clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Burdell’s Bracket: First Round, Part II

New, 4 comments

Now featuring...Burdell himself!

Harrison and his gift, a stolen Tech Tower T courtesy of the Magnificent Seven.
Georgia Tech Archives, Georgia Tech Photograph Collection, (http://history.library.gatech.edu/items/show/1062)

It’s time to let the people decide - we’re busting out the poll tool to run the second edition of From the Rumble Seat’s Burdell Brackets, this year featuring some of the greatest coaches, professors, presidents, and alumni Tech has ever produced. We’ll vote each week on Thursday mornings, so check back here next week for the rest of the first round.


Welcome back to the bracket, here’s the bracket for a refresher:

If you haven’t voted in part one yet, click here to check it out!

First Round:

Alumni and Students Region:

No. 1 George P. Burdell vs. No. 16 Mark Teixeira

Really, what is there that George hasn’t done? He’s earned every Tech degree, flown twelve missions over Germany during World War II, served on the MAD board, and very nearly became TIME’s Man of the Year until he was unfairly disqualified for not actually existing. He took 3,000 credit hours in the fall quarter of 1969, every class offered at the time, despite the school’s move to computer registration being seen as a way to finally get the guy to graduate. He earned varsity letters in football and basketball thirty years apart (for the late 1920s National Champion football team and opened the Alexander Memorial Coliseum with the 1956 basketball team) as well as being the captain of the definitely-existed 1988 edition of the swim team.

I could make a whole bracket of sports alumni, but I chose Tex out of the baseball contingent since he is active with Urban Creek Partners (who I just found out were my neighbors all of last summer) pursuing infill development on properties around the city, most notably at the confluence of Hollowell Parkway, MARTA, and the Proctor Creek Greenway just west of campus, besides his obvious great career in Major League Baseball. In baseball, he was the Dick Howser Player of the Year at Tech, and went on to a successful 14 year career as an excellent switch hitter, three time all-star, one time World Series champion, 5 time Gold Glove winner, 3 time Silver Slugger, and knocked 409 home runs in his career.

Poll

No. 1 George P. Burdell vs. No. 16 Mark Teixeira

This poll is closed

  • 81%
    George P. Burdell
    (50 votes)
  • 18%
    Mark Teixeira
    (11 votes)
61 votes total Vote Now

No. 8 John Young vs. No. 9 John Portman

Young died recently in the winter of 2018, but was best known for his time as an astronaut. He graduated from Tech in 1952 with a BS AE before joining the Navy and serving in the Korean War. After the war, he made the jump from air to space, where he became a part of the first crewed Gemini mission in 1965. Later, in 1969, he was the first man to fly solo around the moon and is one of only three people to have been to the moon twice. In the Space Shuttle age, he flew two missions on the Columbia before becoming the Chief of the Astronaut Office. After 42 years in NASA, he retired with the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross, Congressional Space Medal of Honor, NASA Distinguished Service Medal, and NASA Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal, among others.

Simply put, John Portman built the Atlanta skyline. From his early work to his final project at CODA in Tech Square for his alma mater, it was Portman whose work was considered a saving grace of the American downtown. Though early works like Peachtree Center are considered shut off from the streets today, they reflected the time, and the interiors remain praised to this day. Later works like the Embarcadero Center in San Francisco reflect the opening of cities back to pedestrians. The center tower at Detroit’s skyline-defining Renaissance Center was the tallest hotel in the world from its completion in 1977 until 2013 and it is immediately apparent the resemblance it bears to Atlanta’s Westin Peachtree Plaza, another Portman work completed in 1976 which it stole the hotel title from. Portman and Young died within six days of one another, and, upon his death, he had been awarded a Silver Medal Award for Innovative Design, an Urban Land Institute Award for Excellence, The Lynn S. Beedle Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Four Pillar Award.

Poll

No. 8 John Young vs. No. 9 John Portman

This poll is closed

  • 58%
    John Young
    (32 votes)
  • 41%
    John Portman
    (23 votes)
55 votes total Vote Now

No. 5 Ivan Allen vs. No. 12 Chip Robert

Before Allen was mayor, he was a prominent local businessman. In 1961, the year he became president of the Chamber of Commerce, he published a noteworthy white paper detailing his vision for the city of Atlanta with respect to infrastructure, the economy, higher education, and culture that the city we know today would eventually be built on. Allen was a staunch anti-segregationist, integrating City Hall on day one of his mayoralty, and sped ahead with actual progress in the city Hartsfield merely described as too busy to hate. Actions speak louder than words, but Allen was gifted as an orator, too, becoming the only prominent white southern politician to speak in support of the Civil Rights Act. Atlanta integrated without the violence common in other cities.

