Take 5

—President Michael F. Adams on the Archway to Excellence campaign


Q: The Archway to Excellence campaign started with a goal of $500 million; it finished with more than $650 million. Did you anticipate this level of success?

A: There was no way anyone could have anticipated this level of success, although I have always had a great level of confidence in the commitment level and the strength of support of University of Georgia alumni and friends.

UGA President Michael F. Adams

Q: What is the process of raising money in support of the University of Georgia?

A: We focus on three major areas. First we run an annual gift fund, which helps meet annual needs at the university, largely in support of students and faculty. Second are major capital gifts, which go either to bricks and mortar or to growing the endowment, which is still our major shortcoming. Third are estate gifts, which are increasingly the building blocks of the endowment and the long-term strength of the institution. While it is the big gifts that get the attention, no gift is too small to have an impact and the percentage of alumni participation is important, especially when we are making pitches to the major foundations in New York and Los Angeles. They want to know that the “family” supports the institution financially.

Q: Why is it important to have private support for a public university?

A: We get 31 or 32 percent of our total budget from the state and we are grateful to the taxpayers for that support. But we are increasingly tax-assisted not tax-supported, and it is incumbent on us to do everything in our power to enhance support from outside sources. As a matter of fact, today, in virtually every public university, outside support is the difference between being a good university and a truly great university.

Q: How does private support help study abroad programs?

A: It’s essential, because many of our students and families still struggle to fund tuition and pay for room and board. That’s even higher when one is out of the country, in most cases. On top of that, there’s usually a plane ticket that’s more than $1,000. Supporting study abroad has been one of the main focuses for Mary and me.

Q: What’s next in fundraising at UGA?

A: What you will see is a subtle shift away from a focus on central university needs toward more of a focus on support for specific schools, colleges and units. For instance, while there will always be great institution-wide needs, we have needs at the Terry College, the botanical garden, the new health sciences campus and a need for more research support and needs-based scholarships. In short, in addition to monitoring institutional needs, it is time for supporters of athletics and the art museum and the vet school and all the other units to step up and support those needs.