Ivan Allen College honors Ted Turner at Founder’s Day

The Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts held its eighth annual Founder’s Day in celebration and in memory of former Atlanta mayor Ivan Allen Jr., for whom the College is named. The event took place at the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center on March 31, recognizing recipients of the Ivan Allen Jr. Legacy Awards: the Award for Progress and Service, and the Essay Award.

The winner of the Award for Progress and Service was Ted Turner, a major leader in business, mass media, sports and philanthropy, with much of his empire having benefited the city of Atlanta. He appeared at the event to accept the award and delivered a speech.

Established in 2001 to mark the 10th anniversary of the IAC, Founder’s Day is usually held on March 15th, the birthday of Ivan Allen Jr., though it was delayed this year due to Spring Break. Taking place in one of the hotel’s ballrooms, with live video feed of the event being broadcast into the atrium of the Global Learning Center next door, Dean Susan Rosser of the IAC was the first to welcome guests to the luncheon.

After introducing many of the distinguished guests and thanking those who had helped with the event, Dean Rosser then turned the podium over to LCC Professor Thomas Lux for a poetry reading over lunch. Lux gave a reading of “Cucumber Fields Crossed by High-Tension Wires” and “The Joybringer” from a poetry book he recently published.

The event continued after a brief pause with IAC Assistant Dean Peter Brecke, who introduced the college’s programs and goals. Brecke was followed by IAC Assistant Dean Susan Cozzens, who described the nature of the Ivan Allen Jr. Legacy Awards. These awards are presented to those who the IAC feels best represents the “spirit of civic leadership” that Mayor Ivan Allen possessed.

Recipients of the Legacy Awards for Student, Faculty, Alumni and Essay Contest, respectively, were Amanda Meng, current president of the IAC Student Activities Board, HTS Professor Greg Nobles and Jackson Jarrell Pair, who graduated from Tech in 1997 with degrees in Human-Computer Interaction, International Affairs and Computer Engineering. The Essay Contest winner was Kaitlyn Whiteside, an incoming HTS student who will enter Tech this fall.

Dean Rosser took the time to congratulate President Clough on his new position as Secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, and thank him for his support of the IAC. Clough was presented with an Honorary Ivan Allen Jr. Award for Progress and Service.

Clough introduced Turner by way of a brief biography and list of accomplishments, which included his foray into mass media, contributions to philanthropy and the environment.

“[Turner’s career consists of] dozens of branching jobs and ventures,” Clough said, using a metaphor to compare Turner’s career to a Georgia oak tree. Clough then presented Turner with the Ivan Allen Jr. Award for Progress and Service.

Upon taking the podium, Turner started off with a brief tale of his acquaintance with Mayor Ivan Allen Jr. and the Allen family.

From there, Turner began to address a good number of global issues which he has taken a part in trying to resolve, such as the condition of the environment, the rise of the human population against the endangerment of other life forms and nuclear disarmament.

Turner spoke with candor and humor on several issues that had the audience laughing or applauding. On the topic of the world’s population, he made a simple suggestion.

“[People could] mimic China in a way, and have a voluntary one-child policy,” Turner said, in regards to the strain of the human population on global resources.

In Turner’s discussion about nuclear disarmament, he used an anecdote about his meeting with former Russian Premier Yuri Andropov, back in the 1986 Goodwill Games.

Turner described the Premier’s astonishment at Turner’s support of the Soviet Republic as well as the United States.

“We’ll live together, or we go to hell,” Turner said, recounting his statement to Andropov.

Additionally, Turner was critical of what he saw as ‘double standards’ in today’s efforts for nuclear disarmament, pointing out mistakes in the Bush administration in finding weapons of mass destruction and snafus with first-world countries keeping track of their own nuclear stockpiles.

Turner also presented a variety of stories about his experiences with starting and working at CNN. He also seemed relieved in retrospect at his handling of CNN, Atlanta sports teams and other business ventures before he stepped down from those positions, citing the dog-fighting and steroid scandals in recent years and the poor state of the U.S Economy.

Ending his speech, Turner graced the audience with the words he would supposedly use as his epitaph: “I’ve nothing more to say.”

Turner went on to address questions from the crowd, such as his opinions on nuclear power as opposed to nuclear weapons, and his current outlook on humanity . He was in favor of some nuclear power plants, though not so greatly as renewable energy sources.

“Coal plants will kill us. Nuclear plants just might,” Turner said.

Turner advised younger audience members to contribute to the world by being politically informed and active. When asked whom he supports for the 2008 presidential election, Turner was neutral among the candidates, but would support “whoever shared his views.”

Ever the showman, Turner closed the event with quotes from Shakespearian plays, such as Richard II, wishing the audience farewell.