COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — The Georgia Board of Regents on Thursday named Dr. Stuart Rayfield as the president of Columbus State University, effective July 1.

Rayfield becomes Columbus State’s sixth president and the first woman to lead the University System of Georgia institution.

She previously spent more than 10 years at Columbus State as a faculty member and administrator.

“I’m thrilled to return to Columbus State University as its next president,” Rayfield said in a news release from the University System. “With its deep ties to the Chattahoochee Valley community, including Fort Benning, Columbus State is the driver of the region’s workforce and is poised to lead and partner with other entities to meet the demands of an ever-changing economy.”

Last week, she was named the lone finalist for the job. A search has been ongoing since last summer.

Rayfield’s family has called Columbus home for almost 20 years.

“This role is personal for me,” she said. “I know from experience how much hard work has gone into building this institution into what it is today, a destination in Georgia and beyond. As we look to the future, I am convinced Columbus State will continue to reflect the innovative spirit of the region and I’m eager to join them on that journey.”

Dr. John Fuchko has served as the interim president since last summer.

Former President Dr. Chris Markwood retired almost a year ago.