For a few seconds, it looked as though Michael Adams wasn't going to make it through a speech about his leaving the President's Office at the University of Georgia. He had said that when he accepted the job in June 1997, with him were his parents, both of whom have since died, and his wife Mary. His face collapsed a little, but he recovered.
Many of those in the audience may not recover. The university community remains in shock over Adams' sudden announcement that he will step down from his job at the end of June 2013. Only a few of the inner staff and upper level administrators learned late Wednesday that he would be leaving.
After his brief, formal speech, in which he thanked those who have helped launch the University into the ranks of top public schools, Adams said that he had been thinking about leaving for "the last two or three weeks," adding that one is always thinking about it.
There were "a whole host of reasons," he said, without elaborating. "But it felt like this was the right time." He said he is proud of the many accomplishments the school has experienced during his tenure.
According to former Athens Mayor Heidi Davison, who was at the event in the UGA Chapel, Adams had of list of things he wanted to accomplish for himself and for the university, "and he just slowly checked them off" as they came on line.
Chief among these were a medical school presence and an engineering school. UGA had a comprehensive engineering program until the 1930s. Given the dearth of home grown engineers in the state, starting a school to help meet that need seemed crucial. In partnership with the Georgia Health Sciences University in Augusta, the Athens medical facility will help meet the state's need for primary care physicians.
"The capstone pieces of the pie were in place," Davison said. "So I guess this signaled it was time for him to step aside."
The Board of Regents will next week "take action" on the appointments of the presidents of the various universities and college in the university system.
Some of those at Thursday's announcement wondered whether the support Adams and UGA enjoyed while Sonny Perdue was governor would continue with the current governor and Board of Regents. And whether this potential change influenced Adams' decision to step down in 2013.
Editor's note: Rebecca McCarthy is the Athens Patch editor.