ATHENS, Ga. -- University of Georgia president Michael Adams warned against letting football become too powerful and called for the creation of two new academic divisions in his final State of the University speech on Thursday.
“(The university’s athletic interests) are increasingly dominated nationally by media and entertainment organizations and their values. We have worked hard to improve the balance, but it is a constant battle,” said Adams, who steps down as UGA president June 30.
“The academic establishment has to control the athletic establishment, not the other way around. Last year’s troubling news out of Penn State made that quite clear.”
While he was on athletics, Adams also argued against making Sanford Stadium into a bowl in any future expansions. “I believe the west end should remain open. The visible interconnection with and view of the central campus is more than just a pretty scene. It is a powerful statement about the appropriate place of athletics at a great public university,” he told a crowd of students, UGA workers and townspeople gathered in the UGA Chapel.
“I will come back and haunt the president and athletic director who close the west end of the stadium.”
The two most important accomplishments came just last year, he said, referring to the founding of a new UGA College of Engineering and the opening of the new UGA Health Sciences Campus in the former U.S. Navy School Supply Corps School campus in Normaltown. The Health Sciences Campus houses the UGA College of Public Health and the Georgia Regents University/University of Georgia Medical Partnership.
“Taken together with the other academic units established here in the past 16 years, .... these constitute what is arguably the greatest enhancement of the academic profile of this university in its history,” Adams said.
Adams also said the university needs to establish a College of Fine Arts and a School of Marine Science. “Coastal and water issues will become even more critical in the decades to come,” he said.
Adams oversaw the creation of five new colleges and schools in his time in Athens: the School of Public and International Affairs, the College of Public Health, the Odum School of Ecology, the College of Environment and Design, and the College of Engineering. He also said UGA needs to beef up its programs for graduate students, called for an end to complaints from Athens citizens about how much land UGA owns and takes off the tax rolls, and said the campus still needs a carillon that might ring out “Glory, Glory to Old Georgia” every day at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Adams gave thanks to a lengthy list of administrators who have worked with him in the 16 years as the university’s head administrator.
“The academic standing of this university is much higher than it was 16 years ago, just as it had been strengthened by the good work of my predecessor, Charles Knapp,” Adams said. Average SAT scores are up nearly 100 points; UGA was ranked No. 4 in a list of so-called “Public Ivies;” and if UGA were a country, its medal count would have placed 26th among the nations of the world in last summer’s Olympic Games in London, Adams said as he reeled off a long list of UGA accolades and accomplishments during his tenure.