L. W. “Chip” Robert was the Tech Man’s Tech Man. He attended Tech for five years, earning two undergraduate degrees, one in civil engineering and the other in experimental engineering, wrapping up the second in 1909. While at Tech, he not only captained the cross country team, but baseball and football as well, on his way to earning twelve varsity letters. Yeah, that’s not possible now. After graduating, he founded a locally prominent engineering company, Robert and Company, and served as the president of minor league baseball’s Atlanta Crackers, a massively successful team that won 18 of the 60 Southern Association pennants in their years in the league, enough for them to be dubbed “the Yankees of the Minors.” Sidenote: one time, their announcer got traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers for a catcher. Weird. Anyways, Robert also served as the Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of the Democratic National Committee, and as a member of the Board of Regents.

Poll

No. 5 Ivan Allen vs. No. 12 Chip Robert

This poll is closed

  • 72%
    Ivan Allen
    (39 votes)
  • 27%
    Chip Robert
    (15 votes)
54 votes total Vote Now

No. 4 Leonard Wood vs. No. 13 Calvin Johnson

While Wood was stationed at Ft. McPherson, he signed up for classes at Tech. While here, he both played for and coached the football team. You might remember him as the guy who was the coach for the 28-6 inaugural win in Athens where the team was chased out of town by a literal angry mob and got into a train crash on the way back to Atlanta. Yeah, that guy. Anyways, besides being at Tech for a while, he was a surgeon and an Army officer, achieving the rank of Major General and served as the President’s personal physician. He was Teddy Roosevelt’s commanding officer in the Spanish-American War’s famous Rough Riders, the more memorable name of the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry regiment. Other accomplishments include Chief of Staff of the United States Army, Military Governor of Cuba, and Governor General of the Philippines, and despite being passed over for a major role in World War I, he very nearly became the 1920 Republican nominee for president, eventually losing to Warren G. Harding. He never graduated from Tech, but, among his many honorary degrees, one is from the school in Athens, and not one is from us. That should be rectified.

Poll

No. 4 Leonard Wood vs. No. 13 Calvin Johnson

This poll is closed

  • 31%
    Leonard Wood
    (18 votes)
  • 68%
    Calvin Johnson
    (40 votes)
58 votes total Vote Now

No. 6 William Glenn vs. No. 11 Bobby Jones

Glenn was the first man to enroll at the Georgia School of Technology in 1888. An early pioneer in power and transportation, he was a vice president and manager of the Georgia Railway and Electric Company, before later becoming president of the Southeastern Compress and Warehouse Company. Like many in this bracket, he was an honorary member of the ANAK Society, and spearheaded the creation of the Georgia Tech Alumni Association, fittingly becoming its first president. Glenn Hall, a dormitory on East Campus, is named in his honor.

Jones was a lawyer by day after graduating from Tech as a mechanical engineer in 1922 and picking up degrees from Emory and Harvard, while moonlighting as the greatest amateur golfer of all time. He is famous for his innovations at Augusta National, where he helped found the course and the Masters, but even more notable for his “Grand Slam” in 1930, where he won the US Open, US Amateur, British Open, and the British Amateur, the four main golf tournaments of the day, all in the same year. Afterwards, he retired from golf, participating in his Masters’ tournament on an exhibition basis from its founding until 1948, when he retired due to health. A noted sportsman, he once quipped that “you might as well praise me for not robbing banks” when he was acclaimed for openly taking a questionable penalty - the USGA’s sportsmanship award is named in his honor. He died in 1971 and is one of the few on this list to be a member of both Georgia Tech’s athletic and engineering halls of fame, and, unsurprisingly, is also a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Poll

No. 6 William Glenn vs. No. 11 Bobby Jones

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    William Glenn
    (8 votes)
  • 85%
    Bobby Jones
    (49 votes)
57 votes total Vote Now

No. 3 Juan Carlos Varela vs. No. 14 George Woodruff

Varela graduated from Georgia Tech in 1985 with a BS in IE. A native of Panama, he has served on the board of his family company since graduating college, where he literally makes barrels of rum. Nice. In the public sector, he became a prominent local politician and member of the Panameñista Party and would go on to serve from 2014-2019 as the 37th President of Panama.

