Published on 08/03/04

Adams' Tifton visit spotlights agriculture

By Brad Haire
University of Georgia

The University of Georgia is committed to agriculture and to economic and academic development of rural Georgia, says UGA President Michael F. Adams.

Adams visited the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Tifton, Ga., campus here July 30. He was briefed on research studies that focus on crop genetics, farm irrigation efficiency and precision farming tools like variable-rate irrigation and autonomous robotic tractors.

He toured the construction site of a new 83,000-square-foot conferencing expansion to the CAES Rural Development Center and the college's state-of-the-art microgin, where CAES specialists will study ways to improve the state's cotton quality.

He also learned about Cooperative Extension Service programs that focus on migrant workers' safety, combating poverty and high school abstinence from alcohol and drugs.

He met with teachers, administrators and students enrolled in four-year degree programs here, too.

Adams wrapped up his visit with a community listening session and luncheon.


"All the vital signs of the University of Georgia are as strong as or stronger than they have ever been," Adams told about 70 community leaders, state legislators and farmers.

The farmers expressed concern over the university's commitment to agricultural research and extension programs. Adams assured them that UGA "has one of the leading agricultural colleges in the nation and will continue to have."

This fall's freshman class will average a 1240 SAT score and about 3.8 on a 4-point grade point scale, he said. On paper, it will be the ninth or 10th strongest freshman class of any public university in the nation, he said. Georgia Tech will have the fourth strongest.

The university will continue to welcome and accept south Georgia students, he said. And it will expand academic opportunities to rural areas of the state.


The university must keep finding ways to fund itself. Eight years ago, he said, UGA got 43 percent of its funding from the state. It now gets 35 percent.

UGA has had about $1 billion in construction in recent years. Of that money, 52 percent came from sources other than state funds.

"The days of standing with the tin cup out in the state legislature are probably over," he said.

The university will continue to seek out partnerships with private industry.

UGA received a record $77.8 million in private gifts and pledges in the fiscal year that ended June 30. This is an 8-percent increase over the previous year. It marks the fourth straight record year in private donations.

The UGA athletic department will remain a top competitor in the Southeastern Conference. But less than 2 percent of the students who compete in the SEC will ever cash a check earned athletically, Adams said.

"Our responsibility is first and foremost an academic one," he said. "And we are committed to the academic development of this state."

Brad Haire is the former news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.