Blog Featured Stories

Business of ABAC Never Far from Mind of David Bridges

Mike Chason

Operating a enterprise
with a finances of $64 million a yr would eat each waking moment of most
people.  Dr. David Bridges,
president of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural School, is not any exception.

“The large
difference between operating a enterprise and being the president of ABAC is our
return on funding could be very difficult,” Bridges, the longest serving
president of the 26 establishments within the College System of Georgia (USG),
stated.  “Our return would have to be
calculated over the lives and careers of our graduates.”

Dr. David Bridges simply started his 14th yr because the ABAC President.

Since Bridges
turned the 10th president within the historical past of ABAC on July 1, 2006, over 7,000
graduates have acquired their ABAC diplomas.  
In contrast to a company that makes just one product and that product ultimately
rusts away or in the case of meals, will get eaten, Bridges hopes that ABAC
graduates proceed to thrive and construct extra businesses.

“College students are our
business, and our graduates begin businesses of their own,” Bridges stated.  “During their lives, our graduates generate
financial influence in their communities so the ABAC funding continues to develop.”

The newest
statewide economic influence research commissioned by the USG showed that ABAC’s
economic impression on South Georgia skyrocketed to a document $529,838,507 in fiscal
yr 2017.  The multiplier effect turned
444 jobs at ABAC into 1,382 jobs off campus for a total influence of 1,826 jobs in
South Georgia.

“Extra jobs at ABAC
means more jobs in South Georgia,” Dr. Renata Elad, Dean of the Stafford Faculty
of Business at ABAC, stated.  “ABAC had a
a lot greater employment impression plus the price of housing went up, and the typical
lease in Tifton went up that yr. 
Personal expenses for leisure, apparel, and providers have been additionally

Elad analyzed the
USG numbers for ABAC and found the ABAC financial impression a monumental 31 per
cent larger than the $369,874,664 influence within the 2016 fiscal yr.

“ABAC wants South
Georgia, and South Georgia needs ABAC,” Elad stated in her analysis.  “With complete employment of over 1,800 jobs
instantly from scholar spending activities and an general labor impression of virtually
$66 million, ABAC is certainly a robust associate in regional progress.”

Bridges pointed
out that these numbers mirror solely South Georgia and the school has changed
fairly a bit because the research was carried out in 2017.  Bainbridge State School merged with ABAC in
2018, leading to a document enrollment of four,291 college students through the 2018 fall

ABAC attracted
college students from 30 nations, 18 states, and 155 of Georgia’s 159 counties during
the 2018 fall time period.  Because of the
consolidation, ABAC provided courses in Bainbridge, Blakely, and Donalsonville
in addition to its courses in Tifton and Moultrie.

Many of these
college students choose to remain at ABAC to finish one of 12 four-year degree
packages.   ABAC provided solely two-year
degrees from 1933 to 2008.  As an alternative of
staying two or three years at ABAC for an associate degree, students stay at
ABAC four or five years to finish their bachelor’s degree.

With a bachelor’s
degree in hand, graduates have more to offer the world of work.  That expands the ABAC financial impression even
additional because graduates discover greater paying jobs.

ABAC President David Bridges (r) with ABAC Director of Amenities and Land Assets Tim Carpenter (l) look over plans for the Wonderful Arts building with Jody Buchan from Allstate Development.

In addition to the $64
million annual price range, there’s also the matter of capital investment at
ABAC.  Since Bridges’ presidency started,
over $84 million in capital tasks have been completed or are within the
development part at ABAC.

These tasks
embrace the Health Sciences constructing at $7.2 million, ABAC Lakeside at $17
million, Historic Entrance of Campus at $15.5 million, King Corridor at $2.7 million,
Donaldson Eating Hall at $four million, Thrash Wellness Middle at $4.5 million,
the Laboratory Sciences constructing at $7.2 million, and the continued Carlton
Middle/Fantastic Arts Constructing undertaking at $24 million.  Street improvement provides one other $2 million.

“Each of these
tasks has made this campus higher,” Bridges stated.  “That plays an element in recruitment of students
as properly.   When college students go to ABAC, they
like what they see here.”

Bridges takes
advantage of every waking moment to promote ABAC.  His stamina is known as is his means to
get things executed.  Since his first day on
the job, he has been on the move with a wide variety of activities, many of
them within the first time ever category.

Bridges’ presidential
inauguration at ABAC in 2006 was the first time that ABAC has had an
inauguration ceremony.  He kicked a
soccer ball into the web to announce the first ever ladies’s soccer program.  He also pushed a plunger to set off a small
charge of dynamite to open the construction on the ABAC Lakeside scholar
housing complicated.

ABAC President David Bridges at his inauguration ceremony on Aug. 25, 2006.  It was the first inauguration ceremony for a president in the history of ABAC.

Bridges assisted
103-year-old ABAC alumnus Ethel Arnold Talley when she rang the original ABAC
bell on the opening of the Historic Entrance of Campus undertaking, honored the reminiscence
of ABAC alumnus and Medal of Honor recipient Harold Bascom Durham, Jr., on the
opening of the Freedom Gallery, and used a cross-cut saw on a log to announce
the beginning of ABAC bachelor’s levels in forestry and wildlife.

