Meaningful relationships define Mentor Program

Elizabeth Carter was all set to intern at a Fortune 500 company. Then the pandemic hit, and her internship disappeared. The University of Georgia master’s candidate reached out to her two mentors, and they helped her find a different position that turned out to be an advantageous opportunity.

Carter and her mentors are part of the UGA Mentor Program, the university’s first comprehensive mentorship initiative, which allows students to form meaningful mentoring relationships with experienced UGA alumni. Because the mentor program is largely conducted via text, phone and email, connections continued uninterrupted despite the pandemic.

Elizabeth Carter

Carter’s mentors are Jessica Faber, senior innovation advisor for USAID, and Hiram Larew, who is retired after a long career with the U.S. Department of Agriculture—both in the Washington, D.C., area where Carter hopes to one day work. Together, they helped her strategize.

A silver lining

“I posted on LinkedIn, making sure to employ the advice they gave me, and as a result was connected to the UPS Global Public Affairs office in D.C. where I served as the international team legislative assistant. This position was a dream come true for a master of international policy and international affairs student, and certainly a silver lining in otherwise difficult times.”

Since the UGA Mentor Program’s 2019 launch, over 2,200 students and nearly 2,500 mentors have registered and more than 1,800 mentoring relationships have been created. Of the students participating in the first year of the program, 97 percent say they’ve gained a stronger appreciation for mentoring as a personal and professional development tool—and 98 percent of both mentors and mentees would recommend the program to others.

For Joy Xiao, a first-generation college student far from her home in China, bonding with her mentor, Kristi Farner, provided comfort. Farner is Extension program and staff development specialist with UGA’s Office of Learning and Organizational Development.

Sense of belonging

“During spring break, I was on UGA’s Great Commitments Student Tour of Georgia with UGA’s Public Service and Outreach,” said Xiao. “When COVID-19 hit, Kristi emailed me to check in to see if I was doing OK. Connecting with her really raised my sense of belonging to the big UGA family.”

Joy Xiao

Farner enjoyed the mutually beneficial aspects of their relationship. “A unique challenge is understanding the context and pressures she has, since I don’t fully understand the culture she comes from,” said Farner. “I found it was a great learning opportunity for me that pushed me to use more active listening and coaching instead of suggesting answers.”

 Both of my mentors had vast experiences, yet they were still chasing their dreams and building out new goals. I was surprised when they asked me for my perspective.” — Kanler Cumbass

Like Carter, Kanler Cumbass, a master’s candidate pursuing a degree in higher education, has benefited from multiple mentors—one in the 2019 fall semester and one in spring 2020.

“Both of my mentors had vast experiences, yet they were still chasing their dreams and building out new goals. I was surprised when they asked me for my perspective,” Cumbass admitted. “Mentorship is about building a working partnership and, though I have less experience, they valued my expertise and thoughts. I learned so much from these conversations. From my mentors, I learned that we are always refining our goals and should.”

One of his mentors, Cara Simmons, who works as the director of the Student Success and Advising Center in UGA’s College of Family and Consumer Sciences, is pleased that their relationship has continued beyond the standard 16-week commitment to participate in the Mentor Program. “Our conversations have allowed me to think about different experiences I want to have in my own professional journey,” said Simmons. [Note: The image at the top of this article features mentor Cara Simmons with mentee Kanler Cumbass.]

Personally relate

Sydney Cederboom, a fourth-year political science and international affairs double major with pre-law intent, chose Vickie Bowman, director of Piedmont Judicial Circuit Specialty Courts in north central Georgia, as her latest mentor. For Cederboom, the value of mentorship comes in finding a person with whom you can personally relate.

Sydney Cederboom

“Being a minority and having the ability to be mentored by Black women who have achieved great things at UGA and beyond has helped to shape my approach to college life and opened my eyes to my own potential,” said Cederboom.

The senior adds that the biggest surprise was how personal the relationships with her mentors became. “I was expecting the mentoring process to be strictly professional and focused on networking. However, from the beginning my mentors made it known that they were available to talk with me about anything that I needed,” Cederboom explained. Bowman responded, “Sydney reminded me of the college student I was. Sometimes ‘calm down and breathe’ and ‘you’re going to be fine’ are all you need on hard days.”

