Tuesday, May 23, 2006

We Should Cheer for UGa

About half of my regular readers just removed this site from their RSS feeds after reading that title, but let me explain for those of you still interested in reading. I have a THWG sticker on the back of my car. I don't own anything red, really (maybe a maroon shirt or two). I cheered my brains out for West Virginia in the Sugar Bowl - because watching sad rednecks in the stands warmed my cold, bitter little heart. I'm pretty sure I'd cheer for the University of Sheol coached by Lucifer if they played Georgia. I don't like Bulldog sports, at all.

That being said, outside of athletics Tech needs UGa to be a strong school. Since both are part of the University of Georgia system, we are tied together financially and academically in way that cannot severed, and each school is dependent on the other schools in the system for at least some portion of the success of the individual institution. UGa is the flagship school of the state, and the heart and soul of much of the government and legal structure of the state of Georgia (the percentage of Georgia politicians and lawyers from UGa is extremely high). Georgia Tech is the muscle that drives the Georgia economic engine, producing skilled engineers, managers and the research backbone for the state's industrial and technical firms and factories. Each of these schools (and Emory) plays a key role in the state's economy.

The key natural resource of Georgia is not peaches or peanuts or grits, it's a huge crop of well educated young people for employers to tap into. Between the Hope scholarship and the University of Georgia system (along with the fine collection of private schools in the Atlanta area) Georgia is one of the top 5 states in the nation for it's depth and breadth of quality secondary educational institutions. Three of the top 75 national universities in the country are within 100 miles of each other, along with several of the best regional schools and the top traditionally african-american schools as well. There's a reason that the two areas of the south experiencing the strongest economic growth are Atlanta and the Research Triangle Park near Raleigh-Durham/Chapel Hill ... they have some of the best collections of universities in the world.

Where am I going with this? Paul Westerdawg and Kyle King have been on the warpath against Michael Adams for some time - his litany of offenses against the UGa fanbase and athletic department being the easiest targets - but PWD touched on something today that hits at the core of a problem the University of Georgia system faces. Adams can't raise money. The University of Georgia's endowment is only a paltry $500mil and is well behind the academic powerhouses Arkansas and Kentucky. Look, I think it's funny that Adams continually pees in UGa fans' Cheerios, that the whole ugly Harrick situation sits squarely on his lap and that he wants to change the name of the Cocktail Party while his athletic department is basically supported in it's totality by a liquor distributor. That stuff makes me laugh. The fact that he's pile driving the state's flagship university into the financial dumpster? That's not funny.

Because of the importance of their two schools to the state's economy and it's future well being, Clough and Adams are two of the key employees of the state of Georgia and should be held accountable for how they do - not on the playing fields, but in their true job of education and advancing the state's workforce. Clough has excelled in this area, raising the profile of the Institute, continuing to develop the enormously successfull Georgia Tech Research Institute (which had a staggering $135mil in contracts and grants last year and total research has doubled under his tenure to $425mil), overseen over $1bil in construction and while he's had his faults he's been a very good president for GT. Adams? I'm not sure, he seems to be more crony than leader and his failures to raise money have a direct impact on the ability of UGa to advance. Money is the lifeblood of academia, and it's no mistake that the top universities in the country are also the richest universities. Endowments pay for top notch professors, scholarships to attract the best students and campus environments and technology that improve the quality of the educational experience - and in the end Georgia continuing to improve in those areas indirectly helps both Georgia Tech and the state of Georgia as a whole.

In this instance, we should be cheering for UGa ... and if Michael Adams isn't getting done, it might be time to step outside the "good ol' boy network" and get a president in Athens who'll drive the economic and fund raising engine the way other schools in the university system have.


Anonymous gainer said...

Great post, couldn't agree with you more. Although I am from Indiana and attend IU, I always want to see the state of Georgia do well because the vast majority of my family is from there and I plan on living there. I hate seeing a douchebag president suck at his job, especially after the bullshit I had to endure with Myles Brand.
Which liquor distributor is a big time donor to the UGA athletic department and/or how did you find that out?

2:35 PM  
Blogger paulwesterdawg said...

It's not a secret.

Don Leeburn owns Georgia Crown. It's a $700 million liquor distribution company with operations across the southeast.

Leeburn is Chairman of the State Board of Regents. In other words, he oversees UGA, GT, GSU, GA State, etc. Not just UGA.

Leeburn attended UGA in the late 50s, and played football along side Pat Dye and Fran Tarkenton. However, he never graduated from UGA or any other college.


7:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I work at the country club he and Suzanne Yoculan spend a lot of time at. You wouldn't know by his demeanor how affluent he is.

4:28 PM  

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