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ATLANTA – Former University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby died Wednesday at age 79 after suffering a stroke last week.
Huckaby served a brief stint in the state House of Representatives representing a Watkinsville-based district and before that spent years as an administrator at the University of Georgia.
He was named chancellor of the university system in 2011 and served in that role until retiring in early 2017.
“He was a true gentleman and a pillar of the Athens and Oconee County community,” Gov. Brian Kemp said. “Hank left Georgia better than he found it, and for that, we are forever grateful. We will continue to lift the Huckaby family up in our prayers in the coming days.”
“Hank was devoted to this state and served it in many capacities,” added current system Chancellor Steve Wrigley, who succeeded Huckaby. “He always kept the people of this state first in his work.
“His last role as chancellor was exemplary both in our state and nationally, putting Georgia on a path to be a top public higher education system in the nation. I learned a great deal from him through the years, and I shall miss him greatly.”
Huckaby’s signature accomplishment as chancellor was launching a consolidation initiative that shrank the number of colleges and universities in the system over several years from 35 to 26. The move was aimed both at cutting costs and improving the quality of education.
Huckaby also presided over strong enrollment growth, helping spur an increase in the number of graduates.
Early in his career, Huckaby taught at Emory University and Georgia Perimeter College. He went on to serve as an administrator at Georgia State University, Gordon College, and UGA, where he rose to senior vice president for finance and administration.
Huckaby also served in the administrations of three Georgia governors. He was budget director under Zell Miller, executive director of the Georgia Housing and Finance Authority under Joe Frank Harris and commissioner of the state Department of Community Affairs under George Busbee.