Former Paine College President Julius Scott will take the wheel temporarily at the Medical College of Georgia while the search goes on to replace retiring President Francis J. Tedesco.
Dr. Scott already is a member of the board of MCG Health Inc., which operates the school's hospitals and clinics. He will take office as interim president Feb. 1. Dr. Tedesco's retirement becomes official after Jan. 31.
"Julius, with his long experience as an administrator of several colleges, fits the profile," Dr. Tedesco said of his longtime friend. "He's someone that will make a nice transition. I don't think the institution will miss a beat."
Dr. Scott said that his relationship with Dr. Tedesco also was an incentive for accepting the appointment.
"I am pleased to do it because of that friendship, and my respect for him," Dr. Scott said. "I am pleased to do it because I can continue some of the things he's begun. And I am pleased to do it because I love Augusta and I love what this place is all about."
Dr. Scott was named Wednesday by University System of Georgia Chancellor Stephen R. Portch.
"Transitions are very, very difficult times on morale," Dr. Portch said. "Julius is going to be both a calming influence but also just bring a tremendous bounce of enthusiasm and integrity and energy."
Dr. Scott was president of Paine twice, from 1974-82 and from 1988-94. During his first stint, he oversaw a fivefold increase in alumni contributions and built up the image of the school and its campus. When he was brought back in 1988 with enrollment dwindling, he once again built up enrollment, and incoming freshman test scores also rose.
Despite retiring in 1994, he agreed to serve as interim president of Albany State College in 1996 and as president of Wiley College in Marshall, Texas.
The search for a new president is down to five or six candidates, and the search committee of the Board of Regents is expected to receive the names by the end of the week, said Regent J. Timothy Shelnut of Augusta, vice chairman of the search committee. Dr. Portch said that once he receives the names - which he expects will happen Friday - scheduling interviews with the candidates will commence within 24 hours.
The committee will likely take two to three weeks to interview and research after that before it settles on a finalist, Mr. Shelnut said.
The candidates will be interviewed first in Atlanta and the list whittled down further, with a handful of candidates being brought to campus for faculty and staff to talk to, Mr. Shelnut said. Dr. Portch said the need to preserve candidate confidentiality will influence what kind of visits are made. The names of the three finalists do not have to be made public until 14 days before a vote, which makes it more likely that voting on a new president won't be done until the regents' meeting in March, he said.
The hope is to have the person by April or "at the latest, May," Mr. Shelnut said. The list includes prominent figures in the field, and that is the type of candidate the committee is looking for, Mr. Shelnut said.
"We want to get the medical college on the map," he said.
In the meantime, Dr. Scott is good choice for an interim leader, Mr. Shelnut said.
"We need someone who is compassionate, who knows the people, who knows the institution, and will keep everything together," Mr. Shelnut said. "Julius is that kind of guy."
Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213.