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Grube: Coming to GSU 'best decision I ever made'
Grube Web
Georgia Southern University president Bruce Grube is shown in this Herald file photo from 2006. Grube is resigning in June after 10 years as GSU's president. - photo by FILE
    Georgia Southern University President Bruce Grube isn’t retiring.
    He’s “resigning,” he said during an interview Tuesday. He’s still got plans for GSU, and the university system has plans for him.
    At 66 years old and after a decade as Georgia Southern president, Grube will leave the big chair at the end of June. He’ll spend the next year working as a mentor to new university presidents in Georgia, while boning up on his doctoral degree in political science. He then plans to spend another year winding down as a political science professor back at GSU.
    The decision, which he made two months ago, was prompted by several things. First, he wants to spend time with his wife, Kathryn.
    “When you realize in 14 years I’ll be 80, which was absolutely inconceivable to me at one point in my life, it reminds me that I want to spend some good quality time while we’re still able to do so with Kathryn, my wife,” Grube said.
    The Grubes were affected deeply last summer when Kathryn Grube’s father passed away. “His death got us both to thinking a little bit, too, about the fact that life is short,” Grube said.
    Grube has no worries about leaving thanks to full confidence in his leadership team.
    “I tell people I could go away for six months and come back, and everything would be just fine,” he said.
    After working at seven different universities, Grube said he believes that 10 years is the timeframe that a president can be effective, and it was best for Georgia Southern to bring in new leadership and new ideas.
    “There’s no question in my mind that if I wanted to be here another 10 years, I could do that,” Grube said. “But whether I would have the same energy six or seven years from now to put into it that I have at this point, I don’t know.”
    After spending “a year or so” teaching at GSU, Grube plans to retire. He and his wife love to travel — particularly in the Southwest — love live music and enjoy hiking and sailing.
    “There are any number of things that if we had the time to do them, we would,” he said.
    The time demands of being a president mean that there’s not much time for having fun — Grube estimated that he and his wife get one night to themselves a week — and little time for volunteer activities.
    “And if I want to have a Margarita on Tuesday, I can do that without worrying about feeling sleepy the next morning,” Grube said with a laugh.

I-A Football
    GSU’s feasibility study on moving to the FBS is due to produce results in mid-to-late January, Grube said. Once the university has that data, the decision-making process will begin.
    The study isn’t a yes-or-no proposition, however, and nothing’s going to happen quickly.
    “What the study will tell us is ‘here’s the roadmap you need to go down to see if you can get there,’” Grube said.
    Grube has no doubts that GSU will eventually enter the FBS, but said the university has to balance its checkbook while making the move. That means a lot of private financial support, not student fee money.
    “There’s some room for movement on student fees. That would require students to be in support of that,” Grube said.
    “Providing sports entertainment by soaking the students through additional dues that are substantial, I think borders on unethical.”
    In addition to financial concerns, the school would also have to enter a conference. GSU isn’t Notre Dame, he explained, and doesn’t want to be a Savannah State.
    Another concern is remaining competitive in football after the move. Moving to the next level might mean a much harder schedule, Grube said.
    Any FBS move would have to be approved by Georgia’s Board of Regents, and GSU would have to submit a business plan outlining the benefits of moving up.
    “I can’t take a business plan that’s not real to the Board of Regents,” Grube said. “We need to do it right.”

Reflections on GSU
    Coming to Statesboro was “the best decision I’ve ever made,” Grube said. “The high point for me has simply been to have a career that allowed me to finish this kind of work in a place like Georgia Southern.”
    Grube likes to describe GSU as “a special place” — he did it several times in Tuesday’s interview. What makes the university and community special is its people.
    “I’ve worked all over the United States,” Grube said. “People tend to get along extremely well here … we’ve been able to do a lot of things very quickly simply because people will pull and work together.”
    Grube said he wanted to present a framework and long-range vision for the university when he arrived, and his dream was fulfilled.
    But his biggest joy is the students. Grube has been involved with education for nearly 42 years.
    “You can hardly go wrong in a career that’s focused on educating people,” he said. “I’m thankful I found my way into a career that is one where you’re allowed to help people.”
    Looking back at his GSU tenure, Grube said he couldn’t single out any particular accomplishment that was his pride and joy, and said he couldn’t think of any major decision he’d do differently. From unprecedented construction and renovation to higher-than-ever academic standards, his run has been a success by any standard.
    “I’d love to say that’s due to my leadership, but it’s due to all the folks who have worked hard,” he said.
    In the past 10 years, GSU has become a Carnegie research institution, created two new colleges, and even won a couple of I-AA national championships.
    “I remember Paul Johnson took me aside once upon a time and said ‘Bruce, it may seem like this can happen all the time, but I can’t begin to tell you how hard it is to win a national championship, and it also takes some luck coming your way,’” Grube said.
    There’s still work left to do, however. Whoever inherits his position (after an upcoming national search) will have a lot of work to do.
    “We’re an emerging major university,” Grube said. “There’s a lot of change going on, and it’s moving in a positive direction.”
    There are new academic programs to start, more construction going on, greater technological capacity, and he wants to see student retention and SAT scores continue to rise.
    “It would be a dream to see three-quarters of our students offered an international experience before they graduate as undergraduates,” Grube said.
    There’s another goal, too — getting rid of the “temporary” buildings on campus, like the ones behind J.I. Clements Stadium.
    “We’ve gotten rid of some of it, but not all of it,” Grube said. “I’ve threatened to personally go out and torch those trailers behind the stadium.”
    The trailers in question will probably be gone by the end of spring semester at GSU, not by outgoing presidential arson, but moved to be used by GSU’s Physical Plant.
    For decades, GSU’s presidents have cut watermelons during summer semesters, and Grube had some words of advice for whoever follows his act.
    “A sharp knife; it’s all in the wrist; it’s chopping, it’s not cutting; and pay attention to the older mentor who will be there to help out — and that’s not me,” he said. “Do not wear a white shirt.”

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