Celia Dixon proves there is no graduation date for giving back

Every year, graduating students are given the opportunity to leave their mark on their alma mater. Started in 1991, the Senior Signature plaque is a UGA tradition that continues to grow each year. Students participate by donating a minimum $50 gift to the university. This gift includes a designation option so that graduates can give to any school, college, department, program, or scholarship that has had a personal impact on them during their time at UGA. Celia Dixon (BSED ’95), did not have the means to participate in Senior Signature when she graduated, but never lost the desire to leave her mark on campus.

Now, nearly 23 years after earning her diploma, Celia has returned to add her to name to the ever-growing list of Bulldogs, which can be found in Tate Plaza. We recently spoke to Celia about her decision to participate in the Senior Signature and what led her to give back to UGA.

What is your favorite memory at the University of Georgia?

My favorite memory at UGA has always been the first day of student orientation where we learned the “Go Dawgs, Sic ’em!” chant as a group! The sound of all of us chanting in front of Tate Student center was an overwhelming and awesome feeling.

Tell us a little bit about what you’ve been doing since graduating  and how your time in Athens prepared you for life post-college.

I am a recreation therapist on a spinal cord injury team in the Rehab Center of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  I worked 4 of my 5 years in Athens while going to school, so I developed a very strong work ethic that prepared me for my work experience now.  I have a real love for working with patients and helping them become more independent in life.

As a 1995 graduate, what made you want to participate in Senior Signature in 2018?

I know it sounds silly to some, but the money to participate in Senior Signature was not an option for me when it was offered to me back in 1995. I recalled all of that when I was in Athens two summers ago with my daughter, Hope, and I showed her the plaque wall. She said, “Mommy, where is your name?” It was devastating that I couldn’t show her! It was like I had never been there. I had my diploma to show her, my pin from the College of Education graduation ceremony, etc., but it still devastated me. Over the next year, I thought a lot about that moment with Hope. I had the money to pay for it now, but I wasn’t sure that it would matter.  So that’s when I contacted the UGA Alumni Association.

Celia Dixon

Celia and her daughter, Hope.

Why, in your opinion, is it important to leave your mark by giving back to UGA?

I didn’t realize what an impact giving back would make on other students.  I guess at the time, I was struggling myself and I was living in a vacuum.  Now that I can give back, it makes it all so much more important to give!

Do you hope to inspire other graduates to follow in your footsteps?

I encourage them to think of their future that they are making. By giving, it gives another student that chance as well!

How has UGA impacted you as a person and as a professional?

I am very proud of the decision and really the risk I took by coming to UGA.  Coming in as an out-of-stater (shh.. from South Carolina)…. but always living as a Dawg, my mom and I were never sure of how we were going to do it, but we did! I know that I received an excellent education that not only prepared me for my profession, but also prepared me as a mom.

Last year in March of 2017, I underwent brain surgery for trigeminal neuralgia. I was fortunate that the surgery was a success but even if it wasn’t, I was not going to give up. Giving up was not an option! I have a beautiful daughter and patients that need me. Dawgs never give up, we keep fighting. That’s just what you do as a Dawg!

Interested in learning more about Senior Signature? Visit alumni.uga.edu/seniorsignature.

Senior Signature

Warnell dedicates classroom, center to honor alumnus Langdale

This article was originally published on UGA Today on March 7, 2018.

Gift from Langdale’s estate and foundation expanded education, research efforts

The University of Georgia’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources dedicated a classroom and its Center for Forest Business after prominent alumnus Harley Langdale Jr. on March 6.

Langdale, who graduated from UGA in 1937, died in 2013. Gifts from his estate and the Harley Langdale, Jr. Foundation totaling $3.6 million allowed the Center for Forest Business to expand its education efforts and research, as well as its service to the forest industry and private landowners. The center has been renamed the Harley Langdale Jr. Center for Forest Business.

“Harley Langdale Jr. was the consummate entrepreneur,” said Bob Izlar, director of the center. “When he encountered obstacles, he found innovative ways around them, whether it was brow beating the chairman of the regents, reforming national banking laws, helping enact capital gains tax treatment of timber, or creating new and sustainable markets for economic development of forestland. His life was a model for all Georgia. We are humbled by the legacy he has imparted to us.”

Langdale’s family, the Harley Langdale Jr. Foundation, Warnell faculty, and UGA President Jere W. Morehead attended the dedication on Tuesday.

In addition to the classroom and center, he will also be recognized with a named professorship, the Harley Langdale Jr. Endowed Chair in Forest Business.

Langdale graduated from what was then the George Foster Peabody School of Forestry in 1937, and over the next few decades he became one of the foremost pioneers in Georgia’s forest industry. As one of the first foresters to make the move from producing turpentine to planting trees for harvest, Langdale’s vision and passion ushered in an era of tree farming and sustainability.

Lady Antebellum members to deliver Commencement address

This article was originally published on UGA Today on March 6, 2018.

Writer: Emily Webb

University of Georgia alumni Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood of multi-platinum trio Lady Antebellum will deliver the spring undergraduate Commencement address May 4 at 7 p.m. in Sanford Stadium.

