The University of Georgia Alumni Association presented its 2015 Friend of UGA Award to Willis J. Potts Jr., a former chair of the University System of Georgia Board of Regents who was instrumental in creating the College of Engineering at UGA. Potts was honored during the association’s 78th annual Alumni Awards Luncheon today in the Tate Student Center’s Grand Hall.
The Friend of UGA Award is given to a non-UGA graduate whose professional or public service has greatly assisted the university.
While serving as chair of the Board of Regents in 2010, Potts co-authored a white paper endorsing new programs in civil engineering, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering at UGA and Georgia Southern University. Potts, a Georgia Tech graduate, argued the state not only needed more engineers, it could benefit from having more than one engineering school.
In November 2010, the board narrowly approved the proposal on a 9-8 vote with Potts casting the deciding vote. Enrollment in the College of Engineering at UGA has tripled to more than 1,300 students since its founding in 2012.
Potts graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology with a bachelor’s degree in industrial technology. In 2004, Potts retired as vice president and general manager of Temple-Inland Corporation. In total, he served 35 years in the international pulp and paper industry and was chairman of both the Paper Industry Management Association and the Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry. Today he is the chairman of the board of CatchMark Timber Trust in Atlanta.