Campus News

Senior fellow named interim director of Fanning Institute

Joseph W. Whorton Jr., senior fellow at the Fanning Institute and associate professor of public administration, has been named interim director of the Fanning Institute. His appointment by Art Dunning, vice president for public service and outreach, is effective Nov. 17.

“We are fortunate that an individual with Joe’s knowledge and experience is available and willing to serve in the important role of interim director,” Dunning said. “His background and knowledge of Fanning’s mission and its clientele will ensure as seamless a transition as possible.”

For nearly three decades, Whorton has served the state of Georgia by assisting governors and other elected officials and by helping shape public policy to improve government. Among his recent accomplishments, he has been the architect of Partners for a Prosperous Athens, an ongoing community-based effort to address issues related to poverty in Athens-Clarke County. Georgia Trend presented him with the 2007 Georgia Excellence in Public Service Award, which honors individuals who epitomize the best in public service in Georgia.

He succeeds Karen E. Holt, who will become assistant vice president of the Institute for Public Service at the University of Tennessee.

“Karen has served public service and outreach, the University of Georgia and the people of our state extremely well in her current position and will bring the same high level of commitment and expertise to her new position,” Dunning said.

Holt is the first director of a newly realigned Fanning Institute, previously known as the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership. In 2005, four public service units specializing in leadership, community and economic development were combined to create a new, multidisciplinary institute that can better meet the complex needs of Georgia’s communities. Fanning faculty help people and communities across the state develop the necessary skills and tools to identify and achieve community goals.

Whorton’s involvement in public service dates back to his days as an undergraduate in the 1960s. A chance meeting with the city manager of Oklahoma City convinced him to leave his job as a cook at a Lebanese restaurant and take an internship in city government. That led to positions as assistant city manager of Oklahoma City, executive director of the Oklahoma City Housing Authority and graduate school.

Among his previous leadership roles, Whorton served as director of the Institute of Community and Area Development and first executive director of the Georgia Rural Development Council. In 2003, the Georgia Municipal Association presented him with the Georgia Key Citizen Award.

Whorton earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and sociology from Oklahoma City University, a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Oklahoma and a doctorate in public administration from the State University of New York, Albany.