If you are a UGA student or alumni interested in joining the UGA Mentor Program, please visit to learn more.

The Jerry Tanner Show – Week 1, 2020: Arkansas

Against all odds, week 1 has arrived! As the Dawgs gear up for the Hawgs, Jerry examines the state of the Razorbacks and swoons over UGA’s new throwback jerseys.

Watch as UGA makes its first step into space when the UGA Small Satellite Research Laboratory’s Spectral Ocean Color Satellite takes a ride to the International Space Station! Learn more and register at

Jerry Tanner is everyone you’ve ever met at a UGA tailgate, everyone who’s ever talked about Georgia football by your cubicle, and every message board poster who claims to have a cousin who cut Vince Dooley’s grass. He’s a UGA alumnus, he’s a college football fanatic with a Twitter addiction, and he’s definitely a real person and not a character played by Clarke Schwabe.

Life lessons from the 40 Under 40’s two black belts

Stacey Chavis and Jack Hartpence.

Stacey Chavis (left) and Jack Hartpence (right) are the 40 Under 40 Class of 2020’s only two Tae Kwon Do black belts.

Success. What’s the secret?

It’s an answer everyone is seeking—and for good reason. For answers, a good place to start would be this year’s 40 Under 40 class, which is filled with Bulldogs who are leading the pack in their industries and communities.

Success, and the secret to achieving it, is different for each person. But for two of this year’s 40 Under 40 honorees, there was a common ingredient—an ancient art that taught lessons to help them succeed.

Stacey Chavis (MSL ’19) and Jack Hartpence (AB ’15) earned a spot in the 40 Under 40 Class of 2020. Chavis lives in Atlanta and works in political fundraising, training and advocacy. Hartpence resides in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, bringing sustainable water solutions to communities around the world. While their lives look different, they both attribute their success to the lessons they learned from Tae Kwon Do, a Korean form of martial arts.

Hartpence: Live in the present

When Hartpence looks back on his life, he sees that Tae Kwon Do wasn’t just an after-school activity. It introduced him to an entire thought tradition that valued the importance of staying rooted in the present.

His Tae Kwon Do instructor taught him to meditate to clear his mind and let go of distractions. Today, regular meditation is part of Hartpence’s routine, helping him stay calm in tough moments and foster creativity.

But it wasn’t always this way. After surviving a 2017 car accident in which he was T-boned by a tractor trailer traveling at 60 mph, Hartpence was forced to reckon with the reality that his time is limited. He leaned into the familiar teachings of his Tae Kwon Do experience to root himself in the only moment he truly has—the present one.

“If we are anxious, we’re afraid of the future. If we’re sad, we’re down on the past,” Hartpence said. “We need to stay in the present moment. And if we just stay here in that present moment, then what we’re able to do is live our best moment.”

Since then, Hartpence has sought to prioritize altruism in his daily life, working to create a better world and live presently, knowing that time should not be taken for granted. He shared more about his story and his work in a recent Instagram story takeover on the UGA Alumni account.

Chavis: You will fail

Chavis started practicing Tae Kwon Do as a middle schooler in Greenville, South Carolina. At first, she was reluctant, signed up by her mother to take part alongside her younger brother. She ended up loving it and the three ended up practicing together as a family.

Stacey Chavis and her family at Tae Kwon Do practice.

Stacey Chavis (right) at Tae Kwon Do practice with her mother (left) and brother (middle) in the mid-1990s.

A few years later, Chavis tested for her black belt. She failed.

“The biggest lesson I learned is that you will fail,” Chavis said. “You will fall on your face, but you have to pick yourself back up and try again.”

Chavis had to wait six months before she could test again. She trained hard and earned her black belt on the second attempt. The experience still influences her perseverance today.

“My life lesson is that I give myself three times to apply for something,” Chavis said. “If at first you don’t succeed, try again because maybe this time wasn’t your time.”

Hartpence: Embrace competition

Through Tae Kwon Do, Hartpence participated in sparring competitions. Those experiences established an appreciation for competition that Hartpence has stitched into the culture of his company, Powwater.

“Competing is not a bad thing. The ancient word ‘compete’ is a Greek word that means ‘strive together,’” Hartpence said. “You want to fight against a guy who’s better than you in your practice. In the process of competing, we get better together.”

