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UGA alumnus Shaun Kleber awarded Schwarzman Scholarship

University of Georgia alumnus Shaun Kleber was one of 148 candidates selected internationally as a Schwarzman Scholar, a graduate fellowship designed to prepare the next generation of leaders with an understanding of China’s role in global trends.

Kleber is UGA’s fifth Schwarzman Scholar. The incoming Class of 2021 was narrowed down from a pool of more than 4,700 candidates from China, the U.S. and around the world. It includes students from 41 countries and 108 universities.

Five classes of Schwarzman Scholars have been named since the highly competitive program opened to applicants in 2015. The fully funded, yearlong master’s program in global affairs is offered at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Students live and learn on the Schwarzman College campus and focus their studies on public policy, economics and business, or international studies.

After he completes his year as a Schwarzman Scholar, Kleber will attend Harvard Law School. He plans to pursue a career in education policy and public education administration.

“I am delighted that Shaun has received this prestigious recognition,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “The University of Georgia’s record of success in this international competition is evidence of the outstanding education we provide to our students and how well we prepare them for success beyond graduation.”

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Hornak named research AVP for integrative team initiatives

The Office of Research, with support from the Provost’s Office, has recruited College of Engineering professor Lawrence Hornak to serve in a new position: associate vice president for research, integrative team initiatives. His appointment is effective Jan. 2.

Hornak currently serves as associate dean for research and graduate studies in the College of Engineering. In his new role, he will promote interdisciplinary team research at UGA, with the aim of increasing the university’s share of large and complex grants. He’ll support both new and existing interdisciplinary faculty teams in ideating, planning and writing large grant proposals, and subsequently in managing the challenges of executing such grants.

“It is essential that we compete aggressively and successfully for large, complex grants and contracts in order for UGA to reach its full potential and have maximal impact on the grand challenges we face as global citizens,” said David Lee, vice president for research. “The Office of Research should play a larger role in catalyzing these efforts, and with Larry dedicated to this effort, I believe we will.”

Hornak will work closely with Office of Research colleagues, including Sponsored Projects Administration and the Office for Proposal Enhancement, as well as other UGA units like the Provost’s Office and the Graduate School.

During Hornak’s time as associate dean, the college’s research expenditures tripled and UGA was awarded its first IUCRC grant from the National Science Foundation. He also led the proposal for UGA’s I-Corps program, now a central component of the university’s innovation plan. 

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CEO, scholar to deliver fall Commencement addresses

Regent Kessel D. Stelling Jr., chairman and CEO of Synovus Financial Corporation and a member of the University System of Georgia Board of Regents, will deliver the fall undergraduate Commencement address at the University of Georgia on Dec. 13 in Stegeman Coliseum. The ceremony will begin at 9:30 a.m.

“Regent Stelling is an exemplary business leader and an inspiring public servant,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “His sound judgment helped to preserve Georgia’s banking industry during the Great Recession, and he continues to make a positive impact on our state and nation in so many ways. We appreciate his long and dedicated leadership as a member, and previous chair, of our governing board, the University System Board of Regents. Our undergraduate students and their families are sure to benefit from his advice.”

Libby V. Morris, Zell B. Miller Distinguished Professor of Higher Education and director of the University of Georgia’s Institute of Higher Education, will deliver the address at the graduate ceremony, which begins at 2:30 p.m.

“Dr. Morris has provided outstanding leadership during times of transition at the university, helping our institution maintain its upward trajectory while being a source of steady support,” said Morehead. “She also has achieved a remarkable record of scholarship in addition to her significant administrative responsibilities. I look forward to hearing the wisdom she will share with our graduate students.”

Sanford H. Orkin is scheduled to receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the University of Georgia during the undergraduate ceremony. 

Commencement candidates are allowed six tickets per student for the undergraduate ceremony. Tickets are not required for the graduate exercise. Both ceremonies will follow the Southeastern Conference Clear Bag Policy.

