Five things you didn’t know: Institute for Disaster Management

The Institute for Disaster Management, housed in UGA’s College of Public Health, is committed to solving grand challenges on the local, national and global scale by assisting more than 140 hospitals, 100 long-term care facilities and 500 community partners across Georgia in developing emergency response plans.

We sat down with Dr. Curt Harris (BS ’03, PhD ’08), associate professor and director of the institute, to learn how his team is paving the way in disaster training and how additional funding propels his team’s work forward.

The Institute for Disaster Management (IDM) facility boasts a state-of-the-art Emergency Operations Center.

The IDM recently moved into the Commissary, a facility on the UGA Health Sciences Campus, which will allow it to expand its research, teaching and service initiatives for community resilience in crisis. The center’s labs and workspaces support students, faculty and disaster management practitioners from around the world.

As the IDM recruits more faculty, staff and students, it needs to secure an unused portion of the building for further expansion. This would include the installation of a simulation center to train students and community partners in scenarios that mimic real-world disaster situations.

“Expansion would allow us to house more faculty and staff and create a simulation center where we would be one of the foremost disaster trainers, not only for the state of Georgia but potentially in the entire United States,” said Harris.

Multi-disciplinary faculty and staff lead the institute.

IDM researchers have an array of expertise ranging from radiation health and mass casualty simulation to psychology and public policy. But they all have a common mission: ensuring that when disaster strikes, help follows.

The collaborative team at IDM is dedicated to furthering research, knowledge and training as it relates to emergency management.

Recent research and training focuses included:

  • Community Disaster Preparedness: IDM designs and implements disaster exercises for hospitals, nursing homes and other health care organizations across the state.
  • Nuclear Attack Simulations: For decades, IDM scientists have conducted research on the consequences of nuclear detonation in urban areas, with a focus on the outcomes of medical casualty distributions.
  • Ebola patient full-scale exercise: IDM tested the notification processes, coordination decisions and resources needed to move patients with suspected or confirmed Ebola using both air (simulated) and ground transportation resources. The methods practiced can be applied to other cases of infectious disease outbreak, like COVID-19.

The IDM was awarded a three-year grant funded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Civil Monetary Penalty funds (and extended for another year due to how well-received it’s been).

In 2018, the IDM used the grant to kickstart its Georgia Long Term Care Emergency Preparedness Educational Program (GA LTCEPEP). The mission of the program is to provide preparedness and disaster exercise training to certified caregivers and administrators across the state.

Now in its fourth year, the LTCEP has trained over 1,200 staff members, representing over 80% of Georgia’s certified long-term care facilities. The IDM also delivers emergency preparedness kits (filled with items valued at $1,000 per kit) to participating nursing homes.

IDM's emergency preparedness kit

The IDM delivers these emergency preparedness kits to long-term care facilities across the state.

“The kits are filled with really good resources, like emergency blankets and car battery chargers, that can be used in a disaster setting,” said Harris.

IDM offers one of the only Master of Public Health degrees with a concentration in disaster management.

The IDM teaches courses at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, offering a master’s concentration in disaster management, graduate and undergraduate certificates and an undergraduate minor. The goal is to broaden the emergency response workforce. IDM graduates provide service and leadership in public health around the globe.

“Speaking from the heart, I can say that I moved 800+ miles, away from friends and family, to a state where I didn’t know a single soul or the culture just to come to this program. I researched every school that offered both an MPH and a disaster management curriculum. The University of Georgia’s Institute for Disaster Management was the best in the country for what I wanted to study,” said Christopher Russo (MPH ’19).

The IDM focuses on experiential learning and gives students the opportunity to see, touch and wear equipment needed in the field.

“We provide our students with internships all over the world. We’ve had students go to places like Kenya, Australia and Israel to collaborate on international disaster management projects,” said Harris.

IDM led a community-wide effort to combat COVID-19.

During the pandemic, IDM faculty and staff participated on a COVID-19 task force and donated the majority of their personal protective equipment supplies to response efforts.

“We’re constantly extending resources through training, whether it’s training of our students or community-level training, and we don’t always have the ability to recoup those supplies,” said Harris.

Private support is essential to the IDM’s success.

The IDM relies on donations and contributions from the community in order to ensure a safer tomorrow. The Institute of Disaster Management Fund supports opportunities for special programming, conference attendance, recruitment, professional education, and overall enhancement of the Institute.

