1.2 History

Created in 1937 by alumni concerned about the academic quality of their Alma Mater, the University of Georgia Foundation exists to strengthen and enrich the University’s academic mission. The Foundation receives and manages gifts from individuals, corporations and foundations and facilitates the use of those resources to help lift the University to heights of excellence it could not attain solely with public funding. Specifically, gifts to the Foundation are used to provide scholarships for financially-challenged and superior students; to support distinguished faculty scholars and researchers; to strengthen research and teaching programs; and to support other vital university needs.

Privately funded academic enrichment is indispensable for the University of Georgia to render educational leadership for this state and nation. The price of educational excellence is high and will continue to rise. Federal and state support, while essential, is diminishing. Student tuition and fees provide only about a quarter of the University’s annual income. Today more than ever, private financial support is UGA’s lifeblood, providing for enhancements and improvements that will establish the University as one of the elite public universities.

Until well into its second century of existence, UGA had no structured mechanism for collecting private funds. Prior to the Foundation, organized fundraising consisted chiefly of two limited drives to collect money from alumni for new buildings. Some of the money also funded the office of an alumni secretary and created an alumni magazine. But there was no vehicle to generate private funds for educational programs and to encourage stronger scholarship.

That changed on Dec. 4, 1937, when a small group of alumni–mainly prominent Atlanta lawyers and business leaders–obtained a charter to create the University of Georgia Foundation. The group included men such as Hatton Lovejoy, Hughes Spalding, Pope Brock, Philip Weltner, Harold Hirsch, and George Woodruff. All had been, or would become, presidents of the Alumni Society, and all were deeply concerned about the financial stability of their Alma Mater. They were particularly worried about the well being of beloved professors, many of whom had turned down more lucrative salaries at other colleges to remain at UGA.

The group, which became the first trustees of the Foundation, specified in the charter that “the sole object and purpose of said corporation is the establishment and administration of an endowment fund for The University of Georgia, which endowment shall be used and applied for educational purposes only.” Among those purposes: “To assure to the University the highest type of teachers that our section (of the country) can produce and retain them without too great of a personal sacrifice. To assure our own youth that they can obtain in our midst an equal or superior education in the line of their desires. To establish and promote research in lines peculiar and inherent to our own section.”

The Foundation is a non-profit, tax-exempt Georgia corporation, governed by an independent, self-perpetuating, nonpolitical Board of Trustees who have fiduciary responsibility for managing the Foundation’s assets. The Foundation maintains a permanent facility in Athens at 1 Press Place, Suite 101, Athens, Georgia 30601, (706) 542-6677.

Last Updated on May 20, 2022