President Keel announces two administrative changes

Russell Keen appointed executive vice president for external relations and chief of staff to the president

Keen_RussellRussell Keen, an administrator with more than 14 years’ experience in higher education, has been named executive vice president for external relations and chief of staff to Georgia Regents University President Brooks A. Keel, Ph.D.

Keen, who has served as vice president for external affairs at Georgia Southern University, will begin in his new role July 27. In addition to managing the day-to-day operations of the Office of the President, Keen will provide executive leadership to GRU’s Advancement and Government Relations programs.

“The chief of staff will play a critical role in cementing our reputation as a destination of choice for education, research and health care,” said Keel. “After working with Russell for years at Georgia Southern University, I’m certain his leadership, fundraising and community engagement skills will prove invaluable to GRU, GRHealth and the Augusta community.”

“I am honored to join Georgia Regents University and excited to help favorably position it as a student-centered comprehensive research university and academic health center,” Keen said. “I’m also looking forward to working with students, alumni, faculty, staff, as well as local, state and federal decision-makers to strengthen our institution.”

Keen began his career in higher education in 2001 when he served as the director for annual giving at Georgia Southern. He was later named Atlanta regional development director and associate vice president for governmental relations for the university. He has also worked for the University of Georgia’s Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and SafePath Children’s Advocacy Center.

He currently serves as foundation director for the Rotary Club of Statesboro and is active with the Georgia Chamber of Commerce Governmental Affairs Council. He has also served on the Statesboro-Bulloch Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and was appointed Bulloch County representative for the Coastal Regional Commission.

Keen is a graduate of the 2009 Class of Leadership Bulloch, the 2012 Class of Leadership Georgia, the Georgia Academy of Economic Development and a 2014 graduate of The Protocol School of Washington. Keen is a native of the Augusta area and a graduate of Lakeside High School.

He received a bachelor’s degree in finance and a master’s degree in higher education administration from Georgia Southern University.


Dr. Karla Leeper appointed executive vice president for strategic communication and chief marketing officer

LeeperDr. Karla Leeper, an administrator with more than 25 years of experience in higher education, has been named executive vice president for strategic communication and chief marketing officer for GRU/GRHealth.

“Dr. Leeper’s experience and expertise in communication will be invaluable as we begin the next phase of our institution’s growth,” said Keel. “Over the past year, she has been a proven leader on this campus, and I look forward to the opportunity to work with her to help others understand all of the great work that is being done right here in Augusta, as well as in the other cities in Georgia where GRU makes such a contribution.”

“Over the past year, I have grown to love Augusta and the GRU community,” Leeper said.  I am thrilled to be able to work more closely with our talented communications team to create a truly state-of-the-art communication program for our institution. This work will also allow me to collaborate on projects with the students, faculty and staff who are at the heart of our great work.”

Leeper received a bachelor’s degree in political science and communication studies from the University of Iowa, and a master’s degree and doctorate in communication from the University of Kansas. Prior to coming to GRU, she served as a tenured faculty member, vice president for board and executive affairs, and chief of staff to the president at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.

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