Campus News

UGA celebrates accomplishments from this academic year 

Students on the field during spring 2023 undergraduate Commencement at Sanford Stadium. (Chamberlain Smith/UGA)

The many accomplishments of the last year demonstrate that the institution’s trajectory is pointed skyward

As the 2023-2024 academic year comes to a close at the University of Georgia, all members of the campus community can share in celebrating a year marked by extraordinary achievements and significant milestones.

UGA continues to rank among the best universities in the nation, and the many accomplishments of the last year demonstrate that the institution’s trajectory is pointed skyward.

“I am incredibly grateful to our faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends for making this year such a success for the University of Georgia,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “We have accomplished so much together, and the outlook for our institution is brighter than ever. I am tremendously excited about what the future holds.”

School of Medicine

In February, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia authorized UGA to establish a new School of Medicine in Athens. Its creation comes at a time when the state faces a significant shortage of medical professionals to serve Georgia’s rapidly growing population.

In March, Dr. Shelley Nuss, campus dean of the Augusta University/University of Georgia Medical Partnership, was named founding dean of the University of Georgia School of Medicine.

A month later, UGA held a groundbreaking ceremony for a new medical education and research building on its Health Sciences Campus. Thanks to the generous support of Gov. Brian Kemp and the Georgia General Assembly, the state’s amended FY24 budget included a $50 million allocation for the new facility, which will be matched with private contributions.

“The fact is, Georgia needs more doctors, and we need them now,” said Nuss at the groundbreaking ceremony. “The new UGA School of Medicine will increase the number of medical students in the state, translating to more practicing physicians to help address Georgia’s greatest health care challenges.”

UGA will continue to work closely with the Medical College of Georgia to ensure a smooth transition for current students in the Medical Partnership as UGA seeks independent accreditation from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME).

Scholarly achievement

In September, the University of Georgia ranked in the top 20 among the nation’s best public universities for the eighth consecutive year, according to U.S. News & World Report. UGA ranked No. 47 nationally among all universities.

U.S. News & World Report released its graduate school rankings in April, and several UGA programs earned places in the top 10.

The School of Public and International Affairs ranked fourth in the nation, up three places from 2023. SPIA also placed three programs in the top 5: leadership (No. 2), public finance (No. 3) and local government management (No. 5). Among public institutions, the school tied for second in the nation.

The College of Pharmacy jumped to No. 15 in the nation, up nine spots from its most recent ranking.

The School of Law again ranked No. 20 in the nation and No. 7 among public institutions. Additionally, it was named the nation’s best value in legal education this year by The National Jurist — the fourth time in the last six years the school has occupied the top spot.

The Terry College of Business’ full-time MBA program advanced to No. 27 in the nation, up four places from 2023, and ranked No. 9 among public business schools. Financial Times recently rated Terry’s full-time MBA program the No. 1 value for the money worldwide.

The School of Social Work moved up eight places to No. 20 nationally and now ranks No. 10 among public institutions.

The Mary Frances Early College of Education moved up one spot from last year to No. 30 in the nation, and several of its programs ranked in the top 10. They included the college’s school counseling program (No. 1), curriculum and instruction (No. 8), elementary teacher education (No. 10) and secondary teacher education (No. 10).

The higher education administration program in the Louise McBee Institute of Higher Education ranked No. 7 in the nation, continuing a run of top 10 rankings dating back to 2007.

“The University of Georgia is steadfastly committed to advancing excellence in teaching, research, and service,” said S. Jack Hu, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “The many accomplishments of our students, faculty, and staff highlight the exceptional work happening on our campus and UGA’s expanding impact on the state we serve.”

These and other recent honors have made the University of Georgia a popular choice for new college students. UGA received more than 43,000 applications and a record 26,760 early action applications for next fall’s incoming class and more than 43,090 applications overall.

UGA continues to elevate its academic offerings and student support programs — including a growing active learning initiative, a variety of First-Year Odyssey courses and peer-to-peer mentoring — resulting in record achievements by its students. The university has a four-year completion rate of 75% and six-year completion rate of 88%, well above many peer institutions. Of UGA’s Class of 2022 graduates, 96% were employed or continuing their education within six months of graduation.

UGA students also won many highly competitive awards this year. Among them, Foundation Fellow Mariah Cady was one of only 32 students nationwide named a 2024 Rhodes Scholar, marking the second year in a row that a UGA student has won the prestigious honor.

Two UGA students, Elaine “Lainey” Gammon and Foundation Fellow Sara Logsdon, were named Goldwater Scholars, the highest undergraduate award of its type for the fields of mathematics, engineering and natural sciences.

Foundation Fellow Alex Drahos was one of 60 undergraduates from across the nation to be selected as a 2024 Truman Scholar, a prestigious award given each year to students who demonstrate academic excellence, outstanding leadership potential, and commitment to a career in government or the nonprofit sector.

