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UGA establishes Russian Flagship Program

A grant from the U.S. Department of Defense’s National Security Education Program was recently awarded to the University of Georgia to establish the Russian Domestic Undergraduate Flagship Program. The renewable grant brings more than $275,000 to UGA in the first year and is expected to provide more than $1 million, pending congressional approval, during the first full grant cycle.

Language Flagship Programs are administered by the Institute of International Education, which oversees several elite grant programs, such as Fulbright. The Language Flagship currently funds 25 Flagship Centers across the country in languages considered vital to national security and to the challenges of a global society, such as environmental degradation, global disease and hunger and economic pressures.

“Flagship provides students with the resources to sustain and grow their proficiency in Russian throughout their undergraduate studies with generous funding for study abroad scholarships to help students strengthen their language and intercultural skills in professional terms,” said Russian Flagship director Victoria Hasko, an associate professor of world language education in the College of Education’s department of language and literacy education.

With over 150 million speakers, Russian is the eighth most spoken language in the world. As commercial opportunities continue to grow between the United States and Eastern Europe, an increased number of businesses and government agencies are hiring individuals with Russian language skills.

UGA’s Portuguese Flagship was established in 2011, making this the second Language Flagship at the university and the fifth Russian program in the country. The program is open to undergraduate students of all majors and is a collaborative initiative between the College of Education and the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, with faculty partners across campus.

“This program is a critical national security initiative, and we want to help UGA Russian Flagship graduates succeed in impactful and prestigious careers nationally and globally,” said Hasko. “This program is a long-term commitment. We are hiring new faculty, building new intensive programming and planning to bring in experts whose work relates to Russia to create an innovative and effective career path for our students.”

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Toby Carr named as UGA's next vice president for government relations

Tobin (Toby) R. Carr, who has served as associate vice president for government relations and director of state relations at the University of Georgia for the past four years, has been selected as the university’s next vice president for government relations. Carr will succeed the current vice president, J. Griffin Doyle, upon his retirement on April 1, 2019.

Carr is an honor graduate of UGA, holding dual degrees in finance and agricultural engineering, and he has more than a decade of experience in Georgia government. Prior to becoming associate vice president, he served as director of planning for the Georgia Department of Transportation for three years. In this role, Carr was instrumental in working with local governments, local planning bodies and the federal government in furthering the transportation improvements that have taken place in Georgia over the past several years. He also worked on the staff of Gov. Nathan Deal in several capacities, and from 2008-09 was an aide to House Majority Whip Jan Jones, who now serves as Speaker Pro Tem.

“I have worked closely with Toby Carr to advance the university’s key priorities with our state leaders,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “He has established strong relationships with the Governor’s Office, the General Assembly, Board of Regents and the University System Chancellor’s Office, as well as Georgia’s federal delegation in Washington, D.C. Perhaps most importantly, he has a unique understanding of the university and its critical role in serving all 159 counties of Georgia. With Toby’s appointment, we will have a seamless transition in expert leadership of our government relations efforts.”

Carr was recommended by a screening committee chaired by UGA General Counsel Mike Raeber. Over the next five months, Carr will continue to work closely with Doyle through the gubernatorial transition, the upcoming Biennial Legislative Conference and the 2019 session of the Georgia General Assembly. When he assumes his new post in April, he will oversee an office that includes three directors who serve as the university’s liaisons at the federal, state and community levels.

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Synovus establishes five scholarships for incoming UGA students

Synovus has established five need-based scholarships for incoming University of Georgia students intending to major in business. Part of the Georgia Commitment Scholarship Program, the scholarships will be awarded to students across Georgia beginning in fall 2019.

The Synovus Georgia Commitment Scholarships are renewable for up to four years. Synovus’ commitment to these students will extend beyond financial support, as the company will connect them with possible internships, networking opportunities, mentors in the banking industry and more.

“Synovus is proud to partner with the University of Georgia to support the Georgia Commitment Scholarship Program,” said Alison Dowe, chief communications and corporate responsibility officer at Synovus. “We are thrilled that five incoming first-year students from across the state will benefit from Synovus’ scholarships beginning next fall. Our investment in the GCS Program also represents a lasting investment in the state of Georgia, and we look forward to seeing the impact of these scholarships for many years to come.”

Through the GCS Program, the UGA Foundation will match, dollar-for-dollar, each of the five scholarships created by Synovus. Since the launch of this program in January 2017, more than $21 million has been raised to establish 322 new need-based scholarships. As the program continues, the university anticipates that between 400 and 600 new, need-based scholarships will be endowed. Increasing scholarship support for students is a key priority of the university’s Commit to Georgia Campaign.

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Orji named 2018 NCAA Woman of the Year

Georgia track and field legend Keturah Orji has been picked as the 2018 NCAA Woman of the Year. All nine finalists for the award—including three from each NCAA division—demonstrated excellence in academics, athletics, community service and leadership throughout their collegiate careers.

