$1.5 million gift to Odum School of Ecology honors legacy of ecology student John Spencer

Article written by Beth Gavrilles (MFA ’89)

John Spencer, a master’s student in ecology at the University of Georgia, was passionate about freshwater ecology, conservation and ecological restoration. A graduate fellowship established through a $1.5 million commitment from John’s mother and stepfather, Kathelen (JD ’82) and Dan Amos (BBA ’73), is ensuring that his legacy will reach far into the future.

“Kathelen and Dan Amos are two of the most generous and devoted alumni of the University,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “Their establishment of the John K. Spencer Fellowship is a meaningful tribute to John that will help advance the important work he intended to carry out.”

John Spencer arrived at UGA in the fall of 2014 and immediately distinguished himself at the Odum School of Ecology for his hard work, ready laugh, enthusiasm and, most of all, his thoughtfulness. He cared deeply about people and the natural world. His untimely death in 2016 left his family, friends and colleagues devastated.

“John’s memory is with us every day—his smile, his optimism and passion for life,” said John L. Gittleman, dean of the Odum School and UGA Foundation Professor in Ecology. “John wanted us all to enjoy and conserve the natural world around us. This gracious and kind gift will ensure that future generations will have the chance to fulfill John’s passion.”

John’s research focused on the health of urban streams.

“John wanted to study—and positively affect—how stream ecosystems respond to stressors associated with watershed land-use change, particularly urbanization,” said professor Amy Rosemond, who co-advised John with assistant professor Seth Wenger.

John studied the effects of elevated conductivity—the amount of dissolved ions, or pollutants, in water—on invertebrate communities in urban streams as a way to measure stream health. In December 2016, the University of Georgia awarded him a posthumous master’s degree in recognition of the work he had completed toward the requirements of his degree.

The John K. Spencer Fellowship was established that year with an initial gift from John’s family and contributions from more than 370 friends, classmates and colleagues. The two-year fellowship provides a research assistantship to students in the master’s in ecology or conservation ecology and sustainable development degree programs who are interested in pursuing careers in management and conservation of aquatic ecosystems.

To date, three students have received Spencer Fellowships, and their work is already having an impact. Inaugural Spencer Fellow Emily Johnson built upon the foundation of John’s research to identify particular disturbances impacting water quality in Athens-area streams and create a real-time monitoring system that makes it easy for municipal water managers to respond to issues quickly.

Zach Butler is studying the impacts of an invasive species, the nine-banded armadillo, on the ecosystems and native wildlife of the Georgia barrier islands. Zach’s research has upturned the conventional wisdom about this species, finding that they are helping to fill part of the ecological role of the gopher tortoise, a native species in decline across the Southeast. His findings are now informing coastal ecological management plans.

Talia Levine is studying contaminant levels in fish found in the Turtle Brunswick River Estuary near a Superfund site on the Georgia coast. She is measuring PCB and mercury concentrations in whole fish because, while fish consumption guidelines for the area exist, they are based on filleted samples only, and there is evidence suggesting community residents use more of the fish than just the fillets. Talia is sharing what she learns with government agencies and nonprofit organizations in the Brunswick area to support them as they work to ensure safe consumption of seafood resources by community residents.

“The John K. Spencer Graduate Fellowship honors John by providing our outstanding graduate students the opportunity to pursue careers in aquatic conservation and management and make a positive difference, as John intended to do,” said Gittleman. “This gift ensures the continuation of John’s legacy, for which we are immensely grateful.”

Mallory O’Brien (ABJ ’12) and the secret to a soapy success

mallory o'brien

Mallory O’Brien is a UGA alumna and the brain behind Irish Spring’s Twitter account. Photo: Peter Frey

While the Bulldogs earned a “W” versus Notre Dame last month, one surprising brand also took home a marketing ‘win.’ Irish Spring, a popular soap line, enjoyed 15 minutes of internet fame thanks to an idea from Mallory O’Brien (ABJ ’12), the co-vice president for the NYC Dawgs and a social media community manager at Colgate-Palmolive, Irish Spring’s corporate parent.

After Georgia-based grocery chain Dill’s Food City announced in a now-viral post that it wouldn’t sell Irish Spring prior to the game against the Fighting Irish, Mallory had some great ideas that led to the brand reacting accordingly. 

no irish springs

A photo from the Dill City Food Facebook post that went viral.

Though there had never been a reason for Irish Spring to need a Twitter presence, this turned into the perfect opportunity to start a social media storm. Now verified with over 3,000 followers, the account has been an immediate success. 

In Irish Spring’s second tweet ever, the brand poked fun at the grocery store and claimed they were about to send a whole lot of soap to Athens. This gained almost 3,000 retweets and over 16,000 likes.

