March 2004: Vol. 83, No. 2
Thinking big brings German unification leaders to Atlanta
Tom Harrold (JD 69) convened a conference that featured George H.W. Bush, Helmut Kohl, and Mikhail Gorbachev
by Doug Monroe (ABJ 69)
Harrold (at left) had no trouble convincing Bush and Kohl. But Gorbachev (second from right) proved elusive until Harrold wrangled a seat next to him at a dinner.
In 2001, the German American Chamber of Commerce was looking for fund-raising ideas. Harroldnow a partner with the Miller & Martin law firm in Atlantadismissed suggestions for an Oktoberfest and a beer-tasting and said:
Come on guys. Think big. Lets have a unification conference.
As in the unification of Germany.
It took him two years to pull it off, but last fall, in Atlanta, Harrolds efforts were rewarded at a conference to honor the three former heads of state responsible for the fall of the Berlin Wall, the unification of Germany, and the peaceful transformation of Eastern Europe: former President George H.W. Bush, former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, and former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. Attended by 1,500 people and moderated by Tom Brokaw, the event drew media attention from around the world.
Harrold says it was important to honor Bush, Kohl, and Gorbachev for what they had accomplished, adding: They did it all without one shot being fired.
Through clients, Harrold approached Kohl, who thought the conference was a wonderful idea. Bush agreed to attend if the other two leaders came. After months of trying, Harrold learned that Gorbachev was having dinner at the Washington home of Pat Mitchell (AB 65, MA 67), president of PBS. Harrold got former senator Wyche Fowler, an old friend, to cancel his date and take him instead. My place card said, Wyche Fowlers date. That kind of got everybody looking funny. We rearranged the place cards so I ended up next to Gorbachev. Harrold made his pitchas he had years before to Ruskand Gorbachev agreed to attend the unification conference.
Backstage before the event, Gorbachev started cracking jokes with Bush and Kohl. Harrold recreates that scene:
He said, George, do you remember I told you I would let Germany be unified and I would go ahead and free Eastern Europe and not send in the troops, but there was one favor I asked? Bush started laughing as Gorbachev said, You know, I wanted two of your American generals . . . General Motors and General Electric.
The message of the conference was that the leaders today need to get to know each other on a personal basis, to trust each other, says Harrold. When the conference ended, an emotional Kohl wept before heading home.
He gave me this bear hug, says Harrold. I thought he was going to break my back.
Beating cystic fibrosis
Andy Lipman (BBA 96), who is now alive at 30, is living proof that this treacherous disease neednt be an early death sentence
by Jim Kvicala
There is no cure, but Lipman says his health is good, thanks to exercisehes run in seven Peachtree Road Racesand new drugs.
Lipman (BBA 96) didnt give up hope. Through courage and determination, he made it to his 25th birthdayand beyondwhich inspired him to write Alive at 25: How Im Beating Cystic Fibrosis (Longstreet Press, 2001).
CF causes the body to produce abnormally thick, sticky mucus, resulting in respiratory and digestive problems. Without constant treatment, CF sufferers can experience life-threatening bouts of pneumonia or other maladies.
Faced with this obstacle, Lipman could have led a sedentary, sheltered life. Instead, he earned a spot on his high school tennis team. He also pledged a fraternity at UGA. And though initially daunted by college life, he embarked on a regimen that helped him gain self-respect and the respect of others. He organized an annual softball tournament called A Wish For Wendy to benefit the Georgia chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Named in honor of a sister who died in infancy before Lipman was born, this years tournament raised $43,000.
Another of the years many highlights for Lipman was celebrating his 30th birthday, which is a big accomplishment for someone with CF, he says. His wife, Andrea, threw him a surprise birthday party at an Atlanta Braves game attended by 60 of his friends. The couple lives in Atlanta, where Andy is a corporate purchasing manager for Diversitech and Andrea is a health scientist for the CDC.
Lipman says his health is still good, thanks to regular exercise and new drug therapies to combat CF. In 2002, he was a torchbearer in the Olympic torch relay leading up to that years winter olympics. He carried the torch on Lumpkin Street through the UGA campus. And last July, he ran in his seventh Peachtree Road Race.
