Speaker's Corner 8/19/2011
Robert Brown sits with W. Todd Groce, PhD, our speaker.
President and Chief Executive Officer, Georgia Historical Society
One of the leading public history executives in the nation, W. Todd Groce has over 20 years of experience as an educator and administrator and has led institutions in raising over $40 million for educational programming, capital projects, and endowment.
Born in Virginia and raised in Tennessee, Dr. Groce graduated cum laude and with honors in history from the University of Memphis ('84) and earned an M.A. ('87) and Ph.D. ('92) in history from the University of Tennessee. While in graduate school he taught American history at the University of Tennessee and Maryville College.
In 1990 Dr. Groce left the academy and began his career in public history. He served five years as executive director of the East Tennessee Historical Society, taking that institution to the next level through the development of a new regional history museum. In November 1994 Dr. Groce was named executive director of the Georgia Historical Society, and in April 2006 he was elected the institution's 43rd president.
Dr. Groce has a passion for history. He understands its power to transform the future and the special role the Georgia Historical Society plays in the process. "The essence of what it means to be an American can be found in our history," he says, "When we understand the story of our unique democratic institutions and traditions, how they were created and the sacrifices that have been made to expand our liberties, we understand America. That's why it's crucial that we teach our state's and nation's history. The survival of the republic depends upon it."
That philosophy forms the foundation of the Georgia Historical Society's educational mission. It has also fueled unprecedented growth. During Dr. Groce's tenure the institution's operating budget has increased from less than $200,000 to nearly $3 million, its endowment has grown from $1 million to $7 million, and its membership has quadrupled from 2,000 to 6,000, including nearly 200 local historical organizations in 80 counties.
"The Georgia Historical Society stands in a special position between the academic community and the public," says Groce. "There's an amazing body of scholarship being produced in colleges and universities around the country but most of it is not reaching the public. That's where GHS comes in. We're the bridge between the academy and the public, connecting the scholarship with a wider audience, and increasing access to history."
Community service is also a significant part of his life. He is a 2003 graduate of Leadership Georgia, a past president of the Rotary Club of Savannah, and past Governor of the Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Georgia. He has been appointed to several government commissions by Georgia Governors Roy Barnes and Sonny Perdue and currently serves on the Georgia Department of Economic Development's Tourism Foundation, the Capitol Arts Standards Commission, and the Georgia Civil War Sesquicentennial Planning Committee as chief advisor. He is a trustee of Savannah Country Day School and a lay reader and Sunday school teacher in the Episcopal Church.
Dr. Groce lives in Savannah with his wife and daughter and journeys to the mountains when his duties allow. He is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys hunting, canoeing, and hiking and is a classically-trained musician who indulges his passion for Bach, Mozart-and Bluegrass. But no matter where he travels or what avocation he pursues it always comes back to history and the institution he leads.
"The Georgia Historical Society is an organization that is just now hitting its stride," he says. "As the oldest continuously operated historical society in the South we've been a leading force in how history has been interpreted for nearly 175 years. I'm excited about the increasingly important role we're playing on both the state and national level to promote a better understanding of the past and create a better future."
Speaker's Corner 8/26/2011
Jeff Tardowski, Georgia Perimeter College
Fred Turner introduced our guest speaker, Jeff Tardowski. He is the Vice President of Professional Development of Georgia Perimeter College. He grew up in Michigan, graduated from Bradley University and coaches his son's baseball team. Fred Turner described him in this manner: "Foundations often don't take off until you find the right person and Jeff is that person for Georgia Perimeter."
Jeff talked about the changing face of philanthropy in higher education. He shared and interesting figure with us: he said that 1/3 of the students at Georgia Perimeter are the first of their family to attend college. He mentioned that philanthropic groups have less to give because of the return that they are getting on their investments and also because people have less disposable income. He said that there has been a change in perspective of the willingness to support facilities and they are working to develop real life partnerships.
He also gave us two interesting bits of information that for a freshmen student, Georgia Perimeter is the best choice in Georgia because they put freshmen in a class of 25 students and from an investment perspective they are a great value because a $4000 donation can sponsor two students and make a bigger impact than an equal investment at a school with a higher tuition.
Speaker's Corner 9/2/2011
Rebecca Whitt, Lifeline Animal Project
Walt Drake introduced our Speaker, Rebecca Whitt with Lifeline Animal Project. Ms. Whitt used to be a white collar defense Attorney but is not the Director of Lifeline Animal Project. They advocate for life saving policy for animal rights.
Here are some interesting facts: 67% of households have pets, there are between 10 and 70 million homeless pets in our country (no one knows the exact figure), 6 million pets enter our shelters each year (at a cost of about $250 each), about 4 million pets die in shelters each year (about 60% of dogs ad 70% of cats). In Atlanta, approximately 100,000 animals are put down each year and that is more than in NY, Chicago, Los Angeles and all of Great Britain. Surprisingly, only 8% of pets in shelters are rescued by their owners.
Ms. Whitt gave us three ways that we can help: 1. adopt a pet. 2. be sure to spay and neuter your pets. 3. Get involved, volunteer and give to local shelters.
Robert Brown gives our invocation
Walt Drake introduces our speaker.
Ms. Whitt's website is http://www.atlantapets.org/