Of the various duties that belong to the office of a college president, their social and civic responsibilities can be the most difficult to satisfy. A consistent public presence is crucial to successful public outreach, and this week, President G.P. “Bud” Peterson and First Lady Val Peterson traversed Georgia for the tenth year in a row.
“What started out as an effort for Val and me to learn more about our state has become an annual event that involves people from all across campus who come together to plan and execute a truly remarkable trip,” Peterson said. And since 2009, President Peterson’s summer tours have been his opportunity to gain an understanding of Tech’s relationship with its surrounding communities both local and state-wide.
According to Peterson, “the first nine Georgia Tours have been invaluable in helping us get acquainted with the state’s citizens, community leaders, current and prospective students and people whose business Georgia Tech had helped improve or create.”
So far, the tours have covered nearly 7,500 miles, and this year’s venture took him and his wife along 650 miles, through 27 counties, with 30 total events over the span of four days. Alumni and friends were invited to attend one of five free events across the state to network and listen to the president speak about the state of the Institute.
Starting on June 18 and continuing through June 21, Peterson met with alumni, stakeholders and friends of Tech across 11 different cities.
On Monday, Peterson stopped in Hawkinsville, Fort Valley, Macon and Milledgeville. At each destination, Peterson relished in their respective history and culture, specifically commenting on the similarities between Hawkinsville and Tech’s mottos and the efficiency of the peach orchards in Fort Valley.
“The word ‘orchards’ doesn’t do it full justice,” said Peterson regarding the latter.
The second day of the tour, President Peterson and company enjoyed a breakfast meeting at a local Waffle House, an iconic Georgia-based business chain with connections to Tech through its co-founder and current President — both of whom are Tech graduates.
Other stops on Tuesday included a meeting with the Board of Regents Chairman, a driving tour of the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center and an interview with The Augusta Chronicle before another meet and greet with alumni, friends and family.
As Peterson continued to travel and approach his final destination in Athens on Thursday, he kept daily blogs available to the public to provide commentary.
“Each year, our weeklong road trip seems to get better, and the enthusiasm for our little ‘road show’ grows,” Peterson said.