Campus News

‘Great Partnership’

Arch Foundation marks five years of supporting the university

In just five years, the assets of the Arch Foundation for the University of Georgia have grown from zero to more than $140 million. And Chairman Andrew M. “Jack” Head says the best is yet to come.

“We’re proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish in such a short time, including helping the university post record fundraising years,” said Head, who received his bachelor’s degree from UGA in 1975 and is president of Head Management Group Inc. “From the very beginning, President Adams and the entire campus have been involved in our efforts, and it has been a great partnership.”

UGA President Michael F. Adams lauded the foundation for its continuing support.

“I am grateful for the many contributions that the Arch Foundation is providing to our academic programs and our students,” Adams said. “Great universities rely on private support to maintain and enhance excellence, and the Arch volunteer trustees have been critical in these efforts.”

The Arch Foundation was incorporated May 3, 2005, by four people with strong ties to the nation’s first state-charted institution of higher education: Swann Seiler, a 1978 graduate who is external relations and communications manager for Georgia Power Co.’s coastal region; Robert D. Bishop, retired board chairman of Athens’ SunTrust Bank who received his bachelor’s degree from UGA in 1961; John Phinizy Spalding, who earned bachelor’s and law degrees from UGA in 1982 and 1985, respectively, and is vice president of government affairs for Cox Communications; and William R. Childs, then-president of the university’s Student Government Association, who received his bachelor’s degree from UGA in 2008.

The Incorporators undertook an extensive review of foundations at peer and aspirational universities to discern best practices that would make the Arch Foundation, which is a private nonprofit organization with a board of trustees, a model organization. Transparency and the active involvement of all board members were deemed critical, Spalding said, and so was having representation from students, faculty and the university’s administration.

“I wanted to make sure that the board always stayed focused on its mission, which is to support the University of Georgia,” he said.

Spalding, elected chairman at the foundation’s inaugural meeting, recalls foundation’s early days when it established its investment and spending policies and created its strategic plan. The foundation also launched its Arch Professorship Initiative to enhance faculty recruitment and retention by funding endowed chairs. To date, it has created four new professorships through donations from board members.

“I am especially appreciative of the hard work and expertise of Executive Director Cindy Coyle and her dedicated staff,” Spalding said. “Their tireless efforts helped establish the foundation and have kept it running smoothly.”

Retired Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court Norman Sears Fletcher, who earned bachelor’s and law degrees from UGA in 1956 and 1958, respectively, succeeded Spalding as chair in 2007. Fletcher said that with the organizational details and strategic plan of the foundation in place, he and the other members of the board were able to focus on growing the university’s endowment and helping the university close out its seven-year Archway to Excellence fundraising campaign on a high note: The campaign exceeded its $500 million goal by more than $153 million.

“I’m very proud of the fact that we have continued to be successful in our development,” Fletcher said. “The university has been able to attract faculty with national and international prominence, and we could not do that with state funding alone.”

Head was elected chair after Fletcher completed his two-year term. Under Head’s leadership, the board is redoubling its fundraising efforts. And despite the current market climate, the endowment achieved a 25.58 percent investment return for calendar year 2009, a figure well above the market indices used for tracking.

The Arch Foundation also is working to support all phases of UGA external relations, including not only fundraising but also alumni relations and communications. In particular, the foundation will be involved in launching a UGA Board of Visitors that will hold regular events where faculty will give presentations on academic programs and initiatives.

“We believe our support for the Board of Visitors will be yet another way to tell the exciting story of UGA’s success and impact on our state,” Head said.