| UGA Today

Expanding access to agricultural pathways across Georgia

A $1.5 million USDA grant will allow the University of Georgia to help advance agricultural initiatives and innovative food production in Georgia as part of the USDA’s Food System Transformation framework.

The UGA Archway Partnership will administer the grant using its nationally recognized and award-winning model of community engagement and facilitation to support agriculture in Georgia. Archway will connect UGA experts with farmers and agricultural producers to determine the underlying needs of Georgia’s agricultural community and to help them connect to resources that can help them access new markets and increase sustainability and long-term viability of farming operations.

The goal is to increase supply chain resiliency in urban and rural community food systems and strengthen the food supply chain to create fairer, more competitive, more resilient markets.

“This grant is an opportunity for UGA to put its strengths in community engagement and agricultural innovation to use in important ways for our home state,” said University of Georgia President Jere W. Morehead. “We are very grateful to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for their support of UGA’s Archway Partnership and Georgia communities.”

| UGA Today

Agrawal appointed director of School of Computing

The University of Georgia has appointed Gagan Agrawal, professor and associate dean for research and graduate studies in the School of Computer and Cyber Sciences at Augusta University, as the director of the UGA School of Computing. Agrawal was selected after a national search and will begin as director July 1.

UGA elevated its longstanding department of computer science to a School of Computing in July 2022 in response to rising student enrollment and the growing role of computing in a range of fields. Created within an interdisciplinary framework, the School of Computing is jointly administered by the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Engineering.

Agrawal served as assistant professor in computer and information sciences at University of Delaware between 1996 and 2001.

Between 2001 and 2019, he served as associate professor, professor, graduate director and interim department chair of computer science at Ohio State University. He has led research in High Performance Computing, Cloud/Grid systems, Scientific Data Management, Data Mining, Social Media Analytics, and most recently, Cybersecurity.  His work in these areas has resulted in more than 300 peer-reviewed publications, more than 9000 citations, and 35 advised or co-advised students finishing their Ph.D.

| UGA Today

Parents Leadership Council raises over $1M for student programs

The University of Georgia Parents Leadership Council surpassed its 2022-2023 fundraising goal by raising over $1 million, a record for the group.

The PLC is a service-oriented group of highly engaged parents of UGA students who provide funding to the university through their annual gifts. Once a year, the council awards grants to campus organizations that have a commitment to enhancing undergraduate student life.

The PLC Grants Program started with roughly 150 families who awarded nearly $145,000 to 22 organizations. Today, the council has grown to more than 250 families, each contributing $5,000 or more annually and increasing the program’s impact exponentially. Over 11 years, the council has received roughly 670 grant applications and awarded more than $5.7 million.

This year, the PLC raised the bar further, simultaneously surpassing its fundraising goal and awarding a record amount in grants: 137 recipients received a total of more than $1.1 million. Grants went to an array of academic units and organizations focused on student wellness, access to the arts, service-learning and more.

| UGA Today

Researcher awarded $3.2M to study child brain development

Assaf Oshri, an associate professor in UGA’s College of Family and Consumer Sciences and the director of the Youth Development Institute at UGA, was recently awarded $3.2 million from the National Institutes of Health to study resilience in rural children using neuroimaging technologies.

The BRANCH study, which stands for Building Resiliency and Nurturing Children’s Health, will investigate the development of resilience among low-income children living in rural Georgia areas over five years, starting at age 7. The overarching goal is to determine how children’s communities affect their neurocognitive development and risk for drug use as adolescents.

Oshri’s previous research has shown that low to moderate stress can be good for you, as it forces your body to optimize brain cognition and function. But there is a limit to how much stress is a good thing. Once stress levels go above moderate levels, which is common in households struggling to pay bills or keep a roof over their family, that stress becomes toxic.

Children are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of stress because their brains are still developing. Oshri hopes the BRANCH study will connect the dots between childhood conditions and brain development not only by interviewing and getting to know the families in the study but also by using MRI scanning technology to assess how stress can affect cognition and neural functioning.

| UGA Today

MBA students contribute to local nonprofit boards

Each fall, a new class of University of Georgia MBA students arrives on campus with energy, curiosity and a desire to sharpen their executive skills. At the same time, many of Athens’ nonprofit organizations are looking for board members to apply various skills in service of the local community.

Andrew Salinas, manager of the MBA Career Management Center, realized the two groups—MBA students and local nonprofits—could make a good pair. In 2017, he created the UGA MBA Nonprofit Board Fellows program, which helps local organizations interview and select MBA students to serve on two-year board terms.

“MBA students are looking to contribute at an executive level, and the nonprofit organizations are looking for skillsets from working professionals and younger people to fill out their board needs,” Salinas said. “It is a win-win.”

More than 20 nonprofits have participated in the program, and most organizations return annually for new board fellows. Last year, Salinas partnered with Victoria Prevatt, owner of Good Works Consulting, to provide the board fellows with board member training. 

“It’s a phenomenal program from two perspectives,” Prevatt said. “One, it’s giving students the experiential learning opportunity of sitting in the board room. Two, the nonprofits get the perspectives of younger board members, giving our nonprofit community the diversity of thought and opinion that it needs and deserves.”

| UGA Today

Faculty discuss ways to harness AI potential

With a focus on generative artificial intelligence in teaching and learning at the University of Georgia, the 33rd Academic Affairs Faculty Symposium brought together faculty members across campus to discuss the impact of AI on their fields and deliver recommendations to improve student experiences with AI-powered tools.