Foundation Fellow Ashni Patel was selected for the Schwarzman Scholarship, becoming the eighth UGA student to receive this prestigious award.

A record 11 UGA undergraduates were named Boren Scholars, making UGA the second-highest performing institution in the nation this year. The university also ranked second for total number of Boren Awards in 2024, which is calculated by combining an institution’s Boren Scholarships and Fellowships.

Eleven UGA students and recent alumni were offered Fulbright awards for 2023-2024, marking the second year in a row — and the sixth time in 12 years — that UGA has been named a top producer of Fulbright U.S. students.

Two UGA seniors and one recent graduate were selected for the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Graduate Fellowship, marking the first time UGA has had three recipients in one year. Clemencia El Antouri, Feben Teshome and Fardosa Hassan received the award, which prepares recipients for Foreign Service careers in the U.S. Department of State.

Exceptional educators and researchers

UGA faculty also demonstrated excellence this year. Thanks to the groundbreaking research conducted by faculty across campus, UGA exceeded half a billion dollars in annual research and development expenditures, the fifth consecutive year of growth for the university.

Since 2013, the university has seen a 63% increase in R&D expenditures, and those research expenditures have translated into real-world solutions. In August, UGA was ranked No. 1 among U.S. universities for the number of commercial products brought to market based on its research, according to an annual survey conducted by AUTM.

Jenna Jambeck, who was previously awarded a MacArthur “Genius Grant,” was named the 2024 SEC Professor of the Year for her decades of work investigating the global scale of plastic pollution and galvanizing efforts to address solid waste and marine debris.

Aaron Mitchell was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences for his groundbreaking research on the genetics, molecular biology and virulence mechanisms of fungal pathogens in humans. He is the 12th UGA faculty member to receive this honor.

Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost S. Jack Hu and professor Holly Sellers were elected fellows of the National Academy of Inventors, joining 14 other UGA faculty members who have received this honor since the academy began electing fellows in 2012.

Elizabeth Brisbois, David Crich, Qingguo “Jack” Huang, Paul Raymer and Ralph Tripp, were selected as senior members of the National Academy of Inventors. Senior members are chosen for successful patents, licensing or commercialization of technologies that produce real impact on the welfare of society.

Marguerite “Peggy” Brickman, Olin “Gene” Rhodes Jr. and Victor Thompson were named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The three new fellows were recognized for a range of scientific contributions in plant biology, science education, archaeology, wildlife ecology and genetics.

In January, it was announced that a new therapeutic for stroke based on University of Georgia research would soon enter clinical trials. Steven Stice, director of UGA’s Regenerative Bioscience Center, said the new drug could be a game changer for chronic inflammation-based diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Biao He recently published Phase 1 study results for an intranasal RSV vaccine. This progress is a major step toward relieving symptoms for the tens of millions of annual RSV-related infections.

To build on UGA’s cutting-edge research in poultry science, the university opened a new Poultry Science Building in October. The $54 million, 70,000-square-foot facility provides faculty, staff and students access to modern labs, collaborative meeting spaces and classrooms with the latest technology, all of which support one of Georgia’s most important agricultural sectors.

Giving back

Driven by a thriving research and innovation ecosystem and award-winning public service and outreach programs, the University of Georgia’s annual economic impact on the state surged to a record $8.1 billion.

The Archway Partnership, which connects Georgia communities to UGA resources to address their unique needs, provided a return on investment of nearly 3,000%.

The university launched Youth LEAD Georgia, a partnership among UGA’s Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, Chick-fil-A Inc. and The Same House organization, to help 30 high school students from across Georgia develop leadership skills and knowledge about the state.

The courage and determination required to be a successful leader were heroically demonstrated by five UGA students who saved a woman and her two children after the woman’s car veered into a creek in rural Burke County. Two of the students quickly entered the water to get the victims to safety, and one performed CPR on an unresponsive child while the others communicated with emergency responders. The students received an official proclamation from President Morehead recognizing their teamwork and bravery, and they were additionally recognized by Gov. Kemp and the Georgia General Assembly.

Fundraising in fiscal year 2024 recently surpassed $235 million, UGA’s three-year rolling average, with nearly two months remaining. So far in FY24, donors have created 110 new endowed scholarships, and the overall number of endowed faculty positions at the university has now reached 373.

UGA was fortunate to receive an unprecedented level of support from alumni and friends on Dawg Day of Giving, the university’s annual giving day. Donors set a single-day giving record for the third year in a row with 11,711 donations made on March 26. Each of UGA’s 19 schools and colleges received donations, including the new School of Medicine. More than $3.7 million was donated in support of the new Medical School Building.