Poll Position: What will be Michael Adams’ legacy at UGA?

Michael Adams arrived at the University of Georgia at the same time I did, in the fall of 1997. I left four years later. At that time, no one would have guessed he’d still be there in 2012, much less 2013. He was always rumored to have other ambitions, from moving on to other universities to heading the NCAA, or even seeking political office. But it will be June of next year, Adams announced yesterday, when he retires from the job.

At just shy of 16 years, his tenure will have been longer than all but three UGA presidents in the 20th century. And a lengthy tenure often makes for a number of possible ways for a person to be remembered. Oh, how that will be the case with Michael Adams.

Adams presided over UGA during a time of marked improvement in both its students’ credentials and its facilities. The HOPE scholarship and metro Atlanta’s population boom certainly contributed to the former. But Adams capitalized on those advantages in many ways, including the expansion of merit scholarships and study-abroad opportunities, to ensure highly qualified Georgia grads stayed in-state. Even here, though, there is room for criticism: One of the controversies of his tenure was the purchase of a campus in Costa Rica.

There was a construction boom, too: About a year ago, after speaking on campus, I was taken on a driving tour of all the new buildings since I graduated in 2001. I was stunned by the growth and renovations. The physical transformation of the campus is impressive.

What will be Michael Adams' legacy at UGA?

  • Chasing off Vince Dooley (70 Votes)
  • Improved academics (36 Votes)
  • Meddling in athletics (besides Dooley) (27 Votes)
  • The construction boom (14 Votes)
  • Something else (13 Votes)

Total Voters: 160

Loading ... Loading ...

I hear some complaints that the development of the faculty under Adams hasn’t kept pace with that of students. But UGA has carved out certain areas of comparative advantage, and its development of strengths in the biosciences, in particular, will be a key to both its and the state’s future. Here again, however, there is controversy: Some people felt it was redundant and too costly for UGA to begin offering advanced degrees in engineering, and some in Augusta felt UGA was trampling on the turf of the state’s medical college by adding a program to train doctors.

We can’t summarize his tenure, though, without mentioning athletics. Adams famously feuded with longtime athletics director Vince Dooley, and eventually refused to extend the contract of the man who is the school’s winningest football coach. He reportedly went over Dooley’s head to fire football coach Jim Donnan and twisted Dooley’s arm to hire basketball coach Jim Harrick — who had success on the court but embarrassed the school badly off it. (UGA’s detractors will never tire of mocking the “How many points is a 3-point shot worth?” question on an “exam” given by Harrick’s son in an actual UGA class.) More recently, Adams has been a leading proponent of creating a playoff for major college football.

So, here’s this week’s Poll Position: What will be Michael Adams’ legacy at UGA? The categories in the nearby poll are fairly broad, so expound on your answer in the comments thread below.

– By Kyle Wingfield

Find me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter

52 comments Add your comment


May 4th, 2012
11:05 am

Dirty Dawg

May 4th, 2012
11:09 am

Hey skipper…no way he’s first…fifth maybe, but not first.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

May 4th, 2012
11:13 am

Excellent article on how Wall Street is manipulating gas prices.
this fixation on blind market forces ignores the fact that Wall Street is financializing the commodities markets – especially oil – as it seeks new ways to pick our pockets. The same greedy swindlers who puffed up the housing bubble and then milked it dry are now hard at work doing the same with gasoline. What is financialization and why is it coming to the oil industry?
Here’s a chilling definition provided by economist Thomas I. Palley


ragnar danneskjold

May 4th, 2012
11:21 am

College presidents have no legacies. They produce no consumable product. Everything they do disappears the day after they leave. His best potential claim is that he did not destroy the university.

Thomas Heyward Jr.

May 4th, 2012
11:22 am

A more accurate “success” guage on a University’s Presidents tenure would be the number of Obama/Bush/Romney” supporters that it produced.
Wingfield doesn’t help.


May 4th, 2012
11:28 am

MIchael Adam’s legacy? Who? I thought UGA was run by a bulldog.

I am more interested in GSU right here in Atlanta. And Ga Tech. They supplied great educations for my family with little rahrahs about football and fraternity houses. Their interests lie a bit beyond the football field.