With an incredible sense
of satisfaction in his alma mater, Bridges watched fireworks explode over the campus
at the conclusion of ABAC’s 100th birthday celebration.  He guided the method when the former Georgia
Agrirama turned an element of the ABAC campus as the Georgia Museum of Agriculture
and Historic Village, headed up the consolidation with Bainbridge State
School, and served as Interim Director of Georgia’s first ever Middle for
Rural Prosperity and Innovation.

“Rural communities
have very tangible advantages to supply society as an entire,” Bridges stated of
Georgia’s Rural Middle.   “The Middle has
a statewide mission and one of the tenets to that mission is to find a path to
prosperity for rural communities.”

All these tasks
took mammoth amounts of time for the ABAC President whose day typically begins in
the pre-dawn stillness with breakfast at the Northside Café in Tifton.

In the course of the past 13
years, Bridges has enlisted the help of legislators underneath the Golden Dome
for ABAC tasks, spoken to civic clubs and group groups far and broad,
accepted the award as the Arts Citizen of the Yr for Tift County, and
acquired the USG Gold Excellent Customer Service Management Award.

Bridges, who
turned 61 in June, points to the establishment of ABAC as a State School as
the proudest accomplishment of his tenure.

“That modified
all the things,” Bridges stated.  “In any other case we
can be floundering.  The power to
supply bachelor’s degrees changed ABAC ceaselessly.”

Most chief
operating officers develop their own administration type or try to duplicate the
type of different successful leaders of organizations.  Bridges believes his fashion hasn’t modified
a lot since 2006.

“In some ways, I
am slightly extra affected person now than I used to be once I first turned president,” Bridges
stated.  “In other methods, I feel I’m less
affected person.  Common George Patton stated,
‘lead, follow, or get out of the way.’  I
like that.

“My position is to get
individuals to have a vision of the place ABAC needs to go.  Finally, most people know the best thing
to do.  It’s just a matter of getting
them to do it.  Typically they must be
nudged just a little bit.”

Dealing with the
many complexities of the job is usually probably the most troublesome half of being the top
of a serious company or in Bridges’ case, a university.

“The most important
challenge is assembly the expectations of individuals,” Bridges stated.  “In our case, meaning college students, mother and father of
students, school, employees, alumni, donors, buddies of the school, and the
public.  Typically individuals come to the
table with totally unrealistic expectations.

“Take students for
instance.  Some college students anticipate to breeze
by way of school just the best way they breezed by way of high school.  School is totally different than highschool.  College students and fogeys come to know that.  Typically it takes a while.”

When asked what
offers him with probably the most satisfaction as the ABAC President, Bridges points
to 2 days every year.

“Fall graduation
and spring commencement,” Bridges stated. 
“The graduates have cleared that hurdle.   They’ve diplomas.  Our expectation is that they may go out and
do something with these levels.”

When he left the
tiny town of Parrott in Terrell County in 1976 to attend ABAC, Bridges had no
concept he would meet his wife, Kim, in Rosalyn Donaldson’s English class and that
at some point he would grow to be the only ABAC President who was as soon as a scholar at the

ABAC President David Bridges spends numerous hours talking on his favourite matter, ABAC.

“It was never my
dream to develop into president of ABAC,” Bridges stated.  “Actually, I never really considered
it.  Even once I was 40 years previous, I
hadn’t considered it.

“I’ve had
opportunities to go away however I all the time asked myself, ‘is that a better fit for me
than ABAC?’” Bridges stated.   “ABAC has
been a reasonably good fit for me.”

Bridges has far
surpassed the typical tenure of seven years for a university president.  In reality, he’s now the second longest serving
president within the historical past of ABAC.  George
P. Donaldson was the ABAC president for 14 years from 1947-61.  Bridges has 13 beneath his belt and is steaming
full velocity forward into his 14th yr.

“Fortunate 13 is over,
and now we’ll see what occurs in 14,” Bridges stated.

Is being president
of ABAC in 2019 more durable than being president of ABAC was in 2006?

“Oh sure, rather a lot
more durable,” Bridges stated.  “Now, everyone
needs to inform you the best way to do what you are promoting. In 2006, we didn’t have to fret
about cyber-security threats.  I didn’t
have so many people wanting over my shoulder.

“Individuals in our
society at this time are typically much less self-reliant, more contentious, and more
self-absorbed.  There seems to be rigidity
about every part, notably in relation to political correctness.  Individuals are hyper-sensitive about being
offended.  It turns into extra pervasive
day by day.

“It keeps us from
specializing in our central mission because we’re coping with all this other
stuff.  My aim is to get something accomplished
and make ABAC a better place.”

But at some point, there
shall be a life for Bridges after his ABAC profession is accomplished.

“Positive, that day
will come,” Bridges stated.  “When it does,
I need to continue to be lively within the public service sector but in a much less
outstanding means.  I’ll return to the farm
and be an element of one thing that’s not seven days every week, 24 hours a day.”

Bridges owns the
household farm in Terrell County and retreats there as typically as potential.  However wherever he goes, ABAC is all the time on his

“I don’t worry
concerning the day-to-day operation because we have now nice individuals to hold on,”
Bridges stated.  “However it’s all the time
one thing.  It’s often an external
factor that can cause the wheels to return off pretty shortly.”

Until that
retirement day comes, Bridges finds it straightforward to encourage himself to stay true to
the ABAC mission every single day.

“We now have made nice
progress,” Bridges stated.  “But there’s
still quite a bit to be achieved.”