Valdosta Daily Times

What We Think

October 10, 2012

The Strength of Dr. Bailey

VALDOSTA — During his near quarter century as Valdosta State’s president, Dr. Hugh C. Bailey took the college to regional university status, developed numerous academics programs, initiated various changes in infrastructure, and formed the school’s first football team.

These accomplishments are as apparent as the name Valdosta State University. What Bailey achieved is as palpable as taking a walk along the campus, or watching the Blazers play football during a fall weekend, or visiting a VSU classroom.

Bailey will long be remembered for the positive changes he brought to Valdosta State and to the Valdosta area.

But since his passing last Friday night, many people have recalled the retired Valdosta State University president’s gracious manner, his ability to encourage, his talent for inspiring people to do their best and strive harder.

Dr. Hugh Bailey exuded kindness and gentility. He had a way of bringing diverse people to the table. He had an innate understanding of people and he was not afraid to show people that he cared for them.

Some may see such attributes as weakness. If they made such an assumption about Bailey, they would have been highly mistaken.

Dr. Bailey rose from humble beginnings to the ranks of university president. Working with area legislators, he forged Valdosta State into a university though then-Speaker of the House Tom Murphy, arguably the most powerful man in the state, arduously opposed the change. Carrying the effects of a childhood illness throughout his life, Bailey rose before dawn to exercise so his body would be limber enough to meet the busy schedule of his work days.

Hugh C. Bailey was a tenacious individual. If he wanted to accomplish something, he went after it with clarity of vision and a conviction of purpose.

He was a tough man but he was a kind man.

He did not crush people who opposed his views. Bailey made his dreams into reality through positive efforts, by winning people over. Rather than defeating those who opposed his ideas, Bailey had a way of including them in his victories.

As people gather this morning for his funeral service, Dr. Bailey’s example teaches one more lesson, especially in these times when many leaders feel the need to put down others to raise themselves.

Hugh Bailey lifted others and changed the course of an entire community.

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