Well, sure, it is good to have UGA and graduates like Kyle. I am not sure about the legacy of Michael Adams. Perhaps the legacy of Vince Dooley might be more apropos.

Bryan G.

May 4th, 2012
11:45 am

Adams legacy is that he fractured factions over his hiring of Jim Harrick and his treating of Vince Dooley. Furthermore, Adams’ fundraising did not keep pace with the other schools. Last I saw, UGA had the #3 endowment in the SEC when Adams arrived but slipped to 6 or 7 while Adams was there.


May 4th, 2012
11:45 am

I do remember that UGA hired Cynthia Tucker to lecture in their journalism school. Was Adams resposnible for THAT?

I do hope they don’t hire Cynthia McKinney for political studies. Or Luckovich for their art and design studies.

But their school of political study (or something like that) sends out a fine publication once in a while. They send me one and I do enjoy reading the words of those impresarios of worldly wisdom True brainiacs of real thought. Don’t know how I got on their list but it is fun to dream of great things (besides the BRAVES). Go UGA!!

Tiberius - Banned from Bookman's and proud of it!

May 4th, 2012
11:56 am

“In the Ivy League, we graduate captains of industry, not captains of the football team” – Author unknown

That’s pretty much all that needs to be written about Michael Adams’ tenure at UGA.


May 4th, 2012
12:47 pm

I somewhat agree with ragnar: his legacy is that he wasn’t caught drunk driving with a hooker in his lap.

A fine, distinguished legacy it is….

Tiberius - Banned from Bookman's and proud of it!

May 4th, 2012
12:55 pm

2 hours and only 10 comments.

Pretty much a yawner, Kyle.

Got anything else for us today, or shall we just hijack this thread? ;)


May 4th, 2012
12:57 pm

You have to put that into content of where and what Adams had to work with coming into Athens. The true weakest to the state of Georgia is it’s contempt of higher education. Farmers have very low opinions of anything that does not draw sweat.

We talk about the need of transportation among other things we need in this state. It is my contention we need to start with a opportunity for a good education in order to have the things this state needs so badly appreciated. As it is now, though a little less thanks to Adams, we are led by very common men and women, who make a hard life even harder. Something Adams probably had a very good view of and tried very hard to change. Enjoy retirement Adams, which I am betting you takes out of this state where so much of our talent goes now days.


May 4th, 2012
12:58 pm

Kyle here was the top student at UGA when he was there. Not the top journalism student, the top student. Period. Dalton was justifiably proud.


May 4th, 2012
1:20 pm

Athens Police/Football team treaty.


May 4th, 2012
1:29 pm

As a UGA alum, I believe Dr. Adams was of the best, if not the best President the University of Georgia has ever had. The academic improvements at the school during his tenure were drastic. He hired the first black Athletic Director in the SEC and perhaps the country.

Dr. Adams was also the first University President to push for a 4 team playoff in college football. Historically, the University presidents were always seen as the largest obstacle to a playoff. Dr. Adams changed that, and now college football is on the verge of passing a 4 team playoff that was first proposed by Michael Adams. That should definitely be apart of his legacy.

Illegal Alien

May 4th, 2012
1:38 pm

In the Ivy League, we graduate captains of industry, not captains of the football team” – Author unknown.

All this time, I didn’t think football players graduated from UGA. Wonders will never cease.

Jacket in Amsterdam

May 4th, 2012
1:54 pm

Red panties?


May 4th, 2012
1:56 pm

he allowed his football coach to recruit sub par citizens with no desire or aptitude for education (5 star street thugs) and they never won a national championship but brought much disgrace and embarrassment to our state’s flagship university

Jacket in Amsterdam

May 4th, 2012
1:56 pm

Seriously, Adams’ legacy pales in comparison to Wayne Clough’s legacy at GT.


May 4th, 2012
2:04 pm

Interesting. He has done a good job under difficult circumstances and leavs UGA at a fork in the road—either up to true academic excellence or down due to draconian budget cuts and skyrocketing tuition and fees. Unfortunately, the state of Georgia has a propensity to take the low road in many things including providing an affordable 21st Century education for its children in favor of state of the art sports facilities and theft of public funds to subsidize private schools. There are big for-profit bucks to be made in privatization of education at all levels which means big for-profit corruption by our politicians. That is the real story of what is going on. Adams is personally fortunate to be moving on before his monument is dismantled.