Irish Spring

Irish Springs sent quite a few packages to Athens. Photo via Irish Springs Twitter.

Irish Spring jumped head-first into the social media space, but followed only four accounts–the University of Georgia being one of them. But this wasn’t the brand’s only impact on the internet. Mallory suggested sending brand ambassadors to campus for that glorious–and crowded–football Saturday in Athens.

Irish Spring

Campus ambassadors for Irish Spring visited Athens with gifts. Photo via Irish Spring’s Twitter.

Who would have anticipated that a Bulldog was behind this campaign from ‘up north?’ Surprising as it may be, we know that all great things start at the University of Georgia.

Here’s to good, clean fun and a Georgia win!

Delia Owens Where the Crawdads Sing Book Cover

Check out “Where the Crawdads Sing” on National Book Day

For many of us, reading is a pleasure, but one too often forfeited for a Netflix binge or Instagram scroll. But September 6 is National Read a Book Day: a reminder to pour a cup of coffee and settle into your favorite reading nook.

When I fall out of the habit, the fastest way to reestablish my reading routine is a good book. A page-turning, can’t-put-down, just-one-more-chapter book. I found one. This novel comes with a bonus: it’s written by fellow Georgia Bulldog and best-selling New York Times author, Delia Owens (BS ’71).

Owens’s debut novel, Where the Crawdads Sing, is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising account of a murder investigation.

I fell in love with the main character, Kya Clark. As Owens puts it: “Kya is every-little-girl and one in a million.” She inspired both pity and awe and forced me to question my own survival instincts. Kya’s deep love of the natural world sets her apart from typical fictional characters and urges readers to appreciate the nature that surrounds them. As one line of the story reads, “… Kya laid her hand upon the breathing, wet earth, and the marsh became her mother.” Her journey to fulfill basic human needs, like companionship, pulls the reader along and satisfies through the end.

I finished the book on a flight. My airplane neighbor caught me wiping away tears. My failed discretion got more embarrassing when the tears (good tears!) kept free-flowing, yet I remained buckled into a middle seat. I told him the truth—that the book was really good—but also avoided eye contact until we parted ways at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

The Reviews

Do yourself a favor: read this book. If my recommendation isn’t enough, please see below for critics’ reviews.

New York Times Book Review Quote“The wildlife scientist Delia Owens has found her voice in Where the Crawdads Sing, a painfully beautiful first novel that is at once a murder mystery, a coming-of-age narrative and a celebration of nature…”
—New York Times Book Review

“Fierce and hauntingly beautiful … An astonishing debut.”
—People Magazine

“Reminiscent of Barbara Kingsolver, this Southern-set period novel unfurls a whodunit against a typical coming-of-age tale, when a mysterious “Marsh Girl” becomes the primary suspect of a grisly crime.”
—Entertainment Weekly

An Evening with Delia Owens (in Athens!)

On Friday, September 20, join alumni and friends for an evening with Delia Owens in the UGA Special Collections Libraries on campus. The auditorium in which Delia will speak is sold out, but an overflow room down the hall will live-stream her remarks. All attendees will have the opportunity to meet the author and have a copy of “Where the Crawdads Sing” signed ($25/person). The talk and Q&A will take place from 4-5 p.m. and the reception and book signing will be from 5-7 p.m.

More Bulldog Authors

Once you’re back in the habit of reading, check out these Georgia Bulldog authors to find your next book:

  • Stuart Woods (AB ’60) has won the Edgar Allan Poe prize from the Mystery Writers of America and had more than fifty best-sellers, including the successful Stone Barrington series.
  • Mary Kay Andrews (ABJ ’76) is another New York Times best-selling author of 24 novels including “The Weekenders,” “Beach Town,” “Ladies’ Night” and “Summer Rental.”
  • Malcolm Mitchell (AB ’15) is not only a former UGA football player and Super Bowl champion, but also a successful author whose foundation helps children discover a love of reading.
  • Michael Bishop (AB ’67, MA ’68) is in the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame and has written more than 30 books, including “The Quickening” and “No Enemy But Time.”

University of Georgia Board of Visitors adds new members

This story was written by former communications associate Laura Bayne.

The University of Georgia Board of Visitors welcomed 25 new members this summer.

Established in 2010 by the UGA Foundation Board of Trustees, the Board of Visitors includes business, government and community leaders who serve as advocates for UGA. Members help increase awareness about the university’s priorities, accomplishments and its $6.3 billion impact on the state of Georgia, and they provide valuable feedback on programs and initiatives at the state’s flagship university.

“I am grateful to our loyal alumni and friends on the Board of Visitors for their service to the University,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “Through their involvement, they are expanding the reach of UGA and helping our faculty, staff, and students make an even greater impact on the world.”

