By Curt Yeomans
After nine months at Clayton State University, the word "interim" no longer applies to Tim Hynes.
The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia decided late Tuesday afternoon the Morrow-based university's fourth permanent president will be Hynes, who came to Clayton State last May as interim leader.
When contacted by phone Tuesday night, Hynes was bubbling with excitement as he pledged to build upon Clayton State's existing relationships with public school systems, business leaders, community members and elected officials at the state level, and across the Southern Crescent.
"It's a great honor, and quite frankly, a great responsibility that comes with filling this position as the president of Clayton State University," Hynes said. "I'm very grateful that the board [Tuesday] expressed its confidence in my ability to lead this great institution, and I'm very grateful to this community, which has opened its arms, and been very welcoming to me."
Now that he is Clayton State's permanent president, Hynes said he plans to continue lobbying legislators daily to make sure the Georgia General Assembly approves funding to build the university's planned science building. He said he and other officials at the university will also continue strategic planning, internal research and facilities master-planning efforts in the coming months.
He said those efforts will call on university officials soliciting input from Clayton State faculty, staff and students, as well as business leaders, local elected officials, and members of the community.
"We're going to decide who we are, and where we will go next," he said.
Hynes said he has worked for the university system for 14 years. He was previously the provost and vice president of academic affairs at the University of West Georgia. On two occasions while he was at West Georgia, Hynes temporarily served as that school's interim president, also.
Last May, he came to Clayton State as the successor to President Thomas K. Harden, who left the school to take a similar position in Wisconsin. No presidential search team was ever formed to find Harden's replacement.
Allan Vigil, a member of the Board of Regents, and owner of Allan Vigil Ford Lincoln Mercury in Morrow, said the board and university system officials began evaluating Hynes' work at Clayton State shortly after he came to the school last spring.
During that time, Hynes has promoted Clayton State during meetings with local business leaders; led the university through a period in which state funding issues have led to furloughs of university system employees; and lobbied members of the Clayton County Legislative Delegation to support funding for a new science building on the school's Morrow campus.
The regents were unanimous in the decision to make Hynes the permanent president, according to Vigil. He said, in his opinion, the university system "could not have found a better person."
Vigil said the Board of Regents is "very enthusiastic" about the way Hynes has led the university, in part, by being a visible member of the community.
"He was not just warming a seat," Vigil said. "He was out in the community, promoting the university, and making a name for himself."
It was university system Chief Academic Officer Susan Herbst who pitched the idea of making Hynes Clayton State's permanent president to USG Chancellor Erroll B. Davis, Jr., Vigil said. She made the recommendation after talking with faculty, and staff at Clayton State, as well as community members, to gauge their opinions on Hynes' job performance, the regent said.
In a written statement released by the University System of Georgia Tuesday night, Herbst praised Hynes for his leadership of the university, and for the favorable feedback she received about him from the community.
"Dr. Hynes was universally praised for his contributions to date, his clear-headed thinking about budgets and operations, his outreach to all members of the Clayton community, his high academic standards and his strong belief in team work and transparency," Herbst said.
Clayton State has a history of keeping its permanent presidents for long stretches. It's first president, Harry S. Downs, led the school for 25 years, from its opening, until 1994. Downs' successor, Richard Skinner, lasted for five years, from 1994, to 1999. Harden came to the university in June 2000, and stayed nine years, until he left for his new job in Wisconsin.
When asked how long he plans to stay with Clayton State, Hynes said, "I serve at pleasure of the Board of Regents, and I will continue to serve at their pleasure."
Vigil said he hopes Hynes will stick around for awhile, though, and continue Clayton State's tradition of long-tenured presidents.
"I think we've got someone who is going to take Clayton State to the next level," Vigil said. "He's going to take Clayton State to where it needs to be, which is one of the top-tier universities in this state ... I've been on the Board of Regents for seven years now, and I've been through a lot of searches ...
"Believe me, we've got the right man for the job."