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Whirlwind tour introduces new UGA faculty to sites across state of Georgia

This year’s Public Service and Outreach tour of the state will take about 40 new University of Georgia faculty through 14 cities and 43 counties Aug. 7-11.

The group departed Monday from the UGA Center for Continuing Education and Hotel after orientation and a send-off from President Jere W. Morehead. From there they traveled by bus to Jaemor Farms near Gainesville to learn about agribusiness in north Georgia and the growing agritourism industry across the state.

Other highlights of the trip will include a visit to Amicalola Falls State Park in Dawsonville, and Wolf Mountain Vineyards in Dahlonega; stops at the Georgia Capitol and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta; and a driving/walking tour of Senoia, where participants will learn about the growing film industry in Georgia.

In addition, the tour will take faculty members to the new Food Product Innovation and Commercialization Center on the UGA Griffin Campus; the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth; Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins; agricultural facilities at UGA Tifton; the Okefenokee Swamp in Waycross; and Gulfstream Aerospace and the UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant facilities in Savannah.

The week will end with a visit to the Wormsloe Institute for Environmental History and the Georgia Ports Authority in Savannah; and a stop in Sandersville to learn more about UGAs Archway Partnership and the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development.

“This tour is an ideal way for our faculty members who are new to the university, and many to Georgia, to learn about the diversity of the states culture, history, geography and economic drivers,” said Laura Meadows, interim vice president for UGA Public Service and Outreach. They see firsthand how this university partners with governments, businesses and communities to boost economic vitality across the state. We hope they discover opportunities to use their own academic expertise to further the mission of the land-grant and sea-grant institution.

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Summer successes: Enrollment reaches new high

Whether on-campus, online or around the world, summer enrollment at the University of Georgia is on an upward trajectory.

Total summer enrollment has risen for the third consecutive year and in 2017 reached a record 16,447. That figure is a 4 percent increase over last year’s record and a 22 percent increase over summer 2014.

“Increasing summer enrollment is a critical part of our strategy to elevate student success and completion at the University of Georgia,” said President Jere W. Morehead. I am grateful to the vice president for instruction and his team-as well as the deans-for their leadership on this important institutional priority.

The year-over-year increases in summer enrollment are the result of a concerted effort involving several units across campus. The Office of Instruction has spearheaded a targeted communications campaign to encourage students to enroll in summer courses and also implemented procedural changes, such as earlier registration dates for summer courses, to facilitate summer enrollment. The faculty and deans of the universitys schools and colleges have played a critical role in boosting summer enrollment by creating additional sections of high-demand courses, and the universitys academic advisors have worked closely with students to help them integrate summer courses into their programs of study.

“The university’s continuing growth in summer enrollment is great news for students,” said Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Pamela Whitten. “Our data show that nine out of 10 UGA students who earn their degrees within four years take at least one summer course, and elevating summer enrollment will continue to be a key priority.”

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Cousins Foundation gift to support scholarships, endow university swim and dive coach position

The Cousins Foundation, Inc. has committed more than $5 million to the University of Georgia to support need-based scholarships for students and to permanently endow the UGA head swimming and diving coach position.

“I want to thank The Cousins Foundation for partnering with the University of Georgia to advance one of our top priorities, increasing scholarship support for our students with financial needs,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. This significant gift will transform the lives of so many UGA students-and their families-for generations into the future, and I am deeply grateful for the foundations tremendous generosity.

This major gift is one of the first to the university in fiscal year 2018, which began on July 1. It will be matched by an additional $500,000 from the UGA Foundation through the Georgia Commitment Scholarship Program, announced by Morehead in January to increase the number of need-based scholarships available at UGA.

The Cousins Foundation’s gift will establish the Cousins Scholars Program, a robust collegiate experience for 24 service-minded UGA students who demonstrate significant financial need. The four-year program will welcome six new students each year, with the first cohort beginning in fall 2019. The Cousins Foundation is known for its strong commitment to community service, and service will be integrated throughout the new scholarship program.

A gift to the UGA Athletic Association will endow the swimming and diving head coach position in honor of Ann and Tom Cousins, founders of The Cousins Foundation. Tom was a Georgia letterman in swimming in 1950 and 1951 and a member of the 1950 SEC track and field championship team. He also is the recipient of UGAs Bill Hartman Award, which recognizes former UGA student-athletes who have demonstrated excellence in their profession and service to others.

The position will be known as the Tom Cousins Head Swimming and Diving Coach, and will be the second endowed head coaching position at UGA. The first is the Ike Cousins Head Baseball Coach, named for Tom Cousins father, which was endowed by the Cousins family in 2016.

