ATHENS - Michael Adams officially announced his retirement UGA president on Thursday, speaking to a crowd of several hundred at the campus chapel in a quick ceremony.
"There comes a time when it is appropriate to step aside to let others continue the work, and that time has come for me," said Adams, who will leave his position on June 30, 2013. "My love will always be deep for the University of Georgia, where I have spent the most productive years of my career."
Adams, who became president in 1997, said he will spend his final year working on a fundraising campaign. Then he will stay on campus as a faculty member.
Adams and his wife Mary received a standing ovation from the crowd, which included faculty, some students and staff. Athletics director Greg McGarity and associate A.D.'s Frank Crumley and Carla Williams also attended.
"I continue to believe that the people of this state deserve a flagship university every bit as good as do the people of California or Michigan or North Carolina," Adams said. "Together we have made great process in that regard, and I thank all of you for the opportunity to serve in this capacity."
Following the ceremony, Adams briefly spoke to the media, saying that he decided to step down within the past two to three weeks.
"You're always thinking about it. This just seemed for a whole host of reasons seemed like the right time," he said.
As for returning to teaching, Adams said he wanted it to be something related to faculty administration.
"There's more of a faculty member in me that I normally get credit for," Adams said. "And I'm looking to some time to think and to write. I've had some opportunities to do some corporate boards, and some other things I haven't had time to do. I'll probably do a little consulting. That's for down the road. I've got another year of full dedication to this."
Here is Adams' full statement, which he delivered to the crowd:
"It would be an honor for anyone to be president of the University of Georgia for one day, but I have had the privilege and honor of serving as president of this great university for 15 years, during which time, with tremendous help from the students, faculty, staff and administration, we have accomplished great things. I am very proud of what we have done together and value greatly the professional and personal relationships that we have established.
"I am announcing today that, pending reappointment by the Regents, I will step down as president effective June 30, 2013. I plan to return to the faculty and join my colleagues in teaching and research.
"There comes a time when it is appropriate to step aside to let others continue the work, and that time has come for me. My love will always be deep for the University of Georgia, where I have spent the most productive years of my career. I will be invigorated in the coming year in working to assure that UGA remains well positioned for the future, both short term and long term.
"My academic career began with teaching at The Ohio State University, one of the country’s great public research universities, almost 40 years ago, and I am happy that it included the presidency of the University of Georgia, the birthplace of American public higher education. Mary and I love this place, we love this community and are really looking forward to a new level of engagement with both the campus and the town.
"I am proud of where the university is. It is in excellent shape. But now is not the time to waver in our dedication to moving her forward. We still need faculty and staff salary support and additional facilities for students, especially the Science Learning Center on South Campus. And a key challenge is the coming capital campaign. I will spend the next year preparing for a capital campaign that my successor can build upon to propel this historic and dynamic institution into the future.
"I was privileged in 1997 to be given the opportunity to come to a university that had been very well served by its previous presidents, especially those in the modern era, Fred Davison, Henry King Stanford and Charles Knapp. I believe that my work here has continued the upward trajectory they established and that the next president will find a university positioned for extraordinary success.
"I have enjoyed broad support from the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia for 15 years. I want to especially thank Chancellor Steve Portch, who offered me this job on behalf of the regents, who were chaired at the time by the late Tom Allgood, and the search committee, which was chaired by Regent Don Leebern. I am also grateful to my friend, Dan Amos, who represented the University of Georgia Foundation on the search committee, and to Dr. Betty Whitten, who was the chair of the executive committee of University Council and represented the faculty in the search.
"At the end of this meeting the university will be releasing a statement to the media and a list of the accomplishments of the past 15 years. No one in this room knows better than I that none of these were personal accomplishments, but were the accomplishments of a strong and dedicated team. Indeed I consider putting that team together and the quality of the people we have brought to this place to be my single greatest accomplishment. In other words, nothing that has been accomplished would have occurred without the full support of everyone in this room and many, many others.
"I cannot overly express how much I appreciate the support I have received from each of you. The people of this state and the people in this room make the presidency of UGA one of the best jobs in America. I continue to believe that the people of this state deserve a flagship university every bit as good as do the people of California or Michigan or North Carolina. Together we have made great progress in that regard, and I thank all of you for the opportunity to serve in this capacity.
SEC commissioner Mike Slive released this statement on Adams, who has been very active in college athletics.
"Dr. Adams has made significant contributions not only to the Southeastern Conference but to intercollegiate athletics generally through his work as a national leader in the field. In his many roles - as vice president, president and as a member of the executive committee - he has provided leadership in setting and achieving the conference goals. I have enjoyed the opportunity to work with him and to get to know Mary and his family. We look forward to honoring his many contributions over the coming year.
This is what McGarity said about his 18 months working under Adams:
“The thing I’ll miss most is a good friend. Not only personal, but just a good friend of athletics. Someone who got it. Someone that really knew the proper place of athletics in a collegiate setting. And he and I have always been on the same page about where athletics fit in: It’s part of a university’s fabric but it’s not the most important piece. It’s just a part of it.
“I have always admired his drive. The amount of time he dedicates.”