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Three UGA faculty members honored as Meigs Professors

The University of Georgia has honored three faculty members with its highest recognition for excellence in instruction, the Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professorship.

“At a university with an unrivaled commitment to student success, Meigs Professors are the best of the best,” said Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Pamela Whitten, whose office sponsors the award. “They educate and inspire University of Georgia students to achieve their full potential.”

The 2018 Meigs Professors are Santanu Chatterjee, associate professor of economics and director of the full-time master’s in business administration and master of science in business analytics programs in the Terry College of Business; Michael Marshall, professor of art in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences; and Patricia Richards, professor of sociology and women’s studies in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.

Chatterjee has partnered with financial technology corporations in Atlanta to provide students with meaningful experiential and project-based learning opportunities to prepare them for jobs in the rapidly growing FinTech sector of the economy. Since assuming the role of director of the Full-Time MBA Program for the Terry College in August of 2014, Chatterjee has worked to expand interdisciplinary offerings through the creation of five new dual-degree programs.

Marshall has taught every course in the photography curriculum of the Lamar Dodd School of Art, redesigning the program of study to integrate new technology and the medium’s changing role in visual culture. He utilizes service-learning to hone students’ skills while engaging the concerns of Georgia communities and the environment. As associate director of curriculum for the art school, Marshall has placed the needs of students at the forefront of curriculum development with new programming emphasizing ideation and interdisciplinary practice. Marshall received the 2017 Honored Educator Award from the Society for Photographic Education Southeast Chapter as well as the Sustainability Outstanding Faculty Award and the 2015 Service-Learning Teaching Excellence Award at UGA.

Richards has tailored her courses to enhance her students’ understanding of global issues while empowering students through classroom discussion to further engage with the material. Richards, who also is a member of the core faculty of the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Institute and an affiliate faculty member of the Institute of Native American Studies, has designed a series of courses where students analyze disparate nations and societies to promote a critical understanding of the world. She has played an integral part in curriculum changes in LACSI and the Institute for Women’s Studies.

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University mourns passing of Zell Miller

Zell Miller, a former governor, U.S. senator and creator of the HOPE Scholarship, passed away Friday. He was 86. 

Miller was an influential politician in Georgia for more than 50 years, but much of his legacy rests on his innovative and far-reaching efforts to improve education.

The HOPE Scholarship, Georgia’s unique scholarship and grant program that rewards students with financial assistance in degree, diploma and certificate programs at colleges and universities, has sent more than 350,000 Georgians to college.

He also created the Zell and Shirley Miller Fellowship, which is awarded annually to a doctoral student in the University of Georgia’s Institute of Higher Education.

“The University of Georgia mourns the loss of one of this state’s greatest champions,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “Governor Miller’s impact on higher education in Georgia—and indeed the nation—was profound. The University of Georgia would not be the world-class institution it is today without his vision and dedicated leadership. The thoughts and prayers of our university community go out to his family and friends.”

During his administration, faculty salaries in the University System of Georgia grew nearly 30 percent and higher education funding nearly 60 percent. Many of UGA’s East Campus buildings were funded while he was governor. Miller authorized nearly $300 million to repair and renovate buildings in the university system and almost $1 billion in capital spending.

UGA established the Zell Miller Distinguished Professorship in 2005 to foster research, instruction and outreach relating to economic development policy. An anonymous donor funded the professorship to honor Miller.

The Zell B. Miller Learning Center at UGA was named in his honor in 2008. This innovative, technologically advanced learning environment features a unique combination of library and instructional space, modern classrooms, the best in campus computing and comprehensive instructional support for faculty.

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UGA to develop peer faculty mentoring program

The University of Georgia is moving forward with plans to create a new faculty mentorship program and introduce tools to allow a common course evaluation. The plans stem from the final report of the President’s Task Force on Student Learning and Success, which included 12 recommendations to enhance the undergraduate learning environment at UGA.

A working group comprised of six members of the UGA Teaching Academy, a longstanding community of faculty devoted to promoting teaching excellence, will develop proposals for the new initiative. Academy members William Vencill, who serves as the university’s associate vice president for instruction, and Marisa Pagnattaro, associate dean for research and graduate programs in the UGA Terry College of Business, will co-chair the working group.

The focus of the faculty mentorship program will be on expanding peer evaluation across campus to further promote teaching excellence, support faculty growth and development, and measure student learning in the classroom. The working group will develop a framework for faculty leaders both to assess existing evaluation processes and to pilot new peer evaluation methods specific to their school or college.

“Developing a collaborative process for peer mentoring and evaluation is essential to the professional growth of our faculty as instructors,” said Vencill. “Faculty-to-faculty guidance through the mentoring and evaluation process will fundamentally and positively change instruction across all schools and colleges.

The Task Force on Student Learning and Success, co-chaired by Vice President for Instruction Shrivastav and Vice President for Student Affairs Victor Wilson, was charged last February with taking a fresh look at the university’s undergraduate learning environment to identify new opportunities to further enhance the educational experience, inside and outside the classroom, for UGA students. The task force provided 12 recommendations organized into three broad objectives: evolving the curriculum, enhancing teaching and learning, and expanding student support and mentoring.

