Honoring a legend

Just about everyone on campus knows about the building with bones in the lobby. The bones are from a prehistoric giant North American ground sloth; the building is the Boyd Graduate Studies Research Center, named for George Hugh Boyd.

Boyd came to UGA in 1926 to head the zoology department, now cellular biology. In less than a year, he became chairman of the biological sciences division and, 16 years later, dean of the Graduate School. Under Boyd’s leadership, the Graduate School awarded 50 doctorates; in the previous 23 years, it awarded two.

Boyd believed that cooperation between science and industry was key to establishing a tradition of research at UGA. In a 1944 speech, “The University in the Research Program of the South,” he discussed ways to attract students and researchers who would study at UGA and then remain in the region after completing their degrees. He said, “The most important function of research in the university lies … in its relation to teaching. …There is no better means of arousing a spirit of inquiry or of training the student in the best uses of his intellectual faculties …”

Boyd died in 1965 before ground was broken for the Graduate Studies Research Center. The building was completed in 1968 and dedicated in January 1971. The skeleton of the giant sloth, discovered in 1970 in Brunswick, Ga., was assembled by undergraduate geology student Albert Brantley. Given Boyd’s legacy of research and education, it’s a safe bet that he would have been pleased that the building’s lobby features the first prehistoric animal from Georgia to be reconstructed.

The Office of the Vice President for Research and the William S. Elizabeth K. Boyd Foundation will initiate a Distinguished Lecture Series to honor Boyd and bring national leaders and policy-makers in science, education and related fields to UGA. The inaugural lecture will be Friday, April 22, 2005, 11:00 a.m. at the University Chapel and will feature Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr. who is NOAA Administrator and Undersecretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere. Lautenbacher will speak about “Stewardship of the Ocean and Coastal Environments.”