Haunted UGA: Spooky stories from around campus

Content warning: The following post includes references to murder, suicide and of course–ghosts! 

The University of Georgia may be known for exceptional school spirit, but did you know that campus is also home to spirits of the supernatural kind? Ghost sightings have been reported around campus practically since the university’s founding, from tales of eerie moans and creaks to full-blown apparitions.  

Many of the university’s most well-known ghost stories are based on historic North Campus, where the university’s first buildings were constructed during the 19th century. In those Greek revival buildings shaded by mighty ancient oak trees, some of UGA’s spookiest tales of terror and tragedy unfolded years ago and continue to frighten visitors today. 

The Waddel Hall Haunting

Waddel Hall, an unassuming white brick building on the main library quad, is the second-oldest building on the UGA campus and currently houses the university’s Office of Special Events. The building has served many purposes since it was completed in 1821, including as a dormitory, boarding house, gymnasium, snack bar and scientific equipment storage. 

In 1918, however, a grisly crime occurred within the building’s four walls that changed its legacy forever. A young soldier returned home from World War I to find his girlfriend had fallen for another man. His friends loaned the couple their room in Waddel Hall so he could try to save the relationship, but sometime in the early morning, gunshots rang out–the soldier had shot his former love and then himself. 

According to the Red and Black, visitors to Waddel Hall over the years report unexplainable sounds and eerie lights coming from the second floor of the building. Could it be the former lovers returning to continue their quarrel? 

Joe Brown Hall’s Staircase to Nowhere

Joe Brown Hall, originally built in 1932 to serve as a men’s dormitory and later converted to an academic building, is known by students for its disorienting winding staircases and narrow hallways. Adding to the confusion is one particular staircase, which seemingly leads to nowhere–those who climb it reach nothing but a solid wall decorated with a photo of a hallway. 

The reason for this bizarre architectural feature has been investigated by popular paranormal shows and reported in the Red and Black. In the early 1970s, when the building was still a dormitory, a student mysteriously died in his dorm room over the Thanksgiving break. 

After janitors discovered the body, the entrance to the room at the top of the stairs was bricked over completely. Those who pass by the staircase today claim that the space has an eerie and unsettling aura, experiencing temperature fluctuations and other oddities. 

The Terrifying Toombs Oak

Between Demosthenian Hall and the UGA Chapel, a sundial marks the former location of the Toombs Oak tree. Robert Toombs, a famous UGA alumnus from the 19th century who served as a lawyer and congressman, is said to haunt Demosthenian Hall via a portion of the tree stump kept on the building’s first floor, according to an article from the Red and Black. 

The legend goes that Toombs was voted as class speaker but expelled for his gambling habit before he could give his speech at commencement. A skilled orator and member of the Demosthenian Literary Society, Toombs gave a rousing speech anyway under the oak tree outside the chapel while the legitimate commencement address happened inside. Years later, it’s said that lightning struck the tree at the moment of his death. 

Members of the Demosthenian Literary Society have claimed to have encountered the ghost of Toombs over the years through pacing noises and apparitions on the second floor. One student who fell asleep in the building late at night awoke to a specter of Toombs laughing menacingly at her from across the room. 

The Candler Hall Poltergeist

Candler Hall, the home of the School of Public and International Affairs, was originally built to serve as a dormitory. In 1905, a student named Willie Lloyd died in his dorm room after accidentally shooting himself while absentmindedly spinning his pistol around his finger. The university’s chancellor at the time, Walter Hill, and a group of students escorted his remains to his family’s burial plot in Atlanta–but there are signs that his spirit never left Candler Hall. 

During the building’s dormitory days, students reported waking suddenly at night to the feeling of someone hovering over them. Faculty have reported hearing unusual noises, as if someone is pacing on the wood floors. The building’s elevator and automatic doors have been known to open and close by themselves, and some claim to have seen ghostly apparitions in the staircases.  

One faculty member even felt someone tap her shoulder as she walked through the first-floor lobby. When she turned to see who it was, she discovered the lobby was empty–and then felt another tap as she left the building.  

Are all of these mysterious occurrences the work of the restless spirit of Willie Lloyd? Or have more than one of the building’s former residents returned to occupy the building in the afterlife? 

These stories may be spooky, but they are a reflection of UGA’s history as the country’s first public institution of higher education. For centuries, this campus has been a place where students’ stories unfold. Sometimes, these tales leave behind an eerie legacy, but often, they are uplifting stories of growth, service and self-discovery. What’s your UGA story?

