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Alton Standifer named assistant to the president at UGA

Alton M. Standifer will join the staff of the Office of the President on July 15 as assistant to the president. Standifer presently serves as director of new student orientation and associate director of undergraduate admissions.

“Alton will be a tremendous addition to our staff,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “He has been a part of the campus community for the past five years and has worked diligently to enhance our orientation process and ease the transition to UGA for students and their families. He has built strong relationships across the campus, and I look forward to the positive impact he will make in this important role.”

As assistant to the president, Standifer’s primary responsibilities will be focused on student affairs, diversity relations and community engagement. He will serve as the liaison to the Staff Council, Retirees Association, Board of Visitors and Student Government Association, while also representing the President’s Office in the planning of several annual events, including the Holmes-Hunter Lecture Series, Mary Frances Early Lecture, Staff Appreciation Day, and the presentation of the President’s Medal during Founders Day. In addition, he will oversee the awarding of grants through the President’s Venture Fund.

“It is an honor to support President Morehead in his efforts to advance the University of Georgia, and I consider it a great privilege to have the opportunity to serve in this role,” said Standifer. “I look forward to working alongside students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends, and to helping to strengthen collaborative relationships between the University and key constituents in Athens-Clarke County, the state and across the nation.”

Standifer first joined the University of Georgia in 2014 as assistant director of new student orientation, advancing to director in 2015. He served previously at Georgia Southern University in a variety of student-centered roles as a graduate student, including as an assistant to the dean of students, coordinator for the Panhellenic Association and coordinator of Georgia Southern’s Pathways to Success program. He also has taught middle school math and coached basketball in his hometown of Monticello, Georgia.

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UGA assists in first statewide assessment of peer support

Individuals in recovery from addiction or mental illness often struggle with managing wellness and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Without any assistance, many cycle back into hospitals, jails or homelessness. Georgia’s peer support program helps people achieve well-being and independence, and will soon benefit from work conducted by University of Georgia researchers.

Over the next 16 months, researchers at the UGA School of Social Work will develop an assessment tool, or measurement standard, that the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) can use to gauge peer support settings across the state. The project will help state policymakers identify and address service inequalities.

“This will be the first statewide assessment to look at all the different ways peer support is provided throughout the state,” said Orion Mowbray, associate professor of social work and principal investigator for the project. “We’re collecting data on the current system and will provide advice on how to better evaluate the peer support program.”

Mowbray and his team will assess service providers and recipients, and will examine the impact of peer support on individual improvements, the various ways peer support is used, the efficacy of forensic peer support—i.e., support for persons involved with the criminal justice system—and the experiences of certified peer specialists in the workplace.

Each year DBHDD supports mental health and substance abuse prevention and intervention services, which include more than a thousand certified peer specialists, for nearly 160,000 individuals. Georgia was the first state to implement statewide peer support in 1999, and since that time the service has been recognized by multiple federal health and human service agencies as a standard practice.

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College of Engineering recognized for diversity initiatives

The University of Georgia College of Engineering has been honored for its commitment to diversity and inclusion by the American Society of Engineering Education and its Engineering Deans Council.

The college was named a bronze-level institution in ASEE’s national Diversity Recognition Program, the highest level currently possible. The recognition program is designed to encourage institutional transformation in engineering schools and colleges around the issues of diversity, equity and inclusion. 

“The UGA College of Engineering is honored to receive this significant recognition of our efforts to create an inclusive environment and to increase the accessibility of our programs to an increasingly diverse population,” said Dean Donald Leo. “While there’s certainly work to be done, the college is committed to creating a diverse and welcoming environment for students, staff and faculty.”

The ASEE Diversity Recognition Program grew out of the ASEE Deans Diversity Pledge, which has been signed by more than 220 of ASEE’s 330-member engineering colleges. The pledge commits signatories to engage in four activities:

  • Develop a diversity plan with input from national organizations such as the National Society of Black Engineers, the Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers, and the Society of Women Engineers.
  • At least one K-12 or community college pipeline activity with explicit targeted goals and measures of accountability aimed at increasing the diversity and inclusiveness of the engineering student body.
  • Develop strong partnerships between research-intensive engineering schools and non-Ph.D. granting engineering schools serving diverse populations in engineering.
  • Develop and implement proactive strategies to increase the representation of diversity groups in the faculty.

