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Lord Adams, Airwaves & the University

In Apotheosis on January 1, 2014 at 11:58 PM

January 1, 2014

Last year the University of Georgia (UGA) witnessed the retirement of longstanding president Michael Adams. For a “person of the year” pick in Georgia, he would have to be ranked highly at minimum. His accomplishments are many and farsighted just like the ancient Athenians would appreciate.

For his Abraham Baldwin-like embrace and application of the “public ivy” concept at the University of Georgia, many generations, present and future, will surely benefit. And, more specifically, his founding of the engineering and medical programs strongly honors late Georgian and American legacies like Crawford Long, the pioneering physician, and Steve Jobs, the pioneering computer engineer.

His representation of “the whole” by listening widely comes across as the primary virtue of Lord Adams, judging from having read his “Take 5 with the President” Q&A over the last few years as published in the official University of Georgia Magazine series delivered to my doorstep (see page 5 in any given issue).

A few interesting and timely topics are referenced here,

“The people of Georgia deserve a flagship university every bit as good as the people of North Carolina or Virginia or Michigan or California.” – June 2013

“More than 75 percent of federal research dollars go to either engineering or medicine, so we have been competing in a national arena without a full set of arrows in our quiver.” – March 2013

“Many countries support the arts better than we do in this country, and I believe that our state and federal governments are missing an important economic development opportunity by not investing more money in the arts.” – September 2012

“This is the most heavily medicated generation in American history.”– September 2009

“We have the UGA Alert system up and running. It has been tested, and unfortunately we had a tornado warning recently where it was tested in a real-life scenario. We believe that those natural calamities are a more likely need for the warning than what occurred at Virginia Tech.” – June 2008

For his balanced embrace of the liberal arts and his creativity exhibited in the arena of athletics, e.g., his proposed 8-team playoff for college football in early 2008, he deserves recognition.

“Vanity is not a virtue at the University of Georgia,” as my former American history professor Peter Hoffer once said. A virtuous living legacy for Lord Adams might best be harnessed by doing to the airwaves of Georgia what Adams has done to the land and sea by way of the University of Georgia, i.e., by applying the rigor of conversation to the rot of today’s public radio airwaves by arranging for all Georgia colleges to spearhead and produce high-quality educational radio programming that would inform the public regarding practical issues central to the growth of the community at large and individually. The legacies of people like William Du Bois, Robert Woodruff and Millard and Linda Fuller would be easily honored in the process.

Creation of massive in-person open courses (or “MIOCs”) delivered broadly and equally across Georgia in the flesh and targeted at all education-starved generations, but especially the retiring baby-boomers, could follow up and complement new and similarly-themed educational outreach efforts like massive on-line open courses (or “MOOCs”).

More than just pecans and granite ought to bear fruit from Georgia if such a long-sighted proposal is heard and implemented. If Georgia farmers have ample common sense and unique perspectives in looking at things, which is true if we are to believe classics professors like Donald Kagan at Yale (UGA’s mother college), then the results born from such first efforts should easily follow whether in urban or rural landscapes. Atlanta, by example, deserves common, respectful dialogue while commuters are stuck in traffic for 50-127 minutes during a typical daily peak-time commute.

Therefore, may our curses be our blessings and our blessings be our curses. With Homeric approval and Sidney Lanier on lyre, may we cultivate a soil better sewn with a more internationally-competitive education curriculum, advanced arts, better buildings, less bank failures, less extreme weather systems, cleaner rivers, a better food supply and safer sports. May we also place Dwight Eisenhower and James Oglethorpe’s descendants in charge of city planning.

Like Thucydides and other great historians, may we strive “To teach, to serve, and to inquire into the nature of things.”

Et docere et rerum exquirere causas.

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