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The Arch Foundation is open for business

Incorporated on May 3, the new Arch Foundation is dedicated to raising,investing, and managing money for the benefit of the University of Georgia.

Chuck Toney

The magnitude of the moment was not lost on Swann Seiler as she stepped to the podium to convene the first board meeting of UGA’s new Arch ­Foundation. Seiler, who manages corporate communications for ­Savannah Electric, had been aided in her organizational efforts by three other Arch Foundation incorporators—Robert D. Bishop (BBA ’61), retired board chairman, Athens’ SunTrust Bank; John Phinizy Spalding (AB ’82, JD ’85), vice president and assistant general counsel for Cox Communications; and William R. Childs, president of UGA’s student government association.

“It was historic,” says Seiler (ABJ ’78), who also serves as president of the UGA Alumni Association. “I wanted everybody to realize it was a historic day, so I recited the date: June 15, 2005. I wanted that to be in the minutes.”

According to the articles of incorporation, which were recorded in the secretary of state’s office in Atlanta on May 3, the “mission and purpose of the [Arch Foundation] are to provide support to the teaching, research and public service and outreach programs of the University of Georgia by means of volunteer leadership and assistance in development and fundraising activities; fiduciary care for the assets of the corporation for the long-term benefit and enhancement of the University; and the provision of broad advice, consultation and support to the President of the University.”

Spalding, a fifth-generation UGA graduate and long-time supporter of the Honors Program, was elected chair of the board of trustees at the first meeting. Norman Fletcher (AB ’56, JD ’58), the recently retired chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, will serve as vice chair. Frederick E. Cooper (JD ’67), chairman of Cooper Capital, LLC, will serve as treasurer. Donald A. Perry (ABJ ’74), vice president of public relations for Chick-fil-A, was elected secretary.

“The Arch Foundation is now open for business,” Spalding told the board at the initial meeting. “This will be a working board. If you are asked by a ­development officer to make a call or to join a prospective donor for dinner, you need to do that. This is a wonderful opportunity for each of us to continue the ascendancy of the University into the highest ranks of public universities in America.”

To emphasize the connection between the quality of UGA and the level of private support, Spalding challenged each board member to make a gift to the Arch Foundation: “The statement made by our unanimous commitment is very ­important.”

When the president’s office called to ask Childs to serve as an incorporator, the SGA president recalls thinking, “I must be the most fortunate student at UGA. It is an honor and extremely humbling to be asked to serve as one of the ­incorporators.”

Bishop, who also serves on the UGA Athletic Association board, was enthusiastic about being asked to serve: “I’ll do anything for the University of Georgia. I really think this is a great move on the part of everyone involved.There is a lot of enthusiasm and excitement on the Arch Foundation board. We are totally devoted to the support of UGA.”

That support, said President Michael F. Adams at the June 15 meeting, is critical to UGA’s continued excellence.

“The public universities that are moving ahead are raising more money each year and investing that money in the best people and the best facilities,” he told the board. “This state has the resources to take UGA into the top eight or 10 or 12 public universities in the nation.”

UGA’s top fundraising priority is building its endowment, which stands at $475.5 million, far behind the endowments at some of the universities ahead of UGA in national rankings, including the University of Virginia ($2.79 billion), UNC-Chapel Hill ($1.3 billion), University of Wisconsin ($994 million), Georgia Tech ($814.9 million), and the University of Florida ($738 million). The difference is even more striking when compared on a per-student basis—UGA ($14,009), average for the other five ($57,305). What that means is that UGA is not able to address critical needs that arise when other funding sources, such as the state budget, are reduced.

The incorporators, said Spalding, wanted to create a foundation that “would be a model for other foundations.” With the assistance of legal counsel Alan Rothschild (JD ’85) of ­Columbus, they researched other university foundation boards and consulted the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, the National Association of College and University Attorneys, and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. They also spoke to Curt Simic, the president of the Indiana University Foundation and a widely recognized expert in the field of foundation governance.

“Those organizations recommended a number of institutions that were recognized as having good systems in place,” says Rothschild. “We wanted to investigate the best practices at university foundations.”

The incorporators studied foundations at the University of Wisconsin, the University of Colorado, UNC-Chapel Hill, the University of Florida, Georgia Tech, the University of ­Illinois, and the University of Virginia. Specifically, they looked at the balance between the number of appointed trustees and university representation on the board.

“We did a lot of research,” says Spalding, “and I believe we have a foundation structure that will work well for UGA.”

The board moved through a full agenda of items related to the establishment of the new foundation at the June 15 meeting. The articles of incorporation and bylaws, a banking resolution, a conflicts of interest policy and the appointment of an executive director (Director of Foundation and Division Accounting and Budget Services Cindy Coyle) and a director of finance (Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration Hank Huckaby) were all approved by the board. The board also approved a memorandum of understanding with the Board of Regents which reads, in part, that the Arch Foundation “shall not engage in activities, programs and services that are in conflict with or inconsistent with the policies, mission and goals of the Board of Regents, the Institution or the cooperative organization.”

The relationship between the University administration and the Arch Foundation is a good one, says Provost Arnett Mace: “I am looking forward to working with the Arch Foundation to identify areas of critical need to advance the University of Georgia. We will work with them on acquiring gifts that are essential to our continued advancement.”

Spalding is impressed with the enthusiasm and commitment of the board members, who are committed to raising money in support of UGA’s students, faculty and staff.

“I want the UGA community to have complete confidence that the Arch Foundation is an entity they can trust with their funds, knowing those funds will be managed wisely, in keeping with their wishes and for the benefit of the University of Georgia,” he says. “All that we should be doing is raising, investing and managing money for the benefit of the University of Georgia. I feel like we’re just scratching the surface of the level of support for UGA.”

Chuck Toney is a policy analyst and writer in the Office of Public Affairs.

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photos by Peter Frey (BFA ’94)

Click on image to enlarge

Trustees who attended the first meeting of the Arch Foundation board included (from left): Sheffield Hale (AB ’82), chief counsel of the American Cancer Society; Don Perry (ABJ ’74), vice president of public relations for Chick-fil-A; Charles Campbell, (AB ’64, MA ’67), an attorney with McKenna, Long & Aldridge; and retired UGA business professor J. Don Edwards.

Retired banker Bob Bishop (BBA ’61) also serves on the board of the UGA Athletic Association.

SGA President William Childs was asked to help incorporate the Arch Foundation.

Steve Wrigley, senior vice president for external affairs, told board members of UGA’s strong showing in the 2005 U.S. News & World Report rankings. But President Adams reminded them that “the public universities that are moving ahead are raising more money each year and investing that money in the best people and the best facilities.”