Adams shares thoughts on UGA’s present, future

The down economy and low tuition costs put a “tourniquet” on the University of Georgia’s revenue even as the state’s flagship school enjoyed unprecedented fundraising success, UGA President Michael Adams said Monday.

The university lost about $200 million from its $900 million endowment in the stock market dive, he said. Tuition is low compared with other Southern universities, and state budget cuts pushed UGA and other state colleges to schedule six furlough days for the coming year, Adams said during a Monday visit to Macon.

“We’ve basically had a tourniquet on three of our revenue sources,” Adams said.

There is good news, though. About 6 percent of the university’s invested endowment came back in July as the stock market rebounded, Adams said. The university continues to set new private fundraising records, and there’s a building boom on campus.

Still, furloughs are planned going forward, and layoffs might be needed if more state cuts come to pass, Adams said. The 450 jobs lost in the past year through attrition are probably gone for good, he said.

“There are no more rabbits in the hat,” Adams said. “(Any more cuts and) we’ll have to do layoffs, and they’ll be significant layoffs.”

Adams visited Macon on Monday to speak to the Macon Rotary Club. He also spent about an hour with The Telegraph’s editorial board discussing the furloughs, future building plans for campus, the prospect of banning smoking on campus and expansion plans at Sanford Stadium.

Ÿ Smoking on campus: There’s been some buzz lately about banning smoking campuswide. The proposal is “in the university committee structure,” but Adams said he hasn’t decided whether he’d sign off on a ban, if it even makes it to his desk.

“When you start telling people they can’t smoke or use any other legal product ... somebody’s going to need to make an argument to me that it’s harming other people (outside),” he said.

Adams already has signed off on measures to ban smoking in university buildings and at Sanford Stadium.

Ÿ East campus smell to improve: A new sewage plant under construction near College Station Road should “eliminate rather than reduce” the strong smell that sometimes permeates parts of east campus and the surrounding area, Adams said.

The new plant should be operational in early 2012, according to The Athens Banner-Herald. It’s one of three Athens-Clarke County plants being rebuilt by the local government, the newspaper has reported.

Ÿ Sanford Stadium: Adams said he expects the Sanford Drive Bridge to remain open with its view into the stadium intact. He said the next expansion of the stadium would be along the top of the eastern end zone stands.

“I think if I closed (the bridge) end of the stadium, the alumni would go nuts,” he said. “The tying of that stadium to the campus is part of the lore of that place.”

Ÿ Water: Adams said the university’s water needs are “pretty well” taken care of by the Bear Creek Reservoir, unless state leaders decide to pipe water from the Athens area to Atlanta to meet the metro area’s needs. Adams said he’d like to see the state “building reservoirs rather than waiting on Congress” to address the metro area’s water problems.

Ÿ Furloughs and closing buildings: Talk that some campus buildings will close on furlough days is “pure rumor,” Adams said, and there are no plans to do that “at the present time.” The planned furlough days for UGA employees are Oct. 30, Nov. 25, Dec. 24, Jan. 4, March 8 and April 30.

Ÿ The Lumpkin Street area: Adams favors closing a portion of Lumpkin Street near Baxter Street and building a landscaped mall there. Traffic would be routed over to Pulaski Street, but those plans “haven’t gone anywhere,” he said.

Several new buildings are planned further north along Lumpkin Street where the university recently bought fraternity buildings, including new business school buildings.

The university also is buying up the public housing units along Baxter Street, a bit at a time, to make room for future expansion, he said.

Ÿ His future: Adams said he doesn’t have an exit plan, but he recently turned 60 and expects to leave the university in “another four or five or six years.”