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Writing Intensive Program expands

The Franklin College Writing Intensive Program expanded writing-intensive classes during fall semester with visits by writing professionals, University of Georgia alumni and members of the Athens-area and university

As part of the program’s Public Writing Initiative, guest speakers volunteered their time to talk to undergraduates across disciplines about the importance of communication skills after graduation. Visitors discussed writing in a variety of careers—from data journalist to museum curator—and contexts—from graduate school to a prison-writing program.

In WIP’s efforts to extend writing instruction beyond the First-Year Writing Program and across the Franklin College curriculum, its Public Writing Initiative offers an additional step forward. Now in its fourth year, the initiative continues to reinforce for students the career-amplifying power of writing well.

Jennifer Peebles, newsroom data specialist at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, gave students in Nicole Lazar and Lynne Seymour’s senior statistics capstone course an exclusive look at writing in a STEM context.

“I talked a bit about my job at the Journal-Constitution, what I do, my academic and professional background, how I’m the most unlikely person to ever be doing math for a living, and how I write,” Peebles said. “I see every day that there are so many smart people out there who know so much, but struggle to communicate their knowledge to others,” she said. “That can be problematic for them professionally, but it’s also bad for society in general.”

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Georgia Center director leaves lasting legacy upon her retirement

When Dawn Cartee joined the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education & Hotel in July 2016, she took on the daunting task of renovating the 300,000-square-foot facility and reinvigorating its impact on the UGA community. S ince then, she has overseen the renovation of the facility into a premier hotel, conference and education venue and will now wrap up her 30-plus year career in higher education with her retirement at the end of December.

Cartee worked alongside historic preservationists to modernize and reimagine the more than 60-year-old Georgia Center while honoring its mid-century modern heritage. The two-year, $15 million renovation project saw the “Classic Wing” of the Georgia Center undergo a substantial overhaul, with the conference and hotel rooms, lobby and restaurants tied more closely to the center’s history and the UGA brand.

“Dawn’s tenure at the Georgia Center has been truly transformative, leading both the external and internal renovations of an aging facility and making it almost new again,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “She has left a lasting legacy.”

Since 2016, enrollments in the Georgia Center’s continuing education and youth summer programs have grown, as have overall revenues. And, despite the ongoing construction from 2017 to 2019, hotel reservations and conference sales have increased as well.

Cartee also worked with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences to develop the curriculum for a hospitality and food industry management degree, which was launched this year. The Georgia Center will be an instructional site for the program, providing hands-on learning opportunities for students in the major.

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UGA to spark STEM education research across Southeast

The University of Georgia will serve as a catalyst for research in the emerging field of STEM education thanks to a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

UGA’s Engineering Education Transformations Institute will use the NSF grant to help STEM professors and lecturers at universities and colleges in the U.S. conduct research on student learning at their institution. The project will focus special attention on institutions in the Southeast that serve large numbers of underrepresented students in their STEM programs.

“The overarching goal of this project is to expand the community of scholars who have the skills to conduct high-quality, qualitative and mixed methods research in STEM education,” said Joachim Walther, director of UGA’s Engineering Education Transformations Institute (EETI) and an associate professor in the College of Engineering. “We want to help people move away from trial-and-error and into a more systematic, research-informed process of educational innovation.”

This project builds on the success of EETI at UGA in creating an active community of professors across the College of Engineering who work together to innovate and better understand education in the context of their engineering programs.

Walther believes the educational research capacity developed through ProQual has the potential to create profound, positive changes in local STEM education contexts, such as fundamentally improving the student experience and helping expand diversity in STEM fields.

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Number of early action applications holds strong

More than 7,000 students received the thrilling news of their acceptance to the University of Georgia Friday as part of nonbinding early action admission.

Nearly 17,000 students applied for early action admission to become members of the Class of 2024, a 25% increase compared to five years ago. This year’s applications came from 39 countries, all 50 states and 3,540 high schools.

As in previous years, students who were offered early action admission enrolled in rigorous coursework relative to what is available at their school and also earned outstanding GPAs and SAT or ACT scores.

Students who received a deferral to regular decision are still being given full consideration for admission to UGA. The regular decision application deadline is Jan. 1, and final admissions decisions for deferred early action and regular decision applicants are typically announced in mid-March.

