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Bonita Jacobs, Senior Fellow

Bonita C. Jacobs

Senior Fellow

Bonita C. Jacobs is President Emerita of The University of North Georgia. She assumed the presidency in 2011, becoming the University’s first female president and only the second woman to lead one of the country’s six Senior Military Colleges. Jacobs oversaw the consolidation between North Georgia and Gainesville State College in 2013 and served as the founding president until her recent retirement. Jacobs is also the founder and first executive director of the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students. Before coming to North Georgia, Jacobs was Vice President for Student Development and a tenured professor of counseling and higher education at the University of North Texas. She previously served in leadership positions at Western Carolina University and at Stephen F. Austin State University. Jacobs is a frequent speaker on transfer and student success issues and has conducted a significant amount of externally funded grant research. She is the former editor of The Journal of College Orientation and Transition and has served on three other editorial boards. Her publications include, among others, The College Transfer Student in America: The Forgotten Student (AACRAO, 2004), Mergers in Higher Education: A Proactive Strategy to a Better Future? (TIAA Institute, 2017), Strategic Mergers in Higher Education (JHU Press, 2019), Leading Big Scary Change: Major Institutional Restructuring in Higher Education (TIAA Institute, 2023), and the upcoming Leading Mergers and Institutional Restructuring in Higher Education (JHU Press, summer 2024), as well as numerous chapters, journal articles and reviews.

James Hagler


With over 12 years of experience in higher education as both a faculty and staff member, James has been involved in the evolution of departments and programs through consolidation. He started with then-Macon State College (MSC) in Recreation and participated in the consolidation of MSC with Middle Georgia College creating Middle Georgia State University (MGA) in the first series of consolidations by the University System of Georgia (USG). Working in Athletics and Recreation throughout this process, James participated in combining departments, mascot selection, mascot naming, mascot, and logo designs. After the changes were complete, he led the school to and through the licensing process for the new institution. He also was part of the team which worked through the change of Athletic Associations from the NJCAA and club sports to the NAIA, adding sports on two separate occasions, and completing annual reports for different groups to include: the Southern Association of Colleges & Schools-Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC), USG, NAIA, Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC), Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act (EADA), and many others. James is currently a faculty member at MGA in the School of Business heading up the Sports Management program. His doctoral thesis examines consolidation in the USG and is entitled: A Success Story? An Exploration of the Consolidation Efforts in the University System of Georgia.

Richard Katzman


Mr. Katzman served as Executive Vice President for Operations for the Lundquist Institute. Previously, he served as Chief Strategy Officer for El Camino Hospital, and as Vice President of Academic Affairs and previously as Vice President for Business Development at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (CSMC).  Prior to joining CSMC, he had a range of planning, business development and financial experiences, from running community-based hospitals to university and academic medical centers to a publicly traded corporation and a start-up information technology company. Mr. Katzman earned a BA in finance from The American University in Washington, DC, and holds a master’s degree in health services administration from the University of Arizona in Tucson. 

Gary Stocker


Gary Stocker has substantial business experience in health care and higher education with skills in sales and marketing, management, consulting, data analytics, operations, and technology. 

As the Chief-of-Staff to a small college president in Missouri, his first few months on the job introduced him to the fragile nature of private college finances.  Efforts to find potential merger partners led Stocker to ultimately develop an app that lets users compare the financial health and viability of colleges in the United States.

Stocker uses his experience in developing new business models for higher education that allow for greater efficiency and long-term growth.  Stocker says:  “In the 21st century, geography is not a limiting factor to business growth in higher education.  Colleges and universities should focus on technology infrastructure to leverage available technologies to create new and stronger business opportunities.  His research on the financial health and viability of colleges resulted in the development of the College Viability App that provides consumers and higher education leaders with a resource to compare the financial health of American private colleges.