Transforming Our Learning Environment

Students test a virtual reality program at UGA’s Research and Innovation in Learning (RAIL) lab, part of the College of Education. The lab is developing games to help children around the globe learn pedestrian safety. As a core part of the research team, graduate students learn to solve real-world problems.

Just a few years ago, the University rallied around a vision. We imagined a place where students would learn and succeed at the highest levels, where the curriculum would be anchored in real-world applications, and where faculty and students would be driven by their passion to make a difference. In short, we imagined a university with a superior learning environment.

That vision is now a reality. Our students are graduating in record time. They are landing jobs and positions in graduate school like never before. The value of a University of Georgia education is greater than ever, and it will only continue to rise.

This success has come from strategy, hard work, and the University’s commitment to put students first.

Experiential Learning

Today’s successful leaders must possess innovative thinking and problem-solving skills. Three years ago, the University built a foundation to foster those skillsets in the curriculum through the Experiential Learning Initiative. UGA now ensures that every undergraduate student engages in learning outside of the classroom through a requirement for experiential learning.

Since the summer of 2016, 25,123 students have completed study abroad, research, service, leadership, creative, or internship programs, supported by a total of $583,500 in scholarships. The Experiential Learning Initiative continues to evolve and mature as UGA officials seek new ways to build partnerships to provide real-world experience for students.

Investing in active learning

Research has confirmed that students learn more and develop lasting skills when they interact with their teachers and peers in the classroom as opposed to simply listening to a lecture. This style of interactive teaching is called “active learning.” The University has invested in creating active learning environments by training faculty and retrofitting older classrooms—many built with rigid chairs directed to the front of the classroom—as active learning spaces with rotating or movable chairs and interactive technology. To date, more than 50 faculty members have been trained at UGA’s Active Learning Summer Institute, now in its second year, and more than 8,500 students have benefited.

Skills boost

The University is equipping students with the skills they will need in an evolving world. This ongoing effort will incorporate data literacy as well as writing and communication competencies into the curriculum for all undergraduate students. Along with experiential learning, the data literacy, writing, and communication competencies are part of a well-rounded education that helps prepare graduates for the next step of their lives.

ALL Georgia Program

For some students coming from small towns, the transition to living on a big college campus brings exciting challenges. The ALL Georgia Program supports rural students at UGA with a network of resources and common experiences, and it provides opportunities to a cohort of ALL Georgia Scholars.

The scholarship program definitely connects you with resources…and makes you more comfortable with them.

ALL Georgia Scholarship recipient

Committed to opportunity and affordability

Ellen Everitt wants to take a leadership role in the theatrical community after she graduates. The Double Dawgs program, which allows students to earn a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in five years or less, is helping to prepare her.

Everitt, who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in theatre and a master’s in nonprofit management and leadership, is passionate about the creative possibilities in nonprofit theatre. Her combined studies are allowing her to build both the practical and artistic skills needed for her career.

Jessica Ho is working to become a physician epidemiologist with the help of the Double Dawgs program. An Honors student pursuing a bachelor’s degree in cellular biology and a master’s in public health, Ho is using her combined studies to better understand, diagnose, and one day treat chronic illnesses in patients.

Renovating research space

At a time when sponsored research is on the rise at UGA, labs and research support spaces across campus soon will be getting an upgrade, thanks to a presidential initiative that will build on the University’s dramatic growth in research activity. Presidential renovation funds will be used to upgrade labs and replace core equipment to enable faculty members to conduct research and compete more effectively for grant funding.

Terry College completes its transformation

Terry College’s Business Learning Community (BLC) is finally complete. The six-building, $140 million project was financed by a 50-50 split between the state of Georgia and private donors, with donor support being the driving force that made the BLC a reality.

The BLC was built in three phases over five years, with nearly 300,000 square feet of space to house classrooms, labs, community spaces, offices, and more. Phase III was dedicated this fall, with the final buildings named in honor of M. Douglas Ivester and Sanford and Barbara Orkin and a green space between the two buildings named Coca-Cola Plaza.

A New Home for STEM Research

A new Interdisciplinary Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (I-STEM) Research Building is under construction at the corner of Cedar Street and East Campus Road. When complete, the I-STEM Research Building will house engineering, chemistry, and related disciplines to promote collaborations between students and faculty. The $65 million facility is made possible by $39.4 million in state support and is expected to be completed during the summer of 2021.

Campus Treasure Renewed

Lake Herrick, which provides one of the most beautiful scenes on the University of Georgia campus, officially reopened in October 2018, creating new opportunities for recreation, research, and experiential learning. The lake, which had been closed to swimming and boating, was restored with private support from the Georgia Power Foundation and the Riverview Foundation.

Engineering Center upgrades

The College of Engineering has launched a renovation of the Driftmier Engineering Center with support from private donors, industry partners, and university funds. The first phase of the project, which opened this fall, expanded and enhanced the college’s undergraduate teaching labs and classrooms. The Governor and General Assembly have approved funding for the second phase of this project.

New approaches in diversity and inclusion

The Benham Scholars Program supports diversity in the legal profession and is one of the campus projects funded through the New Approaches to Promote Diversity and Inclusion grants program. President Morehead directed $300,000 in private funds to develop or adopt new projects that support the recruitment, retention, and success of underrepresented, underserved, and first-generation students at UGA.

In the case of the Benham Scholars Program—named in honor of the law school’s second African American graduate, Georgia Supreme Court Justice Robert Benham—the law school matched the grant funds to enhance programming focused on recruitment, preparation for law school, academic support, and career planning. The program supports students like Sharod McClendon (pictured with Elizabeth Weeks, a J. Alton Hosch Professor of Law and the Associate Dean for Faculty Development), who is one of the first Benham Scholars.


New Provost aims to accelerate UGA’s rise in research and innovation

S. Jack Hu is UGA’s new Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost. Hu, previously the Vice President for Research at the University of Michigan, is poised to help UGA continue its rise in national prominence in research, innovation, and graduate education while continuing to build on its superior undergraduate learning environment. Hu is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and serves on the Executive Committee of the National Academies’ Transportation Research Board.

Outstanding Leadership and Service

For a second time, Libby Morris, the Zell B. Miller Distinguished Professor of Higher Education and Director of the Institute of Higher Education, provided exemplary leadership in the role of Interim Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost. Morris served in the role until S. Jack Hu arrived on July 1. She previously served as Interim Provost in 2013, and the University is grateful for her dedicated service.

Fostering relationships with government officials

Toby Carr, a 2001 graduate, was named UGA’s Vice President for Government Relations, succeeding Griff Doyle after his retirement in April. Carr, who had served as Associate Vice President for Government Relations and Director of State Relations since 2015, brought a seamless transition in leadership to the University’s government relations efforts.

Eminent Possibilities

Gerald Hart, one of the world’s preeminent scholars in glycobiology, joined the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center in October 2018 from Johns Hopkins University. Hart became the sixth Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar recruited to campus since 2015. The work of GRA Eminent Scholars solves grand challenges and drives investment in the state’s economy.