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Vol 87: No. 3
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The First Lady

UGA’s First Lady Mary Adams (fourth from left) took center stage in October 2006 during the ceremony marking the renovation of Old College. Mary Adams has made campus renovation and restoration one of her pet projects.

Forget about clichés like “behind every great man…” In the case of Mary Adams, not only does she revel in being a solid foundation for her family, she steps out in front on many of her own issues.

“I brought these passions with me,” says Mary Adams, who has been involved in the restoration efforts on campus, local and campus arts, and animal issues—and even with providing a little hydration.

Five years ago, she discovered that students in the University’s study abroad program in Cortona, Italy, were trekking up the very steep hillside of the walled Etruscan village—in 104-degree heat. She noted the need for a fridge for the top to store cool drinks. A small refrigerator was installed soon afterwards, courtesy of the UGA Partners and the President’s Venture Fund. Today, she jokingly calls it the “Mary Adams Memorial Refrigerator.”

“They really do pay attention, and they care,” says Rita Manning, executive director of special events at UGA. Mrs. Adams walks through campus and notices details, like doors and facades, elements that can make a better environment for students, says Manning, who helps out during the dozens and dozens of events the couple throws for students, alumni and faculty. “They look at this campus and they make it better.”

Mary says she’ll forever be grateful for the care that her tiny Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Casey, received at the UGA veterinary school before he died.

Casey, who lived to be 15, is part of the reason she lobbies for a new small animal hospital on campus.

“We have, together, met with donors, and I heard her mention that once or twice to the governor,” President Adams says with a deep laugh. “I don’t think she’ll let me stop raising money until we raise enough money for a small animal hospital.”

In a brief respite from the fast pace of life at UGA, the couple reflect on the changes of the past decade. She wants some day to be remembered for making a difference in the lives of people on campus and in the community, as a person who brought together “town and gown.”

“She’s been the glue that held it all together,” the president says.

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