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UGA grows the economy, promotes economic prosperity in rural Georgia

In 2005, Colquitt County was experiencing growing pains. Sanderson Farms had announced plans to build a chicken processing plant in the south Georgia community, bringing 1,400 jobs to the area. While the new plant was welcome, it presented challenges. The county had limited sewer capacity, few housing options and no round-the-clock child care, a necessity for parents working overnight shifts.

At the same time, University of Georgia faculty were discussing a new program designed to link the resources of the university to the economic development needs of the state. The program would be based on the Cooperative Extension model, with UGA employees stationed in Georgia communities to help address economic development issues. The new program was named the Archway Partnership, and Colquitt County proved to be the ideal place for a pilot. An Archway Partnership professional was hired to live in Colquitt County and worked with local residents to help them reach consensus on their priorities and address the most critical issues.

Over the next few years, a steady stream of UGA faculty and students flowed through Colquitt County, providing landscaping, researching child care needs, and launching leadership programs—among other efforts.  This work made a positive impact: an analysis completed earlier this year shows that in the years since the Archway Partnership began in 2005, Colquitt County has realized an additional $226.9 million in economic activity.

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Clark Howell Hall renovation enhances UGA learning environment

UGA President Jere W. Morehead, joined by fellow university leaders, dedicated the newly renovated Clark Howell Hall, which offers greater accessibility for the more than 27,500 people who benefit from the Career Center, the Disability Resource Center and University Testing Services each year.

“The renovation of this facility will greatly enhance the world-class learning environment that we are establishing at the University of Georgia. I encourage our students to continue to utilize the outstanding services that will be located at Clark Howell Hall,” Morehead said during the Oct. 23 dedication ceremony.

The 33,000-square-foot building, originally a residence hall, was constructed in 1937 and is named for Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and Georgia political leader Clark Howell.

Supported by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia and funded by Gov. Nathan Deal and the Georgia General Assembly, the renovations totaled $6 million—$5 million in state funds appropriated for the project as well as $1 million in institutional funds. The work includes improved accessibility; upgraded mechanical, plumbing, electrical and fire alarm systems; and updated data and audio/video systems, according to Chuck Cartwright, project architect with the Office of University Architects.

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Cordero receives public health service medal

University of Georgia professor Jose F. Cordero has been awarded the 2017 Sedgwick Memorial Medal for Distinguished Service in Public Health, the oldest and most prestigious award bestowed by the American Public Health Association.

An international leader in infant and maternal health, Cordero will be honored for his “remarkable record of service in the advancement of public health knowledge and practice” at the association’s annual meeting in Atlanta on Nov. 7.

Cordero is the Gordhan and Jinx Patel Distinguished Professor of Public Health and head of the department of epidemiology and biostatistics in UGA’s College of Public Health, where he mentors graduate researchers in infectious disease studies and infant and maternal health.

“Dr. Cordero has positively impacted millions over the course of his career not only through his scholarship and practice, but also by teaching and mentoring the next generation of global health practitioners,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “I commend him on his achievements and on his receipt of this singular distinction.”

Originally trained as a pediatrician, Cordero has dedicated his career to addressing maternal and child health as well as minority health and health disparities. His many contributions to public health include identifying nutritional deficiencies of infant formula, advocating for nutrient fortification in corn and flour to prevent neural tube defects in Hispanic children, promoting child immunizations in the U.S. to eliminate measles, mumps and rubella, and championing early diagnosis for children with autism.

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Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation commits $1.5 million to support need-based aid at UGA

The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation has committed $1.5 million to the University of Georgia to provide need-based aid for students in two program areas. The UGA College of Pharmacy will receive $1 million to support pharmacy students facing financial hardships. A separate $500,000 gift will be matched by the Georgia Commitment Scholarship Program and will establish five need-based scholarships benefiting UGA students from Atlanta’s historic Westside neighborhoods.