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UGA Alumni Association unveils the 2019 Class of 40 Under 40

The University of Georgia Alumni Association has unveiled the 40 Under 40 Class of 2019. This program celebrates the personal, professional and philanthropic achievements of successful UGA graduates under the age of 40. The honorees will be recognized during the ninth annual 40 Under 40 Awards Luncheon on Sept. 13 in the Tate Student Center on campus.

The 2019 class includes gold medal-winning Olympic swimmer Allison R. Schmitt; Super Bowl champion and children’s author Malcolm Mitchell; and alumni from a variety of industries including law, nonprofit, and food and beverage. Also among the honorees are Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s chief of staff Tim Fleming, ABC News correspondent Will Carr and Catherine Marti, a cardiologist in heart failure and transplant cardiology at Piedmont Heart Institute.

“We are excited to unveil this year’s class of 40 Under 40 and welcome them back home to Athens for the awards luncheon in September,” said Meredith Gurley Johnson, executive director of alumni relations. “I am always amazed by the excellence of our young alumni. These outstanding individuals exemplify leadership in their industries and communities.”

Nominations for 40 Under 40 were open from February to April, and more than 400 alumni were nominated for this year’s class. Honorees must have attended UGA and uphold the Pillars of the Arch, which are wisdom, justice and moderation. Additional criteria are available on the UGA Alumni Association website.

A complete list of the 40 Under 40 Class of 2019 honorees is available here.

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UGA hosts NSF industry and university cooperative research center meeting

The UGA New Materials Institute recently hosted the biannual Industry Advisory Board meeting for the National Science Foundation Industry & University Cooperative Research Center for Bioplastics and Biocomposites, known as CB2. UGA joined the I/UCRC in 2018 and is one of four universities that serve as research sites.

At the meeting, researchers presented updates on CB2 research projects slated for completion in late 2019, and industry representatives presented seed concepts for the group to consider undertaking in 2020. Decisions on the new projects will be made at the fall board meeting.

The meeting included representatives from CB2’s industry partners, as well as principal investigators from the other CB2 research sites: Iowa State University, Washington State University and North Dakota State University. The industry members guide selection of the research projects and mentor the research teams. As projects are completed, the industry members share in the intellectual property that is generated by the collective.

CB2’s current industry members come from more than 40 companies, including Archer Daniels Midland, Boehringer Ingelheim, Ford, Hundai, John Deere, Kimberly-Clark Corp. and Sherwin Williams. All members are companies that seek ways to make their products more sustainable.

The meeting was coordinated with help from the Office of Research and held at the UGA Veterinary Education Center. Support was provided by the College of Engineering.

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UGA in Washington reception reunites alumni, friends

The University of Georgia brought a little bit of Athens to D.C. during its annual UGA in Washington reception on June 19 at Union Station.

The event was an occasion for UGA alumni and friends in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area to connect with one another as well as with UGA President Jere W. Morehead, UGA Vice President for Government Relations Toby Carr, and special guest UGA head football coach Kirby Smart.

More than 140 UGA alumni work on Capitol Hill. Among those in attendance at the reception were Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue (DVM ’71) and Congressmen Buddy Carter (BSPH ’80), Rick Allen and Jody Hice.

“UGA in Washington is always a wonderful opportunity to meet with our remarkable D.C. alumni,” said Meredith Gurley Johnson, executive director of alumni relations. “We are proud to have such a significant presence in the capital with over 5,000 alumni living in the area and our Washington Semester Program students living and learning in Delta Hall.”

Since Delta Hall’s opening in 2015, more than 250 UGA students have taken classes, participated in internships and immersed themselves in D.C.’s vibrant culture. More than 150 of those students have remained in the area after graduation and have stayed involved with the university through the D.C. Dawgs alumni chapter.

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Council on Competitiveness appoints UGA president to co-chair new University Leadership Forum

The Council on Competitiveness, an organization of corporate and academic leaders representing major sectors of the U.S. economy, has appointed University of Georgia President Jere W. Morehead to co-chair its new University Leadership Forum to optimize the role of higher education in the emerging innovation landscape.

The forum, which was officially launched in Washington, D.C., on June 18, will enable leaders from the nation’s top academic institutions to join forces with private sector leaders to understand the evolving innovation landscape, while also helping to shape federal and state policy recommendations to encourage greater competitiveness and build the workforce of the future.

