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President's Executive Team & Cabinet

Michelle Johnston

Michelle Johnston, Ph.D.

Johnston became president of Georgia Southwestern on June 1, 2024. She is the first female president in GSW history. Johnston previously served as president of the College of Coastal Georgia from July 2018 to May 2024. Prior to joining Coastal Georgia, Johnston spent more than 25 years in higher education administration, including as president of the University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College in Ohio.

Suzanne Smith

Jill Drake, Ph.D.

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Drake has 23 years of experience in higher education with ten years in both public and private educational settings. She holds faculty rank at UWG as a tenured, full professor in the College of Education. She received her Doctorate of Education from the University of Georgia in 1999. She also holds an Education Specialist degree, a Master of Science degree, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from Florida State University. As Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs (AVPAA) at UWG, Dr. Drake provides leadership for the Ombuds Office, the Registrar’s Office, the Faculty Records Coordinator, the Academic Scheduler, and the Provost’s Fellow for Student Success Initiatives. She also serves as UWG’s Chief Transfer Officer and Chair of the Board of Regents’ Transfer Officers Academic Advisory Committee.

Jeff Hall

Jeff Hall, CPA

Vice President for Business and Finance

Jeff Hall returned to Georgia Southwestern in September 2020 and serves as the Vice President for Business and Finance. In this role, he supervises the offices of Accounting Services, Purchasing, Materials Management, Auxiliary Services, Public Safety, Student Accounts and Physical Plant. Jeff previously served as GSW’s Comptroller from 2010-2017 and Albany State University’s Controller for 3 years after that. He has also worked as an auditor for the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts and is a Certified Public Accountant and Certified Government Financial Manager. Jeff earned both of his degrees from GSW, a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing in 2001 and a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting in 2005.

Dr. Gaye Hayes

Gaye Hayes, Ph.D.

Interim Vice President for Student Engagement and Success
Hayes has more than 30 years of experience in higher education, having previously served as Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management. In that role, she played a significant part in the University's growth over the last several years. Hayes earned her Ph.D. from Georgia State University and her M.Ed. from the University of Georgia. She is a GSW alumna, having earned her Bachelor of Science from Georgia Southwestern. 

Stephen Snyder

Stephen E. Snyder, MBA

Assistant Vice President for Advancement, GSW Foundation Executive Director
Snyder joined the Georgia Southwestern staff in 2007 as a development officer before transitioning into the role of University Relations Director, where he served for more than 10 years. Prior to being named Assistant Vice President for University Advancement and Executive Director to the GSW Foundation, he served as Special Assistant to the President. Snyder provides oversight for the Foundation, Marketing and Communications, Alumni Services, Annual Fund, Advancement Services, Development and Government Relations. Snyder earned his Bachelor of Business Administration in marketing and a Master of Business Administration from Georgia Southwestern.

Extended Cabinet Members

headshot of John Brooks

John Brooks, MPA

Director of Human Resources
John Brooks joined Georgia Southwestern in August, 2022. As Director of Human Resources, he is responsible for oversight of all personnel operations, open records requests and ethics and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) compliance. Before coming to GSW, John served as Chief Human Resource Officer and other leadership positions for multiple universities and state systems, including Armstrong State University, Tennessee Technological University, the University of Louisiana - Lafayette, and the University of Missouri System. He also has served for many years as an adjunct professor and higher education consultant. John earned a Master of Public Administration from Missouri State University and a Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice and Psychology from Drury University.

Royce Hackett

Royce Hackett

Director of Information & Instructional Technology/Chief Information Officer
Royce Hackett came to GSW in 1997 as a member of the campus Information and Instructional Technology team. He was named the University’s Chief Information Officer in April of 2007, and is responsible for the integration of technology into the instructional and administrative missions of the University. Hackett earned his Associate of Applied Science from Columbus State University, and his Bachelor of Science and his Master of Science in Computer Science from Georgia Southwestern.

Mike Leeder

Mike Leeder

Director of Athletics
Mike Leeder has served as the University’s athletic director since 2014, focusing his attention on and raising funds for all 10 Hurricane sports. Previously, Leeder was the head coach of the Men's Basketball Program for 12 seasons. Leeder was named the Peach Belt Conference Coach of the Year for the 2010-2011 season. Prior to joining GSW, Leeder served as head men’s basketball coach at Longwood University (1999-2003). He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Florida State University, and a Master of Science degree in education from Nova Southeastern University.