Rafe Hollister

May 4th, 2012
2:05 pm

His legacy will be pomposity. The man is almost as vain and self involved as Barry Oblamer. He will have stayed about 16 years too long. He spent money like Barry, with his penthouse in Atlanta and the foolish facility in Costa Rico, and his non use of the presidents home, which he insisted had to be kept, as if he lived there. I am sure tax payers reimbursed him for his daily commute from his Lake Oconee home, even though a home was provided near the campus, where he supposedly labored.

He was so concerned with diversity and political correctness, that if you actually lived in Georgia you were discriminated against, if you applied for admission. There are now as many yankees and foreign students there as Georgians, whose parents and grandparents have been paying Georgia state taxes for decades.

He couldn’t carry Knapp, Stanford, or Davidson’s tassels and was a joke. The day he leaves for good, will be a great day in Georgia and in the life of the Bulldog Nation. Loyal alum 1972.

Tiberius - Banned from Bookman's and proud of it!

May 4th, 2012
2:16 pm

Well he did bring on Cynthia Tucker during his tenure, so that immediately tarnishes his image.


May 4th, 2012
2:51 pm

Kyle-your blog isn’t getting many hits lately and I can tell you why I never more than glance at it.

Dumb topics and two posters that should have been banned a long time ago.

I hope your raise or continued employment is not predicated on hits but your choice.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

May 4th, 2012
3:09 pm

I’m surprised anyone who is functionally literate is at all interested in this topic.


May 4th, 2012
3:14 pm

GT@ 12:57

Were you born a snob or just worked on getting there? You seem to be holding your nose over everybody in Georgia because they are “common people”. This country is made of common people of every kind and I’m proud to say that our forefathers were too.

True, the writers of the Declaration and the Consitution were highly educated but they stood before a mulitude of smart, common people who understood freedom only too well having been without it. They did not have to be taught about freedom. They fought for it.

Georgia is one of the original colonies of this country and has survived very well. Whether you like it or not, UGA, Ga Tech, Emory, Mercer, are all top ranking universities.

.Your inability to recognize the fine aspects of our state is only the reflection of your own inhibited personality. Do not blame Georgia for your obvious personal unhappiness. That is your problem and has nothing to do with the fine state of Georgia or its universities.

Kyle Wingfield

May 4th, 2012
3:18 pm

Becky: I’ve explained this to other people, and now I’ll try to explain it to you: Comments are not the same thing as page views. In fact, there is zero correlation between the two. Some of my best-read pieces had relatively few comments, and some of my most-commented-upon pieces don’t rank anywhere near the top of the list in terms of page views.

Now, am I surprised this particular topic hasn’t generated more comments and votes? Yes, I am. I’ll chalk it up to UGA myopia on my part.


May 4th, 2012
3:25 pm

He will go down in history for wasting more money on useless cavernous buildings than any other U prez ever.


May 4th, 2012
3:36 pm

Finn McCool @11:13

Did you mean to post this somewhere else? I can’t quite get the connection between pocket pickers and Michael Adams and/or UGA.


May 4th, 2012
3:36 pm

Becky, @ 2:51

Kyile works for the AJC and not the National Enquirer. He is not here to present blazing topics of bizarre interest as bait for the day He presents topics that may or may not interest everybody but have substance from all parts of Georgia. His politics are truthful and unbiased, somewhat an innovation at the AJC.

I think that blogs are but tag on jobs for journalists at AJC. Their merit lies in their ability to present excellent journalism. Kyle does that very well without inflamatory trash to attract bored bats and barflies . I hope he does not change.


May 4th, 2012
3:44 pm


I wrote my 3:36 post before I saw yours. Sorry!

markie mark

May 4th, 2012
3:59 pm

Amen, brother Dusty, Amen

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

May 4th, 2012
4:06 pm

“Job numbers dent stocks”

How can that be? Didn’t they hear the official unemployment number went down?

Tiberius - Banned from Bookman's and proud of it!

