During Michael Adams' 16 years in Athens, the University of Georgia campus has been transformed into one of the most attractive university campuses in the country.
His staff and he increased the school's endowment markedly, helped raise the national profile of UGA, built classrooms and research facilities, renovated arts buildings, tore up asphalt and replaced it with grass and gardens. He dedicated money to the arts, literature and the life of the mind and worked to improve the intellectual environment.
Outgoing UGA President Michael Adams also shephereded through the Georgia Legislature two huge developments that will alter how UGA -- and Athens -- develops in the coming years: the new health sciences campus and the new engineering school. Observers will tell you that both cost much in political capital.
In delivering his last State of the University address Jan. 24, Adams sounded almost wistful at times, listing the accomplishments the university made in 2012, the overall changes he has brought to campus and suggestions about what needs to be done. Even though, he said, "come July 1, none of you has to pay a single bit of attention to what I say or think."
Here are some of Adams' suggestions:
- The state should devote more attention to public medical education.
- The faculty should consider creating a College of Fine Arts.
- UGA should create a School of Marine Sciences.
- Give more support to graduate and professional schools.
- Delay sorority and fraternity rush until the spring.
Adams said that UGA and the Athens community have worked together on many things, including a new fire station and a water treatment facility, but "there are still some issues to be resolved."
"Some have forgotten that the University of Georgia is a charity, not a donor," he said. Grumbling about how much land UGA owns and how it doesn't pay taxes is "potentially harmful to our state support base."
When asked to elaborate about what he meant by these comments, Adams would only say: "It is what it is."