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Doctoral students unite to make a difference

It can be hard for graduate students to get involved in their local communities, but the University of Georgia’s GS LEAD program is working to change that.

Funded by an award from the National Science Foundation through its NSF Research Traineeship, Innovations and Graduate Education track, the project—which is formally known as Graduate Scholars Leadership, Engagement and Development—brings graduate students together to make a difference in their ­community.

“GS LEAD is a project that brings new doctoral students in the STEM fields in over the summer and trains them in leadership, team building, communications and community service,” said Julie Coffield, an associate professor of toxicology and neuroscience in the College of Veterinary Medicine and one of the program’s coordinators. “We want students to learn to reach outside of the lab, start thinking outside the box and be able to connect and communicate with the community.”

The program has two ­important components, one in the summer and one in the fall. Students arrive on campus over the summer and participate in an immersive, ­six-week program facilitated by Brandy Walker and Janet ­Rechtman of the university’s J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, a public service and outreach unit, through which they work on skills such as networking, teamwork and leadership.

Following the summer program, GS LEAD students continue with the program in the fall, where they complete a “Challenge Course” along with their other coursework. In this course, the students break into small groups and apply their collective knowledge to a project benefiting the community.

GS LEAD is now in its third year, and the 2018 cohort consists of 14 students who are entering a diverse mix of doctoral programs that range from microbiology, pharmacy and forestry to history and theater. 

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UGA Board of Visitors welcomes new members

The University of Georgia Board of Visitors welcomed 27 new members on July 1.

Established in 2010 by the UGA Foundation Board of Trustees, the Board of Visitors comprises business, government and community leaders who serve as advocates for UGA. Members help increase awareness about the university’s accomplishments, priorities and its $5.7 billion impact on the state of Georgia.

“The Board of Visitors plays a special role in advancing the mission of the University of Georgia,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “I appreciate the commitment of our new board members to supporting the vital work of our faculty, staff and students.”

“We are proud to welcome this impressive group to the Board of Visitors,” said Neal Quirk, chair of the UGA Foundation Board of Trustees’ nominating and trusteeship committee. “As prominent leaders in their fields, they have a unique ability to use their voices to advocate for what they believe in. We are truly lucky that they have chosen the University of Georgia as one of their causes to champion.

“As members, they will have opportunities to interact with university administrators and, most importantly, students. Hearing firsthand how UGA has impacted the lives of young people and shaped their futures is paramount to garnering more support for this university. I know that our new and existing members will help spread the word about the power of a UGA education—not only on an individual’s life but also on communities across our state and globe.”

During Board of Visitors members’ two-year terms, they learn about UGA’s initiatives to extend and enhance its teaching, research and service mission. Recent program topics have centered on UGA’s entrepreneurship program, increased mentorship opportunities and the UGA Small Satellite Research Laboratory.

A list of the UGA Board of Visitors Class of 2018-2020 is available here.

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UGA building partnerships with STEM businesses

Using an interdisciplinary seed grant from the UGA president’s office, David Tanner, an associate director at UGA’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government, and colleagues Timothy Burg, director of the Office of STEM Education, and Karen Webber, an associate professor at the Institute of Higher Education, are developing a tool to help businesses make smart investment choices in higher education. They have convened focus groups over the last year to gather input from educators, administrators and business leaders. Those conversations across and between organizations is critical to figuring out what works and what doesn’t.

“If we can identify those good investments, we could increase the volume and quality of business engagement in STEM education,” Tanner said. “That could have a big impact on the STEM workforce in Georgia.”

Tanner has met a lot of business people through Crystal Leach, director of industry collaborations in the UGA Office of Research, and Jill Walton, executive director of UGA Corporate and Foundation Relations. Their connections have helped him gain valuable insight into the needs and observations of industry. His research could help them convince more companies to invest in UGA students.

“We want to give companies a road map for how they can get involved, how their dollars can be used and how that might impact their recruitment efforts,” Walton said. “It’s hard to reach every company. A lot of times we have to focus our time and energy on the bigger companies. It would be great to have a standard toolkit to help with these decisions.”

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution in the universe of STEM careers, but each company has unique experiences in recruiting talent to add to the conversation, said Amy Hutchins, education and workforce development manager at Georgia Power. Tanner and his team are helping bring those people together, she said.

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UGA donors set 5 records in 5 years

For the fifth consecutive year, UGA donors have set a record in fundraising, contributing a total of $242 million in new gifts and pledges to the Commit to Georgia Campaign. This is the second consecutive year that the total has surpassed $200 million.