Woodruff, meanwhile, was a mechanical engineer at Georgia Tech before World War I. After the war, he became a director of the Coca Cola Company and Continental Gin Company for nearly five decades, wherein he and his brother, also a prominent leader of the Coca Cola Company and Tech dropout, became some of Atlanta’s most legendary philanthropists. Though Tech was not the beneficiary of what was then the largest-ever single gift to a school, $105 million to Emory to promote health sciences, though that was primarily led by his brother, he did funnel plenty of money back to Tech, specifically to the mechanical engineering school, named in his honor at Tech’s centenary. Additionally, a large dormitory is named for him, and he left $37.5 million to Tech in his will. Quietly, he was Atlanta’s great businessmen, though he is more prominently remembered for his obscene wealth-turned-philanthropy.

Poll

No. 3 Juan Carlos Varela vs. No. 14 George Woodruff

This poll is closed

  • 23%
    Juan Carlos Varela
    (13 votes)
  • 76%
    George Woodruff
    (43 votes)
56 votes total Vote Now

No. 7 George Crawford vs. No. 10 Sam Nunn

George Crawford became the first graduate of Georgia Tech in 1890 from the flip of a coin. After graduating, he would go on to become president of the Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company in Birmingham, Alabama, becoming prominent enough to be named “Alabama’s First Citizen.” After over two decades in the role, he would move to Pittsburgh to serve a similar role for the Jones and Laughlin Steel Company. He served on the Georgia Tech Board of Trustees until is was dissolved in 1932 and replaced by the Georgia Board of Regents in a blatant power grab that saw the Commerce School uprooted and given to the School in Athens. Crawford would pass four years later at the age of 66.

Nunn was famous for being a politician, rising through the state Democratic party apparatus and eventually serving several terms in the Senate. I’ll let this quote from Republican Senator John Warner speak for itself:

“Senator Nunn quickly established himself as one of the leading experts in the Congress and, indeed, all of the United States on national security and foreign policy. He gained a reputation in our country and, indeed, worldwide as a global thinker, and that is where I think he will make his greatest contribution in the years to come, wherever he may be, in terms of being a global thinker. His approach to national security issues has been guided by one fundamental criteria: What Sam Nunn believes is in the best interest of the United States of America.”

Fittingly, Georgia Tech’s School of International Affairs is named in his honor.

Poll

No. 7 George Crawford vs. No. 10 Sam Nunn

This poll is closed

  • 45%
    George Crawford
    (25 votes)
  • 54%
    Sam Nunn
    (30 votes)
55 votes total Vote Now

No. 2 Jimmy Carter vs. No. 15 Roe Stamps

Carter, well, he did plenty as a Navy man after leaving Tech during World War II to go to the Academy. After serving, he returned to Plains, Georgia to be a peanut farmer before working his way from Georgia State Senator to Governor of Georgia to President of the United States. He was noted in his early career as someone who fought for equality and integration, and would famously feud with his own lieutenant governor-slash-predecessor-as-governor Lester Maddox, noted archsegregationist and proprietor of the Pickrick Restaurant on what is now Tech’s campus, over these issues. Running as a dark horse for president, he beat incumbent Gerald Ford, another man with civil rights-related ties to Tech. In his time in office, he addressed issues from Vietnam War draft dodgers, nuclear armament, the Panama Canal Zone, and created the Departments of Energy and Education. His tenure was hurt by the Iran Hostage Crisis, the Energy Crisis, and the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster, and using the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympic boycott as a political stunt did him few public favors. Ultimately, he graded out as an average president, but his post-presidential work has been exemplary and been the core of his legacy. Carter is the longest-lived president and the longest-retired president.

Roe Stamps made his money as a private investor and cofounder of Summit Partners after graduating from Tech’s IE school and Harvard Business School. Summit Partners has successfully brought 125 businesses to IPO and invested in 225 more. They now manage about $15 billion. His foundation provides extensive support to Georgia Tech and the University of Miami, as well as a large swath of charities. His Stamps Scholars program is currently funding the education of about 1,000 students at almost 40 schools across the country. At Tech, the health center, student recreation fields, and soon-to-be-demolished student center expansion are named in his honor, and he is also a trustee emeritus of the Georgia Tech Foundation.

