University of Georgia Grady College Dean, Charles Davis, wants nothing more than to walk away from Saturday’s homecoming versus Missouri with bragging rights.
The accumulation of years in one location allows for reflection on changing traditions and inevitable transitions, some good, some not-so-good–but generally speaking, the former. Campus luminaries come and go, bringing about a touch of regret with the departure of certain faculty, administrators and staff. With others, there is an urge to break out the champagne. I have always been fascinated by stories about colorful deans. There is nothing more refreshing than a dean who has the students at heart and becomes a compatible leader with his faculty.
For this Grady graduate, this was a red-letter day when UGA brought home Charles Davis from the University of Missouri in 2013. It was a homecoming for the Athens native who had spent time on other campuses and learned to appreciate that life on a campus could be enjoyed in places other than his favorite venue — the Classic City of Athens.
This is a man who, early on, was enthralled with the ringing of the chapel bell, writing sports for the Athens’ newspapers, walking the north campus, enjoying his fill of Varsity hotdogs and Poss’ barbecue. He enjoyed a beer at Allen’s in Normaltown and he couldn’t wait for a social outing at Pinecrest Lodge.
Although he became an undergraduate at North Georgia College in Dahlonega, (he earned his Masters degree in Athens), his heart was always attached to UGA. He loved the football team when they were known as the ‘Dogs, he loved them when they became the Dawgs.
Nothing has changed. His plate is full as the dean of Grady College, but you find him taking in sporting events of almost every team on campus. “Those of us who live here,” he says, “have so many options when it comes to sports and cultural events. There is much to enjoy on campus, but the most fun of all is an afternoon between the hedges.
“I get to go to New York for the Peabody Awards. Now that is big time, and you can’t imagine how events such as they make you proud when someone like NBC’s Tom Brokaw says to you, ‘How ’bout them Dawgs.’ Or when John Huey, former editor of Time-Life, rather talk to you about Georgia football than the latest media trends.”
He agrees with any insider who says that such banter is going to become more topical and will be laced with more passion with the program Kirby Smart is building. The wizened dean sees the future as one in which bragging rights will be enhanced by the current coaching leadership.
Gameday is special for him since Swann Seiler, daughter of Sonny Seiler, the long-time owner of the Uga line is always bringing the famous mascot to Grady College functions. “Uga,” the ebullient dean once said, “is the king of photoops. We like it when he comes around, and we always appreciate the attention he brings to our corner of the campus. Because of Swann, we get special attention” Sounds like, the dean is saying that Uga is not only a “Damn Good Dawg,” he is a “Grady Dawg.”
Georgia’s game with Missouri brings out the deepest passion for Dean Davis. After spending 14 years teaching in Columbia and gaining an academic exposure that aided and abetted his return to Athens, he, while appreciative of his time at Mizzou, always points to this game as the most important one on the schedule.
“We always gotta win that one,” he grins, knowing that anybody familiar with his resume knows it is for bragging rights. He has many friends back in Columbia, and while he doesn’t rub it in, he “always likes to win that game.”
The Missouri journalism faculty sets high standards in turning out accomplished alumni and so does Georgia. UGA’s resume is likely to resonate more with Charles Davis at the helm.
In addition to the prestigious Peabody awards (high honor claimed by such notables as Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, Bill Moyers, Barbara Walters and Lorne Michaels), Grady graduates are distinguished across the board. Best-selling authors, screenwriters nationally connected columnists, publishers, public relations executives and headliners like Amy Robach, news anchor for ABC’s Good Morning America, Deborah Norville of Inside Edition, Deborah Roberts, correspondent, ABC’s 20/20, Julie Moran, first woman to anchor ABC’s Wide World of Sports and Charlayne Hunter-Gault, the first black woman to anchor national television newscast.
Those are his professional bragging rights, a list growing with prominence every day, but when it comes to pure fun, he also wants to enjoy bragging rights between the hedges when his old friends from the “Show Me” state comes to town.