A Year to Remember at UGA

On Friday of this week, the University of Georgia will hold spring commencement ceremonies and welcome more than 5,600 students into the special family of UGA alumni. As we prepare to close the book on one of the most successful years in the long history of this great institution, let us celebrate some of our major accomplishments from the 2014-2015 academic year.

In many ways, this past year was defined by the breaking of institutional records. Yet again, we enrolled the most academically qualified class of first-year students in our history. We are on track to enroll another superior class; the pool of admission applicants for fall 2015 is the largest and strongest ever. In addition, the University’s six-year graduation rate reached a record high this year at nearly 85 percent. We also completed a record fundraising year, attracting more than $126 million in gifts and pledges. This record is on track to be surpassed at the end of this fiscal year.

Amidst these historic milestones, the University advanced a number of bold initiatives. Just last month, the University Council approved an innovative proposal to integrate experiential learning more fully into the undergraduate curriculum. This new initiative will build on existing programs such as the undergraduate research assistantship program launched last fall. To further enhance our world-class learning environment, we also dedicated and broke ground on a number of state-of-the-art academic facilities.

To expand the research enterprise, we introduced a hiring initiative to recruit extraordinary research faculty and hired three new Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholars. We also established the Innovation Gateway to streamline the path for moving faculty discoveries from the laboratory and field to the market.

To fulfill our land-grant mission, faculty and staff trained thousands of elected officials and public employees, helped start hundreds of small businesses, and contributed to the creation of thousands of jobs. UGA now has an estimated annual economic impact of $4 billion on the state of Georgia. Students, faculty, and staff also joined together to complete countless hours of community service for individuals in need.

Clearly, the University of Georgia is reaching new heights of excellence in teaching, research, and service, while securing our position as one of the nation’s leading public research universities. An exceptional year like this one is made possible only through the dedication and hard work of outstanding faculty, staff, students, and alumni. They are driving this institution forward in unprecedented ways, and I remain deeply grateful.