her work has included developing and administering a $12 million self-funded health benefit consortium for member institutions and creating and maintaining a $23.7 million statewide procurement program. Also, she coordinated the creation of a statewide higher education alcohol and other drug prevention program.

Before joining TICUA, she was an administrator at Barton College in Wilson, North Carolina, for two years, serving as director of Residence Life and then dean of students. Her roles enabled her to work directly with students as their academic advisor, mentor and teacher.

Dr. Baxter knows firsthand the value of independent higher education from the perspective of a student. She graduated summa cum laude from Pfeiffer College in 1996 with a bachelor of arts degree in Christian Education and Religion. She earned both her master of education degree in General Administrative Leadership in 1997 and doctor of education degree in Higher Education Leadership and Policy in 2007 at Vanderbilt University.

About the Georgia Foundation for Independent Colleges
Founded in 1956, the Georgia Foundation for Independent College is the unified voice of 25 independent colleges and universities in Georgia. Located in Atlanta, the Foundation serves its member colleges and universities in the areas of shaping and analyzing public policy, conducting fundraising for student scholarships and financial aid, and initiating collaborative programs in partnership with business and community leaders and member institutions. More information is available at The Georgia Foundation for Independent Colleges engaged the executive search firm of Myers McRae to conduct this presidential search. More information is available at

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