Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia Alumni Association will honor former Athens mayor Upshaw Bentley, the late Vivian Fisher, former dean Sharon Nickols and former basketball coach Hugh Durham at the association’s annual awards luncheon April 17.
The association will also honor Atlanta businessmen William D. “Bill” Young Sr. and his sons William D. “Bill” Young Jr. and Earl Howard Young for their long-time support of UGA and the UGA Foundation.
Bentley, who earned a bachelor’s degree from UGA in 1947 and a law degree in 1949, will receive the Alumni Merit Award, which recognizes graduates and matriculates for lifetime loyalty and support of the Alumni Association as well as professional leadership.
Fisher and Nickols will receive the Faculty Service Award, which is given to faculty or staff members for distinguished service to the university. Fisher, who died last August following her March retirement, was associate vice president emeritus for public service and outreach. Nickols served as dean of the College of Family and Consumer Sciences from 1991 until stepping down in 2006. She remains a faculty member in the college.
Durham, coach of UGA’s men’s basketball team from 1979 to 1995, will receive the Friend of UGA Award, given to a non-graduate whose professional and public service benefits the university. Durham’s 297-216 won-lost record is best among all 20 head coaches in the men’s basketball program at UGA. Eleven of his 17 teams went to post-season tournaments including the 1983 team that reached the NCAA Final Four.
Bill Young Sr., Bill Young Jr. and Howard Young, all UGA graduates, will be recognized as the Family of the Year for their outstanding loyalty and service to their community, the university and the Alumni Association.
The awards banquet will be held at noon at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education Conference Center and Hotel.
The alumni association has presented the Alumni Merit Award since 1937 and the Faculty Service Award since 1969. The Friend of UGA award was started in 2002. The first Family of the Year Award was presented in 1966, and after being discontinued for a number of years was revived in 2007.
Bentley began practicing law in Athens immediately after receiving his law degree and remains associated with the firm of Fortson, Bentley and Griffin. He was mayor of Athens from 1976-1979 and also served as Clarke County attorney.
A long-time civic leader, he is past president of the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce, Northeast Georgia Boy Scout Council, Athens YMCA, Clarke County Community Chest, the UGA Law School Association and the Western Circuit Bar Association. He is a Fellow of the American Bar Association and the Lawyers Foundation of Georgia.
Bentley received the UGA law school’s Distinguished Service Scroll and the Boy Scouts Distinguished Service Award. The Athens Community Council on Aging named its center for elder care for Bentley and his late wife, Frances, in recognition of their long-time support, and the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce this year honored him by creating the Uppy Award to recognize citizens for work to improve the community.
Fisher worked in the university’s public service and outreach program for 27 years, beginning as a Cooperative Extension Service agent and later serving as a program development specialist with the College of Family and Consumer Sciences and director of the State and Local Government Management Development Program in the Carl Vinson Institute of Government. She was named assistant vice president in 1999 and associate vice president in 2001.
An authority on leadership development and collaboration/consensus building, she helped establish the Public Service and Outreach Leadership Academy while serving as associate vice president. She was a graduate of Leadership Georgia, a certified mediator for the University System of Georgia and past president of the UGA Black Faculty and Staff Organization.
Fisher held leadership roles in numerous community and civic organizations, serving as president of the Clarke County Excellence in Public Education Foundation, the Clarke County School District Parent Advisory Board and the Athens Community Council on Aging. She was chair of Youth Leadership Athens and served on the board of directors of the Athens Justice Project, Jeannette Rankin Foundation and Clarke County Mentor Program. She received the 2003 ATHENA Award from the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce.
Nickols was the fifth person to hold the title of dean of the College of Family and Consumer Sciences and at the time she stepped down was UGA’s longest-serving dean. During her tenure, undergraduate enrollment in the college nearly doubled, private support for professorships and scholarships increased 15-fold and the college strengthened relations with industry, especially in the areas of housing and textiles and apparel.
A long-standing interest in international matters steered Nickols into research on the economic role of women in international development. She was a Fulbright scholar at the University of Malawi and led a review team for a United Nations development program in India. She has made presentations and consulted at institutions in Japan, Korea, Kenya, Swaziland and Pakistan.
Nickols is a past president of the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences and past chair of the Board of Human Sciences for the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges. She is co-editor of three books and author of several book chapters and has made more than 100 presentations at professional meetings.
Durham came to UGA after a 12-year stint at Florida State University where he had a 230-95 won-lost record. The first coach to take a UGA basketball team to a post-season tournament, he led Georgia to the 1983 Southeastern Conference tournament championship and the 1990 SEC regular-season title and was named SEC Coach of the Year in 1985 and 1990.
After leaving UGA, he was head basketball coach at Jacksonville University for eight years, compiling a 106-119 record, and also served as athletic director for three years. His 633 career wins ranked him eighth among active NCAA Division I coaches and made him the 25th most-winning coach in the history of college basketball. He earned five coach-of-the-year honors.
A Kentucky native, Durham earned 15 athletic letters in high school and is in the Kentucky High School Hall of Fame. He played college basketball at Florida State and was elected to the FSU Hall of Fame and the Florida Sports Hall of Fame. In February, he was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.
The Young family has extensive ties to UGA and has provided major financial assistance through donations and leadership of the UGA Foundation. Bill Young Sr. received a marketing degree in 1954 and met his wife, Jane, at UGA. Bill Young Jr. received a degree in management in 1978 and his wife, Margaret, earned a degree in Spanish. Howard Young graduated in 1982 with a marketing degree and his wife, Rebecca, earned a degree in economics.
Bill Young Sr. is an emeritus trustee of the UGA Foundation, a member of the UGA Presidents Club and served on the Annual Fund Committee. He served on the board that oversees contributions for UGA athletic scholarships and has received the Terry College of Business Distinguished Alumnus Award.
Bill Young Jr. has served on the UGA Foundation board of trustees since 2003 and has been chair since 2007. Howard Young is on the advisory board for UGA’s Honors Program and provides funds for an Honors student to conduct cancer research at UGA’s Complex Carbohydrate Research Center.
The Young family owns General Wholesale Company, one of the largest private businesses in Atlanta, and created the Jane H. and William D. Young Foundation, which primarily supports religious and community service organizations in Atlanta. Family members are active in numerous professional and civic organizations in Atlanta.