Orji becomes the first winner from Georgia’s track and field program and the fourth winner overall from the University of Georgia. Swimmers Lisa Coole (1997), Kristy Kowal (2000) and Kim Black (2001) won UGA its first three NCAA Woman of the Year honors. Georgia was also the first school to have more than one winner.

Orji, a former Bulldog team captain, served for three years on the UGAAA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, including as vice president during her senior year. A four-year attendee of the Student-Athlete Leadership Academy, she founded Amara’s Pride in 2017, an after-school mentoring program for middle school girls, focusing on self-worth, the importance of education, social media influences and the power of perseverance. Orji also worked with an income tax assistance program and spent time with children whose parents were incarcerated during the holiday season.

A 2018 Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar, Orji was a member of Georgia’s Sphinx Club honor society and Blue Key Honor Society. She was named the 2018 Southeastern Conference Women’s Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field Scholar-Athlete of the Year, her third honor of this kind, and the university’s Joel Eaves Scholar-Athlete of the Year presented to the female student-athlete who has the highest GPA going into their senior year.

Orji received the SEC’s H. Boyd McWhorter Postgraduate Scholarship, presented to the conference’s top male and female scholar-athletes. She was recognized by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association as the 2017 Indoor and Outdoor National Field Scholar-Athlete of the Year, also giving her three of those honors in her career. She earned her bachelor’s degree in family and consumer sciences and is now pursuing a Master of Science in kinesiology. She also is a volunteer assistant with the Bulldog track and field program.

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UGA wins national award for helping rural community sustain local health care

The University of Georgia has received a national Award of Excellence from the University Economic Development Association for its work in rural Georgia to save a local hospital from closing and to improve medical service for community residents.

The Archway Partnership, a unit of UGA’s Division of Public Service and Outreach, won the top award during the UEDA’s annual summit. Summit participants from across the U.S. cast votes to determine the winners after finalists presented their award entries.

“It is truly an honor to be selected for this national award by a group of our peers,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “This is well-deserved recognition for our public service and outreach faculty and staff, who fulfill this university’s land-grant and sea-grant mission by addressing critical issues across the state.”

Taylor Regional Hospital in Pulaski County, about 50 miles south of Macon, was within days of shutting down in December 2015 because it did not have enough funds to complete a Community Needs Health Assessment of the hospital, as required by the Affordable Care Act. Without the assessment, the hospital would lose its nonprofit status and be forced to close.

The Archway Partnership and the UGA College of Public Health partnered with Taylor Regional Hospital to complete the assessment, with then-CPH doctoral students Ayanna Robinson and Sabrina Tyndal Cherry, helping to define the community and service area, create a community profile, conduct focus groups and administer a survey to residents of the area. The results showed a significant need for the facility and for the addition of a walk-in clinic for non-life-threatening illnesses and injuries.

Since Taylor Express, a walk-in clinic next to the hospital, opened in June 2016, traffic in the emergency room has declined by 10 percent, saving the hospital money.

“The work of the Archway Partnership in Pulaski County truly stands out as exceptional,” said Dr. E.R. “Skip” McDannald, who retired as Taylor Regional administrator on Oct. 1. “Our hospital benefited and the outlook improved as a direct result of this partnership with the university and our local stakeholders through the Archway Partnership.”

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$1.7M awarded for Latin American and Caribbean Studies

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded $1.7 million in support of the University of Georgia Latin American and Caribbean Studies Institute (LACSI) to expand research, teaching and public service in Georgia and beyond.

A unit of UGA’s Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, LACSI has more than 200 faculty affiliates spanning every college and professional school on campus, including 55 language or area studies specialists. The institute is home to the nation’s first and only Department of Defense-funded Portuguese Flagship Program, which promotes Portuguese language acquisition among undergraduate students to advance U.S. strategic interests.

The funding consists of two grants: a four-year grant that renews LACSI’s status as a National Resource Center, a designation reserved for the nation’s most esteemed area studies centers; and a Foreign Language and Area Studies grant, which goes directly to undergraduate and graduate students to provide financial support for students studying Brazilian Portuguese and Quechua, an indigenous language spoken by the Quechua peoples, primarily living in the Andes and highlands of South America. Guaraní, an indigenous language of South America, will also be added soon.

A National Resource Center since 2014, LACSI supports faculty-led initiatives in world-language and area studies education, such as public service, business and public health, as well as in professional fields.

Planned NRC activities include:

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Terry's Executive MBA ranked best in state and a top U.S. program

The Executive MBA Program at the Terry College of Business is ranked among the nation’s best in a global EMBA survey published by the Financial Times.

The program ranks No. 12 among U.S.-based EMBA programs overall and is the highest ranked EMBA program in Georgia. Among U.S. public business schools, the Terry EMBA ranks No. 4.