“I am overwhelmed with gratitude,” said President Jere W. Morehead, “and I want to thank each and every donor who contributed to this historic achievement. They are changing lives with their generosity and loyalty to the University of Georgia, and I am deeply grateful. I also want to thank our UGA Foundation Trustees. Without their strong leadership and commitment to this institution, this level of success would not be possible. The true heroes of this great story, however, are our outstanding faculty, staff and students, who work tirelessly every day to advance the mission of UGA and expand its positive impact on the world.”

This year’s fundraising total doubles the amount raised during fiscal year 2013, the year before Morehead took office. The three-year rolling average—a figure tracked to measure sustained growth over time—has now reached $217.9 million and is nearly 90 percent higher than it was in 2013.

More than 140,000 donors have contributed to the Commit to GeorgiaCampaign, which has raised over $1 billion toward its ultimate goal of $1.2 billion by 2020. The priorities of the campaign are to increase scholarship support, enhance the learning environment and solve grand challenges through research and service.

“President Morehead has set some ambitious goals for this university,” said Kelly Kerner, vice president for development and alumni relations. “Through the campaign, we have uncovered the depth of need for support along with the endless potential for the University of Georgia. This campaign will raise money, but it’s really about the positive impact we can have on people.”

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Innovation Gateway has moved more than 100 projects

If you’ve got an idea for a startup, Ian Biggs and the Innovation Gateway team can help you turn it into reality.

“Our team has a lot of commercialization experience, and we can guide you in ways that will give you the best chance of success,” said Biggs, lead for UGA’s I-Corps accelerator program and senior associate director of Innovation Gateway, which focuses on translating UGA research discoveries into products and companies.

Biggs has the numbers to back up that claim. A year ago, there were about 60 projects in the Innovation Gateway pipeline. That number has nearly doubled—to a record high of 112—and there’s a good reason for this growth.

“We’ve invested time in reaching out to faculty, staff, students, industry and the community, and we’ve made it easy to start a project,” Biggs said. “That generated a huge increase in the number of early-stage projects.”

In the pipeline now are such projects as a drone that can detect illness while flying over a herd of animals, a catheter holder that prevents the instrument from slipping, a self-cleaning nonslip examination mat for veterinarians, a game to teach kids about engineering and a urine test to detect liver complications in dogs, negating the need for an MRI.

UGA has a wider spread of research than many universities,” Biggs said. “We have a huge range, and we will help anybody from any school. We are working with UGA and external partners to create a thriving innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem,” he said. “We know that doing a startup can be a fraught experience, and for the vast majority of the people who come into the program, this is the first time they’ve done it,” Biggs said. “We will work out the best path for you to develop your idea, whatever it is.”

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Governor honors Certified Public Manager graduates

Gov. Nathan Deal knows that effective government stewardship helps Georgia remain America’s top state for doing business.

Deal emphasized his commitment to good governance in his address to 29 state and local leaders who graduated from the University of Georgia’s Certified Public Manager program on June 28. Deal encouraged the graduates—managers from 12 state agencies and two municipal police departments—to practice the elements of superior leadership.

“To be a good leader, it takes hard work, surrounding yourself with talented people and the ability to listen. I congratulate all of you for being part of this program, and I congratulate you further in wanting to make yourselves better leaders,” Deal said.

UGA’s Certified Public Manager program, with 300 hours of curriculum, helps state and local government managers enhance their leadership skills through in-class learning, independent study and a capstone project that addresses an issue affecting their individual agencies. Courses explore how self-awareness impacts leadership and collaboration, effective ways to establish a collaborative work culture and proven methods to improve performance and engagement. Participants earn nationally recognized certification.

UGA President Jere W. Morehead said the Certified Public Manager program exemplifies the university’s commitment to public service.

“The University of Georgia works hard to provide meaningful continuing education to leaders throughout Georgia,” Morehead said, “and CPM is an invaluable resource to help government managers engage their colleagues in best practices and lead the way to more efficient, effective government.”

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Economic developer to steer rural initiatives

Saralyn Stafford, a community and economic developer with a 30-year career focused on Georgia, joins the University of Georgia in July to link rural communities with UGA’s vast knowledge and expertise.

“Economic prosperity in rural Georgia is a top priority for the state and a strategic priority of the University of Georgia’s outreach programs,” said Jennifer Frum, vice president for public service and outreach at UGA. “Saralyn is well known as a collaborative and knowledgeable leader with great passion for rural Georgia, and we are thrilled to have her join our team.”

