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ATL Business Chronicle

Column: Georgia Tech surpasses campaign goal, keeps campaigning

By Maria Saporta
Published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on July 17, 2015

Don’t tell anybody, but Georgia Tech has surpassed its $1.5 billion capital campaign. It met that goal last October.

Although it’s not really a secret, Georgia Tech just doesn’t want people to stop giving. It is still out there knocking on doors hoping to raise as much as it can before the campaign officially ends at the end of this calendar year.

“We are in the final stages of our campaign,” Georgia Tech President Bud Peterson told the Kiwanis Club of Atlanta on July 14. “When it comes to fundraising among public universities, Georgia Tech ranks in the top two or three.”

And Georgia Tech would rank higher, Peterson said, if it didn’t have so many young alumni.

“We have 146,000 living alumni,” Peterson said. “Nearly 40,000 have graduated since I’ve been there (2009). The affinity they have for Georgia Tech takes awhile. People have to forgive Georgia Tech first” before they give.

Georgia Tech has become one of the toughest schools to get into. Incoming freshmen have an average SAT score of 1480, and they have a grade point average of 4.01. “This is a group of very well-qualified students,” Peterson said.

Still, Georgia Tech manages to have 60 percent of its students come from within the state, 30 percent from the rest of the country (Montana is not represented), and 10 percent from countries outside the United States.

Although all Georgia residents enter with HOPE scholarships, only 65 percent of those students still qualify for HOPE in the sophomore year.

And that’s one reason why Peterson and campaign co-chairs John Brock and Mary Brock (CEO of Coca-Cola Enterprises and co-owner of the Atlanta Dream, respectively) are still hard at work raising money. “They’ve been incredible,” Peterson said of the Brocks.

One program that Peterson would like to keep raising money for is the Georgia Tech Promise. It provides full scholarships to the institution for students whose family income is under $35,000 a year.

“Our goal was to raise $50 million. We have raised $64 million,” said Peterson, who added that they want to help more disadvantaged students get a Georgia Tech diploma. “It’s an amazing program that has received tremendous support from our alumni and the business community.”

Peterson also said that Georgia Tech had a campaign goal to raise enough money to endow 100 chairs. “We are at 94 now with six months to go, so we have to raise one a month,” he said.

In telling members of Kiwanis about the campaign, Peterson said they had 43 roll-out events around the country. The Brocks attended most of them. Peterson ended up going to 42, but he missed one when he was called out at the last minute to go to a meeting at the White House.

But one member of his family does have a perfect attendance to those fundraising events, his wife Valerie, Peterson bragged.

In rapid fire, Peterson then told members of Kiwanis all the different projects and programs that were underway at Georgia Tech–which he said was enjoying its most diverse student body ever.

This fall, its freshman class will be 41 percent female–and the institution didn’t even allow women students until 1952, and then only on a limited basis. The whole institution was opened up to women students in 1968. Peterson said that the most popular degree is the Georgia Tech-Emory University biomedical engineering focus, and that it now has more women enrolled in that program than men.

So how much has Georgia Tech raised toward its $1.5 billion capital campaign? Peterson leaned over and quietly answered, “$1.63 billion.” But don’t tell anybody.

Ben Franklin Academy

The passing of leadership truly hit home this week at the Ben Franklin Academy.

The independent high school near Emory University’s campus announced that co-founder Wood Smethurst had decided to step down as headmaster after 28 years on July 1.

The board announced that Martha Burdette, co-founder and dean of studies, was the new head of school. It also decided that Smethurst would become headmaster emeritus and retain his position on the board.

It was a position he held for exactly 14 days. Smethurst, a pioneer in progressive education in Atlanta who was involved with the founding of Paideia School and the early origins of the Galloway Schools, passed away on the morning of July 14 of pneumonia.

“He was an education visionary,” Burdette said in an interview July 15. “He had a sense of humanity–everybody makes mistakes, nobody is perfect. He recognized everybody had gifts. His work with the poor and disenfranchised was legendary.”

Just before his passing, Smethurst received the Jane and Dameron Black III Service Award for his vision for an innovative high school offering Mastery Learning and individualized instruction. The award recognized how he had helped building the school from its earliest days in 1987-1988 school year with 12 students to 134 in 2014-2015.

A memorial service celebrating his life will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, July 18 at Glenn Memorial Methodist Church on the Emory University Campus. Visitation will be at 10 a.m. with a reception to follow at noon at the Michael C. Carlos Museum’s reception hall.

Atlanta Women’s Foundation

The Atlanta Women’s Foundation has elected four new members to its board–all individuals who will bring their leadership skills to support the organization’s mission to eliminate generational poverty for all women and girls in metro Atlanta.

“We are honored to have these four accomplished women join our Board,” said Kelly Dolan, executive director of the Atlanta Women’s Foundation. “They are leaders in their fields and our community and will continue to build on the tremendous work of our Board.”

The new board members are:

* Kristin Rambo Adams, executive vice president, Aon Risk Solutions East Inc.

* Stephanie Asbury, senior vice president of human resources for Bank of America;

* Cari Dawson, a partner with Alston & Bird; and

* Jennifer Welch Hightower, general counsel for Cox Communications Inc.

“I know our newest board members will be great assets to the Foundation and its efforts, and I look forward to working with them,” said Paula Goodman, AWF’s board chair.

The Atlanta Women’s Foundation has investment more than $13 million in the Atlanta area by giving grants to nonprofit organizations that have successfully moved women and girls from poverty to economic self-sufficiency.

Komen Greater Atlanta honored

Susan G. Komen Greater Atlanta was named “Affiliate of the Year” at the national breast cancer organization’s annual Komen Leadership Conference in Fort Worth Texas on June 27.

It is the highest recognition given to all the 114 Komen affiliates in the United States and Europe. Komen Atlanta ranked first for exhibiting best overall effort in advancing the Komen vision and promise to end breast cancer.

“This significant recognition points to Komen Atlanta’s tireless efforts to enable everyone in metro Atlanta to detect and survive breast cancer,” said Cati Diamond Stone, executive director of Susan G. Komen Greater Atlanta. “We are forever thankful for the support of our sponsors, donors, partners and volunteers who make this lifesaving work possible.”

Lila Hertz, who has been involved with Komen Atlanta for years, said the affiliate won because “we are operating like a business.”

In explaining why the Atlanta affiliate received the award, a release said that the nonprofit “has worked to enhance their presence in their service area by reintroducing Komen to the community and broadening their scope in media outreach.”

Maria Saporta

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.


1 Comment

  1. Tim Langan July 26, 2015 8:52 am

    Georgia Tech is a powerhouse fundraiser, a top university in our country and biggest university economic impact in the state…and often appreciated more outside Georgia!Report


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