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Spotlight on the Arts festival highlights UGA's excellence in arts and humanities

The University of Georgia will celebrate the visual, performing and literary arts on campus during the monthlong Spotlight on the Arts festival in November.

Now in its 11th year, the festival will feature dozens of events and exhibitions including performances by the Grammy Award-winning Soweto Gospel Choir at the Performing Arts Center. Other highlights include University Theatre’s production of William Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors,” a tribute to the late Congressman John Lewis by the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame, concerts by several student and faculty groups from the Hugh Hodgson School of Music, and exhibitions at the Lamar Dodd School of Art and the College of Environment and Design.

“Spotlight on the Arts serves as a showcase for the University of Georgia’s longstanding excellence in the arts and humanities,” said S. Jack Hu, the university’s senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “The arts and humanities enrich the learning environment at UGA, and the festival highlights the abundance and diversity of programming and scholarship on our campus.”

Many events are free or discounted for students, and all are welcome. This year’s festival begins with the Student Spotlight event on Nov. 1. Student groups will perform on the outdoor stage at Tate Plaza from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Scheduled acts include Classic City Jazz, Improv Athens, the UGA Ballroom Performance Group and the UGA Women’s Glee Club.

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Dean selected to lead UGA's Griffin campus

Jeffrey F.D. Dean, a distinguished scholar and academic leader whose interdisciplinary research focuses on forestry, plant biology and biochemistry, has been named assistant provost and director of the University of Georgia’s Griffin campus, effective Jan. 1, 2023. In this role, he will oversee all research, extension and academic programs at UGA Griffin.

Since 2014, Dean has served as a professor and head of the department of biochemistry, molecular biology, entomology and plant pathology at Mississippi State University, one of the largest academic units in the university’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

“Dr. Dean has a tremendous track record of growing enrollment, developing innovative academic programs and strengthening partnerships with communities and industry,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “I believe he will be a catalyst for advancing scholarship, research and outreach at our Griffin campus, and I look forward to welcoming him to our leadership team.”

Under Dean’s leadership, the department of biochemistry, molecular biology, entomology and plant pathology doubled enrollment in its bachelor’s degree program in biochemistry, launched an accelerated five-year master’s degree program for high-achieving students and significantly renovated its instructional and administrative buildings. Working with Mississippi State University Extension, Dean was instrumental in creating a public-private partnership to deliver pesticide applicator safety training online, and he led efforts to raise funds for a new termite technician training facility.

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UGA Foundation honors Victor Wilson

The University of Georgia Foundation Board of Trustees named Victor K. Wilson, UGA’s vice president for student affairs, as the latest recipient of its Distinguished Service Award during the board’s fall meeting on Oct. 6.

The Distinguished Service Award recognizes a long-serving UGA employee or volunteer with a strong record of impactful and selfless service to others. The board also allocates $100,000 from the UGA Foundation’s unrestricted operating surplus to establish a scholarship in the honoree’s name. The scholarship established alongside Wilson’s award will fund meal plans to students with financial need.

“The UGAF Board of Trustees is so honored to recognize the decades of service that Vice President Wilson has given to so meaningfully enhance and improve the lives of our students,” said Neal J. Quirk Sr., chair of the board. “We are beyond grateful for all that he has done and continues to do for our entire university community, on our campus and well beyond.”

As VP for student affairs since 2013, Wilson oversees a student affairs division that includes 16 departments and 600 staff members dedicated to enriching student learning and supporting student development and growth. But that is just a fraction of his UGA experience. From 1996 to 2004, Wilson was assistant to the president and then associate vice president for student affairs. He also earned a bachelor’s degree in social work and a master’s degree in education from the university.

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UGA Career Center hosts successful fall career fairs

The University of Georgia Career Center hosted a record number of students and employers during its annual Fall Career & Internship Fair and Fall Engineering & Computer Science Career & Internship Fair held on Sept. 28 and 29.

Over those two days, 526 employers and more than 3,900 students passed through the doors of The Classic Center in downtown Athens where the events were held. The day after the fairs concluded, more than 60 employers hosted individual interviews with 388 students.

“The increase in attendance by companies this year signals that the appetite for recruiting UGA students has never been greater,” said Scott Williams, executive director of the UGA Career Center. “We’ve seen uncertainty and upheaval in labor markets, and it’s really exciting to help additional employers actively engage our pipeline of well-prepared students.”

A bevy of companies from a wide array of fields attended the events. Among those recruiting during the career fairs were The Home Depot, Google, Deloitte, AT&T, Delta Air Lines, FedEx, General Electric, Peace Corps, Siemens, BMW, Lockheed Martin and Oracle. They were seeking to fill both full- and part-time positions, as well as internships in a variety of industries.

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UGA issues proclamation recognizing Colquitt County Archway

University of Georgia President Jere W. Morehead returned to the site of the first Archway Partnership Tuesday to thank the community for its longtime collaboration with the university. UGA’s partnership with Colquitt County and the city of Moultrie was a significant part of the university’s submission for the 2022 W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Engagement Scholarship Award, which it won for the U.S. Southern region.

“As Georgia’s land-grant and sea-grant institution, UGA faculty and staff work every day to improve the quality of life for Georgians and to tackle the most challenging issues facing our communities,” Morehead said. “A shining example of this service is the relationship that UGA Archway Partnership has with Moultrie and Colquitt County.”

During his lunch address at the Sunbelt Ag Expo, Morehead presented a proclamation from the university to Colquitt County, the city of Moultrie and the Moultrie Police Department.