At Powwater, the company culture reflects the ethos of competition. Hartpence encourages an open forum model, which encourages all employees to step into the arena with their thoughts and ideas. He believes this approach breaks down bureaucratic structures that limit the flow of good ideas from employees and creates a dialogue in which ideas are debated and developed for the benefit of the entire company.

Chavis: Build relationships

Chavis works in politics, a field where it’s easy to only focus on building relationships with those who are in the same party. For the advocacy work that Chavis does, that approach doesn’t cut it.

In Tae Kwon Do, Chavis trained as part of a community. She learned her forms (a detailed and choreographed series of kicks and strikes), practiced her technique, sparred with, and broke boards alongside her classmates. That community, comprising students from different backgrounds, became crucial to her training and is reflected in her relational approach to work today.

“I tell people all the time: people do business with people who they know and like,” Chavis said. “So, it’s building those relationships, it’s building that community and camaraderie, and it’s working toward a common goal.”

As a public policy advocate, Chavis’s job is to identify and promote solutions to problems facing the state of Georgia. To do this, she depends on her relationships with members of both major political parties.

“I have friends who are drastically different from me but we can agree that no child should be trafficked for sex, we can agree that Georgia needs to make investments in our education system, we can agree on making neighborhoods safer for families,” Chavis said. “So, we can find areas that we can agree and work together to address those problems.”

Tae Kwon Do is not a prerequisite to success but for these two, their martial arts experience definitely gave them a leg up.

Gifts from UGA alumni create CAES Rural Scholars Program

A new scholarship program funded by University of Georgia alumni and benefitting qualified students from rural areas of Georgia who seek to earn degrees from UGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) is now recruiting students for its first cohort to begin in fall 2021.

Gifts and pledges totaling $500,000 from UGA Foundation trustee and CAES alumnus Keith Kelly (BSA ’80) and his wife, Pam Kelly (BSHE ’80), and CAES alumnus Robert Varnedoe (BSA ’83) will endow two CAES Rural Scholars Scholarship Funds and create two non-endowed CAES Rural Scholars Scholarship Funds, which will provide renewable yearly scholarships for a cohort of four to six students every fall.

The annual academic scholarship of $7,000 per year will assist in recruiting the most qualified students from rural communities in the state of Georgia who have excelled academically, have shown strong leadership abilities and community service, and seek a degree at CAES.

“The Rural Scholars Program will offer students from rural areas of Georgia a first-class undergraduate experience at UGA. Modeled after the University’s most prestigious fellowships and scholarships, the Rural Scholars Program is designed to give exceptional students from rural communities unique learning opportunities inside and outside the classroom,” said Josef Broder, associate dean for academic affairs at CAES.

Building on the success of similar UGA merit scholarship programs, the Rural Scholars Program will provide support for participating students through the cohort model, staff support and co-curricular programming. Scholars may have the opportunity to participate in additional activities to enhance the college experience, such as the Freshman College Summer Experience and experiential learning opportunities, supported by grants, that allow students to learn outside the classroom.

“I am grateful to these generous alumni, who are opening doors for students from rural areas of our state,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “The CAES Rural Scholars Program will help students achieve their educational and professional goals while supporting Georgia’s number one industry.”

Kelly, who earned his bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from CAES in 1980, was inspired to support a scholarship program at CAES for rural students because he has observed and deeply understands the challenges rural families and students face when planning for the future.

“Part of our goal is to get young people to understand the need to go back to their communities and start something that will benefit those communities,” Kelly said. “We are excited about our students who are participating in entrepreneurship competitions, like FABricate, that allow them to formulate business plans they want to pursue. The opportunities within the agricultural industry are very diverse.”

While students from rural areas may be equally qualified, they may not have access to some of the resources available to students in larger school districts. With this in mind, Kelly committed himself to providing qualified rural students with a pathway to exceptional educational experiences, and the CAES Rural Scholars Program began to take shape.

He enlisted the participation of friend and 1983 CAES graduate Robert Varnedoe to endow the first scholarship funds. Varnedoe, who earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science, grew up in Barney, a town of about 150 people in south Georgia’s Brooks County.

