Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia’s Fanning Institute will celebrate the life and contributions of its namesake, the late UGA vice president J.W. Fanning, with the first annual Fanning Day Aug. 14.
The 2 p.m. event at the institute, located at 1240 S. Lumpkin St., will be held on what would be Fanning’s 102nd birthday and will include remarks about Fanning and his wife, Cora Lee, from family members and UGA officials and a presentation on the work of the Fanning Institute.
“J.W. Fanning was one of this state’s leaders in community and regional development,” said Art Dunning, vice president for public service and outreach. “It is fitting to have an annual celebration of his work.”
Two granite benches installed in honor of the couple will also be unveiled. The benches are a gift of Dink NeSmith of Athens, a close friend of the Fannings. Refreshments will include J.W. Fanning’s favorite foods-fried chicken, lemonade and a 10-layer chocolate cake. The event is open to the public.
Fanning, born Aug. 14, 1905, served as UGA’s first vice president for service from 1965 until his retirement in 1972. He was associated with the university for more than 50 years as a student, extension agent, faculty member and administrator and was widely known across Georgia for his expertise in planning, community development and leadership.
His strong advocacy of regional cooperation among city and county officials led to what are now known as Regional Development Centers. He started UGA’s Institute of Community and Area Development, a predecessor to the Fanning Institute, and after retiring, helped start the Leadership Georgia program.
Throughout his career, he enjoyed the strong support of Cora Lee, his partner of 61 years, who promoted the idea that married couples should work as a team in community service and who persuaded Leadership Georgia to include spouses as full participants.
Karen E. Holt, director of the Fanning Institute, said Fanning Day will be an annual event to celebrate how the institute carries on Fanning’s work. “Just as Dr. Fanning urged us to ‘stay alive as long as we live,’ so we are adapting and anticipating as the needs of the people and communities we serve change,” Holt said.