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Lew Hunnicutt named assistant provost and UGA-Griffin director

Lew K. Hunnicutt, an administrator who oversees two campuses of Frank Phillips College in Texas, has been named assistant provost and campus director at the University of Georgia's Griffin campus.

Hunnicutt, whose appointment at UGA is effective Nov. 1, is currently the vice president of extended services at Frank Phillips College in the Texas Panhandle, where he is responsible for the operation of branch campuses in Perryton and Dalhart and where he oversees extended education programs such as continuing education and corporate development.

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U.S. News & World Report again ranks UGA among nations best public universities

The University of Georgia continues to rank as one of the nation's top public universities, according to U.S. News & World Report, which placed UGA 21st on its list of 2016 Best Public Universities, released today.

On the Best National Universities list, which is traditionally dominated by private institutions, UGA moved up to 61st this year and tied with Syracuse University, Southern Methodist University, Purdue University and Clemson University. UGA tied with two institutions for the No. 21 spot among public universities, and no public university was ranked 20th this year due to ties.

"The University of Georgia consistently ranks among the nation's best public research universities," said President Jere W. Morehead, "and I am excited about the future of our institution as we implement a number of transformative initiatives—including an experiential learning requirement—to further enhance the world-class education we provide."

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UGA MBA program rises in rankings

Forbes magazine released its biannual MBA program ranking earlier today, once again recognizing the University of Georgia Terry College of Business among the nation's best business schools.

The Terry College MBA program ranks 19th among public institutions (No. 36 overall) in the 2015 Forbes rankings, up from 24th among public schools (49th overall) in 2013.

The Forbes rankings are based on the return on investment over five years by graduates of the class of 2010.

"I am proud that our MBA program continues to provide an excellent return on investment to our graduates," said Terry College Dean Benjamin C. Ayers. "The career success of our former students is one of the surest signs that our program delivers on its promise of a world-class business education."

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UGA microbiologists describe new insights into human neurodegenerative disease

Microbiology researchers at the University of Georgia studying a soil bacterium have identified a potential mechanism for neurodegenerative diseases.

A role for the protein HSD10 had been suspected in patients with Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease, but no direct connection had previously been established. This new breakthrough suggests that HSD10 reduces oxidative stress, promotes cell repair and prevents cellular death.

The authors first discovered that an enzyme related to HSD10, CsgA, produces energy during sporulation in the bacterium Myxococcus xanthus. Spores enable cells to survive under nutrient-limiting conditions and can be thought of as the bacterial version of plant seeds. CsgA was found to degrade the phospholipid cardiolipin into fragments that were used as energy sources during sporulation much the same way humans produce and burn fat. Though normally a component of the lipid layer surrounding the cells, cardiolipin becomes dispensable as cells shrink to become spores.

The study was published Sept. 3 in the early online edition of Genes & Development.

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Doctoral candidate receives two honors

Denisa Gándara, a doctoral candidate in the Institute of Higher Education at the University of Georgia, has recently received two prestigious honors. She is one of 33 students nationally awarded a 2015 Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship, and she is also one of nine students receiving support from a minority dissertation fellowship program of the American Educational Research Association.

The Ford Foundation fellowship provides one year of support to individuals working toward completing their dissertations. The fellowships are awarded through a national competition administered by the National Research Council of the National Academies on behalf of the Ford Foundation. The award is given to individuals who have demonstrated superior academic achievement, are committed to a career in teaching and research at the college or university level, show promise of future achievement as scholars and teachers, and are well prepared to use diversity as a resource for enriching the education of all students.

The AERA award provides funding for travel expenses to attend the 2016 AERA Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., where recipients will present their research in an invited dissertation poster session, along with awardees from other prestigious fellowship programs. Members of the AERA Minority Fellowship Selection Committee will meet with the new awardees at a mentoring and career development workshop held during the annual meeting.

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UGA receives $2.99 million grant for graduate training program in disease ecology

The University of Georgia has received a five-year, $2.99 million grant from the National Science Foundation to develop an interdisciplinary graduate training program in disease ecology.

Led by Vanessa Ezenwa, associate professor in the Odum School of Ecology and College of Veterinary Medicine's department of infectious diseases, the program will provide students with the skills to solve complex problems in an increasingly high priority field—and, in the process, transform the way graduate students are educated at UGA and beyond.

The grant is part of the new NSF Research Traineeship program, which was established to support innovative—and transferable—models for interdisciplinary graduate education in the areas of science, engineering and math, with a focus on critical research needs.

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Georgia Informatics Institute for Research and Education takes shape at UGA

The University of Georgia is building upon its established strengths in the interdisciplinary field of informatics by creating the Georgia Informatics Institute for Research and Education.

Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Pamela Whitten has charged a committee composed of several of the university's informatics faculty members with developing content for a new undergraduate core curriculum in informatics that will be the basis of an Engineering Informatics program and a model that other schools and colleges can adapt for their students.

Planning for a new graduate certificate and professional development programs also is underway, and up to nine new faculty members will be hired this year through a Presidential Informatics Hiring Initiative announced in July.

"An important role of a leading public research university is to look toward the future to identify grand challenges facing our state, nation and world," said President Jere W. Morehead. "If approved by the faculty, this institute could expand UGA's capacity to respond to these challenges in numerous ways."

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UGA Athletic Association supports critical academic initiatives for students

While the University of Georgia faithful are gearing up to sing "glory, glory to old Georgia" this fall, hundreds of UGA students are singing the praises of the UGA Athletic Association for providing funding for their college educations.

The Athletic Association has a strong track record of supporting the university's academic enterprise. Each year, the association makes a contribution to the UGA Foundation to support significant institutional priorities. Recent annual contributions have ranged from $4 million to $5 million, and the association has provided more than $28 million in financial support to the university since fiscal year 2007.

Since fiscal year 2010, a substantial portion of these funds has been used to strengthen two important student scholarship programs at UGA—the Georgia Access Scholarship and the Presidential Leadership Scholarship. Initially, these programs received $500,000 from the association. The allocation to each scholarship program was increased to $1 million when UGA President Jere W. Morehead took office in fiscal year 2014.

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UGA ranked No. 3 in best values college list

The University of Georgia is ranked No. 3 in Washington Monthly magazine's list of "Best Bang for the Buck Colleges in the Southeast 2015" for being one of the best values for students.

"The University of Georgia is dedicated to providing students with a world-class education at an affordable price," said President Jere W. Morehead. "Although rankings may change from year to year, our commitment to this goal is constant, and I am glad it is being recognized on a national level."

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Womens Leadership Initiative emphasizes hiring, career development and work-life balance

The University of Georgia is rolling out its Women's Leadership Initiative with new policies and programs related to recruitment, hiring and retention, leadership and career development, and work-life balance.

The percentage of women holding leadership positions in UGA's administration has remained flat for more than a decade, even as the proportion of female faculty has grown steadily. This is reflective of national trends in higher education and in the private sector, and UGA is taking several steps to increase the representation of women in leadership roles.

In spring 2015, UGA President Jere W. Morehead and Provost Pamela Whitten launched the Women's Leadership Initiative. Whitten charged a 10-member planning committee with assessing what barriers were preventing the university from developing, recruiting and hiring qualified women for campus leadership positions. The committee identified three areas of focus where reimagined policies and targeted programming could advance gender equity at UGA.

"The new policies and programs that will be implemented through the Women's Leadership Initiative demonstrate the university's strong commitment to gender equity," Morehead said. "I am pleased that this important initiative is moving forward in concrete ways that will enhance leadership opportunities for women on campus."