Tasty Tailgating: A UGA Athletics Dietitian’s Seven-Layer Taco Dip

Nutrition is an essential part of athletic success. Within each UGA Athletics program, a dedicated team of nutritionists works with athletes to ensure that they have the knowledge and resources to fuel themselves for success–both in and outside of their sports. 

Maria Williams (BSFCS ’07, MS ’09) is a sports nutritionist with UGA Athletics and has worked with swimming and diving teams, baseball, men’s tennis and equestrian. Her seven-layer taco dip recipe is both delicious and nutritious–she substitutes low-fat Greek yogurt for sour cream to add protein and reduce fat.  

Read on to learn how to eat like an athlete. 

Seven-Layer Taco Dip 


1 (15 oz) can refried beans  

1 ½ cups plain, low-fat Greek yogurt  

1 tbsp taco seasoning  

1 ½ cups guacamole (store-bought or homemade 

1 cup mild or medium salsa  

1 ¼ cups Mexican blend cheese, shredded  

1 ¼ cups iceberg lettuce, finely shredded  

Optional additional toppings:  

1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered   

1/4 cup black olives, pitted & sliced  

2 scallions, diced  

¼ cup pickled jalapeno slices  


  1. Spread the bean layer in an 8×11 baking dish or similar medium sized (clear) dish.  
  2. Combine Greek yogurt and taco seasoning in a small bowl, then add the yogurt mixture as the second layer.  
  3. Spread the guacamole layer followed by the salsa layer.  
  4. Add the remaining layers over the salsa layer in the following order: cheese, shredded lettuce, grape tomatoes, black olives, jalapeno slices, and diced scallions.     
  5. Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve later. Enjoy with any type of tortilla chips.  

UGA giving challenge leaves Gators seeing double (Ls)

The University of Georgia and the University of Florida squared off twice this past week—once on the field in Jacksonville, and once in Beat Week 2023, a head-to-head giving challenge—and the Bulldogs came out on top in both. 

Beat Week is a week-long giving challenge where UGA and another university compete to see who can drive their supporters to make more gifts over the course of a week. UGA went head-to-head with Auburn University for the past three years—with the red and black winning each time—before taking on Florida.  

With a strong reputation in the fundraising world, UF was looking for a win, but the Bulldog faithful kept UGA in the lead throughout the week. Georgia’s Beat Week victory was nearly as resounding as the one in EverBank Stadium. 

UGA – 4,156 

UF – 3,339  

Donors of all stripes contributed to the win—alumni, students, parents, faculty, staff, and friends of the university—and UGA staffers from all corners of campus worked for months to mount the effort that earned the university its fourth consecutive Beat Week win. 

Beat Week raised over $1.5 million to numerous areas at UGA, including scholarships, research, academic programming and much more. Kirby Smart’s Dawgs proved their No. 1 ranking on Saturday, but Bulldog Nation proved theirs all through the week. 

Thank you to everyone who made Beat Week a win! Go Dawgs! And Later, Gator! 

On-campus festival celebrates the arts

Nervous about the UGA Mentor Program? Just go for it!

Micayla Moffit ’24 and Cathy Fish (BSA ’93, DVM ’96) have a lot in common. They both love going to UGA football games. They’re both current or aspiring veterinarians. And they were both a little nervous about getting started in the UGA Mentor Program. 

Cathy was concerned that she may not have knowledge that would fit her mentee’s needs. Before meeting Cathy, Micayla was uneasy about how she would relate to a mentor older than her. 

“I don’t know how to talk to anyone like an adult!” Micayla joked. 

About the Program

The UGA Mentor Program is a digital platform which allows students to form mentoring relationships with UGA faculty, staff, and alumni, regardless of geographic location, who can help make their future a little clearer. Mentees also have the option to schedule 15-to-30-minute one-time conversations with mentors, called Quick Chats. 

Students and mentors create online profiles with their backgrounds, career interests and mentorship goals. The system offers potential matches or students can search for a mentor on their own before making plans to meet virtually or in person, depending on their schedule. Formal mentorships last for 16 weeks, and students can start one at any time through the program website. 

A Perfect Fit

Cathy’s mentoring relationship with Micayla was a perfect fit. The two hit it off from the start of their first lunch meeting, despite Micayla’s nerves. 

“Meeting someone for the first time, I always get butterflies in my stomach,” Micayla said. “What are we going to talk about?” 

Micayla was reassured by the numerous resources available on the Mentor Program website to help prepare her for their initial conversation. Because she knew why she had sought out a mentor and what she was hoping to learn, it was easy for her to focus their conversation on helpful topics. 

