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CARROLLTON, Ga. -- University of West Georgia president Beheruz N. Sethna will retire at the end of this school year, the university announced Wednesday.

Sethna, who has been at UWG for 19 years, oversaw a number of big changes, including the school's transition from a small liberal arts college to a full university.

He is currently the longest-serving university president in the state, and is believed to be the first person of Indian heritage to head a U.S. university and the first ethnic minority to do so in Georgia.

"It has been my honor to lead UWG through this stage of its life, but I believe it is time to pass the torch of leadership," Sethna, 64, said in a statement.

When Sethna arrived at UWG, the school had 7,947 students. Enrollment has grown by 50 percent since then, and the university recently awarded its first Ph.D.

"When I arrived at West Georgia, the prevailing opinion was that I would be here for a couple of years and move to a bigger, better, more prestigious place," Sethna said. "They were correct -- I did. Together with the faculty and staff, we created a bigger, better and more prestigious university."

Sethna said he will continue to work as a professor of business administration at UWG, and will spend his summers teaching English and science at an orphanage school in his native India.

"Dr. Sethna has elevated the reach, brand and esteem of UWG throughout Georgia, the Southeast and nationally," University System of Georgia Regent Ken Bernard said in a statement. "He will be missed, but his presence as a faculty member will be immensely valuable to UWG."

Sethna has been named among the Board of Regents' 100 Most Influential Georgians six times since 2003 and also received the Regents' prestigious Cornerstone Award. He earned a bachelor's degree with honors in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay, an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad, and both a master's in philosophy and Ph.D. in marketing from Columbia University.

Sethna and his wife, fellow UWG faculty member Dr. Madhavi Sethna, have been married 37 years and have two adult children.

"We continue to dream and achieve impossible dreams at West Georgia. I will never stop wanting more for it and its students, faculty and staff and will remain as charged, as passionate and as enthusiastic about UWG as I was when I set foot on campus," Sethna said. "It has been my honor and my privilege to serve as the president of the University of West Georgia."

Sethna's last day as president of UWG will be June 30, 2013. A search committee will be formed to find a new president.

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