(Posted in The Macon Telegraph
on Sunday, March14, 2004)
Macon is fortunate to have a number of citizens who, over time, have given their wealth of knowledge and experience - and their money - to the betterment of the community. Annually, the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce honors a "Citizen of the Year" at its annual meeting. This year's recipient could not have deserved the honor more. Dr. R. Kirby Godsey, president of Mercer University, has been a positive force in the Middle Georgia community for a quarter of a century.
Dr. Godsey could have earned the chamber's honor had his accomplishments been restricted to Mercer. While a case could be made that Mercer's School of Engineering and the School of Medicine and the nursing programs would have come about without Godsey, in reality, the
formulation of each discipline took vision and, more important, a stick-to-itiveness to follow the projects through and overcome inherent challenges. And there were challenges.
Godsey hit the ground running after being appointed president in 1979. The medical school was the first step in 1981. The concept to train to a doubting General Assembly.
In 1985, Godsey put his young presidency at risk by proposing a $40 million bond issue to fund the School of Engineering and a new library. Renovations of the school's chemistry building and other campus facilities were also planned. Under Godsey's leadership the Mercer campus has gradually remade itself. The latest example is the new University Center.
But Godsey's presence has stretched far beyond the campus. Mercer has contributed more to revitalize downtown than any other local entity. The Grand Opera House and the university's offices on Poplar Street are but two examples. And Godsey has served as NewTown Macon's only chairman. While Godsey describes his role in Mercer's and Macon's growth with humility, "I'm just a player in the band," he has been much more. He's been a leader with a calm and unswerving vision that helps us see not only what we are but what we can become.
(Dr. Godsey was presented the Citizen of the Year Award, on behalf of the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce, by Melvin Kruger)