UGA's Michael Adams: What Will be His Legacy?

The University of Georgia president is stepping down in 2013.

University of Georgia President Michael Adams will tell the UGA community today at 11am what most already know: that he's leaving his job at the end of June next year.

In June 1997, Adams arrived from tiny Centre College, succeeding President Charles Knapp. When Adams became president, Zell Miller was governor. The $100,000 family income cap on HOPE scholarship recipients had been removed in 1995, attracting more students from educated, affluent families and raising the academic bar for those wanting to attend the state's flagship institution.

But there have been bumps in the road for Adams--some of them huge.

At times during his tenure, the faculty has been at odds with Adams, who had not worked at a major research university before coming to UGA. In June 2000, 26 top UGA researchers wrote a letter saying that support for research had dropped under Adams.

In 2003, the tried to oust Adams after he decided not to renew the contract of Athletic Director Vince Dooley. That decision alienated and angered many supporters of Georgia's athletic programs across the state. Adams appointed as AD Damon Evans, who was later dismissed after an incident involving intoxication while driving a car and carrying an underwear-less woman in the car's passenger seat. 

The Foundation hired an accounting firm to audit Adams' expenses and discovered some concerns and irregularities, including a salary supplement of $175,000, without approval from the board or its executive committee. Adams subsequently created the Arch Foundation.

In 2004, the faculty of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences endorsed a "no confidence" vote in the president. The college then represented 38 percent of the university's professors. An internet vote showed that, by a 331 to 72 margin, faculty members said they didn't have confidence in Adams "as leader of UGA." 

But under Adams, UGA has seen its academic rankings rise, along with private donations to the school. As state funding has shrunk, outside money has greatly increased. And UGA has added an engineering program, the and a new medical partnership with the Georgia Health Sciences Campus in Augusta.

An aggressive construction program, made possible in part by the creation of the private , has resulted in many new and renovated buildings on campus. The campus is considered one of the most attractive in the country. The university has expanded its campus to include the former Navy School in Normaltown.

Relations with the local government are better than they have been in years. Adams aggressively promotes Georgia's research program, and has said his priority is raising salaries for faculty and staff. Last year, the two funding raising bodies, the Arch Foundation and the UGA Foundation, merged.

And yet, many people will remember only one thing about Adams' tenure: His decision not to have Vince Dooley continue as athletic director.

What do you think Adam's legacy will be? And who do you think will and should succeed him?


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