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Ten selected for new cohort of Women's Staff Leadership Institute

Ten University of Georgia staff members have been selected to participate in the second cohort of the Women’s Staff Leadership Institute. Launched in 2017, the WSLI is an annual program aligned with the Women’s Leadership Initiative launched in 2015 by President Jere W. Morehead and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Pamela Whitten.

The program is administered through the Office of Human Resources’ Training and Development with the support of executive sponsor Jennifer L. Frum, vice president for public service and outreach. Allie Cox, director of training and development, coordinates the institute.

“Developing the talents of our staff members and supporting women leaders at UGA strengthens the university as a whole,” said Frum. “When individuals grow their leadership abilities and make their fullest contributions in their careers here, we are better able to fulfill the mission of the university and serve the citizens of Georgia.”

Members of the 2018 class are:

  • Angela Birkes, the alliance director for the Peach State Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation in the Office of Institutional Diversity
  • Marti Brickthe director of external affairs at the College of Veterinary Medicine
  • Maria de Rocherassistant director of the Honors Program
  • Kara Freskdirector of learning and strategic initiatives in the Division of Student Affairs
  • Shannon Hinsonassociate director of admissions and director of dual degree programs in the School of Law
  • Meg Mittelstadtassistant director for faculty development and recognition in the Center for Teaching and Learning
  • Lindsey Van Notesenior director for human resources strategic management and special projects in the Office of Human Resources
  • Nakia Wadehuman resources senior manager in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences
  • Kristy Walkerassociate director for business and human resources in University Housing
  • Jana Wigginsdirector of communications for the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, a public service and outreach unit

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UGA recognized for international collaboration

The University of Georgia is one of eight universities nationwide to be recognized for its exemplary international programs and partnerships by NAFSA, a nonprofit association dedicated to international education.

The university’s network of partnerships within the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais received NAFSA’s 2018 Senator Paul Simon Spotlight Award, which is named after the late Illinois senator who was a strong advocate for international education and cross-cultural learning.

“The University of Georgia is a global enterprise, with reach and impact that span the world,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead, “and I want to congratulate the faculty at UGA whose dedication to international research and collaboration is being recognized by this significant award.”

UGA has long considered Brazil a strategically important country based on the quality of its higher education system, and the UGA-Minas Gerais partnership was launched in 2015 after a data-driven analysis of research activity revealed that an outsized portion of UGA’s international research collaborations could be traced to several institutions in Minas Gerais.

“Some of the most important challenges facing researchers today are global in nature,” said Brian Watkins, director of international partnerships at the Office of International Education. “To rise to the challenge, we must bring together international researchers with overlapping strengths and provide them with the support they need to launch new and exciting collaborations. That is what the program in Brazil was designed to do.”

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Three receive Russell Awards for excellence in teaching

Three University of Georgia faculty members have been named recipients of the Richard B. Russell Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, the university’s highest early career teaching honor.

“Extraordinary faculty members such as this year’s Russell Award recipients are the foundation of the learning environment at the University of Georgia,” said Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Pamela Whitten, whose office administers the awards. “By creating memorable and engaging classroom experiences, they make students active participants in the learning process.”

The 2018 Russell Award winners are Christine Albright, an assistant professor of classics in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences; Michael Cacciatore, an assistant professor of advertising and public relations in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication; and Alex Reed, associate professor and director of the legal studies certificate program in the Terry College of Business.

Albright, who joined UGA’s faculty in 2012, is a national leader in using a teaching pedagogy known as “Reacting to the Past,” which allows students to role play as they learn about historic events such as the assassination of Julius Caesar. She also created an annual Latin and Greek Banquet that enhances students’ understanding of culture during the classical time period, and she spearheaded the annual Homerathon, a two-day performance of the poetry of Homer that has exposed students in other fields to the classics.

Cacciatore, who joined the UGA faculty in 2013, places an emphasis on student engagement and active learning, whether in a small seminar course or in his large introductory public relations course that enrolls more than 250 students. He incorporates current events and campaigns into classroom discussions, and he re-envisioned his introductory course to build writing skills and integrate a greater level of discussion to better position students for entering a competitive job market.

Reedwho joined the insurance, legal studies and real estate department in 2010, continuously updates his course material to include real-world examples of legal business concepts. He developed role-play simulations for his course on negotiations and incorporated innovative components from highly acclaimed programs into the class. Reed was instrumental in the development of the legal studies certificate program six years ago, and he took over as director of the program in 2015.

To learn more about the Russell Awards, see https://t.uga.edu/2Zp .

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Kisaalita named Georgia Athletic Association Professor

William Kisaalita, a member of the University of Georgia faculty since 1991, has been named a Georgia Athletic Association Professor in Engineering. The GAA established the endowed professorship to encourage leadership in multi-disciplinary projects that address global challenges.

