Lasting legacy

UGA to name campus buildings for former Governors Vandiver, Harris and Miller

Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia will name three prominent campus buildings for former Georgia governors S. Ernest Vandiver, Joe Frank Harris and Zell Miller. The namings honor the former governors, all UGA graduates, for their contributions to advancing higher education in the state and their support of the university.

UGA will name a residence hall in the East Campus Village the S. Ernest Vandiver Jr. Hall to honor the state’s chief executive from 1959 to 1963. A building known as East Village Commons will become the Joe Frank Harris Commons in honor of Harris, who served two terms from 1983 to 1991. The Student Learning Center will become the Zell B. Miller Learning Center recognizing Miller’s 60 years of public service including two terms as governor, from 1991 to 1999, and four years in the U.S. Senate.

The University System of Georgia Board of Regents today approved a request from UGA President Michael F. Adams to name the buildings for the former governors.

“Ernest Vandiver, Joe Frank Harris and Zell Miller stand out as three of the greatest champions of education in modern Georgia history,” Adams said. “Their leadership, vision and commitment were instrumental in helping build an outstanding system of public colleges and universities in Georgia and instilling in our citizens a deep respect for the value of education. The University of Georgia is extremely grateful for their service and accomplishments, and proud to pay them homage through these namings.”

While doing much to improve higher education for the entire state, the former governors also strongly supported their alma mater, said Arnett Mace, UGA’s senior vice president for academic affairs and provost.

“Governors Vandiver, Harris and Miller all recognized UGA’s role in providing educational leadership for Georgia and they worked to ensure that the university received state resources and assistance to carry out this mission,” said Mace.

Vandiver, who died in 2005, held business and law degrees from UGA. As governor, he oversaw a 29 percent increase in state appropriations for higher education and helped fund major construction projects at UGA and other colleges. But his lasting legacy is his leadership in keeping UGA open in the face of efforts by other state leaders to close the school rather than accept racial integration in 1961.

The six-story building that will bear his name is one of four apartment-style residence halls in East Campus Village. Opened in 2004, the halls offer single-occupancy bedrooms, private or semi-private bathrooms, kitchens and furnished living rooms and collectively house about 1,200 upper-class and graduate students.

Harris, who earned a business administration degree from UGA in 1958, instituted the Quality Basic Education program, created the Georgia Research Consortium and boosted state funding for education by $2 billion. The number of students at the state’s public colleges and universities grew by a third and 1,100 elementary and secondary school buildings were erected. In 1999, Harris became the first former governor appointed to the Board of Regents.

His namesake building, which features a dramatic staircase and sweeping vistas of East Campus, is a hub of student activities on East Campus. The building houses the primary food service facilities for students living in East Campus Village including a large cafeteria with specialty food stations, a small café and a convenience store. The building also includes spaces for meetings and student activities, commissary and production facilities to support food venues, and offices of University Parking Services.

Miller earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science from UGA. While he was governor, state higher education appropriations rose by almost 60 percent, faculty salaries climbed almost 30 percent and capital expenditures for the university system increased by $1 billion. A hallmark of Miller’s administration was creation of the HOPE Scholarship, which has provided more than $4 billion in college scholarships to more than one million Georgia students.

The Miller Learning Center, occupying a 6.5-acre footprint, is the second-largest building on UGA’s campus. Opened in 2003, the center includes 26 classrooms and 96 small study rooms, an electronic library that allows users to electronically access materials in other university libraries, and 500 public-access computers. Many classrooms and study rooms have laptop connections. The building also has a reading room and coffee shop.

Dedication ceremonies to officially name each building will be held later.