May 4th, 2012
4:23 pm

Becky can’t count very well. Probably since her EBT card gets refreshed every month without having to look at the totals.

Kyle’s articles have generated quite a few more comments in past weeks than before.

But don’t let simple arithmetic get in the way of a good rant, Becky.


May 4th, 2012
4:29 pm

About time he left ….


May 4th, 2012
5:48 pm

No disrespect to Kyle, but stating that his politics are “truthful and unbiased” is today’s best laugh line.


May 4th, 2012
5:53 pm

Kyle, Adams made UGA one of the finest universities in the south. Nothing else matters but that.


May 5th, 2012
12:07 am

The last time I checked, UGA was not ranked in the top 20 public universities or top 50 overall, according to US News. It is a nice second tier institution. Although the student body did improve under Adams, the reality is that UGA is still perceived as an average institution. More importantly, it is a university attached to a football team. This is why it will never be a serious academic institution.

Dr. Phil

May 5th, 2012
10:34 am

Adams would have been a great member of the court of Henry VIII or member of the Roman Senate. He is a master of taking credit for the accomplishments of others and finding scapegoats for his own shortcomings and greedy ambitions. Adams should have been fired in 2003, but his protectors, Sonny Perdue and Regent Leebron, saved him in return for certain favors, like the bottled water monopoly at UGA and lavish entertainment at State expense. His buyout is obscene, particularly when public school teachers are losing their jobs and furlough days have reduced the pay of university system employees and public school teachers. Adams current sponsor, the Chancellor of the BOR, was an Adams lackey at UGA, so the buyout makes perfect sense. Adams is an absolute master of political manipulation and self promotion, and he may remain the UGA puppetmaster, thanks to his minion at the BOR. But, Adams’ ambitions far exceeded his success in the State of Georgia. His goals to be President of Ohio State and NCAA Czar were dashed by the rampant hooliganism and lack of institutional control of Georgia football players.


May 5th, 2012
10:36 am

It was time for Vince Dooley to bow out gracefully – past time, if you ask me. Ophra knew when to quit, but Joe Paterno, Bobby Bowden and Vince Dooley could not take a hint.


May 5th, 2012
10:36 am

No, but UGa is tied for #23 as a public university, tied with Purdue, which has a premier engineering program, and one slot behind U Fla and Pittsburgh, which are known for their medical colleges.

15 years from now, UGa will definitely be ranked much higher due to the addition of engineering and medical schools, and growth in vet medicine and business schools.

And if you want to delve into individual schools and colleges, UGa’s Terry Business School is in the top 20 of public b-schools, with the #2 risk management program in the country, and a top 10 accounting program. UGa also features a top 5 MPA program in their political affairs school, a highly regarded journalism school, an ag school with probably the best extension and 4H programs in the country.

You sound like a fan of one of UGa’s football rival schools, and are jealous that all of this can go on in one of America’s greatest college towns.

Dr. Phil

May 5th, 2012
10:40 am

Do no be surprised if Adams names his son the next President of the University.


May 5th, 2012
10:58 am

Mike Adams doesn’t deserve a nickel severance and certainly no place on the University’s faculty. Coach Vince Dooley is a real man. Mike Adams is an overblown self absorbed egomaniac.

Progressive Humanist

May 5th, 2012
11:04 am


Actually, UGA is a tier one national research university. It’s ranked #23 among public universities, #62 in the country overall in the nation. That’s if you put any stock in US News rankings. Regardless, no one involved in academics sees UGA as less than a top flight research school these days.

Sherlock at 12:58,

Saying a journalism student is the top student at a research university is like saying the kid studying massage therapy is the top student at a medical college.


May 5th, 2012
11:11 am

I have two concern with Dr. Adams – the idea that the quality of student accepted at UGA improved because of Dr. Adams’ tenure is hardly factual. It is true that UGA is more selective, hence the UGA today of today is likely to be more academically competitive but this has nothing to do with Dr. Adams.

The HOPE scholarship has allowed thousands upon thousands of additional high school students to attend college. With this expanding pool come more selectiviity. This fact is in the number of applications pre and post HOPE era. Put quite simply, if you have 100 applicants and spots for 90, most everyone gets in. If you have spots for 90 and 200 apply, the ability to be more selective greatly increases.

