Vince Dooley Talks About Success, Passion and His Role with the Georgia Historical Society

Charlotte Nauert

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

Most mornings before you even wake up, Vince Dooley has already worked out. Retired football coach for the University of Georgia, vice chairman of the board of curators at the Georgia Historical Society, published author, noted speaker, and beloved grandfather, Vince (still lovingly referred to as “Coach”) knows something about success that many people grasp for all their lives. 

“Since I retired, I have never had what one may call a daily routine,” he says. Indeed, even the term “retired” doesn’t quite feel like it should apply to a man who spends his time “speaking, reading, researching, writing and consulting.” Between his work at the Georgia Historical Society and serving as a consultant at Kennesaw State University in preparation of them playing football in 2015, Coach Dooley has more on his plate than most.  Pursuing yet another interest, he also serves as a member of the board of directors of the National Civil War Trust, an organization that preserves the battlefields that defined us as the nation we are today. 

Still, the coach understands the great importance of making room to pursue his passions. “Whenever I have some down time I work in the garden,” he explains. “That’s my golf.” For a man who will never lose the joy in learning, horticulture is a prime interest, along with sports and history. But simply learning about and enjoying these hobbies isn’t enough—he’s also written books on all three. 

When it comes to his passion for sports, Coach Dooley is modest about his wildly successful career as head football coach and athletic director at UGA. “I was very fortunate to have decided on a career interest at an opportune time, and to have passionately committed myself in following that interest to the best of my ability,” he explains. That passionate commitment paid off in numerous distinctions, among them being named the most successful coach in Georgia history, and receiving the Amos Alonzo Stagg Award, the Carl Maddox Sport Management Award, the Homer Rice Award, and others. “While I was extremely focused in the pursuit of my profession,” Coach Dooley says, “I also found great satisfaction in interests outside of that profession, and that has served me well in my retirement.” 

Continuing the trend, Coach Dooley received the highest honor given by the Georgia Historical Society and the Governor of Georgia when he was named a Georgia Trustee in 2011. “It is a very special distinction,” Coach Dooley admits. “I was quite surprised and very humbled by the recognition.” 

His involvement with the Georgia Historical Society fulfills the third prong of Coach Dooley’s passions— history—and the undercurrent that flows through them all: learning. 

“Serving on the Georgia Historical Society is a labor of love,” Coach Dooley explains. His fascination with history gave him great joy in being a member of the Board of Curators, but being named vice chairman has been an honor and constant source of inspiration. “My respect and admiration for the Society has grown as I watched the dedicated job that Todd Groce and his staff do in collecting, interpreting, and teaching the history of this great state,” Coach Dooley says. “I am very proud to serve as a curator.” 

Considering the Georgia Historical Society is celebrating its 175th birthday this year, Coach Dooley’s affiliation with them is indeed a source of pride. “It is the oldest continuously operating state historical society in the south and one of the oldest historical organizations in the nation,” he explains. “It is dedicated to its mission of collecting, examining, and teaching Georgia history. The Society is a tremendous asset to the state.” 

Current projects at the society include completing the Jepson House Education Center named in honor of Savannah philanthropists Robert and Alice Jepson. “This will expand the physical space of the historical society by 8,000 square feet, enabling it to better accomplish its mission,” Coach Dooley says. 

This mission is one that continually strengthens that of the state as a whole. “I have spent 50 years at the University of Georgia and have witnessed first-hand the amazing progress of higher education at the university and throughout the university system of Georgia,” Coach Dooley says. “I have been personally involved with the University of Georgia Libraries and chaired an endowment fundraiser. Those who work with the K-12 education programs are committed to continuing to move education to the highest level that this state deserves.” 

Coach Dooley’s outlook on the future of business in Georgia is also bright. “I never cease to be amazed at the progress this state continues to make in business,” he says, noting the many fortune 500 companies that continue to come to Atlanta and the rest of the state as prime examples. From his years as a highly successful coach and administrator, and now as a Georgia Trustee and vice chairman of the Georgia Historical Society board, Coach Dooley is certainly an expert.

The secret to his success? “There is a great joy in learning.” That joy has guided every step of Coach Dooley’s incredible career, and the rewards just keep on coming.