Checking in with Alumni Board Member Russ Pennington

There’s a group of committed UGA alumni who dedicate their time, energy, and financial resources to bringing Bulldogs together year-round, worldwide, and lifelong. The UGA Alumni Board of Directors represents UGA’s diverse and passionate alumni family and strives to provide feedback, guidance and leadership as the university seeks to ensure that its graduates Never Bark Alone. Throughout the year, we’ll get to know these spirited graduates who hail from various backgrounds and are involved in all corners of campus.

Their goal: to empower the next breed of Bulldogs to continue that tradition of excellence.


  • Russ Pennington

I live in:

  • Atlanta, GA


  • 2001 – Bachelor of Science in Biological Engineering (UGA)
  • 2006 – Master of Business Administration (UGA)

I joined the board in:

  • 2016

Ways I support UGA:

Russ with interim Uga mascot

Russ with the former mascot Uga IX, also known fondly as “Russ.”

My first job after graduation

If I had $1 million, I would support the _____ fund on campus.

The UGA class that I enjoyed most was

  • A Maymester course called “Geology, Hydrology and Soils of Georgia,” where we spent the term camping around the state and learning about Georgia’s natural resources.
Russ with family a UGA homecoming football game

Russ with his wife, Kelli, and two daughters, Caroline and Eleanor, at a UGA football game.

 A story that stands out as a UGA student was:

  • I remember my first time riding a UGA bus. I jumped on an Orbit bus and after a complete loop around campus, I realized I had no clue where I was going!

My family includes:

  • Wife, Kelli (BBA ’00)
  • Two daughters: Caroline and Eleanor
  • Two dogs: Gertie and Hattie

A special connection I have to UGA is …

  • In May 2014, I had the humbling experience of being the keynote speaker for the College of Engineering’s Convocation. I realized in that moment that my school could give me so much more than I can give it. It also was amazing to see the college grow from where it was when I graduated to where it is now.
Russ delivering convocation speech 2014

Russ delivering his convocation speech to engineering students in 2014.

A memory from my acceptance into UGA:

  • I remember vividly getting the envelope with the red stripe in the mail. I decided to go early and start classes in the summer semester. I never went back home!

As a student, I was involved in:

On a Friday night in college, you would have found me:

  • Participating in the downtown nightlife!
Russ with wife at football game

Russ and his wife, Kelli, as undergrads.

The most significant change to the physical campus since I was a student:

My favorite tradition at UGA

  • The Battle Hymn trumpet solo

When I visit Athens, I have to grab a bite at:

  • The Last Resort
Russ Pennington Alumni Weekend photo shoot

Russ participating in a photo shoot to promote Alumni Weekend.

When this song comes on the radio, I think of college:

  • “Babs O’Riley” by The Who

My most disliked athletic rival:

  • The Gators

My dream weekend in Athens includes:

  • When Notre Dame played UGA in 2019— the prime-time kickoff, the flyover, the new LED lights and the victory— it was as good as it gets!

No. 1 tip to a fellow Georgia grad who has lost touch with their alma mater:

  • You really need to understand how much you can get back from your alma mater.  It is easy to move away and forget about the students, but giving back is so rewarding. Everything has changed so much and the direct hand that our alumni have in that change is incredible. Be involved and you will be blown away as to how much you will learn and benefit from the experience.


Russ’s support across campus— including being a committed advocate for the College of Engineering— embodies the spirit of UGA. We appreciate his unwavering dedication to his alma matter.

Dawgs through the decades: UGA in the 1970s

Take a trip down nostalgia lane with our newest blog series documenting UGA in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. First stop: the psychedelic seventies! We sat down with alumni to learn about college life in a decade defined by war, protests and rock ‘n’ roll.  

The 1970s was a spirited decade in America and that was no different on campus. Long-standing traditions, like chanting “How ‘Bout Them Dawgs,” found their humble beginnings during these years. Prominent buildings and organizations also were established, fostering a university-wide commitment to preparing a generation of risk-takers and culture-shapers.

Students in the 1970s were curious and innovative, tenaciously searching for better answers and impactful solutions. Among UGA’s distinguished alumni from this decade, there are scientists, musicians, entrepreneurs, professors and U.S. representatives. Bulldogs from the 1970s continue to inspire those who will lead, discover and serve across our state, country and the world.

Campus Highlights

Here are some important moments from UGA’s history in the 1970s:  


  • UGA celebrated the first Earth Day with a teach-in at Memorial Hall
  • Nearly 3,000 demonstrators gathered on campus to protest the Vietnam War 


  • Aderhold Hall was completed (and named for UGA’s 17th president)


  • Rising Junior Test was adopted as a graduation requirement  
  • Title IX of the Education Amendments was enacted, changing the landscape of college athletics (Before 1972, sporting opportunities for women on campus were confined to intramurals and club teams)


  • The first women scholarship athletes competed on campus


  • A standard minimum SAT score became a requirement for admission to UGA



  • The UGA Research Foundation was established
  • “How ‘Bout Them Dawgs” emerged as the battle cry of the Bulldog Nation
UGA map 1979

UGA’s campus in 1979. Notice any differences from today?