“Personally, I feel a strong desire to help students in agriculture. I think that it is still a great opportunity for young people to continue in a field that is near and dear to my heart and that is changing with the times,” said Varnedoe, CEO of Lee Container. “We don’t focus enough of our resources on rural areas, and I am proud to be able to offer more opportunities for rural students to succeed. These students are the future of agriculture and agribusinesses in our state and beyond, and this will provide them with a strong education to carry them and the industry forward.”

Information on the scholarship and an application timeline is available at

Vivian Greentree (ABJ ’00, AB ’01) leads through service

The University of Georgia has a rich tradition of public service and outreach. As the state’s land- and sea-grant institution, UGA has established outreach programs in almost every Georgia county and provides numerous service programs that benefit the region. It is this mission and the university’s pillar of service that attracted Vivian Greentree (ABJ ’00, AB ’01) to help cultivate a relationship between her employer, Fiserv, and UGA.

As an alumna, Vivian credits the university for instilling a service-oriented mentality in her everyday life, as well as in her career. As Fiserv’s Senior Vice President of Global Corporate Citizenship and President of the Fiserv Cares Foundation, Vivian is charged with cultivating a high performing, culture of belonging while building meaningful community partnerships. By leveraging Fiserv’s resources as a private sector business, she creates purposeful opportunities for the betterment of the community—and the world—in which Fiserv interacts.

Vivian recalls that her time as a student made her realize the amount of resources the state and its citizens were investing in Georgia students. She understood the importance of the HOPE Scholarship in affording her the opportunity to attend UGA with financial assistance and valued the state’s ability to provide Georgia students with scholarships. By interning with Georgia Governor Roy Barnes’ administration, her appreciation for public service grew. After graduating from UGA, she demonstrated her passion for service by joining the U.S. Navy and serving in the Supply Corps.

Vivian served as a Naval Supply Corps Officer on both active duty and in the Reserves before founding Blue Star Families, a network of volunteer-based chapters committed to strengthening military families by connecting them with their neighbors – individuals and organizations – to create vibrant communities of mutual support and advocacy. At the same time Vivian worked to help this network support, connect, and empower military families, she utilized her GI Bill to earn a doctorate in public administration and urban policy from Old Dominion University while her husband was stationed out of Naval Station Norfolk.

Vivian was leading Research and Policy for Blue Star Families when she was recruited to First Data Corporation. She was tasked with creating a comprehensive military community engagement program that would eventually be named First Data Salutes. It focused on helping transitioning service members find meaningful careers within fintech or as entrepreneurs.

As the head of Military and Veteran Affairs at First Data Corporation, Vivian worked with the University of Georgia to establish a lounge in the UGA Student Veterans Resource Center and support the UGA chapter of Student Veterans of America. The First Data Student Veterans Lounge provides a place for veterans at UGA to network, study, relax, and access valuable resources to help them succeed at the university and in their careers afterwards.

Vivian’s success with First Data Salutes garnered national recognition and awards for First Data. They were ranked at the top of the Military Times’ Best For Vets: Employers list for 2017, 2018, and 2019 and created an Office of Corporate Citizenship, coordinating associate and community engagement, diversity and inclusion, and strategic philanthropy across the enterprise. And, when Fiserv and First Data merged in July 2019, she was given a larger platform to carry out the mission of doing good while doing well.

Service remains at the heart of her commitment to her alma mater—she knows both Fiserv and UGA’s missions are committed to excellence in service. In the fall of 2020, Vivian and Fiserv will be supporting UGA’s Entrepreneurship Program, working to provide resources and opportunities for the university’s next generation of Bulldog leaders that will make an impact in the state of Georgia long after graduation.

Vivian is an exemplary Bulldog: She served on the UGA Alumni Association Board of Directors from 2013-2019; she is currently serving on the School of Public and International Affairs Alumni Board of Directions; and she approaches every interaction through the lens of service and models her work on Georgia’s three pillars of wisdom, justice, and moderation.

As she reflects fondly on her time at UGA, she encourages students to be consciously inclusive and to go out of their way to be an includer. She strongly believes higher education is a place for diversity to take root and provide opportunities for people to learn from one another.

“Business should be and can be a force for good and we have the opportunity and the obligation to use our space and place to create and expand access, so we can be better together,” said Vivian. “I’m so proud of my UGA affiliation and will continue to earn the opportunity that was afforded to me through the HOPE scholarship by paying it forward to today’s students in every way I can!”

