Campus News

Alumni Association to present 6 awards at annual luncheon

James Blanchard

The UGA Alumni Association will present six awards to alumni, friends and faculty during its 78th annual Alumni Awards Luncheon April 17.

The luncheon, which will take place during the university’s Honors Week, recognizes individuals who have demonstrated a deep commitment to bettering the university.

“The UGA Alumni Association is pleased to once again celebrate the extraordinary contributions of the University of Georgia’s most generous alumni and friends,” said Meredith Gurley Johnson, executive director of alumni relations. “It is also a time to recognize the importance of private support to the success of the university and to reflect on the transformative nature this engagement has on the lives of thousands of students each year.”

On-site registration and check-in for the Alumni Awards Luncheon will open at 11:30 a.m., and the program will begin at noon in the Grand Hall of the Tate Student Center.

The Faculty Service Award first was presented in 1969 to recognize current or retired UGA faculty and staff who have distinguished themselves in service to the university. This year’s recipient is Rebecca Hanner White.

White, who specializes in the areas of labor law, employment discrimination, employment law and law arbitration, served as the first female dean of the UGA School of Law. On Dec. 31, 2014, she stepped down as dean, yet remains on the School of Law faculty where she holds a J. Alton Hosch Professorship.

The John F. and Marilyn McMullan Family will be recognized as the 2015 Family of the Year.

John and Marilyn McMullan, who met while attending UGA, value higher education. Over the past 45 years, they have made the university the beneficiary of their philanthropy. John McMullan graduated from UGA in 1959 and 1960 with undergraduate and master’s degrees in business, respectively, and is now the CEO of Camden Real Estate, an Atlanta-based company he founded in 1990.

The couple has established a number of scholarships at UGA, including a study-abroad scholarship, the McMullan Academic Support Fund, the Mr. and Mrs. John F. McMullan Football Scholarship and the McMullan Family Women’s Tennis Scholarship. The Dean’s Suite in the new Terry Business Campus will bear the McMullan family name.

The Alumni Merit Award, the UGA Alumni Association’s oldest honor, will be presented to C.L. Morehead Jr. and James H. Blanchard.

Morehead graduated from UGA in 1950 and 65 years later, is one of Athens’ most treasured businessmen and one of the university’s most generous benefactors.

Through his business, Flowers Inc., Morehead became close friends with the late Lamar Dodd, for whom UGA’s School of Art is named. Dodd inspired Morehead to become an avid art collector and today, the alumnus has assembled the largest collection of Lamar Dodd works and other significant collections of rugs and Chinese, tribal and pre-Colombian art and artifacts.

“At the university and its Georgia Museum of Art, these items will be invaluable as a cultural resource; one that will be fundamental in teaching generations of students and the community,” Johnson said.

James H. Blanchard holds a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Laws from UGA. He spent 34 years as CEO of Columbus, Georgia-based Synovus Financial Corp., guiding it during its greatest era of growth and prosperity. His servant leadership approach led Georgia Trend to name him its Most Respected CEO in 1997 and Georgian of the Year in 2003. In 1999, Fortune magazine named Synovus the best place to work in America, a direct result of Blanchard fostering a work-life balance as part of Synovus’ corporate culture.

The Friend of UGA Award is given to a non-UGA graduate whose professional or public service has greatly assisted the university, and this year, Willis J. Potts Jr., will be honored with the 2015 Friend of UGA Award.

Potts graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology with a bachelor’s degree in industrial technology. In 2004, Potts retired as vice president and general manager of Temple-Inland Corp. Today he is the chairman of the board of CatchMark Timber Trust in Atlanta.

In 2006, Potts was appointed to the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia and became chairman in 2010. It was during his time on the board of regents that Potts made his greatest contribution to UGA by championing the creation of the UGA College of Engineering, which now has enrolled more than 1,300 students since it was founded in 2012.

The inaugural Young Alumni Award will be presented to Deep J. Shah.

Shah arrived at UGA with a Foundation Fellowship, the university’s premier undergraduate scholarship for academically outstanding students. While attending UGA, he co-founded the UGA Roosevelt Institute Chapter, a student-led think tank. He was named a 2007 Truman Scholar and a 2007 Rhodes Scholar. After graduating summa cum laude in 2008 with degrees in international affairs and biology, Shah earned a master’s degree from Oxford University and then enrolled in Harvard Medical School on a Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans.

Today, Shah is an internal medicine and primary care physician resident in the J. Willis Hurst Internal Medicine Residency Program at the Emory University School of Medicine. He plans to serve as a primary care doctor and physician policymaker. He continues to support the UGA Honors Program by engaging with prospective students, current students and alumni.