'People value what they pay for': A conversation with Georgia Chancellor Sonny Perdue

In this Feb. 1, 2017, file photo, Agriculture Secretary-designate, former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue attends a meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

J. Scott Applewhite / associated press file

Sonny Perdue has held many titles: state senator, Georgia governor, and U.S. agriculture secretary. Now he goes by “Chancellor Perdue” as chancellor of the state’s public college and university system.

Perdue talked with WABE recently about a range of topics, including a new website called ‘Georgia Degrees Pay,’ where prospective students can compare attendance costs, student success and future earnings at all of Georgia’s 26 public institutions. Although the site targets all prospective students, Perdue admits he really wants students who are considering attending out-of-state colleges to visit it.

“This is really a marketing tool as well, to show [those students] where they can go — maybe closer to home or maybe far away if they choose,” he says. “But we don’t believe that any students should feel the necessity to go out of state for a better education.”

Perdue also discusses recent changes to USG’s tenure process, which concerned some professors and caused the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) to censure the system. Perdue defends the tenure changes and says he’s open to discussing them with AAUP.

“Their action was unilateral in that regard, unfortunately, and they chose to [censure USG],” Perdue says. “But I would be happy to discuss the issues and really look at the policy per se. I honestly think this was a reactionary move that occurred more based emotionally, rather than really factually. about what the policy changes were.”

In this interview, Perdue makes the case for the value of a USG education, pointing out that the system has kept tuition rates flat for the last six out of seven years. He also discusses the possibility of a need-based financial aid program, how USG has reduced the number of remedial courses it offers and his thoughts on President Joe Biden’s loan forgiveness plan.