College of Environment and Design announces “Owens 50”

This article is adapted from a CED announcement originally written by Jennifer Lewis, director of the Center for Community Design and Preservation.

Last year marked 50 years since the establishment of the School of Environmental Design, which became the College of Environment and Design in 2001. As part of the year-long celebration, CED faculty, staff, and alumni honored the most amazing individuals and groups who have shaped the college throughout its history.

From the first landscape architecture classes in 1928 to our beginnings as a college in 1969, the CED has been shaped by and has produced many trailblazers and visionaries. Through their scholarship, teaching, service, and professional practice, these individuals have demonstrated unwavering commitments to advancing the principles of design, planning, and preservation.

A committee of CED faculty, staff, and alumni undertook the difficult task of narrowing down the list of about 100 nominees to the 50 finalists: the Owens 50, named after CED’s founding Dean, Hubert Owens.

“These talented individuals brought unparalleled passion, expertise, and commitment to our professions, the college, and the betterment of the world at large,” said CED Dean Sonia Hirt. “Through their vision and hard work, they shaped our programs and enhanced the CED’s ability to serve students and enrich lives.”


In addition to the 50 individuals, the college also honored six institutions that have had an indelible impact on the CED. They range from alumni organizations to highly-regarded professional allies to generous friends and donors.

The winners have been invited to a ceremony, tentatively rescheduled for March 2021, which will allow them to revisit with their colleagues, classmates, and campus. For more information on the honorees, including their contributions to the CED, please visit the CED 50th anniversary website.


UGA rises to No. 15 among nation’s best public universities ranked by U.S. News & World Report

This article is adapted from a piece originally written by Leigh Beeson for UGA Today.

The University of Georgia has advanced to No. 15 in U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 ranking of the best public universities in the nation. This marks the fifth consecutive year that UGA has placed in the Top 20, climbing from the No. 16 position last year.

“This outstanding news is yet another clear sign that the University of Georgia is strengthening its position among the very best public research universities in America,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “The consistency of our national ranking is a testament to the commitment of our talented faculty, staff and students; to the generosity and support of our loyal alumni and friends; and to the effectiveness of our vision and strategy to reach new heights of academic excellence.”

UGA is one of two institutions—along with the Georgia Institute of Technology—to make the top 20 from the state of Georgia. Georgia is one of only four states (including California, Virginia and Florida) to have more than one institution in the top 20. In addition, UGA and the University of Florida remain the only two institutions from the Southeastern Conference to be in the top 20.

The University of Georgia shares the No. 15 ranking with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is ranked behind two other institutions tied at No. 13, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Texas at Austin. UGA is just ahead of Ohio State University and Purdue University, which are tied at No. 17.

“Once again, the University finds itself in very good company in this national ranking,” said S. Jack Hu, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “I am confident that as we continue to enhance undergraduate programs, expand our research enterprise, and grow the reputation of our excellent faculty, UGA’s position in reputational assessments will only continue to rise.”

UGA did, in fact, climb in U.S. News’ reputational category this year—a peer assessment rating by presidents, provosts and deans of admissions that accounts for 20% of an institution’s score. In addition, the University continued to perform very strongly in key measures of student outcomes such as retention, degree completion and student selectivity.


A bicyclist rides beside blooming crepe myrtle trees and glowing light posts lining the North Campus sidewalk on a summer evening. (Andrew Davis Tucker/UGA)

UGA’s six-year graduation rate increased to 87%, and its retention rate rose to 96%. Graduation and retention rates comprise the largest percentage of the ranking criteria, accounting for 30% of an institution’s total score.

Another 20% is determined by faculty resources, such as class size and the student-to-faculty ratio. Almost half of all classes at UGA consist of fewer than 20 students, and the ratio of students to faculty members has remained constant at 17 to 1.

Academic quality of the student body also factors into an institution’s total score. The class of 2023, upon which this year’s ranking is based, brought an average high school GPA above 4.0, an average SAT score of 1359 and an average ACT score of a record 31. The percentage of freshmen in the top 10% of their graduating classes remained steady at 60%.

