Campus News

Former dean establishes UGA college’s first chair

Connie Rogers is FACS’ first Bill and June Flatt Chair in Foods and Nutrition

Bill Flatt earned his first dollar from plowing a mule and picking cotton in the Tennessee heat.

His grandmother made sure he set aside some of his earnings for the church and saved the rest for college.

That discipline he established early in his life stuck.

Bill Flatt delivers a lecture in 2014 at the University of Georgia. (Photo by Cal Powell)

By his 80th birthday, Flatt had given over $1 million to the University of Georgia, creating seven endowed funds and two professorships in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS).

His latest contribution is the establishment of the Bill and June Flatt Chair in Foods and Nutrition within FACS, the first chair in the college’s 105-year history.

Connie Rogers, head of the FACS department of nutritional sciences, has been named the first Bill and June Flatt Chair.

“Bill Flatt is a beloved colleague who has set an extraordinary example of generosity and dedication as a faculty member and administrator,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “The Bill and June Flatt Chair in Foods and Nutrition is a perfect example of Dr. Flatt’s tireless enthusiasm for helping UGA faculty and students achieve their goals.”

Flatt made his first contribution to FACS not long after he joined the college’s faculty as an emeritus professor following a successful 25-year tenure in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) as director of the Agricultural Experiment Stations, dean and coordinator of the college and D.W. Brooks Distinguished Professor.

He said he quickly realized how few scholarships were available to students in FACS, so he established the Nesbitt-Flatt Scholarship Fund in honor of his late mother-in-law.

Shortly thereafter, he set up the Bill and June Flatt Professorship in Foods and Nutrition in honor of his wife June, who died in 2009. That endowed professorship became a recipient of steady support from Flatt, and his consistent donations grew the fund to the chair level it has now reached.

Now 92, Flatt has been a UGA donor for almost half his life, dating back to his first gift to CAES in 1974.

His lifetime contributions exceed $2.7 million and have endowed multiple scholarships, fellowships, professorships and awards in both CAES and FACS in addition to providing support for students to study internationally.

“As an undergraduate, I received 12 scholarships that made it possible for me to go to college,” Flatt said. “That’s one reason I feel fortunate to be able to give back and help strengthen programs that I feel are so important.”

Shortly after retiring in 2020 after 51 years of dedicated service, Flatt received the UGA President’s Medal.

The award recognizes extraordinary contributions of individuals who are not current UGA employees and who have supported students and academic programs, advanced research and inspired community leaders to enhance the quality of life of Georgia citizens.

“This is a transformative gift for our college and yet another testament to the spirit of generosity that defines Dr. Flatt,” FACS Dean Anisa Zvonkovic said. “For more than 30 years, he has been one of our most ardent and cheerful supporters, and we’re incredibly grateful for his continued investment in our people and our mission.”

Rogers has served as professor and head of the FACS department of nutritional sciences since 2022 after spending the previous 14 years on the faculty at Pennsylvania State University.

She received her doctorate in cell biology and physiology from the University of Pittsburgh.

Rogers’ research focuses on the role of changes in energy balance and related nutritional factors on inflammation, immune regulation and cancer risk.

“Connie Rogers is a truly superb recipient of an endowed chair,” Flatt said.

“I am honored to be named the first Bill and June Flatt Chair in Foods and Nutrition,” Rogers said. “Dr. Flatt is truly an inspiration. He is a remarkable scientist, department head, dean and philanthropist. We are so lucky to have the opportunity to learn from him.”