I believe the year you arrived, the University raised 14 million dollars in private funds. That is a lot higher these days and you had a lot to do with building the fund raising organization, a capital campaign occurred during your administration. Talk about what it took to build that and…plus an emphasis on public relations, which is important.
Well, I think it is important. You know the dollars are important that you raise, and we were able to through the campaign and kind of putting in place a professional communications and fund raising presence, were able to bump that up, ratchet it. I think that’s always the objective. You go along at a certain level and you have a campaign. You don’t want it to slide back down. You want it to continue at an increased level. We were able to do that. It is an art, not a science, and a lot of people worked hard at that. A lot of volunteers worked at it. A lot of good staff, Nik Edes, Don Eastman served as vice presidents for development during that period of time and a lot of the credit should go to them. But it’s basically relationship building. Lynne deserves a lot of credit for that. People didn’t see a lot of the things she did. I remember, of course, the largest single donor, I think, still at the University is Bernie Ramsey. The development staff that was in place when I came said, “Well just don’t bother with Bernie, he’s just mean and ornery and up in New York and really isn’t going to give any money to the University.” But I found out…it’s a good case, by the way, how athletics can help in fund raising. Bill Hartman, Coach Hartman had had him down on every…they had been in the same class, and Bernie was the commandant of ROTC and Bill was the all American half back. And Coach Hartman and Ruth would have Bernie down every fall for a football game, so he had maintained some relationship with the University, but when we first started working with him, I thought the staff that said this is going nowhere, were right. But it was actually Lynne, who said, “You know, I think Bernie has a good heart. I think he loves the University. I think he just…you know we need to find the right thing to ignite his passion.” It’s a good case in point about fund raising. We stayed after that, Peter and Kay Amman, Bernie was Merrill Lynch and Peter was Merrill Lynch and he had a relationship, developed a relationship with Bernie too and several others, and eventually after gosh knows how many trips to New York and entertaining Bernie in Athens, we got the key. I know when we hit it, we had him at an event out at the Botanical Garden and somebody, whoever it was, I don’t know, and they ought to get their portrait painted at the University, sat Bernie between two Foundation Fellows at the dinner, and I remember in the middle of the dinner Lynne poked me and she said, “Look over at Bernie,” and he was just in heaven talking to these young students. Shortly after he said, “That’s what I want to do! I want to build that program,” and that’s, of course, what he ended up doing. That’s where the Ramsey Scholars came from.
An emphasis on development and on institutional public relations had not been that strong before you came into office, and you put great importance on it.
Well, and Tom, you need to take a lot of the credit for the fact that we, I think…I came from a background and presidents are different, and I don’t mean this to be critical of anybody that came before me, but there was a little bit of a sense when I got there that you didn’t talk to the press, and you didn’t communicate, and I had come from a background where you were…where transparency was the norm basically, besides the fact that open records laws would make you transparent anyway. But I think you’ll agree that what we tried to do was to be accessible to the press and talk with them and you know, not everybody tries to spin a little bit, but we didn’t try to over spin things in terms of our angle on it, and I think with most of the reporters, not all of the reporters, that made a difference, and I think they treated the University on balance better because of that, because they had some confidence that we were giving them the straight information and as much information as we could.
I remember one time you told me that my challenge for the year was to have a University of Georgia research project reported in the New York Times in the Science Times. That happens weekly now, but the first time it happened, you gave us a champagne reception.
Exactly. I remember it well. Now I’ve got to tell you that one of the joys of my current life is that I can go out in the morning and pick up the Atlanta Constitution and know there’s an excellent chance I won’t be above the fold.
We can’t pick it up at all in Athens, so you’re doing better.