Classic City Entertainment

In 1972, Georgia lowered the legal drinking age to 18, greatly impacting Athens nightlife. Students flocked to live music at Memorial Hall, the Last Resort, the 40 Watt Club and Legion Field. University Union and downtown concert venues hosted national acts like the Allman Brothers Band, Bob Hope, Jimmy Buffet and Randy Newman.

Athens-based bands revolutionized rock and alternative music in the 1970s. Ravenstone, a politically active hard-rock band, formed at UGA early in the decade. The group supported anti-war protests and other social issues. In 1972, Ravenstone played at the first openly held LGBTQ rights dance in the Southeast. The B-52s played its first gig at an Athens house party in 1977, later releasing several best-selling records.

The Lamar Dodd School of Art sustained the Athens music scene. Throughout the 1970s, it attracted highly qualified and talented students who were seeking a receptive environment for visual arts. These students would become nationally recognized artists, musicians and scholars. In 1979, four students formed R.E.M. and made their debut appearance on WUOG, the campus radio station. R.E.M.’s creative ascent would help shape the Classic City into the cultural epicenter that it is today. 

Music Essentials

The 1970s gave rise to disco, rock, R&B and soul. Toward the end of the decade, hip-hop was born. Reminisce on the 1970s with this UGA Alumni playlist, a brief sampling of the bands and performers who ruled the golden era of music! 

Fashion Trends

While many students opted for jeans and T-shirts, Bulldogs in the 1970s boasted an eccentric style. Snelling Dining Hall held fashion shows, featuring trends like buckskin bags, wide leather belts, suede vests and bell bottoms. The Red & Black advertised inventive styles from stores like Clothesline, Millers at Alps and Sears at Beechwood.

Seventies fashion saw bold colors and patterns take center stage. Students expressed themselves through experimental, cutting-edge and unconventional clothing. Flared pants, pantsuits, platform shoes and ascots were worn by both men and women, paving the way for gender-neutral fashion.


In addition to trailblazing fashion and music, students established their own slang, too. Learn to speak like a Bulldog from the 1970s–or if you were a student during this decade, does anything sound familiar?

  • Crib: Apartment or home
    “Come to my crib to watch the Dawgs beat Auburn.”
  • Ace: Awesome
    “The Dawgs were ace this season.”
  • Skinny: The truth
    “Want the skinny? The Gators are going to lose.”
  • Far out: Cool
    “The B-52s’ new album is far out.”
  • Get down: Dance
    “Let’s get down at the 40 Watt!”
  • Right on: Agreement with something or someone
    “Go Dawgs? Right on!”
  • Chump:  Foolish person
    “Did you see that Georgia Tech fan? What a chump!”

Whether you graduated in the 1970s or just started wearing red and black, UGA remains more than a memory and more than a degree. It’s a deep-rooted community, centuries old and over 340,000 strong.  

Stay tuned as we travel to the 1980s!

*Shannon Moran, writing/communications intern for UGA’s Division of Development and Alumni Relations, is researching and writing this special blog series.

It’s the perfect time to become a UGA mentor

Why now?

Students will be back soon and looking to connect with experienced Bulldogs like you. In the video above, you’ll hear why your fellow alumni find mentoring so rewarding and don’t want you to miss out.

Connect anywhere and on your schedule. Getting started is easy.

  • Create a profile at
  • Accept a student request for mentorship.

What’s the commitment?

  • 1-2 hours per month for four months (16 weeks)
  • Share knowledge, experiences and feedback.

Informational interviews require even less of a time commitment.

If a 16-week mentorship doesn’t suit your schedule, consider making yourself available for 30-minute informational interviews with students instead.

Help a student realize their potential.

“I was lost before I met my UGA mentor. I really feel more confident about my abilities because of them.” – UGA Student

It may surprise you how much you get out of giving back in this way!

On the fence? Want to learn more?

Register for the UGA Mentor 101 webinar on August 3. You’ll hear from successful mentor and mentee pairings, learn how to form a strong connection with students and discover tricks to becoming a great mentor.

