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Mary Frances Early celebrated on 60th anniversary of graduation

Mary Frances Early, who became the first African American graduate of the University of Georgia in 1962, was honored with a luncheon on the 60th anniversary of the achievement on Aug. 16.

“Today we celebrate one of our most iconic alumni, a true trailblazer and most importantly, a dear friend to all of us,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “Ms. Early, as we begin this celebration, thank you for all that you continue to do to support the University of Georgia. Whether it is all of the kind notes that you send, the thoughtful calls that you make, the visits to our campus or the way you mentor countless students and alumni, we appreciate your extraordinary service to this institution. On behalf of the entire UGA community, we want to thank you for the impact that you continue to have on the University of Georgia.”

Early said that she came to the luncheon with her own sense of gratefulness. “An attitude of gratitude has brought me here 60 years after my first degree. That, I thank God for,” she said. “I’m so grateful to share this significant day with you.”

Early earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from Clark College (now Clark Atlanta University) in 1957 and then went to the University of Michigan to pursue a master’s degree in music education. In 1961, she decided to transfer to the University of Georgia when she saw the protests around Charlayne Hunter (now Hunter-Gault) and Hamilton Holmes, who graduated from the same high school as Early, being admitted to the university. She wanted to do what she could to help to integrate UGA and became the first African American admitted to the Graduate School.

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UGA welcomes largest freshman class

The University of Georgia’s class of 2026 is its biggest and one of its most academically qualified yet. More than 6,200 new first-year students start classes at UGA Aug. 17, selected from a record number of nearly 40,000 applications. The students have impressive academic achievements, high school GPAs and test scores. They also excel outside the classroom, with extracurricular participation and service to their communities.

The rigor of students’ high school coursework relative to what is available at their school remains a key factor in admissions decisions at UGA. The first-year students arrive with an average of nine Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or dual-enrollment courses. The class has an average high school GPA of 4.12, the sixth consecutive year that the average weighted high school GPA of the entering students exceeds 4.0. The class of 2026 also posts an average ACT score of 32, tying last year’s record, and an average SAT score of 1384.

Although final demographic data won’t be available until after the semester begins, preliminary data show that 31% of incoming students self-identify as a member of a minority group. Thirteen percent of first-year students are the first in their families to attend college, up from 8% last year. The incoming class includes students from 452 Georgia high schools, 148 Georgia counties, 41 states and 18 countries.

Approximately 75% of the first-year students are Georgia residents. Overall, 87% of UGA’s undergraduate student body are Georgia residents, a percentage of in-state students that is far above many other state flagship institutions in the Southeast.

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UGA hosts leadership institute for African civic leaders

The University of Georgia recently hosted 25 of Africa’s bright, emerging civic engagement leaders for a six-week leadership institute sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship, the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), empowers young African leaders through academic coursework, leadership training, mentoring, networking, professional opportunities and local community engagement.

YALI was created in 2010 and supports young Africans as they spur economic growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance and enhance peace and security across Africa. The cohort of Fellows hosted by the University of Georgia is part of a group of 700 Mandela Washington Fellows hosted at 27 educational institutions across the United States.

“UGA is incredibly fortunate to be able to host such a distinguished group of young African leaders,” said Brian Watkins, director of international initiatives for the Office of Global Engagement at UGA. “We learn as much from them as they do from us, and the program has already created tremendous networking opportunities in the United States and across Africa.”

UGA’s 2022 program is a collaborative effort of the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, the UGA Office of Global Engagement and the African Studies Institute at Franklin College.

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Kagel named associate provost for global engagement

Martin Kagel, a seasoned higher education leader who has led international programs as an associate dean in the University of Georgia’s largest college, has been named associate provost for global engagement, effective Aug. 1.

“Dr. Kagel brings a wealth of experience and a passion for international partnerships to this important position,” said S. Jack Hu, the university’s senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “I am excited to have the opportunity to work with him to advance UGA’s commitment to global engagement.”

Kagel has served as interim associate provost for global engagement since February of this year, providing leadership for study abroad programs, UGA’s international centers, immigration services and international partnerships. As the A.G. Steer Professor in Goethe Studies, he served as associate dean for humanities and international studies in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences from 2016 to 2021. 

“I am thrilled to join an outstanding, truly dedicated staff in the Office of Global Engagement and grateful for the opportunity to lead UGA’s internationalization efforts,” said Kagel, “and I look forward to recognizing the many ways in which international scholars and students contribute to the intellectual life and diversity of our campus, to putting our students on the path to global citizenship, and to helping expand UGA’s global reach. We live in a world that requires us to view all scholarship, teaching and student learning in global perspective. OGE is the office on campus that can promote this understanding.”

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UGA dedicates Black-Diallo-Miller Hall residence hall

The University of Georgia held a dedication ceremony Aug. 4 to celebrate the naming of Black-Diallo-Miller Hall, UGA’s newest residence hall.

The residence hall, which is located on Baxter Street, is named in honor of Harold Alonza Black, Mary Blackwell Diallo and Kerry Rushin Miller, the first African American students to enroll as freshmen and complete their undergraduate degrees at UGA. It will house 525 first-year students in double occupancy rooms beginning this fall, which marks the 60th anniversary of the year Black, Diallo and Miller enrolled as freshmen. Portraits of all three honorees are on display in the lobby of the building.

“The three alumni we are honoring today faced challenging circumstances when they were here as students in the 1960s, but each of them persevered and went on to earn their degrees and make significant contributions to our society throughout their lives and careers,” said President Jere W. Morehead at the dedication ceremony. “The naming of this building is our way of ensuring that their stories are now forever a part of our institution’s history.”

