Who is Dean George C. Griffin? There is a statue of him on campus. The Pi Mile run is also dedicated to him, but few people know who he is or what he contributed to Tech’s history.
The statue of Griffin, which sits beside the Ferst Center, is passed by countless students on their way to classes each day and is perhaps best known for being repeatedly “dressed up” during the school year. It is a Tech tradition that will likely continue, much like that of the whistle blowing or the Ramblin’ Wreck but on a smaller popularity scale.
Griffin enrolled at Tech as an undergraduate in 1914. While at Tech, he was a brother of Pi Kappa Phi fraternity. He was also a Tech football player and played in the now famous Tech vs. Cumberland University game where Tech won 222-0 under Coach John Heisman.
In 1918, Griffin took a break from higher education to serve in World War I, later returning to finish his Civil Engineering degree in 1922.
He eventually became “Dean Griffin” when he was named dean of students in 1946. In 1957, as dean, he earned another degree from Tech in Industrial Management.
He held the dean of students position until 1964 when he retired and was given the title of emeritus dean of students.
At Tech, Dean Griffin taught math and coached tennis, track and cross-country. He was also an assistant football coach.
However, he was best known for his love of Tech and its students’ successes. The dean was called “the best friend of all Tech men” and “Mr. Georgia Tech,” as he deeply cared for the overall well-being of the Institute.
He started Tech’s Central Placement Office with his own money and worked with Tech alumni for over 40 years. He helped found the Georgia Tech Hall of Fame as well as the State of Georgia Athletic Hall of Fame. He was secretary for the Georgia Tech Alumni Association.
The dean established the “hip pocket fund” which helped students who were struggling financially. Local businessmen contributed money to the fund to help students pay tuition, and the loans were interest free.
Further showing his interest in students, the dean, while being self-proclaimed as forgetful, was known to never forget the name of any Tech student he met. That was quite an accomplishment in itself.
To remember his contributions to Tech, FASET (Familiarization and Adaptation to the Surroundings and Environs of Tech) has taken the main role of decorating his statue monument for special events.
At each FASET session, the morning welcome and introductory programs are held at the Ferst Center in the theater. Since Dean Griffin’s statue sits nearby, he is one of the first things people see at Tech the initial morning of FASET.
Realizing this, the FASET program thought it would be fun to start a tradition of “dressing” him special so he would be immediately noticed by guests.
Kelly Sokolowski, fourth-year MGT, has worked at FASET the past three summers.
“[Dressing the dean] is a great conversation starter and a simple, neat way to welcome our new family to Georgia Tech,” Sokolowski said.
Sokolowski, who has been both a FASET leader and a member of FASET cabinet, notes that FASET works hard each year to make new student introductions a success, and part of that has come with the fun tradition of “dressing” the dean.
“As a Cabinet, we try to come up with a fun theme for each FASET session during the summer. Some from previous years include 80s, Preppy, Superheroes and Hawaiian FASET.
Depending on the theme, leaders will wear the appropriate accessories with their polos—not forgetting about Dean Griffin of course,” Sokolowski said.
With each new session, as the dean is re-decorated through the summer, FASET pulls the props from different places.
Generally, the leader staff donates different things, but there are also props from previous years that can be reused.
The main goal is to have each FASET group as unique as each new student, and the varied items used in each session to dress Dean Griffin have become a big contributor to the success of this aspect of the program.