“The conversation just flowed really well,” Micayla said. “I was really comfortable.” 

Micayla joined the program because a student organization she was in had encouraged her to apply and find a mentor. Cathy had heard about the program through her service on the UGA Alumni Association Board of Directors and thought it might be a good opportunity to give back to students. 

Building a Meaningful Relationship

Over the course of their mentor relationship, Micayla and Cathy have gotten to know one another not just professionally, but personally. They talk about their personal lives and know one another outside of their career goals. 

“We can go to lunch and not talk about anything related to vet school or my major,” Micayla said. “We talk about football all the time.” 

Micayla, a member of the Redcoat Band, is a huge UGA football fan. When Cathy came back to Athens for a football game last fall, Micayla even arranged for the two to meet so Cathy could see her in her uniform. 

Micayla was pleasantly surprised by how she was able to build such a meaningful relationship with her mentor. If you’re nervous about reaching out, too, she has one piece of advice: “Just go for it. You’ll never know what that relationship could lead to if you don’t actually just go for it.”


Mark Richt raises funds for Parkinson’s research

Led by former University of Georgia head football coach Mark Richt, the Chick-fil-A Dawg Bowl raised more than $758,000 for Parkinson’s disease and Crohn’s disease research at UGA. The fundraiser, which featured a VIP bowling event, rallied over 1,330 donors to support UGA research. 

“I am very grateful to Chick-fil-A, Coach Richt and the many generous donors who contributed to the university’s research efforts in these important areas over the past two weeks,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “Private support is essential to the kinds of cutting-edge research our faculty are conducting on Parkinson’s and related diseases, and the Chick-fil-A Dawg Bowl helps our researchers looking for new treatments and cures.” 

Coach Mark Richt catches up with former player David Pollack at the 2023 Chick-fil-A Dawg Bowl.

Richt announced the charity event at UGA head football coach Kirby Smart’s (BBA ’98) Monday press conference on Oct. 2. Donations poured in before, during and after the bowling event on Wednesday, Oct. 18.

During the bowling tournament, viewers tuned into the event’s livestream from home, watching Coach Richt and Bulldog greats such as Kirby Smart, David Pollack (M ’05) and Rennie Curran (BBA ’17) battle it out at Showtime Bowling Alley in Athens. Over the course of the tournament, donors gave $35,000.  

“My family and I want to sincerely thank the Bulldog Nation and all the donors who helped us take a bite out of Parkinson’s and Crohn’s,” Richt said. “I am so thankful to everyone who came out and supported in whatever way they could.” 

The fundraiser surpassed its initial goal of $750,000, and all proceeds will go to UGA’s Isakson Center for Neurological Disease Research. There, researchers such as Anumantha Kanthasamy, John H. “Johnny” Isakson Chair for Parkinson’s Research and Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar, are developing groundbreaking treatments for Parkinson’s disease and investigating its link to gut inflammation conditions such as Crohn’s disease.  

Coach Kirby Smart poses with Arthi Kanthasamy and Anumantha Kanthasamy, researchers in the UGA Isakson Center, at the 2023 Chick-fil-A Dawg Bowl event.

“Giving at this level can have a monumental impact on the research we are doing here at the university,” Kanthasamy said. “We are so grateful to the donors and the Richt family for everything they have done to support the Isakson Center.” 

The fight against Parkinson’s and Crohn’s is deeply personal for the Richt family. Coach Richt was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2021, and his granddaughter Jadyn was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease as an infant in 2015. Since then, the family has prioritized raising awareness and funds for research on potential causes and treatments for these conditions. 


The War for the Oar: A History

Visitors to Tate Student Center over the years may have noticed an unusual display in the third-floor concourse: a 12-foot-tall carved wooden oar. 

The oversized oar, known as the Okefenokee Oar, has been a part of the Georgia-Florida football rivalry since 2009, when the University of Georgia and University of Florida student government associations partnered to create a rivalry trophy. 

The Okefenokee Oar joins the ranks of unique rivalry trophies exchanged throughout the SEC, such as The Golden Boot (Arkansas-LSU), the Golden Egg (Ole Miss-Mississippi State) and the Governor’s Cup (UGA-Georgia Tech).  

The OARigin Story 

Why an oar was chosen, and how it came to be, remains shrouded in mystery. It was funded by an anonymous donor at the University of Florida and carved from a 1,000-year-old oak tree from its namesake Okefenokee Swamp. Ownership of the swamp, which sits along the Georgia-Florida border, was historically disputed between settlers from both states.  

