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Jeffrey L. Clark named UGA chief of police

Jeffrey L. Clark, deputy chief for engagement, training, and standards for the University of Georgia Police Department, has been named chief of police following the conclusion of a national search. Clark’s appointment comes on the heels of former chief Dan Silk’s promotion to UGA’s associate vice president for public safety earlier this year.

Clark’s distinguished career in law enforcement spans an impressive 26 years between the UGAPD and the Athens-Clark County Police Department. While at the ACCPD, he held multiple leadership positions, including lieutenant for the special victims unit family protection center, robbery, homicide and forensics units, and deputy chief of police. Clark has also led the ACCPD Criminal Investigation Division, among other high-profile units, and has directly overseen as many as 200 sworn officers at a time. Before joining the ACCPD, he was a sergeant in the U.S. Army.

“I’m very excited about this opportunity with UGAPD,” said Clark, who began in his new position Aug. 1. “We have some of the finest officers in the state of Georgia and in the country. I want to continue building a police department with 21st century policing values in mind. And what I mean by that is I want an agency that focuses on building trust with our community and campus partners, an agency that addresses health and wellness with the officers and an agency that seeks innovative training and technology ideas.”

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GradFIRST inaugural year gets high marks from students

GradFIRST, a one-credit seminar for incoming University of Georgia graduate students, has had a successful inaugural year. Launched in fall semester 2022, this new program helps students transition to graduate school and supports their professional development.

The program ensures that regardless of background or academic discipline, students have access to the resources and information to support their success at UGA and beyond. More than 1,300 newly enrolled graduate students attended more than 125 GradFIRST seminar courses offered in fall 2022 and spring 2023 semesters.

The GradFIRST program leverages national best practices and campus expertise on how to help students thrive in their graduate studies and careers. The seminars are taught in small classes by UGA graduate program faculty and address a range of topics, from career roadmaps and mentoring relationships to mental health and well-being.  Faculty develop additional seminar content based on their expertise on topics such as academic writing, data visualization, science communication and more. 

“The University of Georgia is committed to creating a world-class experience for our graduate and professional students,” said S. Jack Hu, the university’s senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “GradFIRST is an excellent example of the steps we continue to take to elevate our graduate and professional programs, including additional funding, more robust support and expanded professional development opportunities.”

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Tour gives new faculty comprehensive look at state

A group of new University of Georgia faculty members traveled across the state last week, visiting 13 cities and passing through 40 counties from the coast to the mountains as part of the 2023 New Faculty Tour, which introduced them to the state’s economic, geographic, social and cultural diversity.

The 31 faculty members, including two deans, who made up the tour group represented 17 colleges and schools, four Public Service and Outreach units and four other departments at UGA. The tour left campus Aug. 7 for the Archway Partnership community of Thomson/McDuffie County on its first stop. Faculty listened to community leaders and employees talk about the broad and ongoing impact of UGA.

Additional stops on the five-day trip included UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant at Skidaway Island in Savannah, the Georgia Ports Authority in Garden City, the Interfor timber facility in Baxley, the UGA campus in Tifton, the cities of Americus and Plains, the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site and Ponce City Market in Atlanta, Yonah Mountain in Cleveland, Amicalola Falls State Park in Dawsonville, and SK Battery America in Commerce.

In addition to providing new faculty members a comprehensive introduction to the state of Georgia’s geography, economy, history, demographics and culture, the tour enables new faculty to network and develop professional relationships with peers across campus. New faculty also become familiar with UGA’s land-grant and sea-grant mission and with research and instructional opportunities related to Georgia. When they return to campus, faculty can build on their experiences and put their expertise to use helping Georgia communities grow and prosper.

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UGA welcomes class of 2027

The University of Georgia is welcoming 6,200 new first-year students as classes start Aug. 16. The incoming class is one of the largest and most academically qualified in UGA’s history and was selected from a record number of more than 43,500 applicants.

The rigor of students’ high school coursework relative to what is available at their school remains a key factor in admissions decisions at UGA. The first-year students arrive with an average of 10 Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or dual-enrollment courses. The class has an average high school GPA of 4.13. This marks the seventh consecutive year that the average weighted high school GPA of the entering students exceeds 4.0. The class of 2027 also posts an average ACT score of 30 and an average SAT score of 1339. The class includes 215 incoming Georgia valedictorians and salutatorians.

“This fall’s incoming class demonstrates a remarkable dedication to excellence,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “They will be in good company at UGA as they join an esteemed academic community that is committed to making a positive impact on our state, nation and world.”

The incoming class includes students from 470 Georgia high schools, 143 Georgia counties, 45 states and 14 nations. Approximately 81% of the first-year students are Georgia residents. Overall, 84.5% of UGA’s undergraduate student body are Georgia residents, a percentage of in-state students far above that of many other state flagship institutions in the Southeast. Fourteen percent of the incoming first-year students are the first in their families to attend college.

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One-stop service model for students to launch Aug. 14

As part of ongoing efforts to enhance the student experience on campus, UGA is launching Dawg Source, a one-stop hybrid service model that provides resources to support students from pre-enrollment through graduation in person and online. This initiative was announced in President Jere W. Morehead’s 2023 State of the University address.

Building upon the existing in-person student services currently located in Student Care and Outreach at the Tate Student Center, Dawg Source will add streamlined instant mobile access to student resources through a dynamic website accessible through the UGA App. When fully launched, students will be able to connect with resources for class registration, financial aid, billing, academic advising and more. Students seeking in-person support with navigating their personal circumstances or finding resources should continue to connect with Student Care and Outreach.

