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UGA ranked among best big colleges in the U.S.

The University of Georgia ranked 11th on the list of Best Big Colleges in the U.S. by rankings platform Niche, rising three spots from its No. 14 ranking in 2020.

The Niche rankings compare the best large private and public universities in the U.S. with at least 15,000 undergraduate students, and are based on an analysis of academic, admissions, financial and student life data from the U.S. Department of Education along with millions of reviews from students and alumni.

UGA, the birthplace of public higher education in America, has consistently ranked as a top value university and is the largest institution to place experiential learning as a core part of its undergraduate curriculum. With its comprehensive reach, the university’s 18 colleges and schools enroll more than 37,000 students and have produced over 335,000 alumni living worldwide.

The top institution on the Niche’s ranking this year was Cornell University. Other SEC schools on the list of Best Big Colleges in the U.S. included University of Florida at No. 10, Texas A&M University at No. 17, Auburn University at No. 36, the University of Alabama at No. 50, Mississippi State University at No. 52, University of Missouri at No. 55, University of Tennessee at No. 72 and University of Kentucky at No. 81.

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New mentorship resource available to UGA entrepreneurs

A new UGA Innovation District initiative will connect startup companies to dedicated mentors who provide coaching and professional expertise to accelerate growth.

Havalyn Hensley, a veteran executive who spent two decades overseeing IT operations at Coca-Cola Enterprises, will become UGA’s first Startup Mentor-on-Roster, providing business mentoring services to the growing pipeline of university-based ventures and entrepreneurs.

Hensley will consult regularly with assigned UGA startup companies, serve as an invited speaker for university courses and lectures, help guide Innovation District programming, and host weekly walk-in office hours in the Innovation Hub.

The Startup Mentors-on-Roster program is supported by a gift from Georgia Power and administered by Innovation Gateway, which actively recruits well-qualified mentors and identifies compatible matches. Mentors-on-Roster are appointed on a rolling basis and serve a six-month appointment.  The program’s goal is to create a rotating roster of up to six mentors representing major industry sectors who are available to support UGA’s innovation ecosystem.

The Mentors-on-Roster initiative is the newest component in the Innovation District’s growing Startup Mentor Program, a university-wide effort to expand business mentorship and support across the UGA startup pipeline. The Startup Mentor Program also includes a volunteer mentor network as well as a yearly Startup Mentor in Residence.

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Sheri Worthy named interim dean of College of Family and Consumer Sciences

Sheri Worthy, an academic leader with a record of teaching, research and service, has been named interim dean of the College of Family and Consumer Sciences, effective Aug. 1.

Worthy is the Samuel A. and Sharon Y. Nickols Professor and currently serves as the college’s associate dean for academic programs. She previously served as head of the department of financial planning, housing, and consumer economics. As associate dean, Worthy oversees the college’s Student Success and Advising Center, all aspects of experiential learning, curriculum, assessment and the FACS scholarship and awards programs.

Her research explores topics such as consumer vulnerability, savings and financial risk-taking behaviors. A number of her research projects feature collaborations with State Agricultural Experiment Stations in Georgia and beyond. In addition to teaching at the undergraduate and graduate levels, she has served as a faculty advisor to UGA Enactus, a student organization that seeks to use innovation and business principles to improve the world. She has served on the UGA Entrepreneurship Advisory Committee since its creation in 2015 and actively supports student social entrepreneurship.

Worthy was a 2018-2019 Fellow of the University’s Women’s Leadership Fellows Program and also completed LEAD21, an intensive year-long leadership training program for academic leaders at land-grant universities.

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Conflict of Interest Director hired to support innovation at UGA

With the advent of the Innovation District and more UGA faculty pursuing commercialization of their research, the potential for conflicts of interest for those faculty has grown. On April 1, the Office of Research welcomed the university’s first conflict of interest director, Gene Pope, whose job will be to help investigators identify and manage the inevitable competing interests that arise between their commercial and academic activities.