Poll

No. 2 Jimmy Carter vs. No. 15 Roe Stamps

This poll is closed

  • 70%
    Jimmy Carter
    (39 votes)
  • 29%
    Roe Stamps
    (16 votes)
55 votes total Vote Now

Presidents and Leaders Region:

No. 1 Marion Brittain vs. No. 16 Vernon Crawford

A cursory glance at the map lends Marion Brittain a respect not given to any past faculty, staff, or administrator. Not one, but two places are named for Brittain: the beautiful collegiate gothic dining hall, and the path known as Brittain Drive, more colloquially known as Yellow Jacket Alley. He would find both fitting. Brittain helped expand campus to new and previously underserved students, like the women of the Evening School, growing the research at the Engineering Experiment Station, and standing up to the inequalities of the state government with resolve, despite countless setbacks like losing the Commerce School and the school’s independence when the Board of Trustees was merged into the state Board of Regents. It was Brittain who secured the Guggenheim grant that established the School of Aeronautics and he who established the ROTC. When it was all said and done, after a tenure of fighting legislature that began before he even dreamed of leading the Institute, he stepped down on his own terms. He still lived in the old President’s House on North Avenue and still walked to work every day to his desk in the same office. Brittain was the only man to ever officially hold the title President Emeritus. Instead of administrative duties, he toiled for a few years on his book, The Story of Georgia Tech, a labor of love. He would continue to be Tech’s biggest, most loyal football fan - fittingly, one of the founding fathers of what is now the Ramblin’ Reck, Club - and remains to this day Tech’s longest serving president.

Crawford served Tech in many ways over his decades of service to the Institute, first as professor, then dean, and later interim president. His was a brief presidency, but his holistic commitment to Tech was not ignored. Not to be outdone, he gave much of his amassed wealth from being an administrator back to the school, and the leisure pool at the Campus Recreation Center is named in honor of him and his wife, as befits a man who was remembered as a great ally of students’ well-being.

Poll

No. 1 Marion Brittain vs. No. 16 Vernon Crawford

This poll is closed

  • 86%
    Marion Brittain
    (45 votes)
  • 13%
    Vernon Crawford
    (7 votes)
52 votes total Vote Now

No. 8 Joseph Pettit vs. No. 9 G. Wayne Clough

It is Pettit that rekindled an important trait of Georgia Tech, a developmental, entrepreneurial spirit that had been lacking in the rapid growth-turned-isolated outpost years in the middle of the 20th century. Tech was built as the shining beacon on the hill of the New South movement, yet had faded to a glimmer, a red brick ivory tower as closed off from places like Home Park and Midtown as the walls of the new library were from the sun. Pettit’s background in the cradle of Silicon Valley culture at Stanford led him to throw open the doors to its home state, and attempt to build in Atlanta what he saw in the Bay Area. He was a legendary fundraiser, and he saw through the initiatives he started. Pettit anchored Tech sports by overseeing the return of all-sports conference play when the Yellow Jackets joined the Atlantic Coast Conference. The state legislature was a willing partner on Tech’s many new and diverse initiatives, and the only major projects Pettit was unable to see through were the ones in progress when he passed due to cancer in 1986. That, however, does not mean that his excellent dreams died with him. In his time, he served in World War II, headed the National Science Board, and was bestowed the high honor of having the Joseph Mayo Pettit Distinguished Service Award named in his honor by the Alumni Association, one of their highest awards.

It’s funny that people most strongly associate President Clough with the Olympics, since they were well into preparation stages by the time he assumed the role. His tenure saw Tech’s first big push of undergraduates in research and increased the opportunities for engineers to study abroad. He built extensively on his predecessor’s legacy, including splitting the College of Management from the Ivan Allen College, a step that would have been difficult without past reorganizations, but was the final step to balancing the system that still functions well today. The first phase of the eventual Campus Recreation Center was the McAuley Aquatic Center, built for the Olympic games, which Clough oversaw the renovation into the current gorgeous space, as well as the completion of its companion next door, the Stamps Health Center. Klaus Advanced Computing, Marcus Nanotechnology, and the BioTech Quad all came online in his administration, as well. He was generally well-liked and receptive to the rest of the city, most notably seen in the advent of the Tech Square project. Today, that toehold on the east side of the Downtown Connector, rooted at the Fifth Street Bridge and the intersection of Fifth and Spring, is often regarded as the catalyst for the sweeping revitalization of Midtown Atlanta. His legacy on athletics is commonly regarded as mixed at best, but, as far as seeing development through for the rest of campus, Clough is one of Tech’s best builders.