For phase 1 of this update, the UGA App for iOS and Android will be updated to offer customized views for students, employees and other user groups for a more streamlined mobile experience. Users will be invited to select an experience category based on how they interact with the University of Georgia, which will allow the UGA App to emphasize the modules and information that will be the most useful to them. Students will be able to access the Dawg Source website through their experience category.

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UGA continues to prioritize student mental health and well-being

At the start of a new academic year, the University of Georgia continues its investment in supporting student mental health and well-being. The fall semester brings excitement and opportunity for new and returning students alike, as well as stress and worry at the challenges they face.

“Everyone on campus is here for the students, we want—no, we need—the students to know that,” said Beau Seagraves, associate vice president for student well-being. “Not only do we have the resources to help students who need them, but we also want to provide a learning environment in which students can thrive.”

The Well-being Resources initiative aims to help students become more active, healthy and successful. Initially launched in 2020 as part of Student Affairs’ 2025 strategic plan, and subsequently expanded and strengthened with support from UGA President Jere W. Morehead, the initiative connects a network of campus-wide programs and resources and convenes campus leaders to coordinate support for students.

If students are unsure of where to start, they should contact Student Care and Outreach, the university’s “hub of care and support.” Student Care and Outreach assists students by advising them on resources, creating networks of support, and tailoring solutions matched to a student’s specific needs.

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UGA increases space for student organizations, gatherings

Through a host of projects and initiatives now underway, the University of Georgia is expanding the number of spaces available for student groups to meet, network and hold events. The additional auditoriums, multipurpose rooms and other locations will augment UGA’s significant lineup of venues available to student organizations across campus.

The university’s strategy is to add high-quality meeting and activity spaces incrementally because, without a defined source of funding such as mandatory student fees, the institution is unable to construct designated student space. All of these new areas are being introduced without increases in mandatory student fees to support the spaces.

“At the University of Georgia, our foremost priority is our students, and I am very pleased that we are enhancing UGA’s ability to support students without placing additional financial burdens on them or their families,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “I am committed to meeting the needs of our student organizations while keeping costs low, and this pathway allows us to achieve that goal.”

In May, the university announced that it will build a $60.7 million dining, learning and well-being center in concert with a new residence hall opening in fall 2026 and a new parking deck to open in 2025. The 68,000-square-foot facility will provide a new, two-story dining commons, along with a third floor that includes eight to 10 general purpose classrooms available to student groups on nights and weekends, as well as additional flex space for student groups, a University Health Center ancillary clinic and a nutrition counseling space.

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UGA again leads the nation in new products based on research

The University of Georgia once again ranks No. 1 among U.S. universities for number of commercial products to market based on its research, according to an annual survey conducted by AUTM. For eight straight years, UGA has placed in the top two and has never appeared out of the Top 5 in the 10 years the survey has been reported by AUTM.

Fiscal year 2022, on which the new AUTM report is based, saw 60 new products released based on UGA research, including new poultry vaccines, software, research tools and a medical device, as well as crop varieties such as peanut, pecan, soybean, wheat, blueberry, turfgrass and citrus.

“UGA’s consistently high ranking for new products based on university research developed by our industry partners is a testament to the creativity and tireless effort by our faculty and students and UGA’s robust industry partnerships,” said Derek Eberhart, associate vice president for research and executive director of Innovation Gateway, UGA’s technology transfer organization. “Reaching the No. 1 spot again shows UGA’s commitment to working with our industry collaborators to apply our research activities to address real-world needs.”

Overall, industry partners have brought more than 1,100 products based on UGA research to market. Many support Georgia’s multibillion-dollar agriculture industry, like the new high-oleic peanut variety; this new peanut variant helps extend shelf life for peanuts and products that include peanuts. New pecan varieties help support Georgia’s position as the leader in U.S. pecan production. Others, like UGA-developed blueberries, are used on every continent except Antarctica.

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Student veteran receives national leadership award

University of Georgia student Gabriela Castillo was featured on the cover of the August issue of G.I. Jobs magazine for receiving the publication’s 2023 Student Veteran Leadership Award. The national honor is handed out annually by the magazine’s editorial team to student veterans who make a positive impact through serving their schools, communities and fellow veterans.

Castillo, an Army medic turned pre-med student, logged hundreds of hours at a clinic that provides free quality medical care to low-income families. Between working at the Good News Clinic near her home in Gainesville and attending classes in Athens, Castillo commuted 500 miles per week over the course of her first academic year. During that time, she became a consistent veteran advocate in the Student Veterans Resource Center and served to guide and direct other student veterans through the obstacles of transitioning from active duty to life as a civilian college student.

Castillo said that transitioning from the Army was not easy, but that she is thriving now because of how much help the university provided.

“As a dual military family, my husband and I had to start from square one. I was not prepared for the amount of support I would need at UGA – or how the staff would help me through the challenges,” she said. “The response has been overwhelming. From ways to connect with my peer student veterans, to mentoring and opportunities for scholarships – I am so grateful for the guidance and the resources.”

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Morehead reappointed to NCAA leadership posts

University of Georgia President Jere W. Morehead has been reappointed to the NCAA board of governors and to a third term as chair of the NCAA Division 1 board of directors for the 2023-2024 academic year.

The NCAA board of governors is the highest governing body in the National Collegiate Athletic Association. It is tasked with overseeing association-wide issues and ensuring that each division operates in accordance with NCAA policies and principles. The NCAA Division 1 board of directors is responsible for overseeing strategy and policy as well as management of the division, which consists of more than 350 member schools and 170,000 student-athletes.

Morehead has served on both NCAA governing bodies since 2020 and as chair of the Division 1 board of directors since 2021. He is also a member of the National Football Foundation board of trustees and immediate past president of the Southeastern Conference.