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Textbook grant program to save students $770K per year

The University of Georgia has become a national leader in the use of free online textbooks, and a new grant program funded by the Provost’s Office will help save students even more money while improving the quality of their learning experience.

This semester, 14 faculty members in 10 academic units received funding through the Affordable Course Materials Grant program to transition from costly textbooks to open educational resources. The $50,000 that was distributed through the program is expected to save 7,400 students a total of $770,000 in textbook costs each year.

“The enthusiasm with which faculty have embraced open educational resources underscores their outstanding commitment to our students,” said Interim Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Libby V. Morris. “Free and low-cost course materials play an important role in helping make a University of Georgia education more affordable while also improving student success metrics such as retention and completion rates.”

The Affordable Course Materials Grants program was administered by the UGA Libraries and the Center for Teaching and Learning, which both offer consulting and information for faculty interested in open educational resources. 

The University of Georgia was recently named the No. 2 school in the nation for saving students money through the use of open educational resources. The latest data from the Center for Teaching and Learning shows that the use of open educational resources have saved nearly 60,000 UGA students a total of $5.8 million since 2013.

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ABC's Deborah Roberts pledges $100K to UGA for scholarship

Award-winning correspondent and University of Georgia alumna Deborah Roberts has committed $100,000, matched by the UGA Foundation, to establish a need-based scholarship through the Georgia Commitment Scholarship Program.

“We are thrilled that such a distinguished alumna has committed to supporting need-based aid at UGA,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “Her generosity is an example of the tremendous alumni support that continues to move our university into the future. Deborah’s gift will open the door to higher education for students today, tomorrow and in perpetuity.” 

Roberts has risen through the ranks of television news, received numerous awards and been a regular reporter and contributor for programs such as “Dateline NBC,” “20/20,” “Nightline” and “Good Morning America” to name a few.

“I feel honored, privileged and, indeed, blessed to be able to offer a student who’s dreaming of success the opportunity to make those dreams come true,” said Roberts. “Growing up in small-town Georgia, I know the value of education and embrace this opportunity to change lives and futures.”

Roberts’ scholarship will provide aid to graduates of Perry High School, which she attended, as well as other high schools in middle Georgia.

Through the Georgia Commitment Scholarship Program, the UGA Foundation matches—dollar for dollar—any gift in the amount of $50,000, $75,000 or $100,000 to establish an endowed, need-based scholarship for undergraduate students. The scholarship is awarded within a year of the donor making their gift, and from that point forward, the endowment grows—increasing the size of the scholarship award over time and helping student after student earn a UGA degree.

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College of Pharmacy sets residency match record

An unprecedented, record-setting number of students graduating from the University of Georgia College of Pharmacy Doctor of Pharmacy program this spring matched with post-education residencies across the country, announced Dean Kelly Smith.

Seventy-two percent, or 56 of the 78 UGA Pharmacy students who sought post-graduate residency matches, known as PGY-1 residencies, received successful notifications, compared to the national average of 61%. This high number of matches placed UGA Pharmacy in the top 10 of 140 colleges of pharmacy across the nation that participated in residency matching. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists oversees the match process nationwide.

Along with the national ranking, UGA had the highest number of matches among the four schools of pharmacy in Georgia.

“Our successful match rate speaks volumes to the outstanding pharmacy education that is delivered by the faculty of our college,” said Smith. “Beyond the classroom, we provide future pharmacists with superior experiential learning curriculum in clinics, hospitals, and many other community and health care settings as well. I couldn’t be prouder of this accomplishment. To be in the top 10 nationwide is phenomenal.”

Complementing this match rate, the highest for the College of Pharmacy in UGA history, is the match figure for first-year pharmacy residents seeking an additional year of training, known as PGY-2 residencies. According to ASHP match result data, 91% of UGA pharmacy graduates who sought a second year of residency training were successfully matched. This additional year provides specialty training in such areas as critical care, infectious diseases, psychiatry and oncology.

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Fanning Institute partnership helps high school students lead, succeed

A Walton County high school is seeing increased student involvement and higher graduation rates since adopting a University of Georgia youth leadership program into its curriculum.

Walnut Grove High School in Loganville in 2015 implemented the Youth Leadership in Action program, designed by the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development at UGA, a division of Public Service and Outreach. So far, 300 students have completed the curriculum, and many have gone on to serve on committees and boards that make decisions for the school.