The other concern is related to athletics but really more to Dr. Adam’s personality and management style. Dr. Adams would have had to be extremly naive or extemly arrogant to push Coach Dooley out of the AD’s chair. Anyone who knows Mike knows he is anything but naive. Dr. Adams knew full well the uproar he would create by handling the AD issue in the manner he did – he knew this would split a portion of UGA admirers but moved ahead because of a deep personal dislike for Coach Dooley (some of which has been casued by Coach Dooley). A CEO of a business the size of UGA who would put his personal dislike above the good of his business – if you think this has anything to do with sports you are missing my point – is not an effective CEO.

Let’s change the stage to see if I am making my point – if the CEO of the AJC went after Furman Bisher because the AJC CEO personally believed Furman Bisher was too old to write and personally believed Furman Bisher had slighted the CEO in public in the manner Dr. Adams went after Coach Dooley, it would have been created ill advised and most likely have had a negative financial impact on the AJC.

Does that mean that Dr. Adams was stuck with Coach Dooley forever? Of course not – you are again missing my point if you think that Coiach Dooley was so important as to be untouchable. My point you are missing is that there other (and better) ways to accomplish what Dr. Adams did with the AD position. Dr. Adams knew there were other and better, less divisice ways but he deliberately moved ahead anyway because of a personal dislike, not for the betterment of UGA but to fulfill a “personal itch” to have the final word regarding Coach Dooley. A CEO is manages from a personal need rather than a company need is a poor CEO..

Dawg Lover

May 5th, 2012
11:43 am

Like him or not Mike Adams took on the fights he believed worth fighting and will readily admit he has been accused of taking on too many or the unpopular. I have had the privilege of spending time with him on several occasions and respect what he did for UGA during his tenure. I am biased as a Bulldog and as a former commencement speaker. I have been proud to count him as a supporter of worthy fights no matter which side you were on.


May 5th, 2012
12:07 pm

While a diehard Tech alum, I do give Dr. Adams some credit for changing the culture at UGA. As noted earlier, UGA spent far to many years as a football program with a University attached. I do think that perception has changed- and for the better for UGA grads and students. There really is no reason UGA shouldn’t be one of the premier schools in the South with several programs consistently ranked in the top 20.

That said – I think Adams often picked the wrong fight. His personal agenda that the president needed to be BMOC (thus his vendetta against Dooley) and battles with faculty, combined with a desire for the spotlight, prevented him from a lasting legacy of achievement. As a comparison – Betty Siegel at KSU; Carl Patterson at GSU and Wayne Clough at Tech all did more – with less – to enhance the long-term success of their schools.


May 5th, 2012
12:42 pm

From my perspective, Dr. Adams has done an average job overall. But, I really did not like the way he handled the Coach Dooley situation. In fact, for many years I stopped giving money to the University in protest of his handling of the situation. I think many others feel the way I do about him for that reason.

Also, I don’t know of any valid reason that he should be paid the kind of severance package he is receiving. It is way too much money. Yes, due to his length of service he should get a little something extra, but this is beyond reasonable!


May 5th, 2012
12:46 pm

I will give him credit for one thing, his position on a college football playoff. He was the first college President that I was aware of to speak favorably on it. The rest were hypocrites for the lies they told about why we couldn’t have a playoff.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

May 5th, 2012
7:22 pm

Just in case you’re having difficulty keeping up with all these Composite Americans, George Zimmerman, the son of a Peruvian mestiza, is the embodiment of endemic white racism and the reincarnation of Bull Connor, but Elizabeth Warren, the great-great-great-granddaughter of someone who might possibly have been listed as Cherokee on an application for a marriage license, is a heartwarming testimony to how minorities are shattering the glass ceiling in Harvard Yard. George Zimmerman, redneck; Elizabeth Warren, redskin. Under the Third Reich’s Nuremberg Laws, Ms. Warren would have been classified as Aryan and Mr. Zimmerman as non-Aryan. Now it’s the other way round. Progress! – Steyn

Yep, liberals create the world they live in.

Planet Moonbat, just sayin…

[...] Here’s a good question: What will be Michael Adams’ legacy at UGA? [...]