The University of Georgia continues to elevate its academic offerings and support, resulting in record achievements for its students. In its most recent year, UGA set records for six-year completion (87%) and four-year completion (69%) rates and matched its all-time high first-year retention rate (96%). The university’s career outcomes rate is at a record 96%.

UGA is ranked No. 16 in the latest U.S. News & World Report list of top public universities, marking its fourth consecutive year in the top 20, and is one of only two institutions in the Southeastern Conference to be listed in the top 20.

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Faculty receive First-Year Odyssey Teaching Awards

Four University of Georgia faculty members have received a 2019 First-Year Odyssey Teaching Award in recognition of their success as outstanding teachers in the First-Year Odyssey Seminar program.

  • Jane McPherson, an assistant professor in the School of Social Work, teaches “Human Rights in the USA and at UGA.”
  • Jason Peake, a professor of agricultural leadership, education and communication in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, teaches “Environmental Education in the Wild.”
  • Leslie Gordon Simons, a professor of sociology the in Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, teaches “Come on, Get Happy: The Science of Happiness.”
  • Amy Trauger, a professor of geography in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, teaches “Critical Thinking and Informational Literacy in the Age of ‘Fake News’.”

The First-Year Odyssey Seminar program, administrated by the Office of the Vice President for Instruction and taught by faculty who tie seminar content to their own scholarly research, is unique among other first-year seminars in the nation. UGA’s innovative seminars also help introduce students to the academic culture at UGA through participation in a variety of lectures, campus performances and success workshops, coupled with social events and learning opportunities outside the classroom.

Since the program’s inception in 2011, every first-year student—over 45,000—has completed a First-Year Odyssey Seminar.

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UGA 13th in nation for study abroad participation

The University of Georgia is ranked 13th in the nation for the number of students who study abroad, according to the latest Open Doors ranking from Institute of International Education. UGA was one of only two Southeastern Conference universities and the only institution in Georgia to be ranked in the top 20.

Every year, with the backing of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, IIE conducts a survey on U.S. students studying abroad for academic credit and publishes the results in the Open Doors Report. In addition to ranking 13th overall, UGA was ninth in short-term study abroad programs.

More than 2,600 UGA undergraduate and graduate students studied abroad in programs facilitated UGA Office of Global Engagement during the 2017-2018 academic year.

“UGA’s position in the national rankings reflects the growing demand among students for a study abroad experience, the increased availability of scholarship funding provided by the university and individual donors, and the tireless dedication of our faculty, who are committed to offering academically rigorous programs,” said Noel Fallows, associate provost for global engagement. “Although many of our programs take place during the summer months, they are a year-round commitment for faculty, who work behind the scenes developing cost-effective budgets and preparing culturally immersive courses to create optimal, memorable and transformative international experiences.”

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UGA receives $15.75M to combat human trafficking

The University of Georgia has been selected to receive $15.75 million from the U.S. Department of State to expand programming and research to measurably reduce human trafficking.

The new award, funded by the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP Office), will scale up the UGA-based African Programming and Research Initiative to End Slavery (APRIES) current anti-human trafficking work in Sierra Leone and Guinea, as well as expand efforts to Senegal. As part of the funded project, APRIES will also launch the Prevalence Reduction Innovation Forum. The forum – the first of its kind – will enlist scholars from universities around the world to test and develop the best ways to estimate the prevalence of human trafficking.

The award contributes to APRIES’ growing budget, which received a $4 million award in 2018 from the TIP Office under the Program to End Modern Slavery.

“In addition to strengthening current anti-trafficking efforts, the goal of APRIES is to build a global community of researchers and learners in the science of estimating human trafficking prevalence,” said David Okech, an associate professor of social work at UGA who is principal investigator of the project and director of APRIES.

A severe lack of data hampers attempts to curtail human trafficking worldwide. In 2018, APRIES and ResilientAfrica Network, a USAID-funded partnership of African universities based at Makerere University, Uganda, began exploring a systematic way to establish baseline data on child trafficking in selected hotspots in Sierra Leone and Guinea. The project utilizes an innovative, collective impact approach that encourages participation from a wide variety of stakeholders. The data collected will inform government policy and provide evidence for better programs for trafficking survivors.