Athens, Ga. – State Sen. Eric Johnson of Savannah will be the speaker for the annual Blue Key Awards banquet at the University of Georgia Sept. 7.
Johnson, who is 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 at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education Conference Center and Hotel. 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, which was 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.
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.
Johnson, who earned a master’s degree in architecture at Tulane University, is an architect with a residential and commercial development firm in Savannah. A member of the American Institute of Architects, he has been named to Georgia Trend Magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential Georgians.
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.
A member of the museum’s Board of Advisors since 1988, Griffith was on the executive committee that raised $10 million for construction of the museum on UGA’s East Campus. The funds included her gift for an auditorium named in her honor in the museum. She made another major lead gift in recognition of the museum’s 50th birthday in 1998 to help build a planned large addition to the museum.
Griffith was a founder of the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art in 1973, the first member of the museum’s Director’s Circle when it was created in 1992, and helped start Elegant Salute, the museum’s biennial fundraiser, 20 years ago. The museum established the M. Smith Griffith Award to recognize exemplary service and presented the first award to Griffith.
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 Company, 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 Orkins 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.
Orkin is an emeritus trustee of the University of Georgia Foundation and the University of Georgia Real Estate Foundation. A life trustee of the American Jewish Committee, he serves on the boards of the High Museum of Art, the Epstein School, the Buckhead Coalition and Emory University’s Board of Visitors.
Landers became UGA’s first full-time women’s basketball coach in 1979 and has built one of the nation’s premier women’s collegiate basketball programs. Under his guidance the Lady Bulldogs have compiled a 684-215 record and have 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.
Landers’ UGA average of 24.4 wins per season is fourth best among NCAA Division I head coaches with 20 or more years tenure. He ranks second in NCAA tournament bids and fourth in NCAA tournament victories and Final Four appearances.
He has been National Coach of the Year four times, SEC Coach of the Year three times and this year was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. Twelve of his players have earned All America honors, three have been named SEC Player of the Year and 18 have gone on to play professionally.
Newman, who will receive the Young Alumnus Award, is a 1999 magna cum laude graduate of UGA, where he served as president of the Blue Key chapter and president of the Student Government Association. 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.
Newman was a captain in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps and served a year in Iraq with the XVIII Airborne Corps, inspecting detainee facilities and advising commanders on lethal and non-lethal targeting. He has written a book, to be published this fall, titled Because of Baghdad – What a Father Would Say About Life, if He Didn’t Come Home to Say It.
The Tucker Dorsey Memorial Scholarship is named for a former Blue Key student who died in an auto accident in 1965. The scholarship recognizes students for outstanding service and leadership.
The AT&T Student Leadership Award recognizes a male and female student for outstanding leadership qualities and achievements.
The Richard B. Russell Award recognizes a Blue Key student for outstanding leadership ability and potential.
For more information on the Blue Key Honor Society, see http://www.uga.edu/bluekey/about/tradition.html.