GSU leader has local ties

Special
Brooks Keel

Brooks Keel is now a Golden Eagle, but he once was a Jaguar and still keeps a close tie to Augusta.

"I was born and raised and educated in Augusta," said Dr. Keel, an Augusta College and Medical College of Georgia graduate who took the helm this week as the president of Georgia Southern University.

Dr. Keel, who was approved for the new role in October by the University System of Georgia Board of Regents, said Wednesday that he owes much of his success to his schooling and experiences in Augusta. Dr. Keel attended Monte Sano Elementary School, Tubman Middle and the Academy of Richmond County.

He points to two experiences at then-Augusta College as forever changing his future -- the first involving his being an officer in a fraternity there.

"That made a definite impression on me," he said, noting how it taught him leadership and management skills.

The other experience involved an influential Augusta College professor, John Black, whom he said introduced him to research opportunities in the field of science.

"It really sort of set me on my path to where I am today," he said.

Dr. Keel went on to earn his Ph.D. in reproductive endocrinology from MCG and prior to that received a Bachelor of Science in biology and chemistry in 1978 from what is now Augusta State University.

He said he still makes visits to the Augusta area, having a son, his mother and two brothers living here.

Before taking the Georgia Southern position, he was a biological sciences professor and vice chancellor for research and economic development at Louisiana State University.

He described his first week as president at the Statesboro school in three words.

"It's been fantastic," he said.

Reach Preston Sparks at (706) 828-3851 or preston.sparks@augustachronicle.com