University of Georgia President Jere W. Morehead returned to the site of the first Archway Partnership Tuesday to thank the community for its longtime collaboration with the university. UGA’s partnership with Colquitt County and the city of Moultrie was a significant part of the university’s submission for the 2022 W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Engagement Scholarship Award, which it won for the U.S. Southern region.
“As Georgia’s land-grant and sea-grant institution, UGA faculty and staff work every day to improve the quality of life for Georgians and to tackle the most challenging issues facing our communities,” Morehead said. “A shining example of this service is the relationship that UGA Archway Partnership has with Moultrie and Colquitt County.”
During his lunch address at the Sunbelt Ag Expo, Morehead presented a proclamation from the university to Colquitt County, the city of Moultrie and the Moultrie Police Department.
“Whereas, the ongoing efforts and partnership with the citizens of Colquitt County and Moultrie have enabled the UGA Archway Partnership to flourish and become one of the most lauded examples of community-engaged outreach in the nation,” the proclamation reads, “… we do hereby express our deep and abiding gratitude to Colquitt County, the city of Moultrie and the Moultrie Police Department for their contributions to the Community Engagement Scholarship Award bestowed upon UGA by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and for their continued partnership with the University of Georgia.”
The UGA Archway Partnership is one of four programs competing for the national C. Peter Magrath Community Engagement Scholarship Award. The winner will be announced by APLU in November.
Colquitt County-Moultrie became the pilot program for the Archway Partnership in 2005. Since then, 13 additional Georgia counties have become Archway Partnerships, with a UGA employee based in the community to help prioritize locally identified critical challenges and identify the best faculty and students with whom to collaborate on solutions.
Initial projects in Colquitt County involved infrastructure improvements needed to accommodate a new poultry processing plant that promised 1,400 jobs. To realize that opportunity, the county needed to expand its wastewater treatment capacity and provide more housing, transportation and childcare.
Over the next 17 years, UGA faculty and students worked with the community on other critical needs such as helping area hospitals and health care systems plan for providers’ and patients’ needs during the pandemic; designing routes for public transportation; mapping criminal activity to help police determine how best to deploy officers; and, most recently, bringing public safety and mental health resources together to help individuals with mental health issues obtain needed services.
“Over the last 17 years, it’s been a multimillion dollar economic impact just on our community here in Moultrie in Colquitt County,” said Chip Blalock, chair of the Colquitt Archway executive committee and executive director of the Sunbelt Ag Expo. “The UGA Archway Partnership just opened so many doors for us, for university resources to come in and enhance what we do as a community. Not only is it good for the community, but it’s also great for the undergraduate and graduate students and the professors. They get real-life experience working on these projects in rural Georgia, and it really broadens their horizons. Every UGA student who comes down here is so impressive and does such an outstanding job. They are very thorough and give us tangible results to work with to accomplish all of our goals.”