Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia Alumni Association will honor former Gov. Joe Frank Harris, political strategist and author Hamilton Jordan and popular UGA professor William Barstow at the association’s annual awards luncheon April 18.
The association will also honor brothers George and Jack Fontaine of Houston, Texas, who have each made significant donations to UGA.
Harris, a 1958 UGA graduate, and Jordan, who graduated in 1967, will receive the Alumni Merit Award, which recognizes graduates and matriculates for lifetime loyalty and support of the Alumni Association as well as professional leadership.
Barstow, a professor of plant biology and cellular biology who has been a faculty member since 1974, will receive the Faculty Service Award, which is given to faculty or staff members for distinguished service to the university.
George Fontaine, who graduated from UGA in 1976, and Jack, who attended the university in the mid-1970s, will be honored as the UGA Family of the Year in recognition of outstanding service to the community, the university and the Alumni Association.
The awards banquet will be held at noon at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education Conference Center and Hotel.
The alumni association has presented the Alumni Merit Award since 1937 and the Faculty Service Award since 1969. The Family of the Year award was started in 1966 but was not presented for a number of years before being revived last year.
Harris’s two terms as Georgia governor (1983-1991) were marked by major advances in education and economic development. He increased state funding for education by $2 billion and instituted the Quality Basic Education program, considered a landmark in state educational reform. Teachers’ salaries increased 70 percent and 1,100 elementary and secondary school buildings were constructed.
The state budget almost tripled during his administration and 840,000 jobs were created. Harris established a trade office that doubled the state’s exports and set up offices in Canada and Japan to promote Georgia tourism and business. He also funded more than 140 new libraries and started planning for regional reservoirs to meet the state’s water needs.
Harris served 18 years in the Georgia House of Representatives before being elected governor, and after leaving office became the first former governor appointed to the University System Board of Regents. He is chairman of Harris Georgia Corp. and is the first Distinguished Executive Fellow at Georgia State University.
Jordan was a key architect of the national campaign that led to Jimmy Carter’s election as president, and served as Carter’s chief of staff. Later he was chief executive of the Association of Tennis Professionals and helped start the organization that became the Jacksonville Jaguars professional football franchise.
He has been an investor and board member for a number of businesses and helped start several companies in the medical and biotechnical fields. He chronicled his battle with several forms of cancer in the book No Such Thing as a Bad Day and has served on the boards of the Lasker Foundation and the Brady Clinic of Johns Hopkins University.
In 2005, Jordan joined the public service faculty of UGA’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government where he is working on a book about the Carter presidency. He was instrumental in initiating and organizing a major conference on the Carter presidency held at UGA last year.
Barstow has taught more than 30,000 students, many in large introductory biology classes that are among the most popular courses offered at UGA. He has received numerous awards for teaching excellence including two Josiah Meigs awards, UGA’s highest teaching honor, the Sandy Beaver Outstanding Teaching Award and the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences Superior Teaching Award.
He is associate chairman of the Franklin College’s biology division, chairs the division’s curriculum committee and directs the undergraduate biology programs. He has worked many years with The College Board and the Educational Testing Service on developing Advanced Placement biology tests for high school students and training for AP teachers.
Long active in UGA faculty governance and university service, Barstow has served numerous terms on the University Council and the Franklin College Faculty Senate and was chair of both groups. From 1998-2007 he was the University Council representative to the Georgia Athletic Association board of directors, serving six years on the executive committee.
George and Jack Fontaine are grandsons of one of the first owners of the original Coca-Cola Bottling Company and have been involved in business enterprises in Houston for many years. In 1995, George followed a life-long passion for music and started an independent record label that merged with New West Records and soared to success with such stars as Kris Kristofferson, Dwight Yoakam and the Drive-By Truckers.
He melded his love of music performance and his expertise in business and music management by underwriting a music business program at UGA with a $500,000 personal gift and another $250,000 from his family’s foundation. The program, operated by the Terry College of Business and the Hugh Hodgson School of Music, teaches students about contracts, licensing, marketing and other aspects of the business side of the music industry.
Jack Fontaine left UGA before graduating to work in the family business. In 2000, Jack and his wife, Nancy, lost their 16-year-old son, John Jr., when a car driven by another teenager wrecked. Both John, who was killed, and the driver, who survived, had been drinking alcohol.
The tragedy prompted Jack and Nancy to donate $2 million to UGA to create the John Fontaine Jr. Center for Alcohol Awareness and Education. The center, a part of the UGA Health Center, informs students about the dangers of alcohol abuse and provides intervention, counseling and support for students dealing with alcohol-related problems.