The Oar is engraved with the schools’ mascots and state seals on either side, with scores from every Georgia-Florida game since 2009 engraved on the handle. An article from the UF sports news website Gator Country reports that the Oar has room for scores for the next 150 years. 

After each game, the winning school displays the Oar in their student center until the next year’s match-up. When displayed at UGA, where it’s been since 2021, the side with the Bulldog design faces outward and the Gator is hidden on the reverse. 

For the Oar’s first few years of existence, it had little notoriety. Rivalry committees from both schools worked to get the word out about the new trophy by creating the hashtag #WarForTheOar and students exchanged it after the game in unofficial ceremonies around the stadium.  

Becoming OARfficial

The Oar was officially recognized through a joint resolution by both schools’ student government associations in 2011. The Oar came to the UGA campus for the first time that same year after the Bulldogs’ 24-20 victory against the Gators. It was displayed in a custom-built case in the Tate Student Center in an effort led by the UGA Student Government Association president at the time, Mallory Davis (AB ’13). 

“We’re really trying to build it into this huge tradition because we haven’t had it yet,” Mallory said in a Red and Black article in 2011. 

And a huge tradition it has become. Although still not officially recognized by UGA Athletics as the game trophy, the Oar has been featured on ESPN’s College GameDay broadcasts, helping it rise to fame among fans from both teams. 

The Oar is transported to Jacksonville, Florida, each year by the victors of the last season’s game. The winning team is then responsible for bringing it back to their campus. When Georgia wins it, the UGA Student Government Association generally arranges for the Oar to travel home on the bus with the Redcoat Band.  

Only time will tell how the mystery and excitement surrounding the Oar will continue to develop, but what we do know is this: the Bulldogs and Gators will face off again this year on October 28–reigniting the War for the Oar once again. 


Tasty Tailgating: Virginia Willis’s Fried Chicken-on-a-Stick

Game days lend themselves hand-held food–something you can hold and eat with one hand while you cheer and wave your pom-pom with the other. Virginia Willis (AB ’88), a James Beard Award-winning cookbook author, chef and on-air personality, knows this simple fact. 

Her crispy oven-fried chicken-on-a-stick with Vidalia-honey mustard dipping sauce, then, is a delicious and convenient addition to any tailgate. It’s also lower-calorie because it’s baked in the oven rather than deep-fried. 

Plus, as she says, “Who doesn’t like food on a stick?” 

Oven-Fried Chicken-on-a-Stick with Vidalia-Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce  

Makes 16 to serve 8  


1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt 

2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder  

1 cup low-fat buttermilk  

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed (1½ pounds)  

2 cups panko bread crumbs  

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 large egg whites  

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard   

Freshly ground black pepper  

Vidalia-Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce, for serving (recipe follows)  


  1. In a large bowl, combine the salt, 1 teaspoon of the paprika, ½ teaspoon of the onion powder, and ½ teaspoon of the garlic powder. Add the buttermilk and whisk until the salt is completely dissolved and the spices are dispersed in the liquid.  
  2. Cut the chicken lengthwise into about 1-inch-wide strips. Add to the marinade and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. (Do not marinate any longer or the chicken will be too salty. If you can’t cook it right at the 30-minute mark, remove the chicken from the marinade and refrigerate until ready to continue.)  
  3. In a large shallow dish (a 9 by 13-inch baking dish works well), combine the bread crumbs, the remaining 1 teaspoon paprika,
 the remaining ½ teaspoon of onion powder, and the remaining ½ teaspoon of the garlic powder. Add the 2 tablespoons of oil and toss well to coat. Whisk together the egg whites and mustard in a second large shallow dish. Season both mixtures with pepper. 
  4. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, then set an ovenproof rack on it. Coat the rack with nonstick cooking spray.  
  5. Remove the chicken from the marinade, shaking off any excess,
 and thread onto sixteen 12-inch bamboo skewers, dividing the meat evenly, about 1 strip per skewer. Dip the chicken into the egg mixture, coating both sides. Place in the bread crumb mixture one skewer at a time, sprinkle with crumbs to cover, and press so the coating adheres to both sides. Gently shake off any excess crumbs and place the skewers on the prepared rack.  
  6. Bake the chicken, turning halfway through, until golden brown and the juices run clear, about 25 minutes. Serve warm with the dipping sauce.  