There is no cure, but Lipman hopes progress will continue in CF research toward the day when no one has to suffer from it.
Theyre finding out more about CF all the time, he says. I think theyre getting closer with gene therapy. If not a cure, hopefully there will be some even better treatments for CF within the next five to eight years.
Lipman is working on a new book. This time, its a novel about a young boy with CF who wants to be a major league baseball player when he grows up. Asked whether the boy realizes his dream, Lipman says, I cant reveal the ending, but I can tell you his dream is so important to him that it transforms the way he lives his life.
Autographed copies of Lipmans book, Alive at 25: How Im Beating Cystic Fibrosis, are available through his Web site at www.aliveat25.org. For information about A Wish For Wendy, go to www.wishforwendy.org.
Fighting the good fight
Abigail Jordan (EdD 80) spearheaded the effort to erect a monument to slaves in Savannah
by Jason Peevy
It took a year of negotiating over location, appearance, and inscriptionbut Jordan persevered and the slave monument was erected.
Her mother was accosted trying to vote. The KKK burned a cross in her familys yard. And she endured unpleasant confrontations while studying at UGA. But all of this was merely a prelude to Abigail Jordans greatest challengeleading a movement to erect a monument to slaves in Savannah, even contributing more than $100,000 of her own money to the project.
Family history has played a vital role in Jordans life, which has been dominated by two themeseducation and a struggle for equality. In the 1800s, Jordans maternal grandfather played dead and escaped after coming to this country on a slave ship. Slavery was abolished when her grandfather was 12, but the runaway didnt know until a white woman took him in, later making arrangements for him to receive an education.
Jordan (EdD 80) never met her grandfather, but says, Slavery is something I heard about almost every day.
Jordans mother, who earned the equivalent of a two-year degree, served as a role model. As a child, Jordan accompanied her to the Wilcox County courthouse. She knew they would not let her vote, but she went anyway. They turned her away, and as we left a white man stuck his foot out. My mother had the presence of mind to release my hand before she fell all the way down those marble steps. I was terrified and thought my mother was dead.
Jordan graduated from Albany State with a degree in education, earned a masters in education at Atlanta University, and, after marrying and having a child, worked for a federally funded education program on reading at Savannah State.
Jordans work with reading programs led her to visit a class at UGA. When a professor urged her to pursue a doctorate, she accepted the challenge.
After graduating in 1980, Jordan became a writer for the Savannah Morning News. In 1991, she was challenged again, this time by a group of black tourists who asked her why there wasnt a monument to blacks in the city. She formed a committee and petitioned the city to erect a memorial, setting off a decade of wrangling and debatefirst over location, then appearance, and finally the inscription.
Ill go to great lengths, says Jordan. I dont enjoy fighting and arguing for what is right. But if I have to, I will.
In July 2002, the statue was erected on Savannahs historic riverfront, the port of entry for most slaves arriving in Georgia. The seven-foot bronze statue, designed by Dorothy Spradley (MFA 76), depicts a contemporary family in broken shackles. Jordan selected a quote from poet Maya Angelou for the inscription; when some people objected to the quotea graphic depiction of conditions on a slave shipAngelou added a line to soften the effect.
Today, Jordan continues seeking funds to cover the remaining cost of the monument and is writing a documentary about the project.
My mother would be proud of me . . . even though what I went through was nothing compared to what she endured, says Jordan. We have so much ground to cover. We have to do so much more than any other race to prove ourselves. Thats why I keep fighting.
The coach is also a DJ
Tom Brennan (BSEd 72) has taken his b-ball team to the NCAAsand drubbed Howard Stern
by Matt Vautour
Brennan lost 50 of his first 58 games, but last year took his team to its first NCAA tournament.
Disc jockeys across the country pull similar stunts every day. The difference here is that the co-host of CHAMP 101.3s drive time slot is Tom Brennan, who is also head basketball coach at the University of Vermont. As good as he is at Xs and Oshe just led the usually weak-sister Catamounts to their first 20-win season, first regular-season title, first conference championship, and first NCAA tournament appearanceBrennan (BSEd 72) also has a zany streak. And one of his favorite gags is to haul rival coaches out of bed at dawn to talk basketball.