Previewing the 2021 UGA football schedule

The energy of a campus blanketed with tailgates, the snap of Redcoat snare drums, the roar of a Sanford Stadium capacity crowd: it’s almost here. Georgia Bulldogs football and all its surrounding pageantry returns in full force this fall, and we can hardly wait. As we daydream about the first “Glory, Glory” with 93,000 voices in 658 days, let’s take a look at the highly anticipated 2021 schedule and the opponents that stand between the Dawgs and glory.

In the next month, we’ll be updating our home for all things Georgia football! Go ahead and bookmark that page now and check back often to get the latest info on Bulldog football events, fun facts about the history of UGA rivalries, downloads to help you celebrate the season, the latest episode of The Jerry Tanner Show and more!


Saturday, Sep. 4, 2021 | 7:30 PM | ABC
Bank of America Stadium – Charlotte, NC

Why not start the season with one of the most anticipated match-ups of the season? Kirby Smart and the Dawgs renew the UGA-Clemson rivalry in Charlotte against a Clemson team expected to compete for a national title. The all-time record in this dormant rivalry favors the Bulldogs significantly, but UGA has only played Clemson twice in the Dabo Swinney era (going 1-1 in those games), and Kirby and Dabo have never squared off as head coaches. For both teams, this result won’t make or break the season, but a win over a top-five team will certainly generate a lot of momentum. This one figures to be a barnburner between two excellent squads, a contest befitting the return of full-fledged college football.


Saturday, Sep. 11, 2021 | 3:30 PM | ESPN2
Sanford Stadium – Athens, GA

Even the grass on Vince Dooley Field will be vibrating with the energy of the first full-capacity game in Sanford Stadium since 2019. The game itself will likely be decided early, but don’t expect the Blazers, who were Conference USA champions last year, to lie down for this one. If you’ve snagged tickets for this one, it may have been a while since you’ve gone Between The Hedges, so let us remind you the most important elements of September game attendance: water and sunscreen.


Saturday, Sep. 18, 2021 | 7 PM | ESPN
Sanford Stadium – Athens, GA

Remember the last time we played the Gamecocks at home? Yeah, us too. Well, things are different now: the South Carolina coach responsible for that debacle is now on Kirby Smart’s staff, and the new USC coach is Shane Beamer, a former Kirby Smart staffer. This year’s Gamecocks are almost certainly better than last year’s 2-8 squad, but a rebuilding USC team will have quite a difficult time with a UGA team that’s loaded with talent and experience.


Saturday, Sep. 25, 2021 | 12 PM | SEC Network
Vanderbilt Stadium – Nashville, TN

Vanderbilt CommodoresThe Bulldogs travel to Nashville for the 81st matchup between UGA and Vanderbilt. Ever since Coach Smart’s first game against the Commodores—his only loss to them—he has left no doubt who the better side is: three consecutive Dawg victories were decided by an average of just under 4 touchdowns. First-year Vandy coach Clark Lea—who played fullback for the ‘Dores between 2002 and 2004—has a strong defensive pedigree, and he will likely get more out of a squad that allowed over 37 points per game last year under Derek Mason, but a win over the Bulldogs is unlikely, to say the least.


Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021 | 12 PM | ESPN
Sanford Stadium – Athens, GA

Arkansas RazorbacksSanford Stadium welcomes back Sam Pittman, who coached the Bulldog offensive line from 2016-2019. Pittman enters his second year with the Razorbacks on a positive note, despite the Hawgs’ 3-7 record in 2020: three of their losses were decided by 3 or fewer points, including a game against no. 13 Auburn in the Tigers’ home stadium, and they claimed a few encouraging victories, among them a win over no. 16 Mississippi State that snapped the Razorbacks’ 20-game SEC losing streak. Pittman’s Arkansas rebuild will likely continue to progress well under Pittman, so don’t be surprised if they play the Dawgs close, but even if Arky’s defense can control the Bulldog offense at the outset, our defense should be able to contain the Hawgs long enough for the difference in the two teams’ depth charts to become apparent.


Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021 | 3:30 PM | CBS
Jordan-Hare Stadium – Auburn, AL

Auburn TigersIn this 126th edition of the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, Kirby Smart attempts to become only the third UGA coach to win 5 in a row over the Tigers. Meanwhile, first-year Auburn head coach Bryan Harsin—along with offensive coordinator Mike Bobo (weird, right?) and defensive coordinator Derek Mason—will attempt to reverse the bad fortune Auburn had under Gus Malzahn (2-7 against UGA). Much rests on the performance of Auburn’s junior quarterback Bo Nix, though talented running back Tank Bigsby will provide a consistent offensive threat, and Auburn’s defense looks to be just as strong as last year. Don’t expect a romp like last year’s game, but the schedule could help Georgia: Auburn plays LSU in Baton Rouge the week before the Dawgs.


Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021 | 3:30 PM | CBS
Sanford Stadium – Athens, GA

Kentucky WildcatsMark Stoops is entering his ninth year as head coach at Kentucky, making him the second longest tenured coach in the SEC, behind only Nick Saban. If that seems hard to believe—particularly in light of Kentucky’s 24-42 SEC record during Stoops’ time—remember that Kentucky is on a three-game bowl win streak and Stoops is only three years removed from being named SEC Coach of the Year. So, Kentucky is no pushover, and even though Stoops has never beaten Georgia, years of solid recruiting, some key new arrivals (UK has new offensive and defensive coordinators and some solid new players in by way of transfers), and a respectable defense will keep the Wildcats competitive.


Saturday, Oct. 30 | 3:30 PM | CBS
TIAA Bank Field – Jacksonville, FL

Florida GatorsNo Trask, no Pitts, no Toney, no Grimes: music to Bulldogs’ ears. In fact, the hated Gators return just 9 starters across offense, defense AND special teams. But perhaps the most important returning member of the Florida team isn’t a player at all: unbelievably, Todd Grantham returns to coach the defense after allowing 30.8 points per game in 2020, the most Florida’s allowed since World War II. Still, Florida is Florida, and they definitely still recruit like Florida, so no matter how much they lose, they’re still a contender. Dual-threat quarterback Emory Jones will pose a problem for Dan Lanning and the UGA defense, and All-SEC cornerback Kaiir Elam can control his side of the field (even if Grantham does more Grantham-type things). Unless Kentucky or Missouri overperform, this looks to be the deciding contest for the SEC East. Just the way we like it.


Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021 | 12 PM | ESPN
Sanford Stadium – Athens, GA

Missouri TigersAfter the Florida game, this one could be sneakily difficult. Missouri has recruited well and the year 2 effect—new coaches often see a significant uptick in their team’s performance in year 2—could be in play for Eliah Drinkwitz. Sophomore Connor Bazelak returns under center following a freshman year that saw him throw for over 2,300 yards on a 67% completion rate, but he is one of just a few underclassmen starters on this team—Mizzou returns lots of experience this year. The Tigers will likely improve this year, but there’s a lot of distance between losing to a woeful Tennessee team in 2020 and competing with the 2021 UGA squad. It’s unlikely Missouri will clear that gap.


Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021 | 3:30 PM | CBS
Neyland Stadium – Knoxville, TN

Tennessee VolunteersOh, what a year it’s been for the Vols. Last year’s squad went 3-7 (including a 6-game losing streak), former coach Jeremy Pruitt got caught up in a recruiting scandal that saw him ousted along with Tennessee legend and now-former athletic director Phillip Fulmer, a swath of players hit the transfer portal and got out of Knoxville as fast as they could, and the new athletic director, Danny White, underwhelmed Vol Nation by bringing in the head football coach from his last stop, Josh Heupel. You could almost feel bad for them if they weren’t the Vols. The preview for this one is simple: some decent pieces still remain in Knoxville, but this Tennessee team is about to undergo not just a rebuild but a total culture shift. In other words, Dawgs win.


Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021 | 12 PM | ESPN+
Sanford Stadium – Athens, GA

Apparently, these are the Buccaneers. And frankly, unless they’re the Tom Brady ones from Tampa, we probably don’t need to give it a second thought. If you wanted to take a deeper look, though, you’d see an FCS team—a member of the Big South Conference—that went 2-2 in their abbreviated, postponed 2020 season that was played between March and April of this year, and a team that has gone 0-22 against FBS teams over the history of the program. This game will be most significant as our senior class’s final home game.


Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021 | 12 PM | ABC
Bobby Dodd Stadium – Atlanta, GA

There are Bulldog fans out there who will tell you this is no longer a rivalry, citing perhaps the 23-6 record in the Bulldogs’ favor since 1991 or maybe the 16-3 UGA edge since 2001. But recall with us, dear reader, the image of a victorious Yellow Jacket, branches of The Hedges clamped between his teeth with a strength and desperation matched only by your Georgia Tech alum neighbor for the 364 days following that victory, and we think you’ll remember why we need to remind the Jackets who they are. Quarterback Jeff Sims and running back Jahmyr Gibbs are legitimate threats on Geoff Collins’ third GT team, and a slew of transfer players may strengthen the team, but this is still a team in the midst of a reclamation project (thank you, Paul Johnson, for your ironclad commitment to the triple option).