Sixty-three faculty members participated in the two-day eventEnhancing the Teaching and Learning Process with Artificial Intelligence, held March 24-25 at the Legacy Lodge on Lanier Islands.

S. Jack Hu, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, led an opening session that highlighted the development of computing and adoption cycles of past disruptive technologies in education. He challenged the participants to continue to engage and plan.

During a fireside chat, UGA President Jere W. Morehead commended the impact of past symposia, encouraged participants to think broadly about strategic directions and answered questions from the faculty members.

The faculty participants joined one of five collaborative working groups to discuss specific benefits and challenges of generative AI within and beyond classrooms in undergraduate education, in graduate and professional programs, and in the administrative units that support instruction. While developing their recommendations, these working groups considered cross-cutting themes of student learning outcomes, ethical use and academic honesty.

| UGA Today

UGA to construct new residence hall

The University of Georgia will build a new 565-bed residence hall for first-year students to address student housing capacity needs associated with recent enrollment increases and to support future growth.

The new residence hall, which was approved Tuesday by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, will be located on South Lumpkin Street near the intersection of West Wray Street. The proposal approved by the board also includes plans to construct a new dining, learning and wellness center at the intersection of University Court and East Cloverhurst Avenue.

A separate proposal that would add a new parking deck adjacent to the existing West Campus Parking Deck south of Brumby Hall is currently under consideration.

“We know that living on campus is critical for first-year students to help them engage with the campus community and to benefit fully from all that the university offers,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “I am grateful for the Board of Regents’ support of our efforts to continue enhancing UGA’s world-class learning environment for these exceptional students.”

| UGA Today

Georgia Museum of Art to participate in 2023 Blue Star Museums

The Georgia Museum of Art will participate this summer in Blue Star Museums, a program organized by the National Endowment for the Arts that offers free admission and special discounts to military personnel and their families from Armed Forces Day (May 20) through Labor Day (Sept. 4).

Blue Star Museums is a partnership between the National Endowment for the Arts and Blue Star Families, in collaboration with the Department of Defense and participating museums across the United States.

“We thank the 2023 Blue Star Museums who invite military personnel and their families to experience the many wonders they have to offer, whether it’s a glimpse into the past, an encounter with awe-inspiring art or a moment of discovery,” said Maria Rosario Jackson, chair of the National Endowment for the Arts. “The Georgia Museum of Art is helping to enrich the lives of military families and build meaningful connections between our nation’s military and their local community.”

Although admission to the museum is always free, the Museum Shop is offering a 10% discount for military personnel and their families. The museum’s online exhibition “Recognizing Artist Soldiers in the Permanent Collection” is available on the museum’s website and has been updated with new artists since last summer. The exhibition includes artists who served in conflicts from the Revolutionary War through the Korean War and is organized chronologically.

| UGA Today

Agriculture project wins $1M NSF development award

The University of Georgia has been awarded $1 million from the National Science Foundation’s Regional Innovation Engines program for the Next Generation Agriculture project, a broad collaboration intended to help Georgia farmers move toward “Ag 4.0”—the fourth agricultural revolution—in their practices.

Next Generation Agriculture, or NextGA, will leverage the strengths of more than 30 public and private organizations to work with farmers in a 20-county region of south Georgia to build an infrastructure for integrative agricultural innovation “in place.” Some 650,000 residents call the area home, and NextGA is intended to empower them with the support and expertise needed to build farming systems that are environmentally, economically, socially and intergenerationally sustainable.

“Specialty crop farmers in Georgia face some unique challenges, such as rapidly changing technology, shortages of labor and other resources, mental health stressors and a sense of isolation, among others,” said Karen Burg, UGA vice president for research and principal investigator for NextGA. “We want to deploy a truly holistic approach, involving cutting-edge research, intentional workforce development and deep community engagement, to partner with these communities to catalyze local entrepreneurialism and build innovation ecosystems that create new opportunities.”

UGA and Fort Valley State University—Georgia’s two land-grant institutions—are NextGA’s academic leads. Two not-for-profit organizations, VentureWell and the Center on Rural Innovation, are also part of the leadership team. Behind those four entities stands a coalition of about 30 public agencies, companies, nonprofits and local governments. Among them is the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service.

| UGA Today

UGA School of Law earns its highest U.S. News ranking ever

The University of Georgia’s School of Law has earned its highest ranking ever in the U.S. News & World Report Best Graduate Schools.

In the 2024 edition of the rankings published Thursday, the law school ranked 20th among the nation’s 196 ABA-accredited law schools. The ranking places the School of Law among the top seven public law schools in the nation and as the leader in Georgia for the third straight year.

“These latest rankings represent another milestone as the UGA School of Law redefines what it means to be a great national public law school,” said Peter B. “Bo” Rutledge, dean of the School of Law. “As the leading law school in Georgia for the third straight year, the School of Law believes a high-quality, affordable education is our nation’s single greatest catalyst for upward economic and social mobility.”

The ranking comes on the heels of several other accolades for the law school including the nation’s No. 1 employment rate for high value jobs for the Class of 2021, a near-99% ultimate bar passage rate for the Class of 2020 and six straight years among the top two of the nation’s best values in legal education.