Another year in the books: UGA is on ‘upward trajectory’

The 2014-2015 academic year was another highly successful one for UGA-which celebrated its 230th anniversary.

“We’re continuing to position ourselves as one of the very best public research institutions in the nation,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “Our upward trajectory is made possible by the efforts of outstanding faculty, staff, students, alumni and supporters, and I am confident that our best days still lie ahead.”

For another year, the most academically qualified class of students arrived at UGA in the fall. In addition, the university’s six-year graduation rate reached a record high at roughly 85 percent. The overall graduation rate among student-athletes reached a record high at 84 percent, and nine sports teams achieved a rate of 90 percent or above. 

Some of UGA’s outstanding students were recognized with national scholarships and fellowships, including three Goldwater Scholarships, one Truman Scholarship, one Udall Scholarship and a James Madison Graduate Fellowship. By this spring, the university was poised to bring in another superior class of freshmen with the largest pool of applicants UGA has ever received.  

UGA introduced new initiatives to advance the university’s research mission. The president and Provost Pamela Whitten announced a new hiring initiative in the fall to recruit extraordinary research faculty. Three Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholars also were recruited to join the faculty. These individuals will help to advance the university’s growing commercialization efforts, which placed 28 new products in the market last year alone. A campus-wide initiative was started to streamline the way that grants for research and other sponsored projects are managed to enhance productivity.

The provost launched three new programs to support existing leaders and broaden the pipeline of potential leaders through the New Administrators Training, Current Administrators Training and Future Leaders Workshops. To show his gratitude to more than 6,300 employees, the president decided to hold the university’s first Staff Appreciation Celebration.

The university established the Women’s Resource Initiative and the Women’s Leadership Initiative to raise awareness of the university’s services and to promote gender equality, respectively. 

The university received the national INSIGHT into Diversity’s Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award for efforts and success in the area of diversity and inclusion. 

The university also continued to advance its land-grant mission to promote prosperity in communities across Georgia and beyond through a range of public service and outreach programs. UGA now has an estimated annual economic impact of $4 billion on the state.

In the instructional arena, the Center for Teaching and Learning launched its new Fellows for Innovative Teaching, a faculty development program for instructors who teach challenging and high-demand courses. In the fall, the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities launched a research assistantship program that provides stipends to undergraduate students to conduct research in close partnership with faculty. Most recently, the University Council approved a proposal to establish an experiential learning requirement for all undergraduate majors. With the experiential learning component, UGA will become one of the largest public universities in the nation to provide each of its students with high-impact, experiential learning opportunities that enhance academic performance and better prepare them for graduate school or careers. 

The year also was an important one for academic facilities as several important building projects were completed or started. Dedication ceremonies were held for Bolton Dining Commons, the Delta Hall residential learning facility in Washington, D.C., the new Veterinary Medical Center and a new home for the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts. In addition, work continued on the Science Learning Center and Correll Hall, Phase I of the Terry College’s Business Learning Community. Groundbreaking ceremonies were held for the expansion and renovation of Baldwin Hall on North Campus and for the Food Technology Center on the Griffin campus.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal recommended and the General Assembly approved $43 million in state funds for Phase II of the Business Learning Community and $17 million to build a new facility for the Center for Molecular Medicine. The governor, the General Assembly, Chancellor Hank Huckaby and the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia also supported a salary pool to provide merit-based pay increases to faculty and staff in the upcoming year.  

UGA also appears on track to break fundraising records-which last year topped $126 million-for the second consecutive year. Final numbers will be known after June 30.  

“The university now is poised to build an even brighter future,” Morehead said.

— Aaron Hale, News Service