This year’s freshman class also entered the University with a GPA of over 4.0, the fourth consecutive year of the incoming freshman class meeting or exceeding that benchmark. The Class of 2024 also had an average ACT score of 31, tying the previous year’s record-breaking ACT score, and an average SAT score of 1351. As in 2019, fewer than half of 29,065 applicants were accepted.

UGA also earned high marks in several individual categories. The Terry College of Business ranked among the nation’s top 25 Undergraduate Business Programs, and its insurance/risk management program claimed the top spot in the country for insurance and risk management.

In addition, UGA was ranked as one of the top 25 best colleges for veterans.

Support by alumni also factors into UGA’s U.S. News ranking. Thirteen percent of alumni donated to UGA in the final year of the Commit to Georgia comprehensive campaign, which raised a record-setting $1.45 billion by the time it ended on June 30, 2020.

Dawg Days Gone By: the top 10 UGA football games of the pre-Smart era

We’re living through a particularly exciting age of University of Georgia football at the moment—from recruiting coups to Rose Bowl victories to rivalry game winning streaks—and most of the moments that define Kirby Smart’s tenure as the Bulldogs’ head coach are still fresh in our collective memory. But UGA’s football history is rife with dramatic victories, come-from-behind wins, and heroic performances, so as we gear up for another season Between The Hedges, let’s take a look back at some of these historic moments that have come to define the Georgia football program.

UGA vs. GA Tech  – 1978

UGA came into this game ranked no. 11, but unranked, 7-3 Georgia Tech came into Athens with their hair on fire. The Yellow Jackets charged to a 20-0 lead, and late in the first half, Coach Vince Dooley decided to hand the reins of the offense over to freshman QB Buck Belue. The switch energized the Dawgs’ attack and they fought back to take a 21-20 lead before Georgia Tech scored to make it 28-21 after a two-point conversion. Led by Belue, the Bulldogs marched down field and scored late in the fourth quarter. And then, 28-27, with the opportunity to kick a point-after attempt to tie the game, Dooley opted for the two-point conversion. The freshman QB came through again and the Dawgs prevailed.


UGA vs. Tennessee – 1980

You have to be wearing a very specific shade of orange to feel at home in Neyland Stadium. It’s a hostile environment that shakes the most seasoned of players, so one might not expect great things from a freshman running back listed third on the depth chart, particularly when this was that running back’s first game of college ball, and especially not when he had to face down Freshman All-American safety Bill Bates. Where all those conditions collided is where Georgia football’s most enduring legend began.


UGA vs. Florida – 1980

With Herschel’s legend growing by the week and the 1980 squad proving to be true contenders, the 8-0 Bulldogs, ranked no. 2 in the country, traveled to Jacksonville for their annual match against the Gators, who were 6-1 and ranked no. 20 after suffering a beatdown at home against an LSU team that finished 7-4. Florida caught Georgia by surprise and held a 21-20 lead late into the fourth quarter. With 90 seconds left in the game, the Dawgs snapped the ball on third-and-long in the shadow of their own goalpost. Buck Belue scrambled to his right and pointed, Lindsay Scott ran to the gap in the Gator coverage, and Larry Munson made one of the most famous radio calls in the history of college football.


UGA vs. Notre Dame – 1981

After racking up 11 wins, the no. 1 ranked Bulldogs received an invitation to play no. 7 Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl. Many expected that Georgia would have to open up a passing attack against the Fighting Irish, who would zero-in on Herschel and, being able to focus entirely on stopping one angle of attack—Georgia’s best angle of attack—functionally eliminate the Bulldog’s offense. What they found was that even with a separated shoulder, suffered in the game’s first quarter, Herschel could still amass over 150 yards on the ground and even while only completing one pass, the Dawgs could win. When the clock struck zero, Georgia had earned their 12th win of the season and their first consensus national title.


UGA vs. Auburn – 1996

In the midst of the disappointing 1996 season, the 3-5 Bulldogs traveled to Auburn in mid-November for their annual tilt. The month before, they’d lost to the no. 7 Volunteers at home, and the week before, they’d gotten thrashed by Steve Spurrier’s Florida team, the squad that would ultimately give the Gators their first national championship. Needless to say, the situation seemed grim as the Dawgs prepared for another rival, the 20th ranked Auburn Tigers.

