It’s a small fraternity, the folks who have been President of the University of Georgia and I know you worked with both Fred Davison and Henry King Stanford over the years. Share with me a bit about your sense of each of those gentlemen and the foundation they laid for what you were able to build upon.
Well, I really had an excellent relationship with Fred, and a lot of people probably would be surprised by that. Because there was to some extent some fussiness, I will say, between our lieutenants at various times. Surrogates would get on each other.
Present company not included.
[Laughter] I hope so. But Fred was always there for advice for me, and there were a lot of times I would call him or just have a quiet breakfast with him and try to get him to unlock mysteries, and that’s a fellow that had been president of the University for almost 20 years, and he knew a lot about the University and where it stood and had a very good sense of academic excellence and was a very valuable advisor, but he was also very quiet about it and I learned from him, I think above all others, the way a former president should behave. Fred never would comment on what was going on at the University, never say anything, you know if there was a policy issue and he had something to say, he’d call me and we’d talk about it, but he never would go into the press about it, and I was very grateful for that. That’s really how I think it should be. You don’t need, especially since he was for a few years before he moved to Augusta, on the faculty of the vet school. You didn’t need the former president out there second guessing you all the time. Fred never, never did that.
His great legacy may be setting the University on the course toward the life sciences.
I think it was, and that would be…I think if you again look at the big macro accomplishment, I think Fred, even more generally, set us on the course of being a great research university. That was in place in the life sciences, the biosciences were the areas he emphasized, but there were a lot of strengths, particularly in those areas when I got to the University. So I think Fred needs to be given all the credit for that.
And Dr. Stanford?
Well Henry, it was a little bit different. Of course, he was there really less than a year, but just the right person at the right time. I mean the University was traumatized and Henry was the doctor, psychiatrist maybe. As he so often said, he went…“from Rabun Gap to Tybee’s light.” I can still hear him saying it: “From Athens to Rome and spread the gospel!” and he really did a remarkable job. He is a remarkable man. As we speak today, it was just a few months ago that we were in Americus for his funeral service and I really, really admired the job he did at multiple universities, particularly the University of Miami, which I think is kind of what prepared him to help in a place like Georgia. He set the right tone, and really…interim…the University is an ocean liner and you can’t turn it very fast. I think it would be overstating it to say Henry could turn the ocean liner in the brief period of time he was there, but he certainly calmed the waters around it and in many ways made it easier for me. Now Henry, till his last few days, always repeated for me the story that he said, “Well, Chuck Knapp: I used up his honeymoon.” And there were days when I thought that was essentially accurate, but Henry was a piece of work, and again, for me as president, a very useful advisor, an older head that had been through it before and could teach me things and get me to see things that I wouldn’t have been able to see on my own.