Denise Spangler, the Bebe Aderhold Professor in Early Childhood Education in UGA’s College of Education, will deliver the graduate Commencement address that same day at 9:30 a.m. in Stegeman Coliseum. Tickets are not required for either ceremony.

Hunter Smith, who will receive his bachelor’s degree in political science, is the student speaker for the undergraduate ceremony.

“We are excited to welcome Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood back to their alma mater,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “They are multi-talented musicians who have impressed the world, and the University of Georgia is very proud of all they have accomplished. We look forward to their inspiring comments.”

Dave Haywood Lady Antebellum

Dave Haywood

Georgia natives Kelley and Haywood of the seven-time Grammy Award-winning trio have launched their latest single “Heart Break,” serving as the title track from their No. 1 sixth studio album, “Heart Break.” Their current release follows more than 18 million units, nine No. 1 hits, ACM and CMA “Vocal Group of the Year” trophies three years in a row and other honors including seven Grammys, Billboard Music Awards, People’s Choice Awards and Teen Choice Awards.

Charles Kelley Lady Antebellum

Charles Kelley

Both Kelley and Haywood received Bachelor of Business Administration degrees from UGA in 2004. Along with his success as part of Lady Antebellum, Kelley also earned a Grammy nomination for “Best Country Duo/Group Performance” for the title track of his solo record “The Driver,” and has penned No. 1 hits recorded by artists including Luke Bryan and Darius Rucker. In addition to multi-instrumentalist and producer Haywood co-writing four chart-topping Lady Antebellum hits, including the six-times platinum hit “Need You Now,” Haywood has also written for artists such as Miranda Lambert and Luke Bryan. The multi-platinum trio will team with Darius Rucker this summer for their co-headlining Summer Plays On Tour, which kicks off July 19.

A professor of mathematics education, Spangler also currently is interim dean of the College of Education. She holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in mathematics, both from Illinois State University. She earned her doctoral degree in mathematics education at the University of Georgia.

Denise Spangler

Denise Spangler

An award-winning instructor, Spangler is a member of the UGA Teaching Academy and is a recipient of the Richard B. Russell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. The majority of her career has involved helping elementary education majors learn to teach mathematics to children in ways that build on the numerical and spatial thinking that they develop from interacting with the world. She also teaches graduate courses on mathematics teaching and teacher education. She has graduated more than 30 doctoral students during her time at UGA.

Spangler’s research is tightly integrated with her teaching. She seeks to understand how novice teachers put into practice what they have learned from their teacher education programs, their experiences in schools and their own experiences as students—and how they balance these sometimes competing influences. The author of approximately 100 publications, including journal articles, book chapters and books, she has received continuous funding for her work since joining the UGA faculty in 1995.

“Dr. Spangler is an exemplary professor and administrator who has made a positive impact on the lives of countless numbers of students—from elementary school to the university level—through her teaching, research and service,” Morehead said. “She will provide a compelling message to our graduates.”

In addition to her teaching and research, Spangler has served on and chaired a number of committees and task forces at UGA. Additionally, she was an elected member of the board of education for the Clarke County School District for 12 years and served two terms as vice president of the board. Her national service includes chairing editorial panels for journals in mathematics education and serving on the board of directors for the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

For more information on UGA’s Commencement ceremonies, visit https://commencement.uga.edu/.

Alumnus donates art collection to UGA School of Law

This article was originally published on UGA Today on March 5, 2018.

Writer: Heidi Murphy

William Elliott Stiles Jr.—an accomplished artist, Atlanta attorney and University of Georgia School of Law alumnus—is donating 10 pieces of his work to his alma mater. The hand-painted originals will portray various legal themes and contain references to the School of Law.

“I am very grateful William is donating some of his unique artwork to the law school,” School of Law Dean Peter B. “Bo” Rutledge said. “His collection will enhance our collection and provide thought-provoking imagery for members of the law school community for decades to come.”

William Stiles

William Stiles

Stiles, a 2006 cum laude graduate of the law school, began painting while in high school and said this creative activity was a much needed stress reliever during his time as a law student. In fact, while studying in Athens, he created and donated a piece titled “The Common Law” to the school. This painting reflects relevant case law, theories, ideas and history examined during the first semester of legal studies.

Law Oak

“UGA Law Oak,” is part of Stiles’ “Concept Collection” of which 10 originals will be donated to the law school.

The newpieces he plans to donate to the school are part of his “Concept Collection,” which is “firmly rooted in the practice of law and has excerpts of U.S. Supreme Court opinions in the background,” according to Stiles. He began this body of work after experiencing a significant health scare in 2015. While recovering, law school classmates and former professors encouraged him to return to this creative outlet. Stiles said his law school family “helped to restore his confidence” and rediscover this stress reliever.

It is anticipated that Stiles’ new artwork will be installed in the main part of Hirsch Hall this summer.

Stiles, who specializes in commercial vehicle litigation, currently practices with Bey & Associates in Atlanta. He is married to Amber Barrow Stiles, who is also a 2006 graduate of the School of Law.