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Celebrating a historic year

With the approach of annual spring Commencement ceremonies, the University of Georgia prepares to conclude another successful academic year. And it was a year marked by extraordinary achievements across all areas of campus life. From ranking among the best public universities in the nation to back-to-back national football championships, university students, faculty and staff have led UGA to new heights of excellence.

“I am deeply grateful to our talented faculty, staff and students and our generous alumni and friends for making this year so successful for the University of Georgia,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “It is inspiring to see how much the UGA community can achieve together through dedication, hard work and a commitment to excellence.”

In September, U.S. News & World Report announced that UGA held at No. 16 in its ranking of the best public universities in the nation, marking the seventh consecutive year that UGA has placed in the top 20. Several UGA graduate and professional programs earned top 10 placements in U.S. News’ rankings released in April. Niche also named UGA the No. 10 public university and the No. 2 college with the best student life in America. 

The incredible productivity of UGA’s world-class faculty was evident in the latest annual research and development spending, which surpassed a half-billion dollars for the first time in the institution’s history. The $545.6 million in research expenditures for fiscal year 2022 represented a jump of more than 10% from the previous year. Over the past nine years, UGA’s annual research and development expenditures have increased by nearly 56%. 

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ROTC cadets develop skills leading local junior cadets

The University of Georgia’s Air Force ROTC detachment recently hosted more than 20 Junior ROTC cadets as part of a new initiative to both develop UGA cadets’ leadership skills and give local high school students an overview of AFROTC life at UGA.

In March, Jefferson High School’s JROTC cadets and Civil Air Patrol cadets from Alliance Academy in Cumming were invited to join one of UGA’s Det 160 leadership labs in Whitehall Forest. This was the first time middle and high school students have been included in one of the UGA AFROTC’s training sessions, and it allowed UGA AFROTC cadets to practice pre-deployment skills leading a larger contingent.

“I believe the event was a major success,” said Cadet 1st Lt. Thomas N. Headley, the cadet recruiting officer with AFROTC Det 160. “The JROTC cadets were actively involved in the events, and it posed a learning opportunity for our General Military Course cadets to gain leadership experience.”

About four times each semester, Det 160 heads out to Whitehall Forest to train in a leadership sandbox. In these special leadership labs, the upperclassmen, or Professional Officer Corp cadets, train the younger General Military Course cadets in responding to situations as leaders, testing their critical thinking, adaptability and initiative. The visiting JROTC cadets were able to join in and pair up with UGA cadets to learn firsthand how the detachment trains.

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UGA graduates set class giving record

Each University of Georgia graduating class contributes a gift to the university to mark their legacy on campus for generations of students to come, and the Class of 2023 has taken this tradition to new levels.

The 2023 graduating class set a record when 3,377 of them—more than any other year—contributed over $112,000 through Senior Signature, the university’s class gift program that has been in place since 1991. Undergraduate, graduate and professional students were invited to participate in the campaign.

“I am so proud of my fellow members of the Class of 2023,” said Madison Polk, outgoing president of the UGA Student Alumni Council and the 2022 Homecoming Queen. “Even in a challenging economic environment, the students at UGA right now are driven by their passions and are committed to leaving things better than they found them.”

The minimum Senior Signature donation is $30 and is an opportunity for students to learn how financial support can be designated to funds across campus in which students are interested. Each student donor is invited to direct $20 of their gift to an area of campus that enhanced their student experience. This year, students contributed to more than 500 funds at UGA.

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UGA planting seeds for community engagement

The University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education & Hotel installed a Georgia Pollinator Plant of the Year garden to help raise awareness about declining pollinating insect populations.

The Georgia Center worked with the State Botanical Garden of Georgia at the University of Georgia to install a garden that featured Pollinator Plant of the Year selections. Since the Georgia Center functions as a primary hub for the university, the garden could be seen by thousands of visitors, in addition to students and Athens residents.

The statewide Georgia Pollinator Plant of the Year program was started by the State Botanical Garden of Georgia to annually select four plants that perform exceptionally well in gardens and provide resources for pollinators. A state-wide panel selects the plants, and the winners are promoted around the state to encourage growers to produce pollinator-friendly plants and to guide buyers toward plants that are good for supporting helpful insects.

During the pandemic, construction and renovation projects at the Georgia Center created gaps in the landscape that turned out to be the perfect size for the pollinator garden, which was installed in the Lumpkin Plaza area adjacent to the lobby.

“Everyone can plant a garden like this one and incorporate native plants into their landscaping and in doing so, we all can serve as environmental stewards throughout the community,” said botanical garden horticulturalist Heather Alley. T he botanical garden keeps a list of nurseries that sell native pollinator plants in Georgia, and they also host a native plant sale each fall.

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Hunter-Gault named to American Academy of Arts & Sciences

Charlayne Hunter-Gault, a Peabody and Emmy Award winning journalist, author and University of Georgia alumna, has been named to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

“I am so honored to be included in this amazing list of new members of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences,” Hunter-Gault said. “But, I got here thanks to the shoulders I have stood on throughout my life. And I honor each and every one of them, for there were many.”

Hunter-Gault was one of eight members inducted in the Journalism, Media, and Communications section of the honorary society. The nearly 270 members elected to the Academy in 2023 are selected from academia, the arts, industry, policy, research and science and include more than 40 International Honorary Members from 23 countries. Joining Hunter-Gault in this year’s class are biochemist and geneticist Emmanuelle Charpentier; songwriter, actor, director, producer Lin-Manuel Miranda; and political scientist Daniel Ziblatt of Harvard University.

Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences honors excellence and convenes leaders from every field of human endeavor to examine new ideas, address issues of importance to the nation and the world, and work together, as expressed in its charter, “to cultivate every art and science which may tend to advance the interest, honor, dignity, and happiness of a free, independent and virtuous people.”

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UGA and CCSD partner to care for the whole student

When a student at Clarke Middle School or Alps Road Elementary School is feeling under the weather, they can walk to an on-campus health center for a checkup and tests, and—if they need it—additional services that range from mental health care to legal support.

The Clarke Middle Health Center, a partnership between the University of Georgia and the Clarke County School District, provides free care to all CCSD students, their families and their teachers. Since the clinic opened in September, more than 300 patients have benefited from the easy access to care.

The center is staffed by an interdisciplinary team of UGA students and faculty. Patients are greeted by a College of Public Health graduate student along with UGA undergraduate pre-medical students, who staff the front desk and build strong relationships with students and their families. Then, patients are cared for by first-, second- and third-year AU/UGA Medical Partnership students under Medical Partnership faculty supervision.

If needed, patients meet with School of Social Work graduate students and faculty or receive referrals to the ASPIRE Clinic at the College of Family and Consumer Sciences and La Clínica in LaK’ech through the Mary Frances Early College of Education, allowing the clinic to treat the whole patient. UGA’s Community Health Law Partnership Clinic also consults with students and families, addressing issues related to immigration and housing and helps train law students.

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Employees selected for sixth cohort of Women's Staff Leadership Institute

A new cohort of women staff members has been selected to participate in the Women’s Staff Leadership Institute for 2023, which begins May 3 with participants meeting monthly for workshops and discussions through November. The program, born from the 2015 Women’s Leadership Initiative from the Office of the President and the Office of the Provost, launched in 2017 and runs annually.

The Women’s Staff Leadership Institute is administered through University Human Resources’ Learning and Development. The program is supported by executive sponsor Jennifer L. Frum, vice president for public service and outreach, and is facilitated by Emily Saunders, UGA J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development public service faculty member.

“Advancing leadership opportunities for our women staff benefits the entire university,” Frum said. “The Women’s Staff Leadership Institute cultivates these potential leaders who will go on to enhance the success and impact of the university. I deeply appreciate the continued support of this program by UGA leadership and their ongoing commitment to providing opportunities for staff development.”

“The Women’s Staff Leadership Institute offers an opportunity for the University of Georgia to support women in their career journey,” said Tammy Freeman, interim associate vice president for human resources. “Participants build a network of close colleagues, have opportunities to self-evaluate their leadership skills, and explore the possibilities for their future through a series of powerful experiences.”

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Passport initiative opens doors abroad

A passport opens doors to new countries, cultures and communities. And every year, the University of Georgia helps hundreds of its students get one.

Through its passport scholarship initiative, UGA’s Office of Global Engagement has awarded nearly $220,000 in support, funding 1,367 U.S. adult passports for UGA undergraduate students since early 2021. The initiative is a first step toward studying abroad, covering the cost of a passport and providing step-by-step instructions to gather the necessary paperwork.

The Passport Scholarship Initiative’s process is simple. To apply, students must be a U.S. citizen, and they must be an undergraduate student in good academic standing. And the initiative is just one piece of the puzzle. OGE helps students select the right program and apply for additional scholarships.

“Our goal is to make it possible for every single UGA student to have an opportunity abroad, if that is what they want,” said Associate Provost for Global Engagement Martin Kagel. 

In addition to providing a chance to complete coursework in a new environment, study abroad fulfills the university’s experiential learning requirement, which encourages students to learn through a hands-on experience that enhances their education.

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UGA graduate programs earn top 10 U.S. News rankings

University of Georgia graduate and professional programs continue to be recognized among the best in the nation in the 2024 edition of the U.S. News & World Report Best Graduate Schools.

The latest U.S. News & World Report rankings coincide with a period of growing demand for graduate and professional training at UGA.

“The University of Georgia’s innovative approaches to graduate and professional education are not only benefiting our students, but also local, regional and global communities,” said Ron Walcott, vice provost for graduate education and dean of the Graduate School. “The strong performance of our graduate and professional programs reflects the excellence and commitment of our faculty.”

The School of Public and International Affairs ranks No. 7 overall and has several graduate specialties among the nation’s top five. The College of Veterinary Medicine ranks No. 7 in the nation. In the Mary Frances Early College of Education, programs in school counseling, secondary teacher education, and curriculum and instruction all rank in the top 10 nationally. The full-time MBA program in the Terry College of Business ranks No. 31 in the nation and No. 11 among public universities. The higher education administration program in the Louise McBee Institute of Higher Education rose to No. 6 in the nation, continuing a run of top 10 rankings dating back to 2007.

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UGA highlights natural infrastructure initiatives at White House summit

During a panel discussion at the White House focused on restoring nature and providing communities tools to be resilient, the University of Georgia’s commitment to teaching, research and public service was highlighted on the national level.

Jack Hu, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, participated in a panel discussion on workforce development during the Invest in Nature Summit, hosted by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The event on April 20 focused on leveraging nature-based solutions to address the nation’s climate challenges while supporting investments in jobs, youth programs and resilient communities.

“At the University of Georgia, we are definitely seeing a lot of excitement in this area,” Hu said. “We’ve invested in faculty with expertise in nature-based solutions, developed educational programs to support students and address workforce needs, and created a framework to support research and engagement with government agencies, industry and communities.”

Hu was joined at the summit by Brian Bledsoe, Georgia Athletic Association Distinguished Professor in UGA’s College of Engineering, and Todd Bridges, who recently joined UGA as a professor of practice in the College of Engineering, after a long career as the national lead for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Engineering with Nature Initiative.