Poll

No. 8 Joseph Pettit vs. No. 9 G. Wayne Clough

This poll is closed

  • 39%
    Joseph Pettit
    (21 votes)
  • 60%
    G. Wayne Clough
    (32 votes)
53 votes total Vote Now

No. 5 Isaac Hopkins vs. No. 12 Arthur Hansen

Georgia Tech’s first president was chosen before the school even opened its doors. Hopkins was chosen for this position for one reason in particular, that being his expertise in the field of technical education. There was hardly any bureaucracy for Hopkins to preside over, but that doesn’t mean his job was a simple task. Even once the immense legwork of getting the doors open was completed and Tech had secured land, funding, and staff, the Old Shop Building almost immediately burned down. This isn’t even to mention the whole “there were no dorms, non-academic space, or dining halls” thing. Though he was a strict, rule-oriented leader, he was also a tireless servant of the Institute. He retired after about nine years and dedicated the rest of his life to preaching in the Methodist church.

Hansen is an interesting guy. He’s an academic progressive, and, as Dean of Engineering, was one of the leading voices to move Tech closer to the hybrid hands-on vs. classroom education culture it needed to shift to after years of inertia from past leaders, namely Jesse Mason. After years of cleaning up that mess, he was named president of Georgia Tech, and his ideas for reorganizing the whole school were rather controversial Hansen left the Flats when his Alma Mater came calling. He wasn’t here long, he stirred up a lot of controversy, but he was a man who did a lot of thankless work and tried to make change. Whether all of it stuck isnt really here or there, and whether it was the best way to go about it if for others to decide, but he raised a lot of important topics to light.

Poll

No. 5 Isaac Hopkins vs. No. 12 Arthur Hansen

This poll is closed

  • 66%
    Isaac Hopkins
    (33 votes)
  • 34%
    Arthur Hansen
    (17 votes)
50 votes total Vote Now

No. 4 John Hanson vs. No. 13 Ángel Cabrera

John Hanson, probably more than any other man, is why Tech exists. He was a self-made industrialist who fought the long fight, never actually serving Tech as president or anything like that, but it was his idea for the state to bring about technical education, and then he championed it with his connections in state politics, his position as the editor of the Macon Telegraph as a counterweight to Henry Grady’s Atlanta Constitution, and his status as a prominent textile manufacturer and railroad executive. He was a prominent backer of Nathaniel Harris in his political aspirations to get Tech to happen, ultimately succeeding after six years of pushing. He died in 1910 and was honored in 1961 with the naming of Hanson Hall, a dormitory, in his honor.

Cabrera is Tech’s first international president, and second alumnus to take the reigns. Originally hailing from Spain, his first two degrees are in electrical and computer engineering from the Polytechnic University of Madrid. He came to Georgia Tech on the Fulbright Scholarship to earn his master’s and doctorate in cognitive psychology. Cabrera takes the reigns of perhaps the Institute when it has been more suited for sustainable, long-term growth than any other president has inherited. Running the risk of both over-sharing from my role on Tech’s Strategic Plan Initiative (on which I have many opinions) and of projecting my own aspirations onto him, I think he has done a great job thus far. He is everything you could ask for in a Tech president - a cited researcher, an engineer, a Tech alumnus and parent, and loudly a fan of Tech athletics - and it’s a shame this bracket isnt happening in a couple of year, because he has such solid potential, but hasn’t really done much yet. Interestingly, he referenced Harrison’s quote about ten years being enough for one man to lead a school in his investiture, which leads me to think he leads with perspective, but hes a personable man who is a good figure to rally behind, especially in hard times. I won’t speak on how the University System of Georgia handled the current scenario, because it wasn’t awesome, but I do believe that largely came from above him, so it doesn’t affect his ranking here.