But Jim Donnan’s Bulldogs—including future UGA coach Mike Bobo, future Pittsburgh Steeler great Hines Ward and future NFL Hall of Famer Champ Bailey—found themselves in a pitched battle with Tommy Bowden’s Tigers. The contest occurred in the first season that Division I college football had implemented overtime rules, and the SEC’s first-ever overtime game put the concept to the test: It would take four overtimes to decide a winner. And even if all of that doesn’t sound familiar, odds are you’ve seen at least a part of this game: This was the origin of that famous photo of Uga, reared back on hind legs, snapping at an Auburn player. That player avoided a bulldog bite, but the Tigers did not.


UGA vs. Tennessee – 2001

As exciting as that ’96 Auburn game was, Georgia wandered in mediocrity for decades after Herschel Walker left, ceding SEC East dominance to Florida and Tennessee. But when UGA hired Florida State offensive coordinator Mark Richt to be their new head coach for the 2001 season, things looked up. Expectations are always high for a Georgia coach, and after starting the season 2-1, fans were still largely positive on Richt even after a loss to no. 21 South Carolina. And with a trip to Neyland Stadium looming, no one would begrudge this first-time head coach and his unranked Bulldogs a loss to Philip Fulmer’s no. 6 Tennessee Volunteers. Instead, Richt gave Bulldog Nation a signature win and a legendary Larry Munson moment.


UGA vs. Auburn – 2002

In Mark Richt’s second year, he built on his initial success in Athens by piling up wins—including ranked victories over no. 22 Alabama and no. 10 Tennessee—on his way to the rivalry game against Auburn. Georgia walked into Jordan-Hare Stadium with a 9-1 record, a loss to Florida their only blemish, but it was a blemish that—should the no. 7 Dawgs lose again and the Gators continue to win—would cost them the SEC East title and a shot at an SEC Championship. Auburn had a narrower path to Atlanta, but with a win over Georgia and a loss by Arkansas, the no. 24 Tigers could compete for the championship.

With all this on the line, the contest was hard-fought, to say the least. But with 1:25 left in the game, things looked bleak for the Dawgs: after reeling off 14 points in the second half to close the gap to 21-17, the trailing Bulldogs’ offense stalled out in Auburn’s red zone. On fourth down with 15 yards to go, David Greene hurled a rainbow-arc pass to the back of Auburn’s end zone to find a leaping Michael Johnson and punched Georgia’s ticket to the championship—a game they would win decisively, giving Georgia their first SEC title in 20 years.


UGA vs. Florida – 2007

In 2007, Georgia entered the back half of their season feeling cautiously optimistic. They were 5-2—with two losses against South Carolina and Tennessee and a dramatic overtime win against Alabama—and neck-and-neck with UT and Florida for the SEC East title. But heading into Jacksonville, Dawg fans weren’t hopeful. Urban Meyer’s Florida won the national championship in 2006; Tim Tebow, the Gators’ sophomore QB phenom, had captured the nation’s attention; and the Dawgs had lost all but two of the previous 17 games. Georgia would need some magic to win, and they found it in sophomore QB Matt Stafford, freshman running back Knowshon Moreno and one of the most famous end zone celebrations in college football history.


UGA vs. Auburn – 2007

After their win over Florida, the 2007 Bulldogs vaulted up the rankings, reaching no. 10. After a win over Troy at home, the Dawgs would welcome no. 18 Auburn into Sanford Stadium. The race for a spot in the SEC title game—in both divisions—remained tight, so this game had plenty on the line. Early in the week leading up to the game, rumors began to circulate about a possible uniform change for the Bulldogs, and as game day came closer, those whispers grew louder. Fans urged one another to wear black to the game, and when the gates opened, legions of black-clad Bulldogs filled the stands. Pregame warmups seemed to quash the rumors: The players appeared on field in their traditional home reds. But when the team burst through the super G banner, they were wearing black. The stadium rocked in response, and that energy carried the Bulldogs to a 45-20 victory.