Since the leadership curriculum was adopted by the school, graduation rates have risen from 78.3% (2013-14) to 86.2% (2016-17), which is well above the state average of 81.6%.

“The program empowers students to facilitate their own goals and develops them as leaders among their classmates,” says Walnut Grove High School Principal Sean Callahan. “We have seen school climate improve, students stay in school, become more involved and take ownership of their school, which all lead to achievement.”

The program at Walnut Grove is a model for other schools and communities, said Matt Bishop, director of the Fanning Institute. So far, 17 schools in Georgia have incorporated the Youth Leadership in Action curriculum into their instructional time.

“This shows how we can partner with schools to embed leadership development into the classroom and develop young people who lead in their schools and their communities,” Bishop said.

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Consortium studying human trafficking awarded $4M

The University of Georgia Research Foundation received a $4 million award from the U.S. Department of State to reduce the prevalence of human trafficking in targeted communities of West Africa.

Researchers at UGA formed an international consortium, the Africa Programming and Research Initiative to End Slavery (APRIES), which will be responsible for the implementation of the award. The project is overseen by the State Department’s Office to Combat and Monitor Trafficking in Persons and is part of its Program to End Modern Slavery.

The APRIES team will work with ResilientAfrica Network, a USAID-funded partnership of 20 African universities based at Makerere University in Uganda, to collect, analyze and establish robust baseline data on the prevalence, impact and service gaps of human trafficking in certain sectors in Sierra Leone and Guinea. Local implementing partners will amplify the effort by using the findings of the research in anti-slavery operations and programs that help trafficking survivors. 

“There has never been a systematic, research-based multinational effort as extensive as this to tackle the problem of modern slavery in Africa,” said David Okech, an associate professor in the UGA School of Social Work and the project’s director and principal investigator. “This is a challenge and also a great opportunity to execute truly transformational programs.”

APRIES members have a proven record of anti-trafficking research in sub-Saharan Africa, including the development of a model for the reintegration of female survivors of human trafficking; increasing transparency in labor supply chains in cocoa cultivation and garment manufacturing; and reintegrating former child soldiers in post-conflict zones. These projects were made possible by the UGA President’s Interdisciplinary Seed Grant Program, the UGA Office of International Education, the Owens Institute for Behavioral Research, the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the United Kingdom’s Economic and Social Research Council.

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Active learning impacts campus

Students in active-learning classes at UGA are getting higher grades, spending less time sitting through lectures and getting more feedback from faculty.

It’s all part of the charge to transform courses to actively engage students, and specifically the result of the Center for Teaching and Learning’s Active Learning Summer Institute. Last summer, faculty members participated in the multi-week intensive program to transform courses to include more active learning. They learned how to select interactive classroom and assessment strategies, design learning experiences that are appropriate for the content and level of the students, and even how to evaluate and fine tune their course by collecting data on the impact of their course redesigns.

The 32 faculty members who participated in last summer’s inaugural institute taught a total of 8,643 students this year. After the course redesigns, data from fall semester classes shows there are more discussions on why course material is useful, more opportunities for students to receive feedback on their work before earning a grade, and more faculty using pre-class assignments to make sure students come to class prepared to engage more deeply with the material.

Faculty interest in active learning is also up. There were nearly 70 applications for the 2018 summer institute, and more than 100 applications for the 2019 institute. And while much of the interest in the first session was from STEM disciplines, interest is broader for the 2019 session with applicants from the arts and humanities, social sciences, social work and forestry.

Faculty members from last year’s cohort are expanding the reach of the institute by teaching their colleagues about active learning—giving presentations and sharing the curricula they developed, bringing Center for Teaching and Learning workshops to their departments, and co-teaching classes with colleagues who have not yet gone through the Active Learning Summer Institute. 

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Database offers tool for global health collaborations

As the big data revolution continues to evolve, access to data that cut across many disciplines becomes increasingly valuable. In the field of public health, one barrier to sharing data is the need for users to fully comprehend complex methodological details and data variables in order to properly conduct analyses.

The Clinical Epidemiology Database, ClinEpiDB.org, aims to address these barriers by not only providing access to huge volumes of data, but also providing tools to help interpret complex global epidemiologic research studies. The development of ClinEpiDB has been led by the University of Georgia’s Institute of Bioinformatics, University of Pennsylvania’s School of Arts and Sciences and its Perelman School of Medicine, and the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Integrative Biology.

On March 7, ClinEpiDB released data, methodology and documentation from “The Etiology, Risk Factors, and Interactions of Enteric Infections and Malnutrition and the Consequences for Child Health and Development” (MAL-ED) study. The MAL-ED study represents a nearly decade-long research collaboration between the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, Fogarty International Center, and an international network of investigators.

The MAL-ED study was designed to help identify environmental exposures early in a child’s life that are associated with shortfalls in physical growth, cognitive development, and immunity. The study characterizes gut function biomarkers on the causal pathway from environmental exposure to growth and development deficits and assesses diversity across geographic locations with respect to exposures and child health and development. The MAL-ED consortium has published a significant library of peer-reviewed publications and ClinEpiDB now makes the MAL-ED data highly visible and accessible in new and exciting ways.

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College of Education professors receive ACA Fellows Awards

Jolie Daigle and Anneliese Singh, professors in the department of counseling and human development services in the College of Education, recently received 2019 Fellows Awards from the American Counseling Association for their contributions to the counseling profession.

The association’s highest honor, the ACA Fellows Award was presented to Daigle and Singh during the ACA 2019 Conference and Expo in New Orleans in March.

Singh’s research, practice and advocacy are focused on the resilience of transgender people, trans people of color, nonbinary youth, survivors of trauma, immigrants, social justice and empowerment training.

Daigle, a professor-in-residence at Rutland Academy, researches service-learning in counseling training programs, clinical preparation of school counselors, social and emotional development of children and dropout prevention. In 2016, she was elected as an editorial review board member of ACA’s Journal of Counseling and Development

This year, eight counselors were granted ACA Fellow status. All honorees are active members of the association and represent a diverse community of leaders that create and expand knowledge and insight into the counseling profession.

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Food2Kids receives top student organization award

Food2Kids was named “Organization of the Year” during the 18th Annual H. Gordon and Francis S. Davis Student Organization Achievement and Recognition Awards, given out April 16 at the Tate Student Center. The SOAR Awards celebrate the accomplishments of student organizations at the University of Georgia.

Food2Kids partners with the Northeast Georgia Food Bank to provide weekend meal packages to children who are facing food insecurity. The packages are used to help eliminate the “hunger gap,” the time between the last meal at school on Fridays and the first meal on Mondays.

The students who work with Food2Kids facilitate the bagging of the meals and also coordinate fundraising efforts for the Food Bank, helping increase the number of children served annually from 80 to more than 650 over the past few years.

Food2Kids Co-President Carly Esposito, a fourth-year exercise and sport science major from Milton, also received the Bulldog Vision award at the ceremony.

Other award categories and their recipients can be seen here.

There are currently 765 registered student organizations on campus. The SOAR awards are sponsored by the Center for Student Activities and Involvement within the Tate Student Center.

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UGA building renovations win awards from Georgia Trust

Three University of Georgia building renovation projects have received statewide awards from the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation.

The Agricultural Research Building and H.H. Tift Building at the UGA Tifton campus received an Excellence in Rehabilitation award, and the Russell Hall renovation received an award for Excellence in Sustainable Preservation.

“Each of these projects was a team effort and they reflect our shared commitment of preserving our heritage through state stewardship of our cultural resources while incorporating modern features and systems that support the University’s mission,” said University Architect Gwynne Darden.

University Housing’s Russell Hall, which is the residence to about a thousand students, went through a 15-month renovation and reopened in August 2018. At over 230,000 square feet, Russell Hall is the largest comprehensive historic building renovation at the University of Georgia and serves as a model of sustainable historic preservation.

The Agricultural Research Building, which was rededicated in April 2018, is an 81-year-old building that was the second structure built on the UGA Tifton campus. The building houses the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Department of Animal and Dairy Science and Department of Entomology.

Included as part of the same award is the H.H. Tift Building, which was rededicated in September 2016 after its renovation.  The Tift Building complements the campus’s vital research enterprise, which is recognized worldwide for scientific discoveries related to agricultural commodities such as cotton, peanuts, pecans, turf grass and vegetables.