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University of Georgia sets record graduation rates

From start to finish, University of Georgia students are setting records for how quickly they are completing their bachelor's degrees or entering professional programs.

The six-year graduation rate has reached a record 84.6 percent, up from 83.2 percent a year ago. The five- and four-year rates also reached record levels in 2014.

"At the University of Georgia, we strive not only to enroll outstanding students but also to create an educational environment on campus that promotes timely completion," said President Jere W. Morehead. "Our rising graduation rates reveal the very strong commitment to student success that exists among faculty and staff at this institution."

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University of Georgia statements on the passing of former Georgia Gov. Carl E. Sanders (JD 48)

Carl E. Sanders and the University of Georgia enjoyed an association that spanned more than 70 years, beginning with his enrollment in 1942 on a football scholarship.  He withdrew from school to pilot bombers during World War II, but returned to UGA, played on the 1945 team that won the Oil Bowl, and received a law degree in 1948.

He practiced law in his native Augusta and in 1954 was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives.  He later served three terms in the Georgia Senate before winning election in 1962 as governor.

Known as “Georgia’s Education Governor,” Sanders oversaw the investment of more than $2 billion in educational and training programs, including more than $552 million spent on the state’s public colleges and universities.  Expenditures on buildings in the University System of Georgia topped $176.5 million—more than had been spent in the previous 31 years—and salaries for the system rose by 32.5 percent.  An educational television network was created, vocational-technical education was expanded statewide and the state’s junior college system was enlarged.  UGA received more than $40 million in construction funds while Sanders was governor, resulting in the start or completion of a dozen buildings, and the university’s faculty doubled in size.

A staunch supporter of UGA’s School of Law, Sanders was instrumental in providing state funding for an expansion of the law school building that included a new building for the law library.  He also secured $1 million in state funds to buy books for the library.  After leaving office, he made significant personal gifts to the law school, including $1 million in 2002 to establish an endowed professorship in the school.  The reading in the law library was named in his honor.

He has been president of the Law School Association, served on the school’s Board of Visitors, and headed the fundraising campaign to build Dean Rusk Hall.  He donated his gubernatorial papers, photographs and other memorabilia to the library.  He also served as a trustee of the University of Georgia Foundation and as president of the UGA Alumni Association.

Statement from University of Georgia President Jere W. Morehead:

“The University of Georgia community mourns the loss of one of its finest alumni and one of the state’s greatest champions for public higher education,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead.  “Although his lifelong dedication to this institution can be seen across our entire campus, Carl Sanders left his greatest impression on our School of Law, which has benefited in so many ways from his profound wisdom, dedication, and loyalty.  As a fellow alumnus of the university and the School of Law, I join others as we express our deep appreciation for his unyielding support for the university and the School of Law. Gov. Sanders’ impact on this state will be remembered in so many ways, but UGA remembers him, in particular, for his many significant contributions to the betterment of our university and our School of Law.”

Statement from Dean Rebecca H. White of the UGA School of Law:

“Our state has lost a great man, and our law school has lost one of its most important and influential graduates.  Carl Sanders understood the importance to our state of having a first-class law school and took the steps necessary to make that happen, so that we now have, as he predicted, a law school of “such excellence that no citizen of Georgia need ever leave [this] state because a superior legal education is available elsewhere.”  We are forever in his debt, and I will miss deeply his friendship, wise counsel, loyalty and support.”

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Peter B. Bo Rutledge named dean of UGA School of Law

Peter B. “Bo” Rutledge, a leading scholar in the fields of international dispute resolution, arbitration and the U.S. Supreme Court, has been named dean of the University of Georgia School of Law following a national search.

Rutledge, the Herman E. Talmadge Chair of Law, has served as the associate dean for faculty development at Georgia Law since 2013. His appointment as dean is effective Jan. 1.

“The School of Law enjoys a reputation as one of the best public law schools in the nation, and we had an extraordinary group of finalists for its deanship,” said Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Pamela Whitten, to whom the deans of UGA’s 17 schools and colleges report. “Professor Rutledge emerged as the ideal leader for Georgia Law because of his commitment to promoting excellence in faculty scholarship, which informs the practice of law across the state, nation and world as well as the instruction that students receive.”

As associate dean for faculty development, Rutledge worked closely with faculty to expand scholarly activities. He mentored untenured faculty, provided strategic guidance on publishing and engaging with external audiences, and built connections among faculty through colloquia and other events to stimulate new ideas.

His scholarship includes two books and nearly 40 articles and book chapters in leading academic journals such as the University of Chicago Law Review and university presses such as the Cambridge University Press and Yale University Press. He has delivered invited lectures at universities in 10 countries, including Oxford University, the London School of Economics and the University of Vienna, where he was a Fulbright Scholar. He has testified before Congress on several occasions and has provided written statements to the Georgia Legislature on pending bills. In 2008, the Supreme Court of the United States appointed Rutledge to brief and argue the case of Irizarry v. United States as a friend to the court—someone who is not a party to the case—in the successful defense of the judgment of the lower court. 