The new board members for 2019-2021, their locations and job titles include:

  • Kelley M. Balkcom (BBA ’03), Brookhaven, regulatory affairs manager, Georgia Power.
  • Thomas G. Boynton (BSAE ’84), Alpharetta, chief financial officer, Kakona.
  • Joel R. Bulger (ABJ ’90), Athens, chief marketing officer, Zaxby’s.
  • Kevin S. Carmichael (ABJ ’03), Dacula, director of corporate university relations, North America, NCR Corporation.
  • Brian Crow (BSAE ’97), Atlanta, chief software officer, Xylem Inc.
  • Brian M. Dykes (BBA ’00), Atlanta, vice president, global head of merger and acquisitions, United Parcel Service.
  • Holli Hines Easton  (BBA ’93), Atlanta, managing director, BFG Marketing, LLC.
  • Roy E. Hadley, Jr. (BBA ’85, JD ’88), Atlanta, Georgia; business lawyer and trusted advisor, Adams and Reese, LLP.
  • Madden Hatcher III (AB ’82, JD ’85), Columbus, senior vice president, J. Smith Lanier and Company, A Marsh and McLeennan Agency, LLC.
  • William J. Mathews (BSFCS ’08, BSFCS ’08), Atlanta, multi-family investment sales managing director/platform leader, Colliers International.
  • Byrd P. “Rusty” McGahee (BBA ’77), Augusta, retired director of compliance and controls, Textron Inc.
  • Lynn Morgan (BBA ’86), Alpharetta, chief executive officer, Tour of America.
  • Stephen J. Moroski (BBA ’91), Roswell, entrepreneurial sales leader.
  • Edward Perkins (AB ’66), Watkinsville, retired international vice president, Johnson & Johnson.
  • Anthony T. Powers  (BBA ’11), Decatur, co-owner, Intown Ace Hardware and Mayor Pro-Tem, City of Decatur.
  • Carolyn J. Roddy (ABJ ’75, JD ’78), Marietta, Georgia/Alexandria, Virginia, senior advisor, USDA Rural Utilities Service.
  • Pamela F. Roper (AB ’94), Marietta, executive vice president and general counsel, Cousins Properties.
  • Deep J. Shah (AB ’08, BS ’08), Lawrenceville, primary care physician, Gwinnett Clinic.
  • Scott H. Sikes (AB ’82), Smyrna, principal and partner, Columns Fundraising.
  • George W. Simmons (BSA ’88), Tallahassee, Florida, doctor of veterinary medicine, North Florida Animal Hospital.
  • William H. Thomas, Jr. (AB ’88), Dunwoody, managing attorney, The W.H. Thomas Firm.
  • Will Thorburn (BBA ’07), Marietta, Georgia; director of cleantech strategy and investments, Cox Enterprises.
  • Lindsey D. Thornhill, Milton, vice president and division manager, Integrated Solutions for Systems Inc.
  • Lauren S. Verdery (ABJ ’94), Atlanta, brand leader, Americas advisory, EY.
  • Peter Williams, Atlanta, director and head of community relations, BlackRock Atlanta.

“We are excited to welcome these outstanding new members to the Board of Visitors,” said John Parker, Jr., chair of the UGA Foundation Board of Trustees’ Special Projects Committee. “As prominent leaders in their fields, they bring unique perspectives and expertise to our university. We are grateful they are choosing to invest their time and talents in the University of Georgia.”

During the board members’ two-year terms, they learn about university initiatives to extend and enhance its teaching, research and service mission. Recent program topics have centered on the launch of the university’s Innovation District and the launch of the UGA Mentor Program, an initiative that was sparked by feedback and advice provided by the board.

Nominations for the UGA Board of Visitors are accepted at any time during the year. Nominations received prior to Dec. 31 each year are considered for the following year’s board. To nominate someone for this position or to view the complete list of Board of Visitors members, visit give.uga.edu/uga-foundation/board-of-visitors.

10 reasons it’s great to be a UGA grad

1. UGA has the best campus.

UGA's campus

Nothing beats campus in the fall (except campus in the winter, spring or summer). Even after you graduate and come ‘home’ to visit, it is somehow exactly the same and completely different. That’s the magic of being an alumnus of a school with so much history and a bright future.

2. UGA has the finest traditions.

The Arch

Not passing under the Arch is a lesson UGA students quickly learn, along with why leaving your house at midnight to Snellebrate is worth it, and why you have to visit sites like the Chapel Bell and Herty Field to celebrate big and small accomplishments. If you haven’t in a while, complete a UGA tradition the next time you’re on campus. As Larry Munson said, “There is no tradition more worthy of envy.”

3. Speaking of traditions: Saturdays in Athens are legendary. 

UGA Football

The population in Athens triples on game days, and for good reason. Everyone heads to town to tailgate, hunker down, and root for the Dawgs. The best college football team in the country. (Clemson and Bama, who?)