The patter on the Corm and the Coach show runs the gamut from sports to politics to Pink Floyd.
Growing up in New Jersey, Brennan was always a wise-cracking, storytelling kind of kid. But he didnt do it professionally until the station manager at CHAMP 101.3 heard him speak at a rotary club function. The original plan was to occasionally have Brennan talk sports with morning host Steve Cormier. But the chemistry between the two men was too good to utilize just part-time. Before long, the renamed Corm and the Coach show was getting better ratings than Howard Stern and Imus in the Morning. The patter was predominantly about Vermont sports, but most anything was fair gamefrom politics to Pink Floyd.
For awhile, Brennan, who played basketball at UGA, was better with a microphone than a clipboard. His under-funded U. of Vermont program consistently finished in the lower half of the America East. But two years ago, it all came together for Brennan, whose team tied for first place in the conference during the regular season. Last year, despite losing the reigning conference player of the year to a season-ending injury, the Catamounts upset top-seed Boston University in the America East tournament, thereby earning a trip to March Madness.
The only coaching position Brennan ever considered leaving Vermont for was the Georgia job, when it opened last year. Im a proud alum, he says. It was a great place to go to school. And I said to my wife, We really need to look into that.
But Brennans wife Lynn reminded him of something Villanova coach Jay Wright once said to him.
He told me, Dont ever mess with happy, says Brennan. And Im really happy.
Freelancer in paradise
Writer Chris Dixon (ABJ 89, MMC 95) parlayed a love for surfing and biking into an online gig for Jimmy Buffett
by John English
Dixon (right) and Jimmy Buffett surfing at San Onofre Beach in Southern Californiaa place Buffett calls his "church."
Dixons most recent reporting adventure was a day with a special unit of the Los Angeles Sheriffs Department, called the Skunk Squad. This team visited vacant buildings and underpasses where gangs, vagrants, and drug addicts congregate and sprayed the sites with a repulsive, skunk-like concoction. It was a clever, horrendously foul, way to drive this criminal element out into the open, says Dixon, and it presented a safe way for me to see South Central L.A. Other communities will no doubt be intrigued how this big city is dealing with this urban problem.
Dixons affinity for journalism is family related. His father, Jobie, was an Atlanta advertising exec with Pringle-Dixon-Pringle. His mother, Gloria Ricks (ABJ 66), was public relations director for the Hearst Magazine Group in New York and London.
After a stint in the ad game, Dixon moved to Myrtle Beach, S.C., to surf and write. His features for an entertainment weekly, Hot Times, frequently made the cover. Realizing he could get paid to write about his twin passionssurfing and bikinghe submitted articles to Surfer, Velo News, and Bike. When Esquire launched a British edition, he contributed articles about American popular culture.
Dixons work for Surfer led to him being online editor and publisher of Surfermag.com in Southern California. A major plus of his job was that he could surf every day. Surfing is a lifestyle, says Dixon, and I love to write about it. In many ways, I had a dream job, but I was still tied down to an office and I knew there was more to life than riding waves. So he quit and went back to freelancing.
When Dixon learned that Jimmy Buffett was looking for someone to create travel journals for his Web site, Margaritaville.com, he got the gig. Jimmy was looking for a surfer with a college education, says Dixon. And he wanted a web documentarian, someone who could write and take photographs. I guess I was a perfect match.
Dixon and his wife-to-be moved to Palm Beach, Fla., where Buffet has one of his homes. Over the next year, he took more than a thousand pictures of Buffett piloting his plane, surfing, touring with his band, even inspectingwhat else?a tequila factory. Jimmy critiqued my work and sorta became my mentor, says Dixon, who notes that Buffett really is the person he sings about in his songs. Hes smart and his ideas are the basis of his success. That insight fueled my fire even more to do my own thing. That year with Jimmy was an incredible confidence booster.
©2004 by the University of Georgia.