When Patton took over as president of Georgia State University nineteen years ago, the campus was blighted with boarded buildings and classrooms full of students commuting into town for the day. Through his vision—and his ability to raise more than $1.5 billion for campus expansion, including a science center, a 2,000-bed University Commons dorm, fraternities, and sororities—he transformed Georgia State from a place where students went out of necessity into a genuine draw for the state’s best scholars. The Carnegie Foundation gave the school the prestigious ranking of research university. With three years left in his reign, Patton endorsed something he never thought would happen in his lifetime: fielding a football team.
Touchdown When Patton walked into the Georgia Dome end zone after his final commencement ceremony, Pounce, the mascot, handed him a football as a good-bye gift.
Urban Settler An urban planner by profession, Patton aimed to revitalize the city’s center and once chaired Central Atlanta Progress. After he came to the university, Patton and his wife, Gretchen, moved to a Downtown loft and asked the GSU Board of Regents to sell the president’s Buckhead mansion so they could be closer to the heart of campus.
Opening the Wallet Patton has donated more than $275,000 of his own money to the school.