Archer applies business acumen to athletic board
by Murray Poole
Bill Archer grew up next to the Atlanta airport,
watching the facility, Hartsfield-Jackson International,
become what it is today … the
busiest airport in the world.
So, at the time, young Archer certainly
gained a sense of the history, business acumen
and development of Atlanta and years later, he
would apply that knowledge to his role with
Georgia Power Company where he was employed
for 35 years and, upon his retirement in
2006, was honored by the Georgia General Assembly.
But, what Archer cherished the most, right
along with his service with the electric company,
was his days in high school and his beloved University
of Georgia and what he’s doing today,
which is serving on the Board of Directors of the
Georgia Athletic Association.
“I played the high school sports, football and
baseball, at old Russell High School,” Archer related.
“I played defensive back and wide receiver
in football and in baseball, I was a second baseman.
I was a step too slow to go on and play college
ball. I graduated from the University of
Georgia in 1970 with a business administration
degree,” he said. “My wife and I got married between
my junior and senior years. Back then, gas
was 40 cents a gallon and with a fill-up, they gave
you a free Bulldog glass. We didn’t have much
back then but we really enjoyed my senior year
at Georgia before we graduated in 1970.”
Archer and his wife, Andrea, were high
school sweethearts at Russell High in East Point.
“As I said, we got married between my junior and
senior years at Georgia,” Archer said. “She taught
that year at Jefferson High in Jefferson, Georgia. It
was a wonderful year for us that year in Athens
at University Garden Apartments. We now have
three children, a son and two daughters. My son
and oldest daughter went to the University of
Georgia and my youngest daughter went to
Georgia Tech and she married a Tech guy so we
have to deal with that. It’s a helluva mess,” Archer
joked. “My son’s name is Keith who’s 39, my oldest
daughter is Alice, 37, and my youngest
daughter is Ellen, who’s 34. And the beautiful
thing is each of them has three children so I have
nine wonderful grandchildren.”
In the following question-and-answer session,
Bill Archer talks more about his background
and his role on the Georgia athletic board.
What is your occupation?
I’m presently retired. I retired from the
Georgia Power Company in 2006 after 35 years.
I worked a lot through the governmental affairs
organization at Georgia Power with the Georgia
General Assembly. In those years through the
Georgia Power Company in public service I
served on the Georgia World Congress Center
Authority for 11 years and following my retirement
I served on the Georgia Department of Natural
Resources board for seven years.
How many years have you served on the
UGA athletic board?
In ’06 I went on the board and so actually
I’m in my seventh year and my third term as an
alumni representative. And I’m officially on the
Where did you grow up and what made it
I grew up in East Point, Georgia. I grew up
there in the 1950s and the 1960s. I graduated
from Russell High School in 1966, which is the
third oldest high school in Atlanta, in Fulton
County when it started. It’s no longer a high
school. They consolidated it with Headland and
Hapeville High School and it’s now Tri-Cities
High School. But we grew up there in East Point
and back then East Point was an industrial city. At
one time it was the seventh largest industrial city
in the state of Georgia and it was sort of a selfcontained
city. We had all the amenities and in
addition to that we had a job center growing next
to us and that was the Atlanta airport. So we were
totally focused on East Point and our own little
community and in those days you just didn’t
venture far out of there. It was just a wonderful
You had the trolley lines when you wanted
to go to downtown Atlanta, coming out of Lee
Street and West End, the trolley lines, so it was
just there and you didn’t focus on much other
than that, other than you got to watch the Atlanta
airport grow up. And we all kind of looked at the
Atlanta airport as our future employment growing
up in that area. So everybody was very happy
with that and in fact a lot of my friends from high
school eventually went on to careers in the airline
What has been the most exciting part for
you serving on UGA’s athletic board?
My job at Georgia Power Company was in
the external community affairs area and as such
I got to see the impact of Georgia Power Company
on the communities and the public we
serve. And I think the exciting thing about the
athletic board is actually watching the No. 1
brand in the state, which is the University of
Georgia Bulldogs. And watching the things that
this board does to enhance that brand and knowing
that everything that happens in the athletic
association with our student-athletes, it is reviewed
instantaneously by the public at large, and
you can understand that with today’s technology
and everything. And so the exciting thing for me
is knowing everything’s instantaneous there and
the good things that are happening for the student-
athletes. I have the opportunity to watch
what I think is just top notch leadership from Dr.
(Michael) Adams and (AD) Greg McGarity.
There’s a tremendous spirit of teamwork among
Greg McGarity’s staff and when we have an athletic
association meeting or an event there’s always
a spirit of excitement around what’s going
on because we know something good’s going to
What has been the most exciting aspect
of your career?
Working with electric utility you learn very
quickly that the customer comes first and as such,
dealing with retail customers. I retired as executive
vice-president of external affairs with Georgia
Power, and in that job we had many customers.
Our customers were not only just the retail customers
that we provided electric service to but
state and local governments and educational
communities like the University of Georgia. With
those things I personally got to meet so many key
contributors in this state, to make things happen
in a positive way, so I had a very varied career that
didn’t keep me in the office all the time and I
guess the diversity there in meeting with all the
different publics was what really made it exciting.
And understanding the importance of the
customer, if you do a good job with the customers
everything else is going to work itself out.
What do you think are the biggest challenges
for Georgia athletics in the near future?
Again, in this age of instant information and
technology, we’ve got to maintain our positive
brand image. And that’s not only with our customers,
who are our fans, but with the general
public at large. The general public at large, they
watch everything we do so our challenge is when
you’re on top like we are, we’ve got to continue
to stay on top and manage our brand image.
We’ve also got to focus on value to our customers,
our fans; again, with this instant age of technology
they can follow us in many ways and we’ve
got to continue to give them with our football
team a positive game day image. And then the
other thing we’ve got to do, which is more internal,
we’ve got to continue to invest in our facilities.
They are excellent right now; we are on top
with that but that’s also a moving target. We’ve
got to continue to evaluate and invest. It just
thrills me to serve on this board and see us invest
back into our facilities. While it takes short-term
financial reserves to do that, it is an investment
that will pay dividends long-term and along with
that, you’ve got to manage that long-term financial
How has the knowledge from your occupation
helped in the betterment of UGA athletics?
I think my overall focus on the customer
from my job helped me have an insight into the
brand image of the university and how important
it is to maintain that. I think my career and
the opportunity to work with the University of
Georgia while I was at Georgia Power and understanding
what goes on with the general public
and the governmental entities has helped me
from that standpoint.
Your favorite UGA sports moment?
I graduated in 1970 and I’ve been a Dog
ever since. I’ve traveled to a lot of the venues. I
made sure I got to the Missouri game this year
and I was really impressed with that. But I traveled
to many away games after I got out of school
and I went to the Georgia-Florida game in 1975.
I was there with my brother-in-law and I saw an
atmosphere of a game that I didn’t think we were
going to win. I saw the (Richard) Appleby-to-
(Gene) Washington play; I was sitting on the 40-
yard line watching that and, to me, that was the
most exhilarating game I’ve ever been to. It was
such a tight game and we were unable to move
the ball and score points, and we had had a number
of end-arounds in previous games and we
just kept saying to ourselves something’s going to
happen in this end-around. And when they ran
that end-around and stopped and threw that
football (to give the Bulldogs a 10-7 victory), it
was just unbelievable. I get chill bumps now
when I listen to Munson’s playback of that