The agency that accredits Georgia’s 26 public universities and colleges is asking whether there has been undue political pressure to appoint former governor Sonny Perdue as chancellor of the University System of Georgia.

Belle Wheelan, the president of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, told The Associated Press in a Tuesday telephone interview that she sent a letter Monday to the Board of Regents, who oversee the 340,000-student system, after reading news coverage suggesting that regents were being politically pressured to name Perdue to head the system. The Republican Perdue was a two-term governor and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture under President Donald Trump.

“While it is often especially difficult for members of a governing board who are appointed by the governor or legislative body to remain independent in their work, it is imperative that they do, or they place the accreditation of the institution(s) they govern in jeopardy,” Whelan wrote in the letter, obtained by The Associated Press through an open records request.

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