The Financial Times survey found Terry’s EMBA ranks No. 8 among U.S. programs in terms of percentage salary increase for graduates — at 53 percent more than their pre-EMBA average salary.

“This ranking is a strong indication that our Executive MBA Program offers significant value to graduates in terms of career momentum and return on investment,” said Terry College Dean Benjamin C. Ayers. “Our goal is to help all of our students achieve their potential by challenging them academically, finding opportunities tailored to their interests and connecting them to our alumni network.”

Terry’s Executive MBA is an 18-month degree program geared toward mid- to senior-level professionals, with weekend classes taught at the college’s Executive Education Center in Buckhead.

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A new life for Lake Herrick officially begins

Lake Herrick, one of the most beautiful places on the University of Georgia campus, officially reopened on Oct. 17, creating new opportunities for recreation, research and experiential learning.

Named for Allyn M. Herrick, former dean of the Daniel B. Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, Lake Herrick was commissioned in 1982 as a recreational resource for UGA and the Athens community. It was a popular spot for swimming, fishing and boating for two decades. Campus and community events were held in the pavilion, and the Department of Recreational Sports staffed lifeguards and concession vendors.

In 2002, the lake was closed to swimming and boating due to water quality concerns but remained open for fishing, walking and birdwatching. Now, thanks to generous support from the Georgia Power Foundation and the Riverview Foundation and the dedicated efforts of UGA faculty, staff and students and members of the Athens community, Lake Herrick has reopened.

“The University of Georgia is grateful to the Georgia Power Foundation and the Riverview Foundation for helping us bring this valuable campus and community resource back to life,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “The Lake Herrick Watershed Restoration Project is an outstanding example of what can be accomplished at UGA with the help of private support.”

Lake Herrick is a prominent feature within Oconee Forest Park, which serves as a living laboratory for research in the natural and social sciences and an interdisciplinary outdoor classroom. It is open to the public for enjoyment. UGA faculty, staff and students can rent kayaks, canoes and paddle boards from the Outdoor Recreation Center within the Ramsey Student Center on campus.

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Large crowd celebrates new portrait of Mary Frances Early

The University of Georgia celebrated the life and achievements of Mary Frances Early, the first African American to earn a degree from the University of Georgia, by unveiling her portrait in the Administration Building at a ceremony on Oct. 10.

The portrait, by artist Richard Wilson, was installed in The Gordon Jones Gallery of the Administration Building to honor Early, who went on to become the director of music for Atlanta Public Schools and the first African American president of the Georgia Music Educators Association in 1981.

“Ms. Early is a distinguished educator, and it is clear that she has made a profound impact on the lives of countless individuals,” President Jere W. Morehead said at the ceremony. “Her portrait will serve as a lasting tribute to her dignified courage and her commitment to educational excellence.”

Ms. Early saw the finished portrait for the first time at the ceremony, and she was obviously pleased. “It’s very beautifully done as you can see, because it looks better than me,” she said, drawing appreciative laughter from the audience. “It always means so much to have the support of so many.

“During my two years here,” Early continued, referring to her time attending UGA, “I couldn’t have imagined anything like this happening in my wildest dreams. I am so delighted that a part of me will be here after I’m gone. When people see this portrait, they will know that something important happened here.”

The installation of Early’s portrait is part of a series of accolades celebrating her life and career. In January 2018, Early received one of UGA’s highest honors, the President’s Medal. On Sept. 11, the documentary “Mary Frances Early: The Quiet Trailblazer” premiered in Atlanta.

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Dundee Cafe on UGA's Griffin campus dedicated

Renovation of a 1913 mule barn on the University of Georgia Griffin campus is complete, with a ceremonial ribbon cutting Oct. 4 signifying its new purpose as the Dundee Cafe.

Made possible by a $1 million gift from the Dundee Community Association, the cafe will serve students, employees and visitors as well as keep the memory of Dundee Mills and the historic mule barn alive through historical photos and exhibits.

“The University of Georgia is tremendously grateful to the Dundee Mills Community Association for this generous gift, which has allowed us to create a vibrant hub on the Griffin campus and further strengthen the connections between UGA-Griffin and the surrounding community,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead.

The mule barn was constructed in 1913 after the previous structure burned to the ground following a lightning strike. The replacement barn was constructed using the slip form concrete method to demonstrate what was then a new construction technique.

During the same time period, across the street from the campus, Dundee Mills produced towels and other textiles. It was the area’s largest employer for nearly a century, when Griffin was known as a textile town.

Today, the interior walls of the 105-year-old mule barn still contain memories of that time: the names of the mules written above the pegs that held their bridles, crop weight calculations written by those long since gone and animal tracks left in the concrete floors. Historical photos and other items from the campus and Dundee Mills will be on display to educate cafe visitors and preserve history.