Stafford will serve as a liaison between UGA and local elected officials, chambers of commerce, economic development professionals, school boards, nonprofit organizations, small business owners and other community leaders.

Based in South Georgia’s Coffee County, her work will focus on connecting communities with UGA’s Public Service and Outreach units, including the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, the Small Business Development Center and the Archway Partnership, to assist in addressing community and regional challenges.

“Saralyn will do aggressive outreach with all of our constituencies, primarily in South Georgia, to help create jobs, develop future leaders and assist rural communities with using their unique assets to promote economic prosperity,” Frum said.

At UGA, Stafford will also offer her expertise in training government officials and community leaders and in strategic planning within rural communities.

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Six students receive critical language scholarships

Six University of Georgia students have been awarded U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarships to study critical languages abroad this summer. These students join approximately 580 competitively selected American students at U.S. colleges and universities who received the award this year.

Sarah Dillon, a senior from Chamblee majoring in anthropology with a focus on Indonesia, will study Indonesian in Malang, Indonesia. She applied for the CLS scholarship to further her mastery of Indonesian after conducting field work in Bali last summer.

Qendrim Haxhiu, a junior from Dahlonega majoring in risk management and insurance, is studying Chinese in Tainan, Taiwan.

Eva Marcelis, a senior from Seattle majoring in international affairs and Arabic, is studying Persian in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

Meghan O’Keefe, a junior from Marietta majoring in Russian and international affairs, is studying Russian in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

Lucy Robertson, a master’s student in comparative literature from Marietta, is studying Korean in Gwangju, South Korea.

Bryana Shook, a senior Honors student from Milton majoring in Chinese language and literature and international affairs, is studying Chinese in Dalian, China.

The Critical Language Scholarship program provides scholarships to U.S. undergraduate and graduate students to spend eight to 10 weeks overseas studying one of 14 critical languages: Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Swahili, Turkish or Urdu. The program includes intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences designed to promote rapid language gains.

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UGA unveils 40 Under 40 Class of 2018

The University of Georgia Alumni Association has unveiled the 40 Under 40 Class of 2018. This program began in 2011 and celebrates the personal, professional and philanthropic achievements of UGA graduates who are under the age of 40. The honorees will be recognized during the eighth annual 40 Under 40 Awards Luncheon on Sept. 13 at the Georgia Aquarium.

This year’s class includes alumni from a variety of industries ranging from medicine to music. Among the honorees are Hulu’s Emmy Award-winning Producer Chase Cain, Georgia football alumnus Mohamed Massaquoi, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Complex Care Medical Director Dr. Margaux Charbonnet Murray, Vice President of Mercedes-Benz Stadium Corporate Partnerships Tameka Rish, Director of the National Security Council Latham Saddler, and co-founder of Google’s Area 120 incubator Adrianna Samaniego.

“We look forward to announcing the 40 Under 40 class each year, because this program demonstrates the far and wide reach of our incredible graduates,” said Meredith Gurley Johnson, executive director of alumni relations. “These young alumni are giving back to their communities and reshaping their professions—they deserve to be celebrated.”

Profiles of the members of the 40 Under 40 Class of 2018 are available here.

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UGA Libraries to preserve local public broadcasts

Some 4,000 hours of programming produced by public radio and television stations between 1941 and 1999 will be digitized and made available to the public, thanks to a federal grant for the Brown Media Archives at the University of Georgia Libraries.

UGA’s archives and the WGBH Educational Foundation will partner with the American Archive of Public Broadcasting to administer the grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission to preserve and provide access to the programs, all of which were submitted to the George Foster Peabody Awards.

By adding the programs to the archive, this project will ensure that preservation copies are maintained at the Library of Congress for posterity. This will also expand access from only on-site at the Brown Media Archives to the American Archive of Public Broadcasting’s public website and on-site research locations.

“Each program was submitted to the Peabody Awards by its creators as an exemplar of their finest work. These materials were made for the benefit of the American public, but the American public has not had access to them,” said Ruta Abolins, Brown Media Archives director. “This project rectifies that situation. By preserving and providing access to these programs, we ensure that the original investment of public money in the creation of these programs pays off by extending the value of the work.”

The breadth and depth of the materials selected for preservation under this project will create opportunities to explore diverse topics and also allow researchers to deeply examine given topics from a variety of perspectives.