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Kristi and Dr. Neal Weaver

By University Marketing Communications
Photos by Lizeth Garcia

On March 18, The University of Texas System Board of Regents unanimously approved Dr. Neal Weaver as the new president of SFA. Weaver, who has served as president of Georgia Southwestern State University (GSW) since 2017, will officially begin his new appointment in mid-May.

Dr. Neal WeaverWeaver succeeds Interim President Gina Oglesbee to become the 11th president in SFA's 100-year history and first as a member of the UT System. SFA, which has six colleges that offer more than 80 bachelor's degree programs, 40 master's degree programs, and four doctoral degrees that cover more than 120 areas of study, officially became the 14th member institution of the UT System last September.

With an impressive 33-year career in higher education administration across four public university systems, Weaver has demonstrated his leadership prowess at GSW. Under his guidance, the university experienced notable growth in enrollment, student retention and fundraising. GSW's fall 2023 enrollment of 3,300 marked a historic high for the university and included an 18.5% increase in first-year student enrollment as well as an 16.8% increase in graduate enrollment. Additionally, first-year student retention rose by more than 7%, and annual giving to the GSW Foundation more than doubled.

"The regents met with outstanding candidates, and Dr. Weaver's ability to lead in a thriving academic environment, coupled with his commitment to innovation and strategic growth, make him an ideal appointment to serve SFA as it enters its new era as a UT institution," said UT System Board Chairman Kevin P. Eltife. "We are grateful for the thorough work of SFA's presidential search advisory committee and the UT System leadership whose guidance and recommendations helped us arrive at today's final selection."

Before his role at GSW, Weaver served as the vice president for university advancement and innovation at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana. In this capacity, he provided leadership in fundraising, enrollment management and athletics while generating new revenue and improving retention, operating efficiencies and customer service. While there, the university's 16-semester enrollment decline ended with four consecutive semesters of enrollment growth and a 40% increase in applications.

Prior to that, Weaver served as vice president for institutional advancement at West Texas A&M University. He saw significant accomplishments in that role, including a 125% increase in fundraising and the implementation of an integrated marketing plan that identified new markets and ensured brand-centered marketing and communications.

Weaver also was vice president for university relations at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, where he worked in various roles from 1998 to 2008.

Weaver stays active both professionally and personally, having served on 25 university committees and on regional and school facilities planning commissions, a chamber of commerce legislative affairs committee, and youth leadership groups. He was chair of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education's District IV board of directors and member of CASE's national chairs committee.

He also hosted GSW's "What's in the Cup" podcast and, for a brief time in 1990 after college, trained with the New York Jets.

Weaver's candidacy was recommended to the board of regents by a presidential search advisory committee that was chaired by UT System Chancellor James B. Milliken. The search committee included representation from SFA faculty, staff, students, alumni and community leaders, as well as UT presidents and regents.

Milliken praised Weaver's ability to maximize the potential of the institutions he has served throughout his career.

"Dr. Weaver's accomplishments in fostering student success, driving enrollment growth and spearheading successful fundraising efforts position him to guide SFA into new opportunities as a member of The University of Texas System," Milliken said. "I am pleased with the regents' unanimous support of his candidacy and appreciate the efforts of everyone that helped us navigate this historic search."

Weaver earned a doctoral degree in organizational leadership from the University of Oklahoma, a Master of Business Administration from Southeastern Oklahoma State University and a bachelor's degree from Oklahoma Panhandle State University. He is a native of Oklahoma City. He and his wife, Kristi, have three sons and one granddaughter.