Like dozens of his fellow University of Georgia students, Kyle McReynolds used to worry about finding enough money for his next meal.
"You want to be engaged in class, engaged in studying, but all you can think about is how you're going to pay for the next thing," said McReynolds, a junior majoring in business management from Warner Robbins.
McReynolds and his classmates are now able to focus on their studies thanks to the Let All the Big Dawgs Eat Food Scholarship. The food scholarship and other programs that support students just got a big boost from University of Georgia graduate Jess Stokely, who is contributing $900,000 to the food scholarship and $1.5 million to general support for students.
Stokely's $2.4 million donation is the largest one-time gift ever made to the university's Division of Student Affairs.
Even with the competitive tuition rates at UGA, more students are finding it difficult to afford a college degree. More than 94 percent of UGA students receive financial aid, such as Pell Grants and the HOPE Scholarship. For some, there is still a gap to cover the full cost of attendance.
College student food insecurity-lacking reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious meals-is increasingly becoming a focus on major college campuses across the country. Food and financial insecurity can impede students in several ways-from financial strain and multiple loans, to time commitment and working multiple jobs, to nutrition quality and wellness.
The food scholarship initiative currently sponsors one-year meal plans in the university's dining halls for 46 students with demonstrated need. That number will grow with additional scholarships being awarded next semester.
With the launch of the new Center for the Ecology of Infectious Diseases, the University of Georgia is poised to become a world leader in the increasingly important field of disease ecology.
"We have a bold mission, but I genuinely believe we can achieve it," said John Drake, a professor in the Odum School of Ecology and the new center's director. "We hope to be the best in the world within five years, and I think that's possible because of the vibrant research community we have here."
Infectious diseases pose a serious threat to human health, causing millions of deaths around the world every year, according to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. They also take an enormous financial toll in lost productivity as well as costs associated with controlling them.
Because most emerging infectious diseases originate in animals, a purely medical approach is not adequate for combating them; understanding how ecological processes and human impacts on the environment influence the emergence and spread of infectious diseases is critical. Disease ecology provides this kind of insight, exploring interactions between hosts and pathogens and/or parasites within their ecological context.
More than 250 people from across the United States and abroad recently gathered in Atlanta for a summit on women's leadership in STEM organized by UGA professor Takoi Hamrita.
The Global Women in STEM Leadership Summit was supported by the Women in Engineering organization of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers as well as the UGA Office of the President, Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost and the College of Engineering. Additional sponsors included AT&T, Cricket Wireless, Baldor, Southern Company and the Georgia Institute of Technology.
"We had an amazing time, and it was a remarkable opportunity for women from all facets of STEM and all paths of life to come together and to connect and share and learn from each other," said Hamrita, a professor of electrical engineering in the College of Engineering. "There was over 3,000 years of collective STEM experience in the room, and that provided for a very deep and enriching experience. I'm very grateful to all who have contributed to the success of this program."
The University of Georgia Veterinary Teaching Hospital has renamed its Small Animal Hospital in honor of Cora Nunnally Miller, a donor who gave more than $13 million to the College of Veterinary Medicine.
The name change was made official Nov. 3 during a dedication ceremony that included the unveiling of a portrait of Miller that was painted when she was a teenager by Lamar Dodd. The portrait was donated to the college as part of Miller's estate and now hangs in the hospital's small animal lobby.
"Cora Miller was a very distinguished woman who sought no recognition for her generosity, taking great satisfaction in simply learning about the impact of her philanthropy," Dean Sheila W. Allen said during the ceremony. "We proudly honor her transformational gifts to the college by naming the Small Animal Hospital the Cora Nunnally Miller Small Animal Teaching Hospital."
Miller, who passed away at her home in July 2015, loved horses, dogs and the field of veterinary medicine. Of her gifts, more than $7 million was designated for building the college's new, state-of-the-art teaching hospital, which opened in March 2015. The remainder of her contributions resulted in several endowed chairs and professorships for the college as well as the Service Animal Fund for animals devoted to serving people such as assistance dogs and military and police dogs.
Dennis Kyle, one of the nation's leading infectious disease researchers, will join the University of Georgia faculty as its newest Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar.
Kyle, currently a Distinguished Health Professor at the University of South Florida, will join UGA on Jan. 3, 2017, as the GRA Eminent Scholar in Antiparasitic Drug Discovery. He also will serve as the new director of UGA's Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases, which Daniel Colley, a professor of microbiology, has led since 2001.
Established in 1998, CTEGD is made up of a wide range of research programs focused on the development of medical and public health interventions for diseases that contribute enormously to global death, disability and instability—including malaria, sleeping sickness, cryptosporidiosis, schistosomiasis and Chagas disease.
