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Interview with Charles Knapp, June 4, 2009

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:30 - Early life / Work in Carter administration

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Partial Transcript: Dr. Knapp, let's go back to where it started.

Segment Synopsis: Knapp describes growing up in Ames, Iowa, attending Iowa state as an undergraduate (1964-1968), earning a PhD in economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1968-1972), and working as an economics professor at the University of Texas-Austin. He remembers joining the Carter administration in 1976 as an assistant to Secretary of Labor Ray Marshall, who was his former department head in Texas. He recalls struggling to return to academia and becoming the executive vice president of Tulane University.

Keywords: Iowa State University; James Earl "Jimmy" Carter; Ray Marshall; Tulane University; United States Department of Labor; University of Texas-Austin; University of Wisconsin-Madison

00:05:45 - Family history of university presidents / UGA presidency opening

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Partial Transcript: Back in Iowa, tell us a bit about the family that you grew up around.

Segment Synopsis: Knapp describes several of his ancestors who had been university presidents at Iowa State University and Auburn University. He remembers how his work at Tulane University inspired him to apply for the position as president of UGA in 1986.

Keywords: Alabama Polytechnic Institute; Albert B. Storms; Auburn University; Bradford Knapp; Eamon Kelly; Elridge McMillan; Iowa State University; Seaman A. Knapp; Tulane University; UGA; University of Georgia; cooperative extension services

00:13:36 - First visit to UGA

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Partial Transcript: What do you recall about your first physical visit to the -- to the campus?

Segment Synopsis: Knapp recalls the interview process, including meeting Georgia Governor Joe Frank Harris, giving a press conference with the University System of Georgia Board of Regents, his impressions of the campus, and giving a late-night interview for the Atlanta news.

Keywords: 11Alive; Henry King Stanford; Howard Dean Propst; Joe Frank Harris; UGA; University System of Georgia Board of Regents; University of Georgia; WXIA-TV

00:21:47 - Fine arts improvements at UGA / Athletics after the Jan Kemp affair

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Partial Transcript: Um, also on one of those early tours you went through the fine arts building and had an immediate impression of it.

Segment Synopsis: Knapp describes seeing the fine arts building at UGA and determining to build a visual and performing arts center on East Campus. He remembers trying to find a balance between academics and athletics at UGA after English teacher Jan Kemp exposed academic misconduct by UGA officials in order to keep football players eligible to play in the early 1980s. He recalls the tension that his emphasis of scholarship over athletics caused at UGA and for its football fans.

Keywords: Jan Kemp; UGA; University of Georgia; college football; fine arts

00:28:40 - Fred Davison / Henry K. Stanford

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Partial Transcript: It's a small fraternity, the folks who have been the President of the University of Georgia, and I know you worked with both Fred Davison and Henry King Stanford over the years.

Segment Synopsis: Knapp reflects on the accomplishments of the two UGA presidents who preceded him, Fred Davison and Henry Stanford, and recalls how they served him as informal advisers.

Keywords: Frederick Corbet "Fred" Davison; Henry King Stanford; UGA; University of Georgia

00:33:11 - Improving UGA's academic reputation

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Partial Transcript: You talked about the path toward improving the academic reputation.

Segment Synopsis: Knapp discusses the strategies he employed to improve UGA's academic reputation, including establishing a collegial relationship with faculty, requiring the best researchers to teach undergraduates, preparing graduate students to teach, and funding merit scholarships before the later implementation of the HOPE Scholarship.

Keywords: HOPE Scholarship; UGA; University of Georgia; graduate education; scholarships

00:41:39 - Minority student recruitment / Student protest to First Iraq War

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Partial Transcript: Another thing that you paid intense attention to was in those years was the minority recruitment...

Segment Synopsis: Knapp discusses his efforts to increase the number of minority students at UGA, including inviting Charlayne Hunter-Gault to speak at commencement in 1988 and recruiting minority faculty. He remembers students protesting the First Iraq War by camping on North Campus and reflects on the event as a lesson to college administrators to engage in discourse with students.

Keywords: Charlayne Hunter-Gault; First Iraq War; Gratz v. Bollinger; Gulf War; Milner S. Ball; UGA; University of Georgia; University of Michigan; University of Wisconsin-Madison; Vietnam War; affirmative action; minority students; student protests

00:47:43 - Brooks Hall fire / Budget cuts

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Partial Transcript: I remember, uh, the day Brooks Hall burned.

Segment Synopsis: Knapp recalls when Brooks Hall caught fire in 1995 and the cooperation of all of UGA's colleges to facilitate its rebuilding. He discusses budget cuts after the 2008 recession and expresses a concern that the cuts would impede UGA's trajectory of academic improvement. He remembers budget cuts in 1991 and 1992 that resulted in reducing UGA's cooperative extension service. He talks about how Governor Zell Miller funded the Georgia Research Alliance and four years of salary increases despite the reduced budget.

Keywords: Brooks Hall; Georgia Research Alliance; Sapelo Island; UGA; University of Georgia; Zell Miller; cooperative extension services

00:56:46 - Fundraising / Public relations

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Partial Transcript: I believe the year you arrived, the University raised fourteen-million dollars in private funds.

Segment Synopsis: Knapp describes his relationship-building approach to fundraising under his presidency. He remembers convincing Bernard Ramsey, an executive at Merrill Lynch and graduate of UGA, to contribute to UGA after Ramsey met with Foundation Fellowship students. He discusses his efforts to be transparent with the press.

Keywords: Bernard Bruce Ramsey; Foundation Fellowship; Ramsey Scholars; UGA; University of Georgia; William Coleman "Bill" Hartman, Jr.; development; fundraising

01:02:39 - Vince Dooley resignation

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Partial Transcript: Now I remember one day you called me...and you said, "I need you to come here right now."

Segment Synopsis: Knapp discusses the challenge of replacing Vince Dooley when he resigned as athletic director and head football coach. He remembers Dooley deciding to remain as athletic director and the two picks for head football coach, Dick Sheridan and Glen Mason, falling through before Jim Donnan accepted the position.

Keywords: Dick Sheridan; Glen Mason; Jim Donnan; UGA; University of Georgia; Vincent Joseph "Vince" Dooley; college football

01:08:34 - Resignation from UGA / Post-UGA work

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Partial Transcript: When people write the story of Chuck Knapp as President at UGA, what points do you hope they make?

Segment Synopsis: Knapp discusses his decision to resign as President of UGA in 1997 and his desire to leave a legacy of improved academics at the school. He talks about the work he has done since leaving UGA, including work with the Aspen Institute (a non-profit promoting open-minded discourse on contemporary issues), Heidrick & Struggles (an executive search firm), and the East Lake Foundation (a non-profit seeking to revitalize the East Lake community in Atlanta).

Keywords: Aspen Institute; East Lake Foundation; Heidrick & Struggles; Tom Cousins; UGA; University of Georgia