“I want to thank Arthur Blank and his family for supporting the top priority of the University of Georgias Commit to Georgia campaign,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. These tremendous gifts will make a difference in the lives of so many students and their families for generations to come.

The UGA College of Pharmacy will establish the Molly and Max Blank Student Enrichment Endowment with the $1 million gift from The Molly Blank Fund of The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation. The Molly Blank Fund was created in 2015 in memory of Arthur Blanks mother, Molly, who committed her time and resources to various community causes and organizations. Molly and her husband, Max, owned a successful pharmacy business in New York.

The Blank Foundation also is committed to creating long-term, positive transformation in Atlantas historic Westside neighborhoods of English Avenue, Vine City and Castleberry Hill. A gift of $500,000 to UGA from the Blank Foundation will create the Angela and Arthur M. Blank Scholarship Fund to support educational opportunities for students residing in the Westside communities. Three first-year students and two additional undergraduates enrolled at the university this fall have been awarded the scholarships.

The Blank Foundations $500,000 gift will be matched by an additional $500,000 from the UGA Foundation through the Georgia Commitment Scholarship Program, which was announced by Morehead in January to increase the number of need-based scholarships available at UGA. Including these five scholarships, the university has established more than 130 Georgia Commitment Scholarships to date.

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New alliance lands $51M grant to improve clinical outcomes

The National Institutes of Health has awarded a new five-year, $51 million grant to a team of Georgia research universities to further advance bench-to-bedside clinical and translational science.

The grant is a renewal of previous funding from the NIH that established the Atlanta Clinical & Translational Science Institute, a 10-year partnership between Emory University, Morehouse School of Medicine and the Georgia Institute of Technology. With the new funding, the University of Georgia joins the existing team, which now plans to expand its focus statewide under the new partnership name, the Georgia Clinical & Translational Science Alliance.

“Continuing such an alliance and involving these leading state institutions is extremely important and in line with Georgia’s goals for the promotion of clinical and translational research, innovation and development,” said Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal. Having an active Clinical & Translational Science Alliance awardee in Georgia has brought our citizens cutting-edge cures and the latest in clinical and translational research.

The Emory-led Georgia CTSA will use the combined strengths of its academic partners to transform the quality and value of clinical research, and to translate research results into better outcomes for patients. Georgia CTSA is one of only 64 Clinical and Translational Science Alliance awards at major academic medical centers across the country funded by the National Institutes of Healths National Center for Advancing Translational Science. It is currently the only CTSA in Georgia.

This exciting partnership is a great example of how research universities in Georgia can work together to improve lives and communities across the state, said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. As a land-grant institution with a dynamic research enterprise, the University of Georgia is well positioned to help this critical alliance expand its positive impact.

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Turfgrass research is on solid ground

University of Georgia, state and industry leaders cut the ribbon on Sept. 21 signifying the official openings of three new turfgrass research and education facilities on the Griffin, Tifton and Athens campuses. The largest of the facilities is on the UGA Griffin campus, where the ceremony took place.

During the 2014 legislative session, Gov. Nathan Deal and the Georgia General Assembly appropriated funds for the statewide turfgrass facilities enhancement project.

“The University of Georgia remains very grateful to Gov. Deal, the General Assembly, the chancellor, and the board of regents for their support of this important project,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. The construction of new turfgrass research and education facilities will produce tremendous benefits not only for the university community but also for the agriculture industry, which is central to the state’s economy.

UGA has 22 scientists whose primary responsibilities are related to turfgrass and another eight faculty members who have some involvement in turf-related projects. They support the turfgrass industry by conducting research, educating industry professionals and training students who will become future industry leaders.

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University of Georgia dedicates Center for Molecular Medicine

The University of Georgia’s Center for Molecular Medicine officially has a new home on Riverbend Road, adjacent to the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center, where researchers will continue their work to uncover the molecular and cellular basis of human disease.