UGA raises $205.2 million in FY21

Despite the lingering effects of the pandemic, friends of the University of Georgia came together during fiscal year 2021 to support students and the university, resulting in a total of $205.2 million given to UGA, including over $10 million to the campaign that created the Jere W. Morehead Honors College.

“To see this level of support during such a pivotal time is truly inspiring,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “My heartfelt thanks to every person who gave. They helped our students, faculty and staff persevere through unprecedented challenges, and they are ensuring that as we overcome those challenges, we will emerge ready to further strengthen UGA’s commitments to our students, community, state and world.”

The $205.2 million came from a total of 69,573 donors. UGA’s three-year rolling average, which averages the three most recent years of giving, held steady at over $200 million. The university’s alumni participation rate, the percentage of UGA alumni who made a gift to the university in the past year, increased to a record 15.2%, up from 12.8% in FY20.

“At the start of the fiscal year, I would have said we would be hard-pressed to have the kind of fundraising success we’ve enjoyed in years past, but UGA alumni, donors and friends proved, once again, that their commitment to supporting our students, faculty and mission knows no limits,” said Kelly Kerner, vice president for development and alumni relations.

The story of this year was largely one of improvising and persevering, but UGA donors and friends were responsible for several significant strides made by the university over the past year.


  • A $10 million fundraising campaign led by UGA Foundation Trustees and Emeritus Trustees has created new, permanent and robust support for UGA Honors students. In recognition of this transformational support, and at donors’ request, the Honors Program was renamed the Jere W. Morehead Honors College by the University System of Georgia Board of Regents. As of mid-July, the campaign had reached $10.3 million in donations, and fundraising efforts are ongoing.



  • The donor-supported UGA Innovation Hub opened as part of the university’s Innovation District, which brings together faculty, students, community members and industry partners in a variety of ways to foster innovation, entrepreneurship and experiential learning.


UGA donors in FY21 also reaffirmed their commitment to providing support for students with financial need. The Georgia Commitment Scholarship (GCS) Program, which provides need-based scholarships and special on-campus support to Georgia students, grew to include 600 GCS scholarships and has, to date, accounted for close to $90 million in new commitments to need-based aid. One such commitment was a substantial pledge in June from Mary Virginia Terry, which will support 24 students beginning in the upcoming fall semester.

Private giving’s impact at UGA isn’t limited to high-dollar donations. In FY21, UGA supporters made tens of thousands of gifts of $100 or less. Together, contributions like these were able to improve the university in numerous and varied ways. The “$60-for-60” campaign, as part of UGA’s recognition of the 60th anniversary of desegregation at the university, garnered a record 2,905 gifts to the Black Alumni Scholarship Fund, and a campaign to honor a legendary UGA staffer resulted in the creation of an endowed meal plan scholarship fund, to name a few.

Donors also were responsible for creating 138 new scholarship funds, and the 11 endowed faculty positions they established brought UGA’s total to 322.

Betting on Bulldogs: John Shurley’s legacy of entrepreneurship at UGA

Each year, the University of Georgia Alumni Association unveils the Bulldog 100, a list of the 100 fastest-growing businesses owned or operated by UGA alumni. The 2021 Bulldog 100 celebrated organizations from over two dozen industries, including agriculture, construction, health care, nonprofits and software.

Powered by the expertise of Warren Averett CPAs and Advisors, the program celebrates Dawgs on top and demonstrates the incredible value of a degree from UGA.

There is one unforgettable member of the Bulldog 100 community: John Shurley. Without his early commitment to the program and dedicated leadership ever since, Bulldog 100 would not be possible. John has supported the program with his facts, figures and insights for over a decade.

Joining the Bulldog 100 community

John is a proud Bulldog, earning his bachelor’s degree in accounting from UGA in 1977. As a student, he was an active member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity.

John Shurley

John Shurley (third from right) with his fraternity brothers in 1977.

The UGA Office of Alumni Relations first approached John with the idea of starting a program to celebrate successful alumni entrepreneurs in 2007. John was an early backer of this startup idea. His love for UGA – and his support for hard-working business leaders – were invaluable in getting the Bulldog 100 off the ground.

John and his Atlanta office of Warren Averett have been Bulldog 100 partners since the program began in 2009. Warren Averett verifies financial information submitted by each company to determine the 100 fastest-growing, alumni-owned businesses. Bulldog 100 would not be possible without the generous sponsorship of John and his team.

Leaving his mark

From the beginning, John and the associates of Warren Averett provided pro bono accounting work, verified applications and finalized a ranked list with sound calculations. His leadership perfected the Bulldog 100 verification process and fostered development within the Office of Alumni Relations.