The UGA Archway Partnership is one of four programs competing for the national C. Peter Magrath Community Engagement Scholarship Award. The winner will be announced by APLU in November.

Colquitt County-Moultrie became the pilot program for the Archway Partnership in 2005. Since then, 13 additional Georgia counties have become Archway Partnerships, with a UGA employee based in the community to help prioritize locally identified critical challenges and identify the best faculty and students with whom to collaborate on solutions.

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UGA outreach units help local entrepreneurs succeed

From downtown redevelopment and beautification to recreation and tourism, an East Georgia community is tapping into University of Georgia expertise to increase opportunities for economic development and help grow local business.

Thomson, a UGA Archway Partnership community and the first to earn UGA’s Connected Resilient Community designation, recently launched a program designed to help entrepreneurs develop business and leadership skills.

The inaugural Thomson-McDuffie Entrepreneurial Leadership Academy includes nine entrepreneurs. Experts from two UGA Public Service and Outreach units — the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development and the Small Business Development Center — will lead the program.

The academy was developed by Forward McDuffie through the Fanning Institute’s Innovations in Community Leadership Initiative, which provides resources and training for communities and organizations across Georgia that aspire to develop or revamp leadership programming. Forward McDuffie is an organization that includes city mayors and county commissioners, the industrial development authority, the downtown development authority, the chamber of commerce and the convention and visitor’s bureau.

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Research team receives $15.8M to modify poplar for bioproducts

A multidisciplinary team of researchers at the University of Georgia and two partner institutions have been awarded a $15.8 million grant over five years from the U.S. Department of Energy to reengineer poplar trees to be used as a sustainable energy source.

The researchers will use state-of the-art biotechnology approaches to breed the trees as a multipurpose crop that can be used for bioenergy, biomaterial and bioproduct alternatives to petroleum-based materials. The grant is part of a larger $178 million DOE initiative to advance bioenergy technology.

“Currently, there is a growing need for sustainable sources of not only biofuels but also bioproducts and plant-based materials. Poplars are among the fastest growing trees in the United States and are important for both carbon sequestration and global carbon cycling,” said Robin Buell, principal investigator on the grant and the GRA Eminent Scholar Chair in Crop Genomics at the Center for Applied Genetic Technologies in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

The UGA grant will fund five projects involving Buell, UGA faculty collaborators and external collaborators at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service and the University of California, Berkeley.

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UGA's Jenna Jambeck awarded MacArthur grant

Jenna Jambeck, Georgia Athletic Association Distinguished Professor of Environmental Engineering at the University of Georgia, was named a 2022 MacArthur Fellow Wednesday for her work investigating the scale of plastic pollution and galvanizing efforts to address plastic waste.

Commonly known as “Genius Grants,” the fellowship presented by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is among the most prestigious in the country. It is awarded to individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits for the benefit of society. Fellows are nominated by a select pool of experts and leaders in the arts, sciences, humanities and more areas.

“The University of Georgia is incredibly proud of Dr. Jambeck for this exceptional achievement,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “Her groundbreaking research exemplifies UGA’s land-grant mission to share knowledge generated through innovative scholarship and to leverage this knowledge to advance communities and the broader world. Our entire university congratulates Jenna on this significant honor.”

Jambeck joined the UGA College of Engineering in 2009 and is affiliated with the college’s School of Environmental, Civil, Agricultural and Mechanical Engineering. She co-founded the UGA New Materials Institute and leads its Center for Circular Materials Management.

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UGA donors celebrated at Presidents Club Reception

The University of Georgia Presidents Club Reception was held Oct. 7 in the Tate Student Center Grand Hall, recognizing members of the giving society for their contributions to the university. The event brought together more than 550 Presidents Club members.

“I am immensely grateful to our generous Presidents Club donors, who help the University of Georgia make great strides every day,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “We are able to continue setting higher standards for our institution, in part, because of the resources our donors provide.”

The Presidents Club, whose members give $1,500 or more in a fiscal year, comprises alumni and friends whose support makes an immediate impact on UGA. More than 8,200 Presidents Club donors collectively contributed $144.3 million to UGA during the 2022 fiscal year. Their gifts support a wide variety of funds, from scholarships and facilities projects to endowed professorships and community outreach programs.

Members of the Presidents Club hail from 49 states and U.S. territories and 12 countries. The median giving total among members was $30,770 for FY22. A significant number of Presidents Club members can be found in and around UGA: 451 members were current or former UGA employees in FY22.

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McBay Science Library dedicated for groundbreaking UGA alumna

The University of Georgia dedicated its science library Friday for Shirley Mathis McBay, the first Black student to receive a Ph.D. from the university and the first woman to earn a doctorate in mathematics from UGA.

McBay went on to a long and distinguished career as an educator, administrator and advocate who worked tirelessly to promote the participation and advancement of minorities and women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

“It is a fitting tribute as the Shirley Mathis McBay Science Library sits at the epicenter of campus for those studying in the STEM disciplines and plays a vital role in their education,” UGA President Jere W. Morehead said during Friday’s ceremony. “Through her dedicated and courageous efforts, she paved the way for countless students to follow in her footsteps.”

McBay passed away in November 2021 at the age of 86, shortly after the announcement to name the library in her honor. Her son Ronald attended the event to accept the honor.

“The overwhelming response to her story means so much to me,” he said. “I want to thank everyone who has been so interested in telling her story and celebrating her.”