Originally created 10/01/97

Adams touts improvement plans for UGA



There are three items on Mike Adams' agenda as the University of Georgia's new president and they all deal with vast amounts of money.

Dr. Adams, visiting Augusta on Tuesday, said he wants to increase the number of endowed chairs his UGA professors hold, create more international programs for the school and greatly increase the amount of alumni giving to Georgia's flagship university.

The new president, who was chosen for the job partly because of his successful fund-raising efforts at Centre College in Danville, Ky., pointed out UGA's three main funding sources are state money, national and corporate foundations and alumni gifts.

"We need to maximize all three of those areas in a way that UGA has never done," said Dr. Adams, who officially took control of UGA on Sept. 1. "That's not going to happen overnight, but 10 years from now, the numbers are going to look different than they do now."

Research professors at UGA are "under-supported" financially and need more endowed chairs and other financial cushions to boost UGA to levels other nationally recognized universities enjoy, Dr. Adams said. And UGA must offer greater chances for students to explore other cultures, he said.

But to raise alumni donations, "we need to do a legitimately better job of convincing people that we are a first-rate academic institution" and not just a top athletic school, Dr. Adams said.

The new president, speaking in a meeting with The Augusta Chronicle, also said he expects his athletic coaches to "be competitive" but will wait to raise academic standards for players until the rest of the Southeastern Conference schools do the same.

He joked UGA is interested only in "multilateral disarmament, not unilateral," when it comes to bolstering classroom requirements for athletes.

"We have to do that as a conference" Dr. Adams said, though he added he will insist athletes go to class and make "some reasonable progress" toward getting a degree.

Dr. Adams also said he is changing how the university operates under Georgia's Open Records laws and will instruct his staff to be more open with the public and reporters.

"I was a little surprised that this has been as big an issue as it has been because other places, even private universities, are usually forthcoming," Dr. Adams said.

The university has been criticized for the standard slowness with which it answers open records requests, but Dr. Adams said he will reduce the number of requests that must be cleared by lawyers before public records are released. The state Supreme Court ruled against UGA in 1993, ordering its student courts and records to be open to the public.

"The courts have been pretty clear in that regard, to start with," Dr. Adams said.