Other speakers at the event included Jadin Marshall from Powder Springs, Georgia, who will be a resident assistant in Black-Diallo-Miller Hall this fall; Victor K. Wilson, vice president for student affairs; and all three of the honorees for whom the residence hall is named.

Construction of the six-story, $50 million project began in December 2020. The building features an exterior courtyard, large windows, in-room temperature control and privacy-enhanced community bathrooms, as well as extensive shared lounge and study areas to support academic success and personal growth. 

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Students build leadership, problem solving skills through InnovateU

A University of Georgia summer program is equipping Clarke County high school students to lead and look for innovative solutions to challenges they encounter. During InnovateU, around 20 Athens-Clarke County high school students were grouped into teams to develop new solutions for helping high school students transition to adulthood.

InnovateU, developed by the UGA Office of the President in partnership with the Clarke County School District, empowers Athens-Clarke County high school students to solve real-world business challenges through leadership and innovative problem solving skills, with the help of student mentors and local business professionals. The program met twice a week throughout the month of June.

Faculty from the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, a unit of UGA Public Service and Outreach, helped students develop skills they would need to work effectively within a team: collaboration, communication and conflict resolution.

Meanwhile, faculty from the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences and UGA Entrepreneurship Program, located within the Terry College of Business, led the students through a five-step, client-centered process known as design thinking to develop their solutions.

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Horizons at UGA provides summer enrichment for Clarke County students

During the past six weeks, Clarke County students learned how to swim and found joy in learning math, science and reading as part of the inaugural class of the Horizons Atlanta at the University of Georgia (Horizons at UGA) program.

Horizons at UGA—a partnership between the University of Georgia’s Mary Frances Early College of Education, the Clarke County School District and Horizons Atlanta—focuses on social-emotional learning in addition to academics, blending literacy and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) with swimming to build self-confidence and a lifelong interest in learning.

The program, which launched this summer, currently serves 30 students from Barnett Shoals Elementary School and plans to expand by 15 rising first graders every year. It creates a supportive, long-term learning community during the summer when students often experience learning loss—a phenomenon that has become even more pronounced during the pandemic, especially in underserved communities.

Horizons Atlanta provides 75% of funding for the UGA program, and the remaining 25% is funded by UGA, including the Office of the President, which contributed $35,000. With this funding, students can attend the program at no cost to their families or to CCSD.

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UGA expands access to native plant certificate

At the University of Georgia’s Georgia Mountain Research and Education Center, adult students study bees under a microscope, build bee houses and tour the center’s ethnobotanical garden.

It’s all part of the Bee-utiful World of Native Bees course, an elective in the curricula for the State Botanical Garden of Georgia’s Certificate in Native Plants program. Offering the course at locations throughout the state, like this one in Blairsville, is an attempt to educate more Georgians about the importance of native plants and pollinators.

“Participants can do their volunteer hours anywhere within the state as long as there is a native plant focus to their project,” said Cora Keber, education director at the UGA State Botanical Garden of Georgia.

The Certificate in Native Plants program began as an adult education program at the State Botanical Garden in Athens in 2007 as a way to connect volunteers with native plant conservation and restoration projects.

To earn the certificate, students complete four core classes in basic botany, plant taxonomy, natural communities of Georgia and plant conservation. Students also take six elective courses and complete 16 volunteer hours and two field trips. The program takes about a year to complete but is designed for students to work at their own pace.

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UGA launches Staff Comprehensive Compensation Review

The University of Georgia has announced a new initiative to complete a comprehensive review of staff compensation.

Made possible through a partnership with Deloitte Consulting, the Staff Comprehensive Compensation Review initiative will evaluate the university’s current classification and compensation structure, while analyzing job and market salary competitiveness as well as related policies and procedures. The final report is scheduled to be completed later this academic year with implementation of project outcomes to coincide with the development of the fiscal year 2023 budget.

The project aims to (1) complete a comprehensive study comparing UGA salaries to public and private markets; (2) develop a process to review salary ranges annually against market benchmarks; (3) create career ladders for promotion and progression with clearly defined criteria; (4) ensure that all policies and procedures are consistent with the new structure; and (5) develop strategies to address staff compensation challenges that consider economic realities and are fiscally sound.

“This initiative represents a critical next step in the university’s ongoing efforts to better support and retain UGA staff members. We are grateful to the advisory team, our project sponsors and a number of other individuals whose support is making this very important project possible,” Nesbit said.

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Chatterjee receives 2022 Richard Reiff Internationalization Award

The Office of Global Engagement has named Santanu Chatterjee as the recipient of the 2022 Richard Reiff Internationalization Award.

The Reiff Award honors a tenured or tenure-track faculty member who has made major contributions to the overall internationalization of the University of Georgia. It is given in honor of Richard Reiff, former executive director of the Office of International Education at the University System of Georgia, former chair of the international committee of the University System of Georgia and past president of NAFSA/Association of International Educators.

Chatterjee is the associate dean for diversity, international and master’s programs at the Terry College of Business and directs both the Full-Time MBA and the MS in Business Analytics programs. He joined the economics department faculty in 2001 and was awarded the university’s Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professorship in 2018.

During his time at UGA, Chatterjee has promoted the importance of international experiences for students. He’s personally participated in study abroad programs for undergraduate and graduate students eight times, including three trips to China and other destinations in South Africa, Spain and Latin America. He also supported the International Business Programs staff at Terry during the launch of new exchange partnerships in France, Spain and Uruguay and the startup of several faculty-led study abroad programs at the college.