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Law school creates Veterans Legal Services Clinic

The University of Georgia School of Law is establishing a Veterans Legal Services Clinic funded by a lead gift from renowned trial attorney and alumnus James E. “Jim” Butler Jr. in memory of his father, Lt. Cmdr. James E. Butler Sr., who was a fighter pilot in the U.S. Navy. Butler Sr. was also the grandfather of James E. "Jeb" Butler III, a 2008 graduate of the law school.

The new clinic will provide veterans in Georgia with legal assistance they might not otherwise have access to or be able to afford, with particular regard to denied or deferred claims before the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. It also includes an educational scholarship component.

Overseen by a clinic director serving as a managing attorney, the unit will be staffed by law students who will work directly with veterans and their dependents to ensure access to benefits and services, especially for those with mental or physical disabilities resulting from their time in the military. The students who participate in the clinic will have a tangible impact on the lives of these veterans and their families while receiving real-world experience that will better equip them for their careers.

Four members of the law school’s Board of Visitors have joined Butler in support of the new clinic including Butlers longtime law partner Joel O. Wooten Jr., Kenneth M. Henson Jr., G. Sanders Griffith III and Pete Robinson. Notably, Wooten, Henson and Griffith are UGA School of Law graduates.

The Veterans Legal Services Clinic builds upon the law schools commitment to supporting those who have served our nation, School of Law Dean Peter B. “Bo” Rutledge said. I am pleased that funding for the clinic will also provide a $5,000 scholarship match for two veterans studying at the School of Law each year.

This funding will be paired with match money received through the Department of Veterans Affairs Yellow Ribbon GI Education Enhancement Program.

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Remarkable funding growth drives surge in R&D expenditures

Total research and development expenditures surged for the fourth consecutive year at the University of Georgia to an all-time high of $458 million in fiscal year 2017. The record total represents a 31 percent increase in R&D expenditures since fiscal year 2013.

Remarkable growth in funding from external grants and contracts is driving the surge in overall expenditures. Externally funded research activity has climbed 37 percent over the past three years to $198 million in fiscal year 2017.

“This tremendous growth in productivity reflects the unyielding commitment of UGA faculty to solve the important challenges of our time,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “Their dedication, bolstered by major faculty hiring initiatives and strategic investments in research since coming out of the Great Recession seven years ago, is elevating our research enterprise to new heights and expanding the University’s positive impact on lives and communities across this state and beyond.”

UGA’s increase in research spending comes at a time when federal funding of higher education research and development is declining in both current and inflation-adjusted dollars.

“Despite an extraordinarily competitive environment, UGA researchers continue to win a larger share of the federal R&D support budget,” said Vice President for Research David Lee. “In recent years, only a handful out of every 100 grant proposals received from universities all across America is funded by federal agencies. UGA researchers are successfully competing with the very best.”

The university has identified three signature research themes to illustrate the broad impact of the institution’s expanding research enterprise: inquiring and innovating to improve human health; safeguarding and sustaining our world; and changing lives through the land-grant mission.

Each dollar of external research funding is estimated to create two dollars in economic impact, contributing to the broader economic development focus of the university.

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WUGA celebrates 30 years on the air

This fall, WUGA 91.7 and 94.5 FM, the NPR affiliate operated by the University of Georgia, is celebrating 30 years of being on the air. The station first went live on the morning of Aug. 28, 1987, and has been serving the Athens community ever since, offering both national and local programming.

“There is no other radio station in this area that provides the kind of content that this station does,” said Jimmy Sanders, WUGA’s general manager. “The community values this radio station and recognizes how unique it is.”

Several events are planned to commemorate the radio station’s 30th anniversary.

There will be an open house on Aug. 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the radio station, which is located in the Georgia Center for Continuing Education. On Aug. 28, the day the station first went live, there will be an anniversary evening gala featuring Steve Inskeep, the host of “Morning Edition” on NPR. On Aug. 29, GPB’s “On Second Thought” featuring Celeste Headlee will produce a program focused on public media. This show, produced at Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, will be recorded for later broadcast. Later that morning, at 11 a.m., Inskeep will address Grady College students.

Additional information about the events is available here.

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Fundraising skyrockets at UGA

In the first year of the public phase of the Commit to Georgia Campaign, University of Georgia donors set a record in fundraising, contributing $227.8 million in new gifts and pledges.

“When we launched the public phase of the campaign last fall, we called on our alumni and friends to help us expand the impact of this great university on the world,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “Clearly, they are answering that call with extraordinary generosity and support, and it is with the deepest sense of gratitude that I say ‘thank you’ for making gifts that are changing lives.”

This marks the fourth consecutive year that UGA donors have set a new record in fundraising and the first time in the university’s long history that the annual total has surpassed $200 million. The unprecedented total represents a 24 percent increase over last year’s record of $183.8 million and nearly doubles the $117.2 million raised in fiscal year 2013, the year prior to Morehead taking office.