4. We have the greatest mascot. 

uga

Uga X was recently named the best mascot in college football by Sports Illustrated, as if you needed official confirmation. He’s the ‘goodest’ boy. Come on, just look at that face. 

5. Our academics are top notch.

Career Outcomes

Each class of new Bulldogs brings in more impressive high school GPAs and test scores. Our alumni use their first-rate UGA educations to excel in the workforce. That’s something to be proud of. 

6. Every Georgian is within 40 miles of a UGA facility.

Economic impact

As a land- and sea-grant university, it’s our mission to provide resources to every Georgian. With our vast presence across the state, we’re able to do that.

7. UGA has 80+ alumni chapters.

Hairy & Student

No matter where in the world you go, you can find a piece of home with your local alumni chapter. Never bark alone!

8. Our history is unlike any other university.

Chapel Bell

We were founded in 1785 are the birthplace of higher education in America. Nothing has slowed our progress in more than 230 years.

9. Everyone looks good in red and black.

hairy dawg

Enough said.

10. We are the Bulldog Nation.

There are two simple words that express the sentiments of the entire Bulldog Nation: Go Dawgs!

Are you loud and proud?

For those Bulldog Faithful and are interested in being “in-the-know” and helping us share great news with the rest of the Bulldog Family, we invite you to sign up to be a Digital Dawg! Digital Dawgs are the UGA Alumni Association’s social media ambassadors and help us BARK good news to communities around the world! Joining is simple:

  1. Sign up to be a Digital Dawg.
  2. Receive the latest news and updates from the UGA Alumni Association.
  3. Share the news on your social media channels to help spread the word.
  4. Stay connected with the Bulldog Nation!

Connecting the Bulldog Family – UGA Mentor Program

Sandra Derrick (BSHE ’76, MED ’80) and Anna Schermerhorn ‘20 pose at the UGA Arch

Sandra Derrick (BSHE ’76, MED ’80) and Anna Schermerhorn ‘20 pose at the UGA Arch

Sandra Derrick (BSHE ’76, MED ’80) is a Double Dawg from the College of Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) with a passion for giving back to her alma mater. Derrick served on the FACS Alumni Association Board of directors as president, and this past spring she participated in the UGA Mentor Program pilot. Her mentee, Anna Schermerhorn ‘20, will be a UGA Mentor Program student ambassador this fall.

Did you have experience being mentored or being a mentor before?

I’ve never been involved with a mentor program before – so I had no experience to draw from.

What was your biggest hesitation about becoming a mentor?

My biggest hesitation was that I wouldn’t have any information to share with my mentee or that what I shared would not be of help. I’ve been out of college for some time, so I was unsure that what I had to say and share would help.

What has been the biggest surprise?

My biggest surprise was how much fun I’ve had! Anna, my mentee, has been so wonderful. She has been much more than I hoped, but of course I knew that any UGA student would be beyond amazing! Anna and I just clicked. She is nice and friendly, and always asks for my ideas and thoughts—then she always listens to what I think and what I have to share. She brought flowers to me at our last meeting in Athens, and we’ve kept in touch during the summer with all the things she’s doing. I’m sure we will visit in Athens this academic year, too.

Sandra Derrick (BSHE ’76, MED ’80) and her mentee Anna Schermerhorn ‘20 meet for the first time

Sandra Derrick (BSHE ’76, MED ’80) and her mentee Anna Schermerhorn ‘20 meet for the first time

Why has this been so meaningful for you?

This has been such a meaningful experience. I love UGA and FACS, so I had the opportunity to put the two things I love together with an amazing UGA FACS student. I’ve gotten to help Anna make connections with so many people and she’s reached out to others to network. She even obtained an internship program this summer through a connection!

Anna will probably be of help to the UGA FACS Alumni Association Board of Directors this year by serving on the Student Engagement Committee. We have already set the wheels in motion for her to assist, and I just love seeing her make those connections and share her passion for life! She is going to do such amazing things, and she already has, but I have a front row seat just watching her bloom.

Sandra Derrick (BSHE ’76, MED ’80) with flowers given by her mentee Anna Schermerhorn ‘20

Sandra Derrick (BSHE ’76, MED ’80) with flowers given by her mentee Anna Schermerhorn ‘20

What would you tell someone considering participating in the UGA Mentor Program?

Just jump right in! It’s something that I would love for others to experience, and I don’t want folks to miss out on such an amazing opportunity.

I know how valuable it is for both students and alumni, so I really want others to be involved in such a worthwhile program.

It doesn’t take time away from work or family, and alumni will feel so energized working with a mentee–they just won’t be able to get that smile off their face. Plus, you will make a friend for life. Seeing what