Happy National Teacher Day!


From left to right: Dr. Tina Harris, Dr. Keith Herndon, and Courtney Aldrich.

Today, for National Teacher Day, we are celebrating the sacrifices made, knowledge shared and kindness shown by UGA faculty and alumni teaching across the world. Keep reading for special shout-outs from UGA students to a few of their favorite teachers on campus …

Dr. Tina Harris (AB ’90, MA ’92) is a professor in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. She teaches on the topics of communication and race. Dr. Harris has enjoyed great success throughout her career and has been recognized for that success with awards such as the 2017 Engaged Scholar from the Office of Public Service and Outreach and the 2017 Special Collections Faculty Fellows.

Marquan Norris, Class of 2021, public relations major, communications and design and media minor

Dr. Keith Herndon (ABJ ’82) is a professor in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. His teaching specialty is entrepreneurial journalism with a focus on innovation and emerging business models. Herndon began his career as a visiting professor within Grady College in 2012. In 2016, he became a full-time professor. Herndon is the director of the Cox Institute for Journalism Innovation, Management and Leadership and the William S. Morris Chair in News Strategy and Management.

Caitlyn Richtman, Class of 2019, journalism and women’s studies double major

Courtney Aldrich (MED ’05) is associate director for the Institute for Leadership Advancement (ILA) in the Terry College of Business. ILA develops values-based leaders that serve their communities and organizations. Aldrich began working with ILA in 2007 as assistant director and has been associate director since 2012.

Hanh Nguyen, Class of 2020, advertising major, communications minor

We hope you’ll join us today in saying THANK YOU to a UGA faculty member who improved your college experience or thanking a Bulldog teacher across the state and country helping prepare the next generation of great leaders!

–Written by Maya Jones, a May 2019 graduate, during her UGA internship in Spring 2019.

May the Fourth Be With You: Star Wars and the Dawgs

Throughout generations, one firm thing has remained a cornerstone in nerd culture: Star Wars. Whether you love or hate the prequels, no matter your opinion on Solo, and whether or not you think Han shot first, fans have remained passionate about and loyal to the Star Wars universe.

A similar passion can be found among Georgia Bulldog fans. And when the two combine, it only leads to greatness.

On May the Fourth, we’re proud to bring you five ways the Dawgs and Star Wars are connected – enjoy you will: 

1. Former Georgia football player Chris Conley (ABJ ’14) makes viral Star Wars fan film.

In 2014, then junior wide receiver Conley wrote and starred in a Star Wars fan film called “Retribution.” The 26-minute film has over half a million views, and led to plenty of interviews asking for Conley’s Star Wars opinions. Now playing professionally for the Jacksonville Jaguars, fans just have to wait until December for Conley to share his thoughts on the upcoming Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker. 

Former UGA wide receiver Conley created a Star Wars fan video.

Former UGA wide receiver Conley created a Star Wars fan video.

2. Kemp Remillard (BFA ’04) illustrates Star Wars books.

After studying graphic design at UGA, Remillard established a sucessful career as a concept artist, designer and professional illustrator. In particular, Remillard illustrated all of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens Incredible Cross-Sections” and “Star Wars:  The Last Jedi Incredible Cross-Sections”  and illustrated cross-sections in “Star Wars: Complete Locations” and “Star Wars: Rogue One: The Ultimate Visual Guide.” Remillard now works for Massive Black Inc., and has done work for other well-known companies such as Hasbro, DK and Cartoon Network. 


Baker speaks to UGA students during a guest presentation in April 2018.

Baker speaks to UGA students during a guest presentation in April 2018. Photo courtesy of Sarah Freeman/Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communication

3. Grady grad turned Imagineer designs Disney’s Star Wars land.

Once he had completed working on the “Wizarding World of Harry Potter” for Universal Studios, Eric Baker (ABJ ’90) was offered a job he couldn’t refuse: designing “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge” for The Walt Disney Company. Imagineer Baker had been sworn to secrecy about most things at the time of his meeting with UGA students in 2018. Still, he gushed about his time visiting Skywalker Ranch, stopping by the set of Solo: A Star Wars Story and seeing original film props. When “Galaxy’s Edge” opens May 31, 2019, don’t forget that there was a Dawg behind it all. 



4. Caitlin Plesher (AB ’15, AB ’15) co-hosts Star Wars podcast.

With nearly 4,000 Twitter followers, Skytalkers is a bi-weekly podcast covering all things Star Wars. Plesher and her co-host, Charlotte Errity, were invited to the recent Star Wars Celebration in Chicago, and featured on the Podcast Stage. They recently celebrated 100 episodes of Skytalkers. Be sure to check out this podcast for a Dawg’s view on the Star Wars universe. 

Plesher and co-host Errity discuss Star Wars in their "Skytalkers" podcast.

Plesher and co-host Errity discuss Star Wars in their “Skytalkers” podcast. Photo courtesy of Skytalkers.