Vidalia-Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce  

Makes 2¼ cups  


¼ cup apple cider vinegar 

1 Vidalia onion, peeled and quartered  

1 garlic clove  

1/3 cup honey  

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard  

½ cup canola oil  

Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper  


  1. Put the vinegar, onion, garlic, honey, and mustard in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse until smooth.  
  2. With the motor running, add the oil in a slow steady stream until thick and emulsified.  
  3. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.  

Oven-Fried Chicken-on-a-Stick  

Calories 204 
Fat 6 g 
Carbs 16 g Fiber .7 g Protein 20 g  

Vidalia-Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce (per tablespoon)   

Calories 42
 Fat 3 g 
Carbs 4 g 
Fiber .1 g
 Protein .1 g 

UGA Foundation honors Judge Steve Jones with award, named scholarship

The University of Georgia Foundation Board of Trustees created a scholarship fund recognizing Judge Steve C. Jones (BBA ’78, JD ’87) during its board meeting this past summer. 

At the meeting, Jones was named the latest recipient of the foundation’s Distinguished Service Award, a recognition that comes with a $100,000 allocation from the UGA Foundation’s unrestricted operating surplus to establish a scholarship in the honoree’s name. Jones, selected by unanimous vote, is the fourth recipient of the award. 

“I am inspired by Steve’s commitment to service, both to the university and throughout his career,” said Neal Quirk, who was chair of the Board of Trustees when the award was given. “His involvement with the UGA Foundation has been critical to supporting our efforts to make progress for UGA across all of the board’s committees.” 

The fund will support need-based scholarships through the Georgia Commitment Scholarship Program, providing an immediate award of $3,500 that will be awarded annually and will be renewable for up to four years. First preference for the scholarship will be given to first-generation college students.

Judge Steve Jones

Alumnus and Judge Steve C. Jones, shown giving the fall 2018 UGA Commencement address, is the latest recipient of the UGA Foundation’s Distinguished Service Award. (Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker/UGA)

Jones graduated from the University of Georgia with a bachelor’s degree in management in 1978 and earned his juris doctorate from the UGA School of Law in 1987. He worked as a Superior Court judge in Athens-Clarke and Oconee counties for 16 years preceding his appointment by President Barack Obama in 2011 as a United States District Court judge. 

Jones has devoted himself to serving the University of Georgia. He served as a member of the UGA Athletic Association Board, president of the UGA Alumni Association, and chair of the UGA School of Law’s Board of Visitors. He has been named an honorary member of the Blue Key Honor Society. Jones served on the foundation board from 2011 to 2022, during which time he acted as secretary and strategic vice chair of the board and a member of the executive committee. 

Outside of the university, Jones is a member of the Old War Horse Lawyer’s Club and the Lawyer’s Club of Atlanta, and is a former chair of the Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission and the Athens Area Community Foundation. He has served on the Georgia Supreme Court’s Commission on Equality and Domestic Violence Committee. He is also president of the Joseph Henry Lumpkin American Inn of Court.

A Bulldog psychiatrist’s top 3 mental well-being tips

We’ve all been there: the joy and warmth of summer starts to fade, the days get colder and shorter, and you start to feel a little down. It’s important to practice self-care in that moment, and UGA’s own Ebony Caldwell (BSHP ’13, MPH ’13) has some tips. She is currently completing her addiction psychiatry fellowship at Yale School of Medicine and also serves on the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry Board of Directors. 

A member of the UGA 40 Under 40 Class of 2023, Ebony is also the founder of the H.O.P.E. Initiative, which provides opioid education and opioid overdose reversal training to community groups to alleviate the undue burden of the opioid epidemic in communities of color. 

Here are Ebony’s top three tips for safeguarding your mental well-being in her own words. 

1. Get comfortable with the word “No.”

“So often in our lives, we are pulled in so many directions and expected to give too much of ourselves. However, learning to recognize and confidently say ‘no’ allows us to reclaim our own personal agency and make time to pour into ourselves.” 

2. Ask for help.

“This could be professional help, such as a therapist, or even just tapping into our social circle. ‘No man is an island,’ and so often we try to take on and manage everything on our own, failing to utilize the help that is often just a phone call or text away.” 

3. Find something that brings you joy.

“In my field of work, it can be hard to tap into activities that spark joy when you’re working over 60 hours a week while also juggling the demands of life. Yet, in the last few years, I’ve prioritized carving out even small moments of things that spark joy. Whether it’s spending 20 minutes planting in my garden or having a dance party with my dog in the living room, I make space and time for these moments.”