| UGA Today

Parents Leadership Council raises over $1M for student programs

The University of Georgia Parents Leadership Council surpassed its 2022-2023 fundraising goal by raising over $1 million, a record for the group.

The PLC is a service-oriented group of highly engaged parents of UGA students who provide funding to the university through their annual gifts. Once a year, the council awards grants to campus organizations that have a commitment to enhancing undergraduate student life.

The PLC Grants Program started with roughly 150 families who awarded nearly $145,000 to 22 organizations. Today, the council has grown to more than 250 families, each contributing $5,000 or more annually and increasing the program’s impact exponentially. Over 11 years, the council has received roughly 670 grant applications and awarded more than $5.7 million.

This year, the PLC raised the bar further, simultaneously surpassing its fundraising goal and awarding a record amount in grants: 137 recipients received a total of more than $1.1 million. Grants went to an array of academic units and organizations focused on student wellness, access to the arts, service-learning and more.

| UGA Today

Researcher awarded $3.2M to study child brain development

Assaf Oshri, an associate professor in UGA’s College of Family and Consumer Sciences and the director of the Youth Development Institute at UGA, was recently awarded $3.2 million from the National Institutes of Health to study resilience in rural children using neuroimaging technologies.

The BRANCH study, which stands for Building Resiliency and Nurturing Children’s Health, will investigate the development of resilience among low-income children living in rural Georgia areas over five years, starting at age 7. The overarching goal is to determine how children’s communities affect their neurocognitive development and risk for drug use as adolescents.

Oshri’s previous research has shown that low to moderate stress can be good for you, as it forces your body to optimize brain cognition and function. But there is a limit to how much stress is a good thing. Once stress levels go above moderate levels, which is common in households struggling to pay bills or keep a roof over their family, that stress becomes toxic.

Children are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of stress because their brains are still developing. Oshri hopes the BRANCH study will connect the dots between childhood conditions and brain development not only by interviewing and getting to know the families in the study but also by using MRI scanning technology to assess how stress can affect cognition and neural functioning.

| UGA Today

MBA students contribute to local nonprofit boards

Each fall, a new class of University of Georgia MBA students arrives on campus with energy, curiosity and a desire to sharpen their executive skills. At the same time, many of Athens’ nonprofit organizations are looking for board members to apply various skills in service of the local community.

Andrew Salinas, manager of the MBA Career Management Center, realized the two groups—MBA students and local nonprofits—could make a good pair. In 2017, he created the UGA MBA Nonprofit Board Fellows program, which helps local organizations interview and select MBA students to serve on two-year board terms.

“MBA students are looking to contribute at an executive level, and the nonprofit organizations are looking for skillsets from working professionals and younger people to fill out their board needs,” Salinas said. “It is a win-win.”

More than 20 nonprofits have participated in the program, and most organizations return annually for new board fellows. Last year, Salinas partnered with Victoria Prevatt, owner of Good Works Consulting, to provide the board fellows with board member training. 

“It’s a phenomenal program from two perspectives,” Prevatt said. “One, it’s giving students the experiential learning opportunity of sitting in the board room. Two, the nonprofits get the perspectives of younger board members, giving our nonprofit community the diversity of thought and opinion that it needs and deserves.”

| UGA Today

Faculty discuss ways to harness AI potential

With a focus on generative artificial intelligence in teaching and learning at the University of Georgia, the 33rd Academic Affairs Faculty Symposium brought together faculty members across campus to discuss the impact of AI on their fields and deliver recommendations to improve student experiences with AI-powered tools.

Sixty-three faculty members participated in the two-day eventEnhancing the Teaching and Learning Process with Artificial Intelligence, held March 24-25 at the Legacy Lodge on Lanier Islands.

S. Jack Hu, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, led an opening session that highlighted the development of computing and adoption cycles of past disruptive technologies in education. He challenged the participants to continue to engage and plan.

During a fireside chat, UGA President Jere W. Morehead commended the impact of past symposia, encouraged participants to think broadly about strategic directions and answered questions from the faculty members.

The faculty participants joined one of five collaborative working groups to discuss specific benefits and challenges of generative AI within and beyond classrooms in undergraduate education, in graduate and professional programs, and in the administrative units that support instruction. While developing their recommendations, these working groups considered cross-cutting themes of student learning outcomes, ethical use and academic honesty.

| UGA Today

UGA to construct new residence hall

The University of Georgia will build a new 565-bed residence hall for first-year students to address student housing capacity needs associated with recent enrollment increases and to support future growth.

The new residence hall, which was approved Tuesday by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, will be located on South Lumpkin Street near the intersection of West Wray Street. The proposal approved by the board also includes plans to construct a new dining, learning and wellness center at the intersection of University Court and East Cloverhurst Avenue.

A separate proposal that would add a new parking deck adjacent to the existing West Campus Parking Deck south of Brumby Hall is currently under consideration.

“We know that living on campus is critical for first-year students to help them engage with the campus community and to benefit fully from all that the university offers,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “I am grateful for the Board of Regents’ support of our efforts to continue enhancing UGA’s world-class learning environment for these exceptional students.”

| UGA Today

Georgia Museum of Art to participate in 2023 Blue Star Museums

The Georgia Museum of Art will participate this summer in Blue Star Museums, a program organized by the National Endowment for the Arts that offers free admission and special discounts to military personnel and their families from Armed Forces Day (May 20) through Labor Day (Sept. 4).

Blue Star Museums is a partnership between the National Endowment for the Arts and Blue Star Families, in collaboration with the Department of Defense and participating museums across the United States.

