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CHE names Dr. L. Jeffrey Perez as permanent President and Executive Director

Thu, 06/06/2024

The South Carolina Commission on Higher Education voted in today’s Board of Commissioners business meeting to select Dr. L. Jeffrey Perez as the CHE’s next President and Executive Director.

The vote followed an extensive selection process that included meetings with Commissioners, CHE staff, and university presidents.

Dr. Jeff Perez“Dr. Perez brings a great deal of experience in higher education from the public and private sectors, and a strong understanding and knowledge of the general assembly,” said CHE Chair Wes Hayes. “He brings a great energy to this position and is a leader who will take the CHE to the next level.”

Perez has 25 years of dynamic higher education leadership in three states, including 16 years in South Carolina. 

“Taking the helm at CHE will be the culmination of my 16 years of higher education leadership in South Carolina,” Perez said. “I’m eager to work with the Commissioners, the General Assembly, Governor McMaster and the campuses to build a bright future for the people of South Carolina.”

“I deeply appreciate the leadership of Dr. Greg Little and the CHE team who have done tremendous work addressing the Inspector General’s report and preparing CHE to move forward,” he added.

Perez is currently president and CEO of South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities, where he oversees advocacy, fundraising and campus support initiatives on behalf of SCICU’s 21 member institutions and 36,000 students.  In his time at SCICU, Perez has provided robust management of the organization, strengthening its capacity to serve the member institutions while enhancing its financial position. Throughout the pandemic he delivered strategic guidance to campus presidents, chief academic officers, and chief financial officers that bolstered their capacity to successfully address the many unprecedented challenges they faced.

Before his leadership of SCICU he was Winthrop University’s vice president for university relations where he provided strategic communications guidance, served as principal institutional spokesperson, and represented the university at the local, state, and federal levels.  He also oversaw university events and was part of the leadership team that developed the SACSCOC reaccreditation submission.

Previous to Winthrop University, Perez was vice president for external affairs at The Citadel where he developed and implemented communications and marketing plans that helped the military college achieve record enrollments and the highest annual giving in its history. 

At Shawnee State University in Ohio, Perez served as executive director for Communications and Government Affairs.  He rebuilt the public relations operation to more effectively promote the institution and served as secretary to the board of trustees. He also secured the first federal funding in the university’s history, which funded a motion capture lab for its gaming and simulation arts program.

Perez also held leadership positions in the State University of New York system.  As director of communication services at the headquarters of the State University of New York, he served the largest college system in the country with 400,000 students across 64 campuses. He also administered the committees of SUNY’s Board of Trustees.  He later served as director of public affairs for the Charter Schools Institute of the State University of New York.   He was also director of research and government relations representative for the New York State School Boards Association.

Perez has chaired the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities – State Executives and sat on NAICU’s Board of Directors.  He currently serves on the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce’s Education and Workforce Development Committee and is a Furman University Riley Fellow.

Perez holds a Ph.D. in American history from the College of William and Mary. He earned a master’s degree from Binghamton University and a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service degree from Georgetown University.

Additional details of the hiring timeline will be announced once available.

Dr. Gregory Little has served as acting president and executive director in a temporary capacity beginning March 4; he is leaving the CHE to become president of Midlands Technical College. During today’s Board of Commissioners meeting Chair Wes Hayes also thanked Little for his exemplary service to the agency and his work to position the incoming president and executive director for success.