UGA vs. Alabama – 2012

Mark Richt’s 2012 Georgia Bulldogs entered the season highly ranked and proved their mettle on the way to an 11-1 season, the lone loss coming against then-sixth ranked South Carolina. Alabama, in their sixth season under Nick Saban, followed a similar trajectory, with their only stumble coming against a 15th ranked Texas A&M team. By the time the two met in Atlanta for the SEC Championship, the Bulldogs had reached no. 3 in the rankings, and the Tide had the no. 2 spot. The winner of the contest was bound for the national championship. The stakes were high, but the quality of play was higher.

The titanic fight saw six lead changes, a successful fake punt, an Alabama fumble on Georgia’s one-yard line, an endzone interception and a field goal blocked and returned for a touchdown. Finally, with UGA down 32-28 and just over a minute left in the game, Aaron Murray drove the Dawgs to Alabama’s eight-yard line. The final play is burned into the memory of Bulldog fans who saw it and is far better seen than read. It’s a result that didn’t go the Dawgs’ way, but it was an appropriately dramatic finish for one of the most exciting football games Georgia’s ever played.

UGA head football coach and wife commit $1 million to university

University of Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart and his wife, Mary Beth, will donate $1 million to their alma mater to support the UGA Athletic Association’s new social justice program, create scholarships for senior student-athletes whose final seasons were impacted by COVID-19, and contribute to the expansion of the UGA football program.

“Mary Beth and I are where we are because of the University of Georgia, so we feel a duty to give back to the university that opened so many doors for us, brought us together and brought us home,” said Kirby Smart. “The current moment presents unique challenges for all of us, whether that’s dealing with the ramifications of this pandemic or acknowledging and addressing racial inequality. We hope this gift can fuel positive change in both areas.”

The Smarts joined Detroit Lions quarterback and former UGA standout Matthew Stafford and his wife, Kelly, to endow UGA Athletics’ new social justice program. The goal of the program is to continue developing an environment to effect meaningful change in the areas of diversity, inclusion, equity and social justice for all of the Association’s members, including student-athletes, coaches and staff.

“Coach Smart and Mary Beth, from their student-athlete days to today, have been exemplary Georgia Bulldogs, and this gift is yet another demonstration of their strong commitment to UGA,” said J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Greg McGarity. “Their commitments will enhance the athletic and life-skills training our football student-athletes receive, maintain our high standards for diversity and inclusion, and ensure that senior student-athletes derailed by COVID-19 face no financial barriers to return and finish their Bulldog athletic careers.”

Many student-athletes saw their seasons canceled or postponed this year as part of public health precautions to protect against COVID-19. As a result, the NCAA granted an extra year of eligibility and lifted team financial aid limits so that senior student-athletes could return and complete their final seasons of eligibility at UGA. But with a pandemic-related financial shortfall impacting the Athletic Association’s budgets, UGA Athletics faced a challenge: finding new funding avenues to support those returning student-athletes.

This is where the Smarts stepped in, dedicating a portion of their gift to defraying the costs associated with returning seniors whose spring and fall activities were impacted by COVID-19.

“It is tremendously heartening to see former UGA student-athletes like Coach Smart and Mary Beth supporting today’s student-athletes,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “UGA prides itself on providing our students a world-class educational experience, and that experience extends beyond the classroom. The Smart family’s gift will help to address several important extracurricular concerns that are vital to the success of our student-athletes.”

The final portion of the Smarts’ gift will support the Butts-Mehre Expansion Project, which will expand and renovate all aspects of football operations at UGA. The project will, among other improvements, expand the weight room and add a locker room, meeting rooms, coaches’ offices and a sports medicine facility to Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall.

The Smarts are no strangers to charitable giving, having created the Kirby Smart Family Foundation in 2016. The foundation, whose mission is “to be champions in our community by supporting and giving back to needy children and families facing adversity,” has given over $1 million to more than 50 charities across Georgia.

The Jerry Tanner Show – 2020 Season Preview

Jerry is back with a look at this very strange 2020 season and gives some thoughts on UGA’s opponents and their history with the Dawgs, some predictions, and in one specific case, his thirst for righteous vengeance.

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Jerry Tanner is everyone you’ve ever met at a UGA tailgate, everyone who’s ever talked about Georgia football by your cubicle, and every message board poster who claims to have a cousin who cut Vince Dooley’s grass. He’s a UGA alumnus, he’s a college football fanatic with a Twitter addiction, and he’s definitely a real person and not a character played by Clarke Schwabe.