State Sen. Eric Johnson of Savannah will be the speaker for UGA’s annual Blue Key Awards banquet Sept. 7.
Johnson, president pro tem of the Georgia Senate, will receive a Blue Key Service Award from the UGA chapter of Blue Key National Honor Society. The award also will be presented to M. Smith “Smitty” Griffith of Athens, a major supporter of the Georgia Museum of Art; Atlanta businessman Sanford Orkin, a long-time supporter of UGA; and UGA women’s basketball coach Andy Landers.
In addition, Bart Newman, who holds bachelor’s and law degrees from UGA and has written a book about his experience serving in Iraq, will receive the Blue Key Young Alumnus Award. Winners of the AT&T Student Leadership Award, the Richard B. Russell Student Leadership Award and the Tucker Dorsey Memorial Scholarship also will be announced.
The banquet, which is open to the public, will be held at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education Conference Center and Hotel beginning at 6:30 p.m. Reservations, at $25 per person, can be made by contacting Janet Lance at (706) 542-0017.
Blue Key honor society was founded in 1924 and has more than 300 chapters throughout the U.S. The UGA chapter, started in 1926 as the second chapter in the nation, has presented the Blue Key Service Award since 1964 to distinguished citizens who have made important contributions to the nation, state, UGA and their community.
Eric Johnson was elected to the senate in 1994 after serving one term in the Georgia House of Representatives and has been president pro tem since 2003. He is chair of the senate Administrative Affairs Committee, co-chair of the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee and vice chair of the Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee.
Smitty Griffith has provided leadership and major financial assistance for more than 30 years to the Georgia Museum of Art, the state’s official art museum located on the UGA campus.
She has personally sponsored numerous exhibitions and many local and statewide educational programs, and her support has enabled the museum to make many of its most significant acquisitions.
Sanford Orkin and his wife, Barbara, attended UGA in the 1950s. After serving in the Korean War, Orkin joined the family pest control business, Orkin Exterminating Co., in Atlanta and served as president. After the company was sold in 1964, he pursued real estate and business interests in Atlanta.
In 1999, the couple endowed a faculty position under the Georgia Research Alliance eminent scholar program. The position is in UGA’s Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases and Cellular Biology, which focuses on research on parasites and vectors that cause some of the world’s most deadly diseases.
Andy Landers became UGA’s first full-time women’s basketball coach in 1979 and built one of the nation’s premier women’s collegiate basketball programs. Under his guidance, the team compiled a 684- 215 record and won seven Southeastern Conference championships, five SEC tournaments and played in all but two of the 25 NCAA tournaments including appearances in five Final Fours.
Bart Newman is a 1999 magna cum laude graduate of UGA. He attended the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, earning a master’s degree in management, economics and international relations, and graduated from UGA’s School of Law in 2003. He is an associate in the Atlanta law firm of Arnall Golden Gregory.