The goal of the Commit to Georgia Campaign is to raise $1.2 billion by 2020 to increase scholarship support, to enhance the learning environment, and to solve the grand challenges facing society. More than 68,000 donors contributed this year-another record-to reach an overall total of $827 million toward the campaign goal.

Private giving toward the campaign already is making a difference: 115 need-based endowed scholarships, for example, have been created through the Georgia Commitment Scholarship program since its introduction in January. Most of these new scholarships will be awarded in the fall to incoming first-year students with unmet financial need.

University officials believe that the first year of the public phase will produce the highest annual fundraising total with fluctuations up and down in the years to come. The overarching goal of any campaign is to elevate annual fundraising levels for the long term. That is why officials are tracking the three-year rolling average-which is now 60 percent higher than FY13 at $185.2 million-to provide a better measure of sustained growth over time.

“A successful fundraising year is always exciting, especially one of this magnitude,” said Kelly Kerner, vice president for development and alumni relations and executive director of the UGA Foundation. “But, I’m most proud of the three-year rolling average, which is a clear sign of the culture change we’re seeing around private giving at UGA. Our donors know that we are making a difference every day, and they want to be a part of the long-term impact of this special place.”

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Marine sciences professor named director of UGA Skidaway Institute

Clark Alexander, a scientist with a long history of fostering collaboration and excellence in research, has been named director of the University of Georgia Skidaway Institute of Oceanography.

Alexander is a professor in the department of marine sciences, part of UGA’s Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, and has served as interim director of the Skidaway Institute for the past year. As director of the Skidaway Institute, he will continue to oversee its personnel, budgets and facilities and report to the Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost.

“The Skidaway Institute of Oceanography plays a vital role in training scientists and conducting research that address critical economic and environmental issues that affect our state and world,” said Provost Pamela Whitten. “Dr. Alexander’s longstanding commitment to deepening the impact of the institute while building bridges with partners on and off campus makes him uniquely qualified to take on this important leadership role on a permanent basis.”

Alexander’s work has been supported with nearly $6 million in external funding from agencies such as the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Georgia Coastal Management Program. He has been the recipient of several honors, including the Preservation Achievement Award from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

The UGA Skidaway Institute of Oceanography is a multidisciplinary research and training institution located on a 700-acre campus on Skidaway Island, southeast of downtown Savannah. Its primary goals are to further the understanding of marine and environmental processes, conduct leading-edge research on coastal and marine systems, and train tomorrow’s scientists. For more information on the Skidaway Institute, click here.

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40 Under 40 Class of 2017

The University of Georgia Alumni Association has unveiled the 40 Under 40 Class of 2017. The program began in 2011 and celebrates the personal, professional and philanthropic achievements of UGA graduates who are under the age of 40.

This year's class includes alumni from a variety of industries ranging from law to agriculture. Among the honorees are ESPN's Maria Taylor, Georgia Teacher of the Year Casey M. Bethel, state Rep. Sam Watson, who represents Colquitt, Thomas and Tift counties, and Maritza McClendon, the first woman of color to represent Team USA on the Olympic swim team.

The honorees will be recognized during the seventh annual 40 Under 40 Awards Luncheon on Sept. 14 at the Grand Hyatt Atlanta in Buckhead. Ernie Johnson, a 1978 UGA graduate, will serve as keynote speaker for the event. Johnson is a co-host on TNT's "Inside the NBA" and is the lead announcer for "Major League Baseball on TBS." He delivered UGA's 2017 undergraduate Commencement address in May. Registration will open for the awards luncheon at alumni.uga.edu/40u40 in the coming weeks.

"We are excited about this year's 40 Under 40 class," Meredith Gurley Johnson, executive director of alumni relations, said. "These young alumni are making a difference in the classroom, boardroom, operating room and everywhere in between."

A list of this year's 40 Under 40 honorees, including their graduation year from UGA, city, title and employer, is available here.

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Georgia Sea Grant funds project to enhance jellyfish industry

A Georgia Sea Grant-funded project will help protect turtles and enable fishermen trawling for cannonball jellyfish to operate more efficiently.

Georgia fishermen recently conducted several 30-hour cannonball jellyfish trawling trips to test the turtle excluder device, which is similar to the TED for shrimpers first developed in 1968.

Cannonball jellyfish, commonly referred to as jellyballs, are the third largest seafood commodity by weight in Georgia. Considered a delicacy in Asian countries, most of the jellyballs caught by Georgia fishermen are exported to Asian markets, where they’re sold in restaurants and grocery stores.

The project to develop a jellyfish TED was proposed by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the College of Coastal Georgia, and Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant at the University of Georgia, all of whom recognized the benefits of the commodity to both commercial fishermen and the economy.

“This was a project where we needed to support a developing industry,” said Mark Risse, director of Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant. “We have to protect our turtle populations, but also need to find a way to support our fishing industries. Much like the shrimping industry and TEDs, we are hoping to find a win-win solution.”