John values the Bulldog 100 mission to lead and serve. He appreciates the diverse backgrounds of alumni who make the list, from pharmacy to forestry resources, and always highlighted them at the annual Bulldog 100 ceremony.

“I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the trust he placed in our team and for helping us realize our vision. His dedication has touched the lives of so many and put wind in the sails of countless alumni,” said Meredith Johnson Gurley, executive director of the UGA Alumni Association.

John’s legacy

John announced his retirement from Warren Averett last year. Though this year was our last with John helping lead Bulldog 100, his voice and guidance will be evident in the legacy of the Bulldog 100 for years to come. As an alumnus, champion of students and mentor to staff, John remains an integral member of the UGA family.

David Crabtree (BBA ’04), member at Warren Averett and fellow UGA graduate, will be assuming John’s position as a leader of the Bulldog 100.

“We look forward to working with David Crabtree at Warren Averett, who has been mentored by John these last few years – and what better preparation could he have?” said Meredith.

Where is John now?

John retired with his wife in St. Simons Island, Georgia. But no matter where John calls home, he will never bark alone. From Sanford Stadium to St. Simons, we’re ringing the bell in celebration of John’s impact on UGA.

UGA Alumni Association unveils the 2021 Class of 40 Under 40

Alumni Association recognizes outstanding graduates under the age of 40  

The University of Georgia Alumni Association has unveiled the 40 Under 40 Class of 2021. This program celebrates the personal, professional and philanthropic achievements of successful UGA graduates under the age of 40. The honorees will be recognized during the 11th annual 40 Under 40 Awards Luncheon Sept. 10 in the Tate Student Center on campus.

This year’s outstanding group of young alumni includes a Major League Soccer communications director, United States Air Force commander, 11Alive News anchor, White House senior policy advisor and an award-winning writer.

“We are excited to unveil this year’s class of 40 Under 40 and welcome them back home to Athens for the awards luncheon in September,” said Meredith Gurley Johnson, executive director of alumni relations. “I continue to be amazed by the excellence of our young alumni. These outstanding individuals exemplify leadership in their industries and communities.”

Nominations for 40 Under 40 were open from February to April, and more than 400 nominations were received for this year’s class. Honorees must have attended UGA and uphold the Pillars of the Arch, which are wisdom, justice and moderation. Additional criteria are available on the UGA Alumni Association website.

“This year’s honorees highlight the transformational work UGA graduates are doing early in their careers,” said Meredith Gurley Johnson, executive director of alumni relations. “Among this year’s class are individuals who are solving some of the greatest challenges facing our country and the world. During a particularly challenging year, we are especially proud to call them members of the Bulldog family.”

The 2021 Class of 40 Under 40, including their graduation year(s) from UGA, city, title and employer, are:

Angela Alfano (ABJ ’10, AB ’10), New York, New York, senior director of corporate communications, Major League Soccer 

Jennifer Bellamy (ABJ ’08), Atlanta, anchor, 11Alive News 

Lauren D. Bellamy (AB ’04, JD ’07), Atlanta, senior associate general counsel, Grady Health System 

Greg Bluestein (AB ’04, ABJ ’04), Dunwoody, Georgia, political reporter, Atlanta Journal-Constitution 

Marie Greene Broder (AB ’06, ABJ ’06, JD ’10), Griffin, Georgia, district attorney, Griffin Judicial Circuit

Gayle Cabrera (BBA ’06), Cary, North Carolina, market president, SVP, Truist

Mario Cambardella (BLA ’06, MEPD ’11, MLA ’13), Chamblee, Georgia, founder/CEO, ServeScape

Shontel Cargill (BS ’10), Johns Creek, Georgia, assistant clinic director, Thriveworks

Rebecca Chancey (BS ’04), Atlanta, Georgia, lieutenant commander, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Public Health Service

Carter Coe (MFR ’11), Atlanta, managing partner, Chinook Forest Partners

Harin J. Contractor (AB ’04, AB ’04), Washington, D.C., senior policy advisor, National Economic Council at the White House

Tunisia Finch Cornelius (BS ’04), Atlanta, doctor, Divine Dermatology & Aesthetics

William Flowers Crozer (JD ’12), Washington, D.C., vice president, BGR Group

Jennifer A. Crozier (BS ’06), Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, assistant professor and director of breast cancer research, Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center

David A. Dy (BS ’03), Tuscola, Texas, commander, 7 Operational Medical Readiness Squadron, United States Air Force

Keith Giddens (MACC ’04), Charlotte, North Carolina, market managing partner for Charlotte, Dixon Hughes Goodman

Eric Gray (BSED ’04), Atlanta, executive director, Catalyst Sports Inc.

