Dr. Stuart Rayfield began her tenure as Columbus State University's president on June 1, 2023. The University System of Georgia announced her appointment in March 2023.
An Alabama native, Rayfield earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn. She then earned a master’s in higher education administration focused on student affairs from the University of Alabama before earning a doctorate in higher education administration focused on leadership, policy and organizations from Vanderbilt University.
Prior to her service in USG, Rayfield held positions at Auburn University, Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro and the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
Rayfield came to Columbus State in 2006 as an assistant professor, later holding the Frank D. Brown Distinguished Chair in Servant Leadership. Along with teaching, she directed the Servant Leadership Program, co-led the SACSCOC reaffirmation of accreditation and co- developed the Master of Science in Organizational Leadership program, Servant Leadership track.
In 2015, she was also named interim associate provost for Undergraduate Education at Columbus State. A year later, she accepted a role as interim president of the former Bainbridge State College, where she co-led the college’s consolidation with Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College.
She then immediately stepped into the role as interim president of Gordon State College, leading the college’s transition to new leadership. In July 2018, Rayfield was named USG’s vice chancellor for leadership and institutional development – stepping away only briefly in late 2019 to serve as the interim president of the University of West Georgia.
Rayfield last year also served as interim executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, overseeing the university system’s entire academic enterprise.
As vice chancellor for leadership and institutional development, Rayfield has led support for USG’s 26 public colleges and universities as well as the University System Office in areas that include management, leadership transitions and training and orientation.