Column: Atlanta’s Doug Hertz helps Tulane open new football stadium

By Maria Saporta
Published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on September 12, 2014

When Tulane University opened its new Yulman football stadium on Sept. 6, it was in large measure due to the efforts of Atlanta business leader Doug Hertz.

The New Orleans Advocate newspaper described it this way. “While his name doesn’t specifically appear on any edifice in the stadium, Doug Hertz’s vision helped provide a large portion of the stadium’s structure.”

Hertz, an Atlanta native, received both his undergraduate and graduate degree from Tulane. He also met his wife, Lila, when they were both students at the university in New Orleans. And both their children went to Tulane. Hertz served on Tulane’s board of trustees for 12 years (becoming an emeritus trustee two years ago) — during that critical period of Hurricane Katrina when it had to face its most important challenges in recent memory.

Athletics was down the priority list, but as then-Tulane President Scott Cowen forged a relationship to help rebuild the community in hand with the university, the role that sports could play resurfaced in 2009 as an important issue. For Tulane to be a serious Division I sports university, it was going to have to develop a new athletic complex – a basketball practice facility and a new football stadium.

Hertz, CEO of United Distributing Inc., remembered telling a few fellow trustees: “If we are going to do this, somebody has got to step up. I said I will be the lead gift for the practice facility.”

But he said his gift was conditional on it being built to link up with the new football stadium. The practice facility – now known as the Hertz Center – cost $13 million, and while Hertz did not disclose how much he gave, he did say: “We were a significant portion of that.”

Then Hertz turned to fellow trustee Richard Yulman, former chairman and owner of Serta International, and said: “I guess that leaves you the football stadium.”

Yulman made a $15 million gift, and the stadium held its first game — Tulane playing Georgia Tech — on Sept. 6.

Hertz found himself in an awkward position because he is a big Yellow Jackets fan.

“I would have rather us played somebody else,” he said in an interview. “I don’t remember rooting against Georgia Tech ever, but I had to on Saturday.”

For the record, Georgia Tech beat Tulane 38-21.

But in some ways, it didn’t really matter because of the enthusiasm that existed at Tulane because of the opening of the new stadium.

“It was such a proud moment,” Hertz said, adding that it really reinvigorated the student body. “I had never seen so many Tulane people and people from New Orleans together. It felt fantastic. It was a great capstone for me.”

But Hertz said the school’s former president, Cowen, deserves the real credit for Tulane’s success today. Cowen, who serves on the board of Atlanta’s Marcus Foundation, has several local ties, including recently stepping down as a director of Newell Rubbermaid Inc.

Also, Purpose Built Communities — the national nonprofit founded by Atlanta’s Tom Cousins after the redevelopment of East Lake — selected New Orleans as its second community, working with Cowen to help revitalize the area after Hurricane Katrina.

“I have never seen anything like how President Cowen rebuilt the community with Tulane after Katrina,” Hertz said.

As for Hertz, he could not be happier with the $100 million investment that Tulane has made in its athletic facilities since 2008 and with its role in New Orleans. For Hertz and his wife, Lila, it’s just this simple: “We’ve had this long love affair with New Orleans and Tulane.”

Good rankings for Atlanta HBCUs

Atlanta’s HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) ranked high in the U.S. News & World Reports’ 2015 “Best Colleges” ranking.

The top-ranked HBCU in the country is Atlanta’s Spelman College, founded in 1881 with an enrollment of 2,129 students. It is an all-women’s college that is part of the Atlanta University complex on the westside of downtown Atlanta.

The AU campus also includes Morehouse College, which ranked No. 3 in the U.S. News & World Reports’ HBCUs list.

Morehouse, established in 1867, has an all-male enrollment of about 2,189 students. It has a long tradition of developing national and international leaders, such as Martin Luther King Jr.

By the way, Howard University in Washington, D.C. is ranked No. 2 in the magazine’s list.

The other major HBCU in the city — Clark Atlanta University — also ranked in the top 20 of the 50 institutions in the rankings at No. 18.

“Our top-20 ranking by U.S. News & World Report, a nationally recognized leader in college and graduate school rankings, affirms that Clark Atlanta University must continue to advance its course in pursuing of our very special mission, despite a challenging economic environment and paradigm-shifting changes in financial aid that continue to intensify students’ struggles in attaining a college degree,” CAU President Carlton E. Brown said in a release from the school.

CAU has a unique history, having been established in 1988 by the consolidation of its historic parent institutions, Atlanta University (AU 1865), the nation’s first graduate school for African-Americans, and Clark College (CC 1869), the nation’s first primarily African-American liberal arts college.

According to U.S. News & World Reports, it has an enrollment of 2,629 – making it the biggest of Atlanta’s HBCUs.

Trust for Public Land honors Bea Perez

The Trust for Public Land is honoring Bea Perez, chief sustainability officer for the Coca-Cola Co., at its annual Celebration of Land on Oct. 19.

A special relationship was formed between Perez and the daughter of former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich – Jackie Cushman, who with her husband, Jimmy, is chairing this year’s fundraiser.

The theme for the sixth annual Celebration of the Land will be “River & Blues” — to highlight how the Trust has helped conserve 16,000 acres of the Chattahoochee’s watershed over the last two decades and has just begun the reclamation of Proctor Creek, a seven-mile greenway that seeks to connect the Atlanta BeltLine with the river.

The fundraiser will be held at Riverview Landing, an 82-acre reclamation site with two-thirds of a mile frontage along the river. Jamestown Properties owns the land and is responsible for its restoration.

The Celebration of Land has raised more than $500,000 for land conservation over the last five years. In Georgia, the Trust for Public Land has conserved nearly 23,000 acres.

MAP International taps Emory’s Jeff Rosensweig

Atlanta-based MAP International has named Emory University’s Jeffrey Rosensweig as its “global economic advisor.”

Rosensweig is director of Global Perspectives and associate professor of Finance at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, In his advisor role for MAP International, Rosensweig will provide his expertise on the global economy and financial trends to the humanitarian organization on a pro-bono basis.

“Jeff has provided insight and guidance to MAP International for many years and we are honored to involve him in a more formal way,” says Steve Stirling, MAP’s President & CEO. “Jeff is unquestionably one of the strongest financial minds in the country and his enthusiasm for MAP’s humanitarian work is inspiring.”

Rosensweig said he was grateful for the opportunity to serve MAP in this new role.

“I have been a steward of MAP, a member of their Board of Governors, and now I look forward to supporting the organization any way I can as their Global Economic Advisor,” Rosensweig said. “I choose to make MAP the prime focus of my support because they are the most effective and efficient organization I know. MAP creates amazing leverage of the donor dollar while providing health and hope to the world’s poor.”

MAP International, is celebrating its 60th year of providing medicines, preventing disease and promoting health to create real hope and lasting change. It has provided nearly $5 billion in medicines to more than 2 billion people in need around the world since 1954.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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