As part of its initial work plan, the forum will address challenges and opportunities in three broad areas:

  • innovation to help solve the world’s grand challenges;
  • university-industry-government partnerships; and
  • the fusion of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and liberal arts disciplines.

Michael R. Lovell, president of Marquette University, is co-chairing the forum with President Morehead.

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Strickland Foundation scholarships to aid rural areas

The George W. Strickland, Jr. Foundation recently gifted $400,000 to the University of Georgia to establish four Georgia Commitment Scholarships.

The scholarships will be awarded in fall 2019, prioritizing students from 16 rural Georgia counties: Evans, Tattnall, Bryan, Bulloch, Candler, Liberty, Toombs, Emanuel, Jenkins, Screven, Burke, Appling, Wayne, Glynn, Long and Effingham.

The Strickland Scholarships will impact students in rural Georgia, an area that had deep meaning to the foundation’s namesake, Evans County native George W. “Jack” Strickland, Jr., a United States Army veteran and business owner in Claxton. In 1948, Strickland founded the Evans Concrete Products Company, which would grow to serve each of the scholarships’ 16 identified counties. Strickland strove to improve the quality of life in southeast Georgia.

The Georgia Commitment Scholarships program aligns with the foundation’s passion to strengthen communities, provide opportunities for education, and inspire the next generation. Students receiving the Strickland Scholarships will not only receive a scholarship and tailored programming provided by the Division of Academic Enhancement, but also the opportunity to participate in the newly established ALL Georgia Program.

The ALL Georgia Program supports all rural students at UGA with a network of resources and common experiences, in addition to providing unique programs and opportunities to the scholars. The p rogram promotes the mission of UGA as the flagship institution of higher education in Georgia by improving access for rural populations and creating a broad-based collaboration across multiple offices at the university.

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UGA students, alumni receive 13 NSF Fellowships

Seven UGA graduate students earned highly competitive National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships this year, and six UGA alumni also have earned the fellowship, which includes three years of financial support that includes an annual stipend of $34,000 plus a $12,000 cost of education allowance and networking and professional development opportunities.

“The NSF Graduate Research Fellowships recognize the best and the brightest,” said Graduate School Dean Suzanne Barbour. “That so many UGA graduate students have been and continue to be recipients of the NSF GRF is a testament to the outstanding training environment that our institution provides at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.”

UGA’s recipients of NSF Graduate Research Fellowships also include alumni who used their UGA educations as foundations for graduate studies at some of America’s most highly regarded universities.

Patrick Griffin, who earned his B.S. in genetics, was an Honors student during his time at UGA and is currently studying aging in the department of genetics at Harvard Medical School. “My mentor at UGA was (associate professor) Bob Schmitz,” he said, “and I was also greatly helped by Janet Westpheling. UGA was a wonderful environment to learn about basic science and gain experience presenting my research to others through events like the CURO Symposium.”

A complete list of UGA’s 2019 recipients of NSF Graduate Research Fellowships and their fields of study is available here.

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UGA launches alumni-student mentor program

The University of Georgia will launch its first comprehensive mentorship initiative, the UGA Mentor Program, on June 12. Alumni, including faculty and staff, who are interested in participating can create a profile at mentor.uga.edu.  The site will open for student sign-ups in August.

“University of Georgia alumni are eager to support current students as they explore possible career paths and life goals,” said Morehead, “and our students are excited to connect with members of the Bulldog family who can provide inspiration and guidance. I am grateful that our alumni are willing to give back to UGA in this important way, and I look forward to the many lasting benefits that will come from the program.”

The UGA Mentor Program, housed in the Career Center, serves both students and alumni. Each participant commits to only one to two hours per month for a 16-week match. The program website hosts a messaging platform that protects participants’ personal information, and once a mentorship relationship is established, students and mentors can communicate in person or from wherever they are via text message, email or phone.

To become mentors, alumni first create an online profile.The website then allows students to search and connect with them based on criteria such as major, interests and location. Resources are available to help ensure a mutually beneficial mentoring experience, including a suggested timeline and tips for introductory conversations and goal setting.

Students will be encouraged to create a profile in August when they return for fall semester and will be required to attend an orientation session to be eligible to request a mentor. To learn more about the UGA Mentor Program or create a profile, visit mentor.uga.edu.