Cody Hall (AB ’15), Dawsonville, Georgia, director of communications, Office of the Governor

John Hyer (PHARMD ’12), Murphy, North Carolina, CEO and owner, King’s Pharmacy

Whitney Ingram (BS ’11, PHD ’16), Albuquerque, New Mexico, R&D S&E electronics engineer, Sandia National Laboratories

Ryan Loke (AB ’16), Atlanta, deputy chief operating officer, Office of the Governor

Josh Mackey (AB ’05), Atlanta, partner/founder, Capital City Public Affairs

Ana Maria Martinez (BBA ’04), Decatur, Georgia, president/staff attorney, Georgia Latino Law Foundation/DeKalb State Court

Willie Mazyck (BSED ’04, MED ’06, MBA ’14), Atlanta, senior vice president of talent development, XPO Logistics, Inc.

Anna Wrigley Miller (AB ’14), Watkinsville, Georgia, general government division manager, Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget

E. Heath Milligan (BSFCS ’05), Marietta, Georgia, principal, Macallan Real Estate

David W. Okun (AB ’12, AB ’12), Alexandria, Virginia, country officer, U.S. Department of State

Jitendra Pant (PHD ’18), Ann Arbor, Michigan, scientific research fellow, University of Michigan

Biren Patel (MBA ’12), Macon, Georgia, founder and president, Biren Patel Engineering LLC

Doug Reineke (AB ’05), Atlanta, director of state government relations,  CareSource

Victoria Sanchez (AB ’08, MA ’10), Washington, D.C., special assistant, U.S. Department of State

Terrel Sanders (BS ’05), Accra, Ghana, lieutenant commander, lab director, Infectious Diseases, Global Health Engagement, U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit No. 3 Ghana Detachment

Josh Sandler (BBA ’09), Nairobi, Kenya, co-founder and CEO, Lori Systems

Hilary Shipley (BSFCS ’04), Savannah, Georgia, principal, Colliers International Savannah

Bowen Reichert Shoemaker (ABJ ’06), Macon, Georgia, assistant united states attorney, U.S. Attorney’s Office

Cara Winston Simmons (AB ’03, MED ’07, PHD ’18), Athens, director and adjunct faculty, University of Georgia

Daniel W. Stewart (BSFCS ’05), Augusta, Georgia, president and COO, Wier / Stewart

Brittany Thoms (ABJ ’04), Watkinsville, Georgia, president, co-founder, See.Spark.Go

Tracey D. Troutman (BSA ’07, MAL ’08), Washington, D.C., director, Office of Outreach, Diversity and Equal Opportunity, United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service

Raquel D. Willis (ABJ ’13), Brooklyn, New York, writer, activist

Students want to see themselves in their mentor.

The UGA Mentor Program needs you!

There is a student coming in the fall that can benefit from your experience. The UGA Mentor Program is simple to join, and mentoring can fit within your schedule. A 16-week mentorship requires only 1-2 hours per month. Making yourself available for 30-minute informational interviews are another option. It may amaze you how much you get out of giving back as a mentor.

To help new and potential mentors learn more about mentoring, the UGA Mentor Program is hosting a webinar, UGA Mentor 101, on Aug. 3 from 3:30-4:30 p.m. You will hear from successful mentor/mentee pairings, learn best practices for forming a strong connection and discover tips to become an effective mentor.

The UGA Mentor Program has facilitated 2,775 mentoring relationships since its inception, and 99% of mentors who completed a 16-week mentorship cycle were satisfied with their experience in the program. But perhaps the best endorsement of the program comes from students.

“Jumping into college as a freshman, you have no idea what the future or even next week will look like,” said one student in the program. “You’re making new friends, learning how to get around and deciding how you want to spend the next 30-plus years of your life. I felt stuck struggling to choose a major—until I joined the UGA Mentor Program. Because of my mentorship, I am confident, knowledgeable and on the road to success.”


From Uga to the Arch, here are 6 UGA-themed emojis for World Emoji Day

Are you ever texting a friend on game day and wish you could show your Bulldog spirit with images? Maybe you’re posting a picture of North Campus and can’t express your thoughts with words alone. To celebrate World Emoji Day (July 17), we’ve created 6 UGA-themed emojis we wish were on our keyboards!


Heart Eyes Uga Emoji

Heart Eyes Uga

The Arch Emoji

The Arch

Super G Emoji

Super G

X Eye Gator Emoji

X Eyes Gator

Football Helmet Emoji

Georgia Football Helmet

UGA Bus Emoji