The University of Georgia will hold a dedication ceremony and lecture Nov. 16 to celebrate the recent naming of the Institute of Higher Education (IHE) in tribute of the late Louise McBee, a revered university administrator and state legislator. The events are open to the public.
UGA President Jere W. Morehead; Libby V. Morris, director of the Institute; and Charles Knapp, UGA president emeritus and director of the Institute’s Ed.D. program, will give remarks at the dedication ceremony and ribbon-cutting at 10:30 a.m. in the Scholars Garden in front of Meigs Hall.
“Dr. McBee was one of the most devoted and effective leaders in the University of Georgia’s long history,” said Morehead. “She served our institution and our state with the utmost integrity, and we continue to benefit from her extraordinary impact.”
Following the dedication, Joan T.A. Gabel, president of the University of Minnesota and a UGA Law School alumna, will deliver the Louise McBee Lecture in Higher Education in the UGA Chapel at 11 a.m. The title of her lecture is “Fulfilling Higher Education’s Social Contract and Value Proposition.”
This year marks the 31st anniversary of the McBee lecture, which is one of the few annual lecture series in the U.S. focused solely on higher education.
“Dr. McBee was an advocate for students, a role model for women, and a beloved administrator and legislator,” said Morris. “Across her career, she was widely regarded as one of the most influential women in Georgia politics and higher education. This bequest fulfills her vision to make a difference for future generations of students and faculty. We are profoundly grateful.”
McBee died in March at the age of 96. She was an ardent supporter of the IHE throughout her life, and her estate gift of more than $3.5 million is the greatest single donation to the IHE in its nearly 60-year history.
The gift will support the Louise McBee Distinguished Professorship in Higher Education, the Louise McBee Lecture in Higher Education and the establishment of the McBee Scholars program to provide assistantships for outstanding doctoral students in higher education. Additional funds will create an endowment to enhance the IHE’s strategic partnerships, initiatives and innovation across the three core areas of instruction, research and service.
McBee was born in Strawberry Plains, Tennessee. She was one of two members of her graduating class to attend college. She earned a bachelor’s degree at East Tennessee State University, a master’s degree at Columbia University and a doctorate from The Ohio State University. She taught high school and college before coming to the University of Georgia.
Through positions in the Athens community, at UGA and in the Georgia General Assembly, she championed education in Georgia for over 55 years.
McBee came to UGA in 1963 as the first dean of women and subsequently served as dean of students, assistant vice president for instruction, associate and senior associate vice president for academic affairs, and acting vice president for academic affairs.
McBee retired from UGA in 1988 and three years later won a seat in the Georgia House of Representatives. She served in the legislature for 13 years, including an influential term as chair of the House Higher Education Committee. In 2003, she was appointed co-chair of the HOPE Scholarship Study Commission, which evaluated the outcomes of the HOPE Scholarship and made recommendations to ensure a strong future for this vital program.
Over the years, her outstanding service to education was recognized with significant honors. In 1988, she received the Abraham Baldwin Award from the University of Georgia Alumni Association and the Blue Key Service Award for distinguished service to the university and state. The University System of Georgia Board of Regents bestowed the Elridge McMillan Lifetime Achievement Award on McBee in 2006. In 2014, Morehead presented McBee with the inaugural President’s Medal for her lifelong contributions to UGA, and in 2018 he placed her portrait in the Administration Building in honor of her extraordinary service.