April 18, 2013

UGA's Adams Talks Aldean, Guns, Coal, Tuition and Canceling the Georgia Tech Game


The Aldeanocalypse was overrated.

The country star and his Night Train tour came to town amid predictions of pandemonium, and the city wasn't destroyed in a mushroom cloud of boots and denim.

In fact, even if it wasn't my cup of Coors Light, or probably yours, the concert Saturday at Sanford Stadium went about as well as could be expected. And so University of Georgia administrators are not ruling out another concert at some point as the future. 

"I have to say it, was a wonderfully behaved crowd, probably better than a typical football crowd," UGA President Michael Adams told reporters at a press conference this morning.

Adams watched the show from the president's box at Sanford and called it "a great event."

Provost and incoming president Jere Morehead concurred. Athletics Director Greg McGarity told him the concert was "a tremendous success," Morehead said.

"I am certainly open to replicating this in the future," but planning another concert might take a year or two, he said.

Morehead and Adams address other hot-button issues as well.


Both reiterated that they are opposed to a bill in the state legislature that would allow guns on campus.

"We (the chancellor and university presidents) have all been fairly united in our view on this particular issue," Morehead said.


Adams threw cold water on the idea that UGA, within the next few years, will replace its coal-fired boiler with a greener alternative. Whenever the boiler is replaced, coal hasn't been ruled out, he said. Adams doesn't want to rely completely on one source (natural gas) for heat and hot water.

"Everybody is against coal until all the lights and the heat go out," he said. "You have to think these things through."

Switching to biomass would bring two dozen tractor-trailers through campus each day, according to Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration Tim Burgess.

Why is a decision taking so long? "The reason, I suspect, nothing has been done is it's a very big number," Adams said. That number is $80 million to $120 million to replace the coal-fired boiler. 


State funding for UGA will tick up slightly in fiscal 2014, from $298 million to $311 million. That's not enough, though, to keep up with inflation. The portion of UGA's budget funded by taxpayers has fallen from 47 percent to 28 percent over the past decade, Burgess said.

"We'd rather have an increase than a cut, so we're grateful about the direction," Adams said. "But our costs are rising faster than our revenue stream."


Speaking of revenue stream, the Board of Regents recently raised tuition again, this time by 5 percent, or about $90 a semester. The hike will bring in a paltry $9 million next year.

Adams put tuition costs in perspective: "We cost less per day than a prison," he said. (Maybe if we sent more kids to college, we'd send fewer to prison, but that's a blog for another day.)

The sequester

Remember those automatic budget cuts everyone was supposed to hate? Adams said they'll result in about 5 percent less research funding for UGA. He doesn't know the impact on Pell grants or Stafford loans yet, but he's worried.

"It's the middle-class families of two school teachers in Georgia that are most pressed by what's going on now," he said.

The Georgia Tech game

Adams quashed rumors that the Bulldogs will stop playing the Yellow Jackets because teams in the newly-expanded SEC might play nine conference games instead of eight.

"There is enough history between Georgia and Georgia Tech that we would want to continue beat them nine out of every ten years," he said. "I don't see that going away."

Crowd safety

In light of the Boston Marathon bombing, Adams (a college runner who's been to the marathon) said security at UGA football games will be reviewed, as it was after 9/11 and the Virginia Tech shootings. But he wouldn't go into detail about security for fear of tipping off the bad guys.

"We have to always be on guard, and we always have to have appropriate security measures, and I think we do," he said.