Athens, Ga. – Philanthropist Arthur M. Blank, co-founder of The Home Depot and owner of the Atlanta Falcons football franchise, will be the speaker for the University of Georgia fall 2012 undergraduate Commencement exercise Dec. 14 at 9:30 a.m. in Stegeman Coliseum. In addition, he will be awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree from UGA during the ceremony.
Fran Teague, long-time UGA faculty member who holds a joint appointment in the department of English and the department of theatre and film studies, will speak at the graduate Commencement exercise at 2:30 p.m. in the same location.
“We are honored to have two distinguished speakers for fall commencement this year,” said UGA President Michael F. Adams. “Arthur Blank’s record of business success and philanthropic work will resonate with graduates who are prepared now for their own successes and lives of service to others. Fran Teague has been an exemplary member of the UGA faculty, with an enduring passion for literature and writing. I very much look forward to their remarks, and join the graduates and their families in celebrating this milestone accomplishment.”
Blank’s career is highlighted by his co-founding of The Home Depot, the world’s largest home improvement store and fourth largest retailer in the U.S. When he retired as co-chairman in 2001, the company was one of Fortune magazine’s “Global Most Admired Companies.”
Following his retirement, Blank purchased the Atlanta Falcons in 2002 and instituted significant changes that created renewed excitement among fans across the Southeast. Now in his 11th season, Blank has distinguished himself as an innovative owner, allowing him to attract and retain sought-after executives, coaches and players in the NFL.
Along with his ownership of the Falcons, the Blank Family of Businesses portfolio includes The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, the Atlanta Falcons Physical Therapy Centers, the PGA TOUR Superstore, Mountain Sky Guest Ranch in Montana, and AMB Group, the parent company of his for-profit ventures. While diverse in nature, all of his businesses are operated based on a common set of core values, which focus on developing customer relationships, treating associates with respect and supporting communities.
In 1995, Blank established The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, which has granted more than $250 million to support early childhood development, education, the arts, and parks and greenspace. In addition, his civic and community activities include service on the corporate boards of Cox Enterprises and Staples, and the board of trustees of the Carter Center, Emory University and the Cooper Institute.
In 2010, the Council for Quality Growth presented Blank with the Four Pillar Award, which represents the principles of quality, responsibility, vision and integrity.
Blank graduated with distinction from Babson College in Massachusetts, receiving a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
Joining the English department at UGA in 1977, Teague moved up the ranks to professor in 1991, and in 2003, she was named a Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor, the university’s highest teaching honor. She received the University Professorship in 2011, the 25th faculty member to receive the honor, which was first awarded in 1974 and stipulates that only one faculty member from UGA can receive the designation in any one given year. Her joint appointment with the English and theatre and film studies departments was made last last year.
Teague has been a strong advocate for more opportunities for students to read and write-regardless of their academic disciplines-on the many committees and task forces on which she has served through the years, in particular the Task Force on General Education and Student Learning and the subsequent Task Force on Writing, which she co-chaired. She also served on the Quality Enhancement Plan team that worked for three years to develop the First-Year Odyssey Seminar Program that launched last fall and offers all incoming first-year students the opportunity to participate in small group academic seminars led by tenured and tenure-track faculty. Teague also initiated the Bulldog Book Club more than six years ago, which continues to extend an open invitation to students, faculty and staff to gather weekly in the Miller Learning Center to discuss books of their choosing.
Teague came to UGA from the University of Texas at Austin, where she earned her doctoral degree in English literature and was an instructor. Her bachelor’s degree is from Rice University in Latin and Honors English.
The Commencement ceremonies are being held for eligible students who complete degree requirements at the end of the fall 2012 semester. The number of students who will receive degrees will not be announced until grades are finalized.
Tickets will be required for attendance at the undergraduate ceremony, with six being provided to each graduating student. Tickets can be obtained at the Graduation Celebration hosted by the UGA Bookstore Oct. 16-18 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and in the Registrar’s Office Nov. 12-16 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Tickets will not be needed for the graduate ceremony.
Both ceremonies will be broadcast live on channel 15 of the university and Charter cable systems and streamed live at http://uga.edu.
The university has a Commencement website, which offers complete details on related graduation activities being hosted by UGA’s various colleges and schools, inclement weather plans, and other information pertinent for graduates, their families and persons interested in attending the ceremonies. The site is http://commencement.uga.edu/.