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University of Michigan president emerita to headline McBee Lecture at UGA

Mary Sue Coleman, president emerita of the University of Michigan, will present the 26th Annual Louise McBee Lecture Dec. 2 at 11 a.m. in the University of Georgia Chapel. The event is free and open to the public.

Coleman will speak on “Public Higher Education in the 21st Century: Can America Continue to Lead?”

“Dr. Coleman’s career is exemplary of what the McBee Lecture stands for—integrity, leadership and innovation in higher education,” said Libby V. Morris, director of the Institute for Higher Education and Zell Miller Distinguished Professor in Higher Education. “We are delighted that President Coleman has agreed to share her experiences and observations regarding public higher education with the university community.”

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UGA scientists receive $3 million NIH grant to develop infectious disease outbreak warning system

John Drake, an associate professor in the University of Georgia Odum School of Ecology, will use a five-year, $3.18 million grant to develop an early warning system that could help public health officials prepare for—and possibly prevent—infectious disease outbreaks.

Funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health, the research is part of the Models of Infectious Disease Agent Study, a coordinated network of scientists who use computer models to study infectious disease dynamics. While each scientist leads an individual project, they work together toward the overall goal of helping the public health community prepare for and respond to infectious disease outbreaks.

Drake and his colleagues—Andrew Park of the Odum School and College of Veterinary Medicine, Pejman Rohani and Bogdan Epureanu from the University of Michigan and Matthew Ferrari of Pennsylvania State University—will develop mathematical models to forecast when a disease system is approaching a “tipping point,” a threshold at which conditions become favorable for an outbreak to occur.

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UGA receives Military Times ranking for excellence in service to student veterans

The University of Georgia has been named to the “Military Times Best for Vets: Colleges 2015” rankings. Only 140 colleges and universities nationwide have achieved the designation, which results from a comprehensive school-by-school assessment of veteran and military students’ success rates.

“UGA is proud to be recognized for its commitment to the success of our student veterans,” said Victor K. Wilson, vice president for student affairs. “They have given so much to defend our freedom, and we are eager to support them in every way possible.”

The Military Times is a series of digital platforms and newsweekly magazines that are a principal source for independent news and information for service members and their families. They require schools to meticulously document an array of services, policies, accommodations and financial incentives offered to military and veteran students and to describe many aspects of veteran culture on campuses.

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UGA College of Veterinary Medicine receives Gates Foundation grant to study norovirus

The University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine announced today that it is a Grand Challenges Explorations winner, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Ralph A. Tripp, a professor of infectious diseases, will lead a team in pursuit of innovative global health and development research on norovirus.

Norovirus is a highly infectious disease and can be transmitted from an infected person, contaminated food or water or contact with contaminated surfaces. The illness can be serious for young children and older adults—and causes up to 200,000 deaths a year in children under 5 years of age in developing countries.

Tripp and his research team are receiving $100,000 to engineer mammalian cell lines that support norovirus and related enteric virus replication by silencing non-essential virus resistance genes in vaccine cell lines. While researchers have made advances in studying the virus and identifying some control measures, no efficient cell line exists currently to support studies for vaccine and therapeutic development.

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UGA plant biology student wins international Dance Your Ph.D. contest

University of Georgia doctoral student Uma Nagendra flipped and twisted her way to the top prize in the seventh annual Dance Your Ph.D. contest for her video explaining biology research through an aerial dance performance.

The contest, sponsored by Science Magazine, the Association of the Advancement of Science and HighWire Press, challenged scientists around the world to explain their Ph.D. research through the art form of dance. Nagendra’s video was chosen from 12 finalists as the overall winner by an expert panel of scientists and artists. Her video also won first place in the biology category.

Nagendra, a student in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences department of plant biology, studies how forests regenerate after severe disturbances like tornadoes.

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UGA researcher studies obesitys role in breast, ovarian cancers

Mandi Murph in the University of Georgia College of Pharmacy is focusing her research efforts on the role of obesity in the promotion and development of women’s cancer, both breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

A grant from the National Institutes of Health is supporting her studies on identifying which biomarkers occurring in blood and body tissue might indicate the development of these cancers.

“Breast cancer remains the most frequent malignant tumor among North American women,” said Murph, an assistant professor in the college’s department of pharmaceutical and biomedical sciences. “Research indicates that even though standard treatment modalities have improved the overall outlook and quality of life for these cancer victims, obesity in post-menopausal women has become a major risk factor for breast cancer.”

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Georgia Museum of Art wins exhibition and publication awards

The Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia won an outstanding exhibit certificate and three publication awards from this year’s Southeastern Museums Conference annual meeting, held earlier this month in Knoxville, Tennessee.

The museum’s exhibition “Cercle et Cerré and the International Spirit of Abstract Art” won the 2014 Certificate of Commendation at SEMC, an award celebrating excellence in research, design, development, educational value and effectiveness in museum exhibitions.

“This award is particularly gratifying to us,” said William Underwood Eiland, the museum’s director. “It recognizes staff-wide achievements and collaboration at the museum, as well as honors the commitment of the Pierre Daura Center to European art of the 20th century. It is the first of many Daura Center projects to follow.”