“We thank the 2023 Blue Star Museums who invite military personnel and their families to experience the many wonders they have to offer, whether it’s a glimpse into the past, an encounter with awe-inspiring art or a moment of discovery,” said Maria Rosario Jackson, chair of the National Endowment for the Arts. “The Georgia Museum of Art is helping to enrich the lives of military families and build meaningful connections between our nation’s military and their local community.”

Although admission to the museum is always free, the Museum Shop is offering a 10% discount for military personnel and their families. The museum’s online exhibition “Recognizing Artist Soldiers in the Permanent Collection” is available on the museum’s website and has been updated with new artists since last summer. The exhibition includes artists who served in conflicts from the Revolutionary War through the Korean War and is organized chronologically.

| UGA Today

Agriculture project wins $1M NSF development award

The University of Georgia has been awarded $1 million from the National Science Foundation’s Regional Innovation Engines program for the Next Generation Agriculture project, a broad collaboration intended to help Georgia farmers move toward “Ag 4.0”—the fourth agricultural revolution—in their practices.

Next Generation Agriculture, or NextGA, will leverage the strengths of more than 30 public and private organizations to work with farmers in a 20-county region of south Georgia to build an infrastructure for integrative agricultural innovation “in place.” Some 650,000 residents call the area home, and NextGA is intended to empower them with the support and expertise needed to build farming systems that are environmentally, economically, socially and intergenerationally sustainable.

“Specialty crop farmers in Georgia face some unique challenges, such as rapidly changing technology, shortages of labor and other resources, mental health stressors and a sense of isolation, among others,” said Karen Burg, UGA vice president for research and principal investigator for NextGA. “We want to deploy a truly holistic approach, involving cutting-edge research, intentional workforce development and deep community engagement, to partner with these communities to catalyze local entrepreneurialism and build innovation ecosystems that create new opportunities.”

UGA and Fort Valley State University—Georgia’s two land-grant institutions—are NextGA’s academic leads. Two not-for-profit organizations, VentureWell and the Center on Rural Innovation, are also part of the leadership team. Behind those four entities stands a coalition of about 30 public agencies, companies, nonprofits and local governments. Among them is the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service.

| UGA Today

UGA School of Law earns its highest U.S. News ranking ever

The University of Georgia’s School of Law has earned its highest ranking ever in the U.S. News & World Report Best Graduate Schools.

In the 2024 edition of the rankings published Thursday, the law school ranked 20th among the nation’s 196 ABA-accredited law schools. The ranking places the School of Law among the top seven public law schools in the nation and as the leader in Georgia for the third straight year.

“These latest rankings represent another milestone as the UGA School of Law redefines what it means to be a great national public law school,” said Peter B. “Bo” Rutledge, dean of the School of Law. “As the leading law school in Georgia for the third straight year, the School of Law believes a high-quality, affordable education is our nation’s single greatest catalyst for upward economic and social mobility.”

The ranking comes on the heels of several other accolades for the law school including the nation’s No. 1 employment rate for high value jobs for the Class of 2021, a near-99% ultimate bar passage rate for the Class of 2020 and six straight years among the top two of the nation’s best values in legal education.

| UGA Today

83rd annual Peabody Award winners announced

The Peabody Awards Board of Jurors has announced the 35 winners elected to represent the most compelling and empowering stories released in broadcasting, streaming and interactive media during 2022. The winners were chosen by a unanimous vote of 32 jurors from over 1,400 entries from television, podcasts/radio and the web/digital in entertainment, news, documentary, arts, children’s/youth, public service and interactive programming. 

“Representing a wide range of mediums, genres and narrative approaches, this year’s winners continue to advance what it means to craft storytelling that is compelling, powerful and prescient,” said Jeffrey Jones, executive director of Peabody. “Whether capturing the lives of teachers in Philadelphia or young women in Afghanistan, these stories are powerful enough to make us laugh, cry and learn. They are all deserving of this honor, and we are thrilled to shine a light on their amazing achievement.”

The Peabody Awards were founded in 1940 at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia and are still based in Athens today. This year’s winners encompass a wide range of pressing issues across categories. The 83rd Peabody Awards are sponsored by UBS, the world’s leading global wealth manager.

The winners of the 83rd annual Peabody Awards will be celebrated on Sunday, June 11 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles. This will be Peabody’s first in-person ceremony since 2019, as well as the first time ever in its history that the awards will take place in Los Angeles. 

| UGA Today

UGA program supports people with dementia and caregivers

UGA’s Cognitive Aging Research & Education (CARE) Center and the State Botanical Garden of Georgia want to enrich the experiences of persons living with dementia and their caregivers through interactive education and sensory activities.

The CARE Center is engaged in multiple levels of research to better understand and prevent Alzheimer’s disease. The center also provides outreach to communities improve support and education for an issue that impacts over 6.5 million people in the U.S. and an estimated 150,000 Georgians.

When garden Director Jenny Cruse-Sanders approached the CARE team about adapting a Meet Me at the Garden program she’d learned about at the Naples Botanical Garden in Florida, they jumped at the opportunity.

“We believe strongly that connections to plants and nature are essential for a good life,” said Cruse-Sanders. “We also believe that those connections should be accessible to everyone. With this program, we could adapt our preexisting curriculum to connect us with an audience that is becoming ever larger in our country.”

The garden’s director of education, Cora Keber, was connected with Master of Public Health student Lydia Burton to start developing a curriculum for the program.

The pilot program wrapped up in April, but the team is planning to take the program to the CARE Center this summer and use raised garden beds. Eventually, programming will be developed so that rural counties that have been working with the CARE Center through the UGA Archway Partnership can adopt Meet Me at the Garden for their communities.