Dedicated Sept. 20, the 43,000-square-foot facility will house up to 10 research groups. The $25 million project was funded by $17 million in state funds and $8 million in non-state funds. All research conducted through the center will have a connection to one or more human diseases, furthering the universitys efforts to combat threats to human health.

“This world-class facility represents an investment in health care solutions that will improve the lives of millions of individuals around the globe,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. It also symbolizes the great partnership between the state of Georgia and its flagship university–a partnership that is helping to solve the grand challenges of our time and to fuel economic development in this state.

Since its founding in 2012, the center has focused on biomedical research that enhances quality of life in communities around the globe with Stephen Dalton, GRA Eminent Scholar of Molecular Cell Biology, as its founding director. Researchers in the CMM will focus on developing therapies and diagnostics for diseases that currently have no cures, including neurological diseases, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic diseases such as diabetes. The centers researchers also will concentrate on developing new vaccines.

The new facility will promote interdisciplinary collaborations between CMM researchers and investigators from other research centers across campus, including the Center for Drug Discovery, the Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases, and the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center.

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Vital partnership: President Morehead tours Georgia farms

From the trees that beautify Georgia’s landscapes to the cows that produce milk to feed Georgia families, agriculture in this state is diverse and faces a wide range of challenges. University of Georgia President Jere W. Morehead and state leaders learned more about these challenges and Northeast Georgias farms, nurseries and the agritourism industry Tuesday during the annual farm tour.

“As a land-grant institution, the University of Georgia is committed to helping our states agriculture industry thrive,” said Morehead. Today we were reminded not only of the far-reaching scope of agriculture in Georgia but also of the vital partnership between the university and farmers across the state.

This is the fifth consecutive year Morehead has joined Georgias Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black and members of the Georgia General Assembly to visit Georgia farms and food-based businesses around the state since becoming president of UGA. In 2013, the delegation visited farms in northwest Georgia; in 2014, they visited southwest Georgia; in 2015, they toured the northeast region of the state; and in 2016, they visited farms in middle Georgia.

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Presidential hiring initiative focuses on student success

The University of Georgia has launched a new presidential hiring initiative to continue to enhance the learning environment for students.

This latest hiring effort, called Investing in the Student Experience, will recruit exceptional faculty members in academic disciplines with majors that are seeing dramatic growth in student demand. Additional academic advisors also will be hired to support undergraduate students pursuing degrees in these high-demand areas.

“At the heart of the University of Georgia is an unrelenting commitment to excellence in teaching and learning–it is our first principle,” said President Jere W. Morehead. This exciting new initiative represents the latest in a series of strategic investments to elevate-even higher-the academic experiences of our students.

Over the past several years, the size of the incoming class of first-year students has steadily increased, while the academic qualifications of entering freshmen continue to rise. The most recent class of first-year students, for example, enrolled with an average GPA of 4.0 and an average ACT score of 30-both record highs.

Shifts in intended majors also are occurring as more students pursue degrees in areas such as computer science, management information systems, finance, financial planning, engineering, statistics, biology, biochemistry/molecular biology, and international affairs/political science.  The Investing in the Student Experience hiring initiative is designed to address these changes in student profile and academic interest.

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Ten UGA students, alumni offered Fulbright awards for 2017-2018

This year, 10 University of Georgia students and alumni were offered grants to take their research and teaching to a global level through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. This marks the fourth straight year-and eighth time in the past nine years-that UGA has achieved a double-digit number of Fulbright offers.

Of the 10, six were able to take advantage of the opportunity. Four received academic grants, and two will be teaching English.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers research, study and teaching opportunities in over 140 countries to recent college graduates and graduate students. As the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, it is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and countries worldwide.

“These prestigious grants are a testament to the exceptional talent of UGA students and UGA’s institutional commitment to international education,” said Maria de Rocher, assistant director of the Honors Program and chair of the Fulbright selection committee at UGA.