Poll

No. 4 John Hanson vs. No. 13 Ángel Cabrera

This poll is closed

  • 66%
    John Hanson
    (34 votes)
  • 33%
    Ángel Cabrera
    (17 votes)
51 votes total Vote Now

No. 6 Edwin Harrison vs. No. 11 Nathaniel Harris

The man who guided Tech to becoming the first school in the South to be peacefully integrated was likely not the first candidate for the Tech job. It was not an appealing position then, with whoever succeeding Van Leer having integration immediately becoming their primary concern as president. Throw in faculty unrest over salaries and a looming need for hard-to-fund physical growth, and Harrison was walking into a veritable minefield. When yet another racist state law demanded the barring of funds to “any white institution that admitted a black student,” the student body gathered in the Heisman Gym to overwhelmingly vote to integrate. Harrison’s administrative reorganization would begin to eat away at him, with players like James Boyd, director of the Engineering Experiment Station, and others vying for influence, and his unwillingness to kowtow to the Board of Regents eventually led to him retiring under the guise of a decade being long enough for anyone to lead a school. To mark his retirement, the “Magnificent Seven” stole _ech _ower’s east-facing neon T for the first time, presenting it to him as a gift at his retirement ceremony via helicopter. It was what every good Tech man deserves, they said.

First as a legislator and powerful opinion shaper in the state government and later as governor, making him de facto highest authority of the school, Harris used his outsized voice in the halls of power to make things happen for Tech. Whether it was money, which, especially in the beginning, was precipitously tight, or dealing with coalitions far larger than the young school could handle on its own, Harris is easily deserving of the dormitory named in his honor, and probably a statue, despite his being a graduate of the school in Athens. His autobiography quote is seminal, “The founding of the Georgia School of Technology I regard as the most important event, of a public nature, that occurred in my life,” and his entire initial campaign for the Georgia House of Representatives was single issue: establish a technological college. His most powerful backers? John Hanson and Henry Grady. He would chair the committee that selected the site of Tech and laid out its foundations, part of some fascinating political maneuvering we don’t have time for right now. He was, interestingly, the last governor born outside the state of Georgia.

Poll

No. 6 Edwin Harrison vs. No. 11 Nathaniel Harris

This poll is closed

  • 60%
    Edwin Harrison
    (29 votes)
  • 39%
    Nathaniel Harris
    (19 votes)
48 votes total Vote Now

No. 3 Blake Van Leer vs. No. 14 Bud Peterson

The first engineer to ascend to the highest post at Georgia Tech, Col. Van Leer came to Tech by way of North Carolina State. He would be the last Tech president born in the 19th century, but he was one of Tech’s most progressive presidents, the one to see Tech admit women and the most prominent voice in Tech’s fight to play in the 1956 Sugar Bowl, despite his failing rapidly failing health, and the now eight decade old tug-of-war against the state government that would stop at nothing to throw roadblocks in his way. Much like the passing of Brittain three years prior, the entire campus ground to a halt following his sudden passing of a heart attack in January of 1956. Though the role he played in establishing Georgia Tech and its home city as the first research powerhouse in the region as well as laying the groundwork for swallowing half of Home Park west of Hemphill to turn into West Campus should not be ignored, his steadfast pursuit of opening the Georgia Tech education to any and all who seek it, first with co-education, and stirring the waters that would lead to integration, remain his most significant contributions to Tech as we know it.

It’s fitting that the man who shares his initials with Tech’s most infamous graduate took office on April Fools’ Day of 2009. Enrollment and applications rocketed through the stratosphere during his tenure thanks in part to the advent of the online masters programs and the Common App. Tech Square has come into its own both as a development and economic hub, and Phase Two and Three, when complete, will see three skyline-defining additions. Partnerships with local firms, the government, and Emory University have brought growth, too, with the post-modern library - the books were moved to a joint, off-campus facility - being the newest fruits of the latter. He is the first president since Brittain to stay on in some role after his time as the chief executive is over, as a mechanical engineering professor. Though his administration suffered from some rather glaring rotten eggs in his later years, he was well-liked in his time as president. His tenure wasn’t perfect, particularly the various ethics, mental health, and security issues, and we don’t look at it with the benefit of hindsight - many of his initiatives are still underway - but it seems fair to say he did generally did good things for Georgia Tech.

