Savannah residents Michelle and Barry Vine presented a gift of $79,000 to the UGA Skidaway Institute of Oceanography to support the institute’s cutting-edge oceanographic research. In recognition of the gift, UGA Skidaway Institute plans to name an observation laboratory in honor of Michelle Vine’s father, Albert Dewitt Smith Jr. The Vines’ gift is the largest monetary donation ever given to UGA Skidaway Institute.
Vine’s father was a World War II Marine Corps veteran, and, like his daughter, a UGA graduate. He worked in industrial relations for General Motors in Doraville, Lockheed in Marietta and Union Camp Corp. in Atlanta and Savannah. For the last 12 years before his death in 1998, he owned Complete Security Systems.
The Albert Dewitt Smith Jr. Observational Laboratory will be located in the soon-to-be-created Center for Hydrology and Marine Processes. Earlier this year, the Georgia General Assembly approved a $3 million appropriation to renovate and repurpose a circa-1947 concrete cattle show barn for laboratory and meeting spaces as a home for the center. Innovative for its time, the cattle barn was constructed by the Roebling family. The Roeblings established the Modena Plantation in the mid-1930s and raised black angus cattle and Hampshire hogs before they donated their land to the state in 1967 to create the Skidaway Institute.
“We are pleased to support the UGA Skidaway Institute of Oceanography in its continuous effort to conduct research and protect our coastal environment,” said Michelle Vine.