“My primary objectives as the new director are developing, implementing and managing an integrated, campus-wide conflicts of interest program,” said Pope, who previously served in Georgia Tech’s Conflict of Interest Management Office. “This includes operationalizing new policies and related procedures for the disclosure, review and management of COI relationships in research, outside work/consulting and other activities.”

Pope hopes the new university-wide program will protect the institution’s instruction and research reputation and the integrity of its commercialization process and reinforce the impact UGA has on the economy. Notably, a robust COI program also protects faculty from unintended missteps when launching new companies.  Working closely with faculty members throughout UGA’s research community, including Innovation Gateway, will be critical in facing COI-related issues head-on.

“I always tell faculty that the finding of a conflict of interest does not in any way imply ‘bad behavior’ on their part,” said Pope. “In fact, conflicts of interest are the natural outgrowth of successful research and commercialization efforts.My sincere desire is that being a resource for faculty will relieve some of the stress and angst associated with ‘conflicts’ and help more faculty members create startups and commercialize university intellectual property,” he said.

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Human Resources announces Staff Competency Model

Human Resources is introducing the UGA Staff Competency Model to the university community. A competency model is a collection of competencies that integrate knowledge, skills, abilities and other characteristics that translate into specific behaviors. These behaviors are grounded in the university’s values, mission and strategy and can help staff members better understand what is needed to perform a particular job successfully.

UGA’s Staff Competency Model consists of two types of competencies:

  • Core Competencies: Acts with Integrity, Communicates Effectively, Learns and Shares, Makes Sound Decisions, and Serves Others.
  • Leadership Competencies: Champions Innovation and Supervises Others.

The creation of this model was successful because of the engagement of numerous individuals across the university during the past few years. These individuals included more than 6,000 staff members who participated in surveys and focus groups, an advisory group of human resources and financial staff from 50 units, the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences’ Industrial-Organizational Psychology Program and university leadership.

The UGA Staff Competency Model is directly connected with the Engage & Learn initiatives by setting clear job standards and expectations for all staff positions that are consistent with the university’s mission, purpose and culture. Further, the model will help to identify learning and development opportunities to build on a staff member’s strengths and/or closing any identified gaps. The Engage & Learn initiative provides the resources for staff to enhance their skills and competencies.

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Georgia Museum of Art honored for pandemic programs

The Georgia Museum of Art received two awards at the Georgia Association of Museums Conference, held in Statesboro, Georgia, in a hybrid in-person/virtual format April 26-28.

The museum’s series of “Art at Home” projects, started in response to the pandemic, received the special award for “Creativity in Crisis: Community Impact” for Art at Home. Virginia Howell, director of the Robert C. Williams Museum of Papermaking at the Georgia Institute of Technology and a board member of GAM, wrote, “This project really stood out to the awards committee as a great example of adapting to the challenges of a pandemic.”

The museum described Art at Home as “an umbrella term for how the museum continued serving our mission of teaching and service for people sheltering in place.” It includes weekly family-friendly hands-on art projects, looking activities, printable resources and videos that increase accessibility by allowing people to read about and do the projects any time, not just during regular museum hours and not just in the building.

The exhibition  Cut and Paste: Works of Paper , developed by the Georgia Museum of Art and the Lyndon House Arts Center, received the 2021 award for Exhibitions between $1,000 and $25,000. The committee wrote that it wanted “to recognize the wide range of Georgia artists represented, as well as the traveling aspect of the exhibit that reaches into many parts of the state.” 

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Student helps create mental health site for farmers

Madison Smith, a recent graduate from the University of Georgia’s School of Social Work grew up on a small farm her grandfather operated in North Georgia. She initially thought she had left that life behind, but a project in the final year of her master’s degree program ultimately would marry them together.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, farmers in the U.S. have one of the highest rates of suicide for any vocational group. This sobering statistic is the primary driver behind a recently launched initiative between the School of Social Work and the American Farm Bureau Federation aimed at facilitating greater use of mental health resources for farmers and ranchers.

