Educating leaders of tomorrow key to UGA’s mission

More than 21 million students are attending a university in the United States this fall, and the University of Georgia is home to more than 30,000 of these students. UGA’s core mission is to provide the best education possible for them in this vast academic world and recognizes that a well-rounded education goes far beyond the textbooks, lectures and labs.

These students are the leaders of tomorrow’s generation. Along with providing a top-notch academic education with a world-class faculty, UGA provides a wide range of programs to give them an edge in their professional pursuits and help them develop their leadership skills.

“Academic excellence is at the core of our mission,” President Jere W. Morehead said. “Developing leadership skills in our students is a key component of their academic studies and prepares them for success in their chosen professions. I am proud that we offer so many programs—from college ambassadors to leadership academies—to develop these skills. One only needs to look at the leadership positions so many of our alumni have attained to see we have helped make a difference in their professional lives.”

Every college and academic unit on the UGA campus offers leadership opportunities for students. The following is a sampling of those programs:

Student Affairs

From the Center for Leadership and Service to the Tate Leadership Scholars to the UGA Student Government Association, the Division of Student Affairs has dozens of programs aimed at developing leadership skills. For more about these programs, please see

Student Alumni Council

The Student Alumni Council is the official student ambassador group for the University of Georgia Alumni Association. Selected from a variety of backgrounds, hometowns and majors, the members of SAC serve as the student advocates of private giving to UGA as well as liaisons between current students and alumni. While serving on SAC, these students build essential leadership skills through their advocacy efforts including speaking to other student organizations, planning and executing a variety of programs, and interacting with various professionals including members of the Alumni Association staff and board of directors. Members of SAC are frequently requested by UGA administration to represent the student body to a variety of constituents.

Dinner with a Dozen Dawgs is an example of a program coordinated by SAC throughout the academic year. The program pairs an esteemed UGA alumnus with 11 students, with a member of SAC serving as host. The dinners are designed for students to receive advice and learn from alumni who work in their area of interest, while also honing networking and leadership skills. Examples of past alumni hosts include talk radio host Martha Zoller, political consultant Joel McElhannon and CDC epidemiologist Sohyun Park.

uLEAD Certificate Program

The uLEAD Certificate Program (formerly the Interdisciplinary Certificate in Leadership and Service) sharpens leadership and service skills in personal, team, organizational and community settings. This certificate helps students to both understand and improve their leadership and service potential.

The program is a collaborative partnership among multiple colleges, campus units and faculty with an interest in promoting leadership and service. Primary partners include the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and the College of Family and Consumer Sciences, with support from the College of Education, Student Affairs and numerous departments throughout campus.

Julia Hemingway, who received her A.B.J. degree this spring, said the program “provided me with unforgettable opportunities throughout college to give back to the Athens community. I learned invaluable lessons on leadership and how to properly communicate with others. It was great to take this class my final semester because I was able to apply everything from the certificate into a unique program with a fellow classmate that ultimately allowed us to collect and donate over 400 items of gently used athletic gear to two nonprofit organizations. The certificate ultimately prepared me for the real world and taught me the importance of leadership and communication in and out of the office.”

CVM Bulldog Leadership Experience

The College of Veterinary Medicine has hosted the Bulldog Leadership Experience for each of the last four years. This experiential leadership opportunity provides veterinary students, staff and faculty the opportunity to work together and gain additional knowledge and understanding of the underpinnings of successful leadership. Past themes for the workshop have included self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship management and communication. In 2014, the UGA CVM and Merial jointly sponsored this two-day event. Faculty from the Veterinary Leadership Institute, a nonprofit organization focused on providing leadership training within the veterinary profession, provided the opportunity for members of the UGA CVM community to experience firsthand the impact of personal stories of leadership, and the challenges inherent to storytelling as leaders.

Leaders use storytelling commonly in efforts to inspire organizations, to set visions, to teach important lessons, to define culture and values, and to explain their backgrounds and beliefs. The 2014 Bulldog Leadership Experience afforded members of the CVM community the opportunity to work in teams of 10-12 people to develop and tell their stories regarding topics relevant to veterinary medicine.

