Campus News Society & Culture

UGA Athletic Association helps ‘recruit and retain the very best faculty’

J. Marshall Shepherd

Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia Athletic Association is playing a leading role in the university’s effort to increase the number of endowed faculty positions.

For many years, the association has provided an annual contribution to the UGA Foundation to support significant institutional priorities. The contributions, ranging in recent years between $4 million and $5 million, have totaled more than $28 million since fiscal year 2007. A significant portion of these funds—approximately $7.5 million—has been used to establish endowed Georgia Athletic Association professorships.

An endowed chair or professorship is reserved for some of the most talented teachers and productive researchers. The financial support provided by the endowment helps to advance the critical research and scholarship of the faculty members who hold these prized positions.

Currently, there are 23 Athletic Association professorships within 15 UGA schools and colleges, and UGA President Jere W. Morehead recently has implemented a plan to create three additional GAA professorships.

“Endowed professorships help the University of Georgia to recruit and retain the very best faculty,” Morehead said. “We will continue to use the funds provided by the Athletic Association to expand these important positions across campus.”

“The financial support we have provided to such a worthy institutional priority is exceptionally gratifying,” said Greg McGarity, J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics, “and it is a great point of pride to have the UGA Athletic Association affiliated with such an extraordinary group of faculty members.”

GAA professorships are held by outstanding faculty members ranging from oil spill expert Samantha Joye in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences to advertising and public relations scholar Tom Reichert in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. The group also includes geography professor Marshall Shepherd, who directs UGA’s Atmospheric Sciences Program in the Franklin College.

“The support is amazing and unique. Many still don’t quite understand the role of the Athletic Association in my title. They now think I study athletics,” Shepherd said, adding, “In fact, the support has enabled me to strengthen UGA’s position as one of the top institutions in the world for scholarly research on urban weather and climate. Such research may lead to new thinking about designing or planning cities to mitigate flooding, heat waves and storms.”

Odum School of Ecology’s Sonia Altizer, best known for her research on monarch butterflies, is one of the more recent recipients of the GAA professorship, having received the honor last August.

“It is fantastic to see the university and the Athletic Association partnering to recognize and enrich the work of UGA’s top faculty and to build on the strengths of the university’s academic and athletic programs,” Altizer said. “I am honored and grateful to have been awarded an Athletic Association Professorship from UGA.”