As part of the Farm Bureau’s Farm State of Mind campaign, Smith collaborated with Ray Atkinson, the director of strategic communications at the national organization, on the development of the first comprehensive online guide to rural mental health resources.

“I know what’s it like to be woken up at 2 a.m. because the fence is broken, and the cows have gotten out,” said Smith. “When I think about the people I’m trying to serve, I think about my grandfather and how important it is to connect with people about mental health.”

After a year of research and compilation, the site went live on May 3, offering an online portal that can help connect farmers to various resources, from help groups to hotlines.

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UGA Honors Program to become Morehead Honors College

A $10 million fundraising campaign, led by the UGA Foundation and its emeriti trustees to strengthen the University of Georgia’s Honors Program, will culminate in the naming of the Jere W. Morehead Honors College. Morehead serves as president of the University of Georgia, and the naming was approved by the University System of Georgia Board of Regents in a meeting on Tuesday, May 11.

“My fellow board members and I are delighted to play a role in this transformation at the University of Georgia,” said Sachin Shailendra, chair of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. “And my very good friend, Jere Morehead, has always remained dedicated to students and the state of Georgia. There is no one more deserving of this honor.”

“President Morehead is a gifted leader with an unyielding dedication to student learning and success,” said Steve W. Wrigley, chancellor of the University System of Georgia. “Nowhere is that more evident than his impact on the Honors Program, which—under his direction—rose from a solid foundation to a position of great national distinction.”

The fundraising campaign, which has raised more than $8 million of its $10 million goal, will elevate the Honors Program into an Honors College by creating an endowment that will provide new, permanent and robust support for academic programming, undergraduate research, study abroad and internship opportunities for Honors students. Current donors to the campaign include a number of UGA Foundation trustees and emeriti trustees, with whom the idea to name the college for Morehead originated.

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Two UGA students named 2021 Udall Scholars

The University of Georgia added two new Udall Scholars to its ranks this spring as third-year Honors students Elizabeth Esser and Kathryn Foral were recognized for their leadership, public service and commitment to issues related to the environment.

They were among 55 undergraduates selected from across the nation and U.S. territories for the Udall Scholarship, which is awarded to sophomores and juniors on the basis of their commitment to careers in the environment, Native health care or Tribal public policy. The scholarship provides up to $7,000 for eligible academic expenses.

With the addition of Esser and Foral, UGA has had 15 Udall Scholars in the past 10 years and 21 total since the scholarship was first awarded in 1996.

Esser, a Foundation Fellow from Grafton, Wisconsin, is majoring in genetics and ecology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and the Odum School of Ecology, respectively. Foral, who is from Augusta, is earning dual bachelor’s and master’s degrees in environmental health in the College of Public Health.

Both plan to pursue careers in conservation and environmental protection at the governmental level—Esser as a government researcher who uses genetic techniques to conserve endangered species and Foral as a sustainability coordinator for a local municipality, involving residents in the protection of their natural resources.

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Arden Farr named a 2021 Knight-Hennessy Scholar

University of Georgia senior Arden Farr, an Honors student from Memphis, Tennessee, has been selected for the fourth cohort of Knight-Hennessy Scholars, a global graduate-level program at Stanford University.

Established in 2016, the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program provides full funding for graduate students as they pursue studies ranging from medicine to law to doctoral programs as well as joint and dual degrees.

The program is designed to prepare students to take leadership roles in finding creative solutions to complex global issues. Farr is UGA’s third Knight-Hennessy Scholar.

“It is evident that Arden’s academic, internship and service background informs her long-term interests in defense, diplomacy, human rights and public service,” said David S. Williams, associate provost and director of the Honors Program. “Taking into account the leadership roles Arden has already filled both on and beyond our campus, I am sure that she will be a force for positive change in the future.”

A Foundation Fellow, Farr will graduate this spring with bachelor’s degrees in international affairs and economics from the School of Public and International Affairs and Terry College of Business, respectively. She will begin a master’s degree in international policy at Stanford University in the fall.