Participants in the Bulldog Leadership Experience described it as inspirational, thought provoking, enlightening and motivating. The UGA College of Veterinary Medicine, through extracurricular programs such as the BLE and other components of the curriculum, continues to demonstrate its commitment to the development of the future leaders of the veterinary profession.

College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences ambassadors

The mission of the CAES ambassadors is to recruit potential students, represent the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences in a professional manner and develop relationships that foster growth and leadership. For more about the CAES Ambassadors program, see

Vinson Institute Fellows Program

Through the semester-long Vinson Institute Fellows Program, selected undergraduates interact with faculty at the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, a unit of UGA’s Office of Public Service and Outreach, and other leaders in public service to gain knowledge and experience in state and local government leadership.

Vinson Institute Fellows meet elected and appointed officials and engage in individual research projects that help them prepare for leadership positions in public service. All students selected as Vinson Fellows are matched with a faculty-mentor in one of the institute’s training, technical assistance, applied research or communications programs to explore the inner workings of state and local government, engage in hands-on learning by attending training sessions and conferences, and assist in Institute of Government research.

Developing leadership skills is a particularly strong emphasis for spring semester Vinson Fellows, who are selected exclusively from UGA’s Roosevelt Scholars program. Roosevelt Scholars spend the fall semester working on highly individualized research projects and are provided with numerous opportunities to interact with leaders in public service, providing them with valuable leadership lessons and making them ideal candidates for the Vinson Fellows program.

The J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Advancement

The J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, a unit of UGA’s Office of Public Service and Outreach, strengthens communities, organizations and individuals through leadership development, education and training. 

Working with more than 100 community-based organizations as well as with different departments here at UGA, Fanning faculty and staff provided leadership training and skills development to more than 7,100 individuals in fiscal year 2014. 

During that same time period, Fanning provided leadership training to more than 2,000 youth through its summer residential camps, college readiness programs, Athens Peer Court and community-based youth leadership programming. 

Foster and homeless youth as well as underrepresented Latino and African-American youth participated in Fanning’s youth leadership programs. Through its work in leadership development on campus and throughout Georgia and beyond in 2014, Fanning provided graduate assistantships and experiential learning opportunities for 18 UGA students. 

Terry College of Business

The Institute for Leadership Advancement in the Terry College of Business was established in 2001 to develop a new class of business and community leaders. For the founders, “new” meant more than the creation of a replacement pool for today’s leadership. It meant leaders who embraced a leadership perspective grounded in values that serve their communities and organizations.

To accomplish this goal, ILA develops capabilities, layered on top of the student’s academic major, that promote:

  • Ongoing self-development.
  • Compelling communication of vision.
  • Effective implementation of organizational goals.
  • Adaptability to the changing environment.
  • The ability to create high-performing teams.
  • Strong business acumen.

ILA houses two certificate programs:


  • Leonard Leadership Scholars Program
    With an emphasis on values-based, impact-focused leadership, Leonard Leadership Scholars, open to Terry College students, acquire the tools necessary to contribute to their organizations and communities while serving as a model for others to follow.
  • Leadership Fellows
    Leadership Fellows, which is offered to students of all majors, focuses on leadership development courses and activities that enhance their understanding and application of leadership principles and reinforce their commitment to civic issues, service and volunteerism.


These programs aim to create a new class of leaders who are well trained and embrace ILA’s values. Completion of either program earns a Certificate in Personal and Organizational Leadership.

The Terry College also sponsors the Corsair Society. The purpose of the Corsair Society is to provide a support network for UGA’s top undergraduate students who are interested in exploring career opportunities in finance, facilitate productive discussion between university graduates involved in related fields, and support the academic mission of the university by fostering a collaborative environment that will promote advancement of the society’s members and the university as a whole.

Corsair is a values-based organization centered on the principles of lifelong learning, commitment to leadership, dedication to achievement, uncompromising ethics, and diversity in both thought and background. To stand for induction, one must commit to conduct his or her affairs in accordance with the society’s values.