Poll

No. 3 Blake Van Leer vs. No. 14 Bud Peterson

This poll is closed

  • 66%
    Blake Van Leer
    (34 votes)
  • 33%
    Bud Peterson
    (17 votes)
51 votes total Vote Now

No. 7 John Patrick Crecine vs. No. 10 Kenneth Matheson

Crecine was most notable for a second great shakeup in the Georgia Tech organizational structure, seeing the advent of three new colleges, the first College of Computing in America, the Ivan Allen College of Management, Policy, and International Affairs, and the College of Sciences. The Ivan Allen College has since spawned the Scheller College of Business, but the fracturing of General Studies reflected the rise of Tech as an excellent institution across the board. In his time, the achievements of minorities and women lapped those of peer schools, athletics saw a level of comprehensive success never before seen on the Flats, and, among other construction, Tech more than doubled its housing, thanks in no small part to being selected as the Olympic Village for the 1996 Olympic Games. It was largely thanks to Crecine that Atlanta won the bid, thanks to Tech’s help with its cutting edge computing simulation of the potential of the Atlanta games. Though his successor is famous for having been president during the Olympics, Crecine secured them. Though his successor is famous for increased educational offerings, Crecine set up the structure necessary to start them. Though his successor is famous for pushing undergraduate research and international education, Crecine opened doors both in research fields, and quite literally opening the doors of a new campus in Metz. His top-down leadership style both garnered Tech the Olympics, hosting boxing, water polo, swimming, synchro, and diving, as well as the athletes’ village, but also drove wedges into his administration, like the controversy stirred up by his reorganization plan. In hindsight, his sweeping changes are considered inspired, and set Tech up as a model research institution into the next millennium.

Matheson got his start as a well-regarded English professor, and, when he became president, took pages out of his predecessor’s notes by roping in a Pittsburgh philanthropist - Andrew Carnegie - to help build a much needed building - his pet project, a library - and by expanding course selection, the physical plant, and enrollment, ratcheted all the initiatives up a notch. When pushing for funding, he secured permanent endowments, and when expanding class offerings, he strove for research and graduate studies. When he left for Drexel, a much less political, and therefore much less stressful job, Georgia Tech was a very different place. The increase in prestige was not something that Tech would let go, once it had its hands on it, despite Matheson’s last passion project, the renaming of the Georgia School of Technology to the Institute we know today, remaining on the back burner for another quarter-century.

Poll

No. 7 John Patrick Crecine vs. No. 10 Kenneth Matheson

This poll is closed

  • 69%
    John Patrick Crecine
    (34 votes)
  • 30%
    Kenneth Matheson
    (15 votes)
49 votes total Vote Now

No. 2 Lyman Hall vs. No. 15 Paul Weber

While Pettit, Van Leer, and Hall all died on the job, only one worked himself to death. For all his work fundraising for a school that was criminally neglected by the state legislature, he was able to expand the curriculum offerings by laying the groundwork for programs like textile, civil, chemical, and electrical engineering. Though he was not a sports or recreation fan, his hiring of John Heisman to coach football and his empowerment of J.B. Crenshaw to run the rest of the athletic department was inspired. It is because of that the public tribute to Hall on campus is a small, out of the way chemistry lab-turned-office building that is quite literally overshadowed by its much more famous neighbor, Bobby Dodd Stadium. Growth was the name for Hall, be it through programs, offerings, having dormitories on campus - he thought they would reduce disciplinary infractions, or enrollment. He was the school’s first and only mathematics professor when he was hired, and eventually worked his way up to be its president. He was a hardliner, but a humble man who cared deeply about Tech.

Weber served as interim president for 18 months - long enough for not one, but two Rearviews to be written on him - following the death of Van Leer. His first love was chemistry, and was hired on as an instructor in 1927. Other than a brief stint to earn a doctorate from Purdue, he stayed at Tech for the rest of his career, working his way up the ladder to become a professor and then into prominence in the Georgia Tech Research Institute before becoming the head of his department. He was very well respected by the faculty, enough so to be named Dean of the Faculties, a post he held off and on for about a decade. This was interrupted by his unexpected stint as president. There was some rustling about him being made the permanent president, but he made it clear he had absolutely no desire to hold the position long term. Afterwards, he reverted to being a dean, but was elevated to vice president of planning in Harrison’s administrative shakeup in the mid-1960s. He retired in 1969 after roughly four decades of service to the Institute.

Poll

No. 2 Lyman Hall vs. No. 15 Paul Weber

This poll is closed

  • 85%
    Lyman Hall
    (42 votes)
  • 14%
    Paul Weber
    (7 votes)
49 votes total Vote Now

Who ya got? Who got snubbed? Looking forward to seeing who the commentariat brings to the big one. We’ll see you next Thursday for the Second Round.