5. Marshall Shepherd explains weather in the Star Wars universe.

Prior to the release of The Force Awakens, Marshall Shepherd, professor and director of UGA’s atmosphere sciences department, wrote an article for Forbes on the science of the weather on the different Star Wars planets. Shepherd compares the environments on Earth to the desert planet of Tatooine and the ice planet of Hoth. This article combines the world of Star Wars and atmospheric sciences, a combination that not many people can say they are experts in. Thanks, Dr. Shepherd! 

No matter what walk of life we are from, Bulldogs can agree: Star Wars is one of the most storied science fiction universes of all time. Have a great May the Fourth, and may the Force be with you, always!  


Father, daughter share in graduation celebrations


Jenna Jackson has a law degree from UGA. Her father John Jackson has a business degree from UGA. (Photo by Chad Osburn/UGA)

Originally posted on UGA Today on May 2, 2019. Written by Sara Freeland.

When John W. Jackson gives the address at Terry College of Business Convocation May 10, it will be an event almost 50 years in the making.

Jackson first stepped onto campus in 1972. He was one of the first 10 African Americans to play football for the University of Georgia. He walked on to the football team as a free safety the year after the team was desegregated (in 1971) when UGA was a different place.

The same day he is giving his convocation speech, Jackson’s daughter, Jenna Jackson, will be graduating with a Master of Public Administration and Policy in the Graduate Commencement ceremony.

“I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for people like my dad,” Jenna Jackson said. “There’s no me getting a degree if there’s no John Jackson in the ’70s who will brave hostile conditions.”

John Jackson

John Jackson, front row, third from left, played J.V. football for UGA in 1972. (Photo from 1973 Pandora)


John Jackson was one of around 600 African American students who earned UGA degrees between 1972 and 1976. “I had an incredible learning experience,” he said. “There were so many acts of kindness from professors.”

When there was a fire in his residence hall, Payne Hall, and his books were water damaged, one of his professors offered up his own book for Jackson to use to study.

“The environment at Georgia was very encouraging to me. More people wanted me to succeed than fail,” he said. “The problems I had at Georgia were so insignificant I discarded them. It prepared me for life after college—the barriers you had to overcome, that you had to be prepared. I left Georgia ready to compete in the corporate world.”

Why UGA?

John Jackson, who graduated from UGA with a Bachelor of Business Administration in 1976, was the youngest of eight children. His father had a sixth-grade education and worked in the mailroom of a prominent Atlanta law firm staffed by many UGA-educated attorneys. His father saw the value of an education and encouraged his children to attend college.

“When you’re growing up, parents want you to be the very best that you can. They want you to be far better than them,” he said. “The best way to do that was to become educated.”

Two of John Jackson’s older brothers attended Morris Brown College, and Jackson was the first to attend the University of Georgia.

After his first year of college, his father encouraged him to give up football in order to more fully focus on his education. He even received a scholarship from his father’s law firm.

For extra spending money, Jackson worked the morning shift at McDonald’s. He’d come in at 4 a.m. and then go to his 8 a.m. business policy class with William Tate, now namesake of UGA’s Tate Student Center. Tate was a notoriously tough professor who took an interest in Jackson. He remembers Tate asking him, “Have you thought about going to banking? I would give you a recommendation.”

John Jackson went on to raise $60 million to co-found Bank of Atlanta. It’s the accomplishment he’s most proud of—founding the bank and keeping it profitable during the Great Recession.

Second-generation Bulldog

Jenna Jackson attended law school at UGA not because of her father’s influence, but partly because of her mom. She was looking at area law schools and wanted to stay close enough to check on her mother, who was battling breast cancer in Atlanta. She went on to work in football recruitment for UGA during and after law school and was named Miss UGA in 2013. In 2015, she was named Miss Georgia, but said Miss UGA was her favorite title.

Jenna Jackson

Jenna Jackson at the School of Law. (Photo by Dorothy Kozlowski/UGA)

“I got to see how the University of Georgia makes positive changes for all different types of people,” she said.

Jenna Jackson was also the third black Miss UGA. She said that like her father before her, there was some pressure that came with the role.“He was very quietly in the background,” she said.

“He had been through it. He was under immense pressure. You have to be twice as good to go half as far—he taught me that so subtly that it wasn’t a burden.”

Now, she’s finishing her second UGA degree—this time from the School of Public and International Affairs. “I really want to help people be the best version of themselves, and I thought the Master of Public Administration would help me to do that.

“It’s an honor to be graduating the same day he speaks. To hear him, to see him,” she said. “I understand the sacrifice he made for his family.”

Convocation speech

Jackson has spent more than 30 years working in banking, including 15 years at Bank South. At SunTrust, he had an $800 million loan portfolio. He co-founded Bank of Atlanta in 2004, which was acquired for $3 billion by State Bank and Trust in 2014. He currently serves on the UGA Terry College of Business’ Dean’s Advisory Council.

He also started the Emerson W. Jackson Scholarship Foundation to honor his father. He’s given out 10 or 11 small grants to students who embrace some of his father’s core values of respect, integrity and kindness.

When he received the offer to be the Terry Convocationn speaker, the timing was right.

“Sometimes you wonder if you’ve made a difference,” he said. “My name is not widely known outside the banking arena. But it reenergized me, reaffirmed that what I was doing was right, that I was making difference.”