The Georgia Tech Alumni Association was formed in 1898 by Tech’s first graduate, Henry L. Smith, ME 1890, who, with the encouragement of President Lyman Hall, called upon his peers to meet regularly with a goal of promoting the school. His speech was titled “United We Stand,” and in the effusive language of the time, he urged his fellow alumni to be loyal to Georgia Tech. He was appointed president of the group which held occasional meetings known as “smokers.”
In 1900, Smith moved to Dalton, Ga. to start his manufacturing company and regular meetings ended.
Two alumni, R. “Pud” Lowndes, Jr. ME 1903 and J. B. McCrary, ME 1891 continued to discuss the future of the Alumni Association and in 1906, they filed for a charter in Fulton County. The charter was granted in 1908 but little was done to formalize the group, no officers were elected, and the group gathered infrequently usually at commencement time.
In 1919, W.H. Glenn, ME 1891, led a complete reorganization effort. He did not have a title but led regular, formal meetings.
In 1922, Albert H. Staton, ME 1922, when he was fresh out of school, took on the position of editor/secretary with the added responsibility of producing an alumni magazine. After a few months, Staton was replaced by future Dean George Griffin, CE 1922, who filled in temporarily.
In 1923, R.J. “Jack” Thiesen, EE 1910, accepted the job of executive secretary, and magazine editor full-time. He held the position until 1951, when he retired.
Howard Ector, IM 1940, stepped in temporarily until W. Roane Beard, IM 1940, took up the role of executive secretary and editor in May of 1951. Beard retired in 1977 and was named emeritus secretary in 1978.
In 1953, Robert “Bob” Wallace, IM 1949, was hired as the editor, permanently relieving the executive secretary from the responsibility.
Robert H. “Bob” Rice, IM 1949, became the executive secretary in 1977, serving until he retired in 1985.
John B. Carter, Jr., IE 1969, who was the director of marketing for the association, became the executive director in 1985. He led the association until 1999, when he left for a position with the Georgia Tech Foundation
Joseph P. Irwin, IM 1980, became executive director in 1999. Though the title has been changed to president, Irwin is still leading the Georgia Tech Alumni Association today.