Kisaalita teaches both undergraduate and graduate-level courses in the UGA College of Engineering. His research in tissue engineering focuses on cell-based biosensors with applications in drug discovery. In addition, he works to develop technology that assists people in low-resource settings. ­Kisaalita’s efforts to design a ­biofuel-powered cooler to keep milk safe and healthy to drink in areas without electricity, particularly sub-Saharan ­Africa, earned a $1 million research grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development.

“I am deeply humbled and honored by this recognition of my work by the Georgia Athletic Association,” said Kisaalita. “I am also encouraged to continue engaging our students in solving challenges in places that are often ignored. What seems a small difference can be made huge from the perspective of those in these settings.”

Throughout his career, Kisaalita has developed research activities and international service-learning projects that have engaged students in helping solve real-world problems.

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UGA part of regional collaboration studying oyster farming

Ripples form on the surface of the water as University of Georgia graduate student Shannon Kirk loads her research equipment onto the research vessel Marie. Today she’s heading out to her research site in Wassaw Sound to measure the growth of more than 10,000 oysters.

“We’ll measure the length, width and height to determine the overall proportion of the oysters, which will help us understand how valuable they might be in the eyes of consumers,” said Kirk, who is studying aquaculture in the Master of Science program at the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources.

In partnership with UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, Kirk is studying ways to reduce the buildup of barnacles, algae and other organisms, called biofouling, on floating cages used by shellfish growers. Her findings could help UGA’s efforts to revive the oyster industry in Georgia.

Kirk’s research is part of a larger, multistate collaborative project funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Southern Regional Aquaculture Center. The project team consists of university researchers, Sea Grant extension agents and industry partners representing seven states across the southern region, from North Carolina to Louisiana. Kirk and Louisiana State University graduate student Ellis Chapman are deploying the same research methods at sites in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

The team is working closely with oyster farmers over the course of the project. The growing gear is deployed on their farms and they are working with extension agents to handle routine flipping at the sites. At the conclusion of the study, the research team will share results at workshops designed for current growers as well those who have an interest in getting into oyster aquaculture in each state.

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School of Law captures national moot court title

The University of Georgia School of Law recently captured the top trophy in the Charleston School of Law National Moot Court Competition and won a regional championship of the American Association for Justice National Student Trial Advocacy Competition, qualifying to compete in the national tier of this tournament.

Third-year law student Caroline F. Savini and second-year law student Simone Ford went undefeated at the Charleston moot court tournament, claiming the national title. Savini was named the best oralist of the final round.

A second team representing UGA, comprised of second-year law students Eric Wilder and Hayley Nicolich finished as semifinalists and were presented with the Best Appellee Brief Award.

Notably, three of the best five oralists in the preliminary rounds of this competition were from UGA: Wilder, Nicolich and Savini. Also, Georgia was the only school to advance two teams to the quarterfinals.

In the American Association for Justice National Student Trial Advocacy Competition, third-year law students J. Alex Prescott and Karen E. Hays and second-year law students Stephen Mulherin and Philip Poole finished in first place in their regional tournament. They were undefeated in the contest, overcoming teams such as Emory University, Georgia State University, Belmont University, the University of South Carolina and Lincoln Memorial University. They will now advance to the national tier of the tournament to be held in Raleigh, North Carolina, during April.

These successes demonstrate the law school’s commitment to preparing its students for real-world practice while connecting them to professionals and leaders in the legal community through a variety of different opportunities and events, according to law school Dean Peter B. “Bo” Rutledge.

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Warnell dedicates classroom, center to honor alumnus

The University of Georgia’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources dedicated a classroom and its Center for Forest Business after prominent alumnus Harley Langdale Jr. on March 6.

Langdale, who graduated from UGA in 1937, died in 2013. Gifts from his estate and the Harley Langdale, Jr. Foundation totaling $3.6 million allowed the Center for Forest Business to expand its education efforts and research, as well as its service to the forest industry and private landowners. The center has been renamed the Harley Langdale Jr. Center for Forest Business.

“Harley Langdale Jr. was the consummate entrepreneur,” said Bob Izlar, director of the center. “When he encountered obstacles, he found innovative ways around them, whether it was brow beating the chairman of the regents, reforming national banking laws, helping enact capital gains tax treatment of timber, or creating new and sustainable markets for economic development of forestland. His life was a model for all Georgia. We are humbled by the legacy he has imparted to us.”

Langdale’s family, the Harley Langdale Jr. Foundation, Warnell faculty, and UGA President Jere W. Morehead attended the dedication on Tuesday.

In addition to the classroom and center, he will also be recognized with a named professorship, the Harley Langdale Jr. Endowed Chair in Forest Business.

Langdale graduated from what was then the George Foster Peabody School of Forestry in 1937, and over the next few decades he became one of the foremost pioneers in Georgia’s forest industry. As one of the first foresters to make the move from producing turpentine to planting trees for harvest, Langdale’s vision and passion ushered in an era of tree farming and sustainability.