Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) was named chairman of the Southern Regional Education Board, a 16-member organization that works to improve student achievement across the region.

He succeeds North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue (D).

“I am thrilled to have this opportunity to work with my counterparts in our region to enhance the access education, to improve hard-to-staff and underperforming schools, and to develop ways to make the dream of a college education more affordable for all who wish to pursue it,” McDonnell said in statement.

As chairman of the 80-member board, McDonnell is expected to continue to urge states to prepare more students for college and career training and to raise degree-completion rates. Only slightly more than half of first-time, full-time freshmen in four-year public colleges and universities graduate with a bachelor’s degree within six years.

Also on Tuesday, the National Governors Association announced that McDonnell will head its legal affairs committee as well as serve on the special committee on homeland security and public safety and education, early childhood and workforce committee.