"Dr. Kyle is one of the world's foremost authorities on malaria and other parasitic diseases," said President Jere W. Morehead. "I am pleased that he will be joining UGA to advance the worldwide reputation of CTEGD and to strengthen the university's partnerships across GRA institutions in the development of new drug therapies."
The University of Georgia School of Law saw a high percentage of its graduates pass the July 2016 Georgia bar exam.
The passage rate for first-time test takers from Georgia Law was 87.5 percent, 12.2 percentage points higher than the state average of 75.3 percent for ABA-approved law schools. For all Georgia Law graduates who took the July 2016 exam, 86.1 percent passed versus the state average of 71.1 percent.
"Georgia Law is committed to providing our students with the knowledge and skills they need to be well-prepared once they graduate and begin their careers," Georgia Law Dean Peter B. "Bo" Rutledge said. "These exam results show how our faculty's dedication to first-rate legal training-combined with our students' dedication to learning-are making us successful in this endeavor."
A concerted effort at the University of Georgia to help students earn their degrees in a more timely manner has catapulted the institution's four-year graduation rate to a record level.
Sixty-six percent of UGA students who enrolled as freshmen in the fall of 2012 graduated within four years, a 3 percentage point increase from the previous year.
For comparison, the most recent data available shows an average four-year graduation rate of 49 percent for UGA's peer institutions, 70 percent for its aspirational institutions and 44 percent for Southeastern Conference institutions.
"This outstanding achievement reflects the dedication of many individuals across campus-over many years-to putting students first at the University of Georgia," said President Jere W. Morehead. "While we still have work to do, our progress in this area sends another strong signal of UGA's upward trajectory."
The university's six-year graduation rate remained at its record level of 85 percent, which is 11 percentage points above the average six-year graduation rate of 74 percent for UGA's peer institutions and approaches the 87 percent average graduation rate for its aspirational institutions. UGA's 85 percent six-year graduation rate greatly exceeds the 70 percent average for SEC institutions.
Timothy M. Chester, UGA vice president for information technology, is the 2016 recipient of the EDUCAUSE Community Leadership Award.
EDUCAUSE is a nonprofit association and community of IT leaders and professionals for higher education. The Community Leadership Award, which is presented annually, recognizes community leaders and active volunteers in professional service to the higher education IT community.
"This is a well-deserved honor for Dr. Chester," said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. "Our academic community benefits in so many ways from his expertise and leadership in information technology, and we congratulate him on this national recognition."
Since his arrival at UGA in 2011, Chester has focused on strategies to elevate the work, influence and impact of the university's central IT department and the Office of Institutional Research.
He has revamped both units to ensure that their day-to-day work is aligned with the university's strategic initiatives, and he has facilitated systematic, stakeholder-focused improvements in the delivery of IT services and data reporting and analytics.
The University of Georgia College of Environment and Design earned top 10 rankings in four categories in DesignIntelligence magazine's 2016-17 edition of America's Best Architecture and Design Schools.
"These latest rankings reaffirm the quality our College of Environment and Design and just how innovative its degree programs are," said Pamela Whitten, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. "Thanks to the college's extraordinary faculty, its students graduate ready to help create a more sustainable future."
The America's Best Architecture & Design Schools survey is conducted annually, and this year nearly 3,000 hiring professionals from the disciplines of architecture, interior design and landscape architecture participated. In the landscape architecture program, UGA's undergraduate program ranked fifth in the nation and its graduate program ranked ninth.
DesignIntelligence also recorded responses from 40 academic leaders for its Landscape Architecture Deans Survey. In that survey, UGA's undergraduate landscape architecture ranked third for its emphasis on integrating design, sustainability and technology.
Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner was the featured guest at Tuesday night's Chambliss Leadership Forum fundraising event held in honor of former Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss and his wife, Julianne. This marks the third event of the Chambliss Leadership Forum, which has raised more than $500,000 to provide scholarships for University of Georgia students to spend a semester in Washington, D.C.
"Julianne and I are excited to be able to give back to our alma mater by helping provide such an invaluable experience to UGA students," Chambliss said. "Thanks to many generous friends and colleagues, we are thrilled to announce that the first class of Chambliss Fellows will head to Washington next semester."
The first Chambliss Fellows, who will be selected through a competitive process, will be announced later this year. The students will be provided academic assistance to live, work and pursue their passion in Washington, D.C.
"The Chambliss Leadership Forum will allow outstanding UGA students to participate in life-changing experiential learning opportunities in our nation's capital," said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. "I am deeply grateful to Senator Chambliss and Julianne and to the many supporters who have helped to launch this exceptional initiative."