Amphitheater at UGA honors late Alan Jaworski

Athens, Ga. – An amphitheater on the University of Georgia’s South Campus will be named for the late Alan Jaworski, a popular university professor who was head of the botany department.

The University System Board of Regents approved the name “Alan Jaworski Plant Science Amphitheater” for the facility, located between the Miller Plant Sciences Building and the University Creamery, adjacent to Green Street.

Jaworski had been a UGA faculty member for 28 years and botany department head for five years when he died in 2000 at the age of 57. A favorite of students for his friendliness and willingness to help, he taught thousands of students in introductory biology courses and had a reputation for learning the name of every student in his classes.

He received the Josiah Meigs teaching award – UGA’s highest teaching honor – and also received a Sandy Beaver Teaching Award and the Sandy Beaver Teaching Professorship.

Faculty members in the botany department (now called plant biology department) credited him with strengthening the department in many areas, including ecology, evolutionary biology and molecular biology. While serving as associate chair of the biological sciences division, he developed two new introductory courses for biology majors and persuaded senior faculty members to teach them.

The amphitheater is part of the D.W. Brooks Mall, which was created when a street and sidewalks were converted into a swath of green space that will stretch from Carlton Street on the south to Cedar Street on the north. Work on the mall began in 2001 and has continued in phases. The amphitheater, part of the first phase, was completed in 2002.

Built into the side of an incline, the amphitheater covers .28 acre and has three tiers of semi-circular stone seats that will accommodate about 130 people. Landscaped with trees, shrubs, boulders and a stone wall, the amphitheater is a popular site for reading and studying and is used as an outdoor classroom and for meetings and seminars.

“Alan liked to make friends and build bridges,” said Barry Palevitz, a faculty member in the plant biology department and long-time colleague of Jaworski. “He set high standards for his students but tempered them with selfless devotion to their education and well being. We think this amphitheater is the kind of project he would have liked.”

The amphitheater is the third memorial for Jaworski. Following his death, family and colleagues established the Alan Jaworski Student Travel Award Fund. The fund helps undergraduate and graduate students with travel expenses for field research, scientific conferences and other educational purposes. The Honors Program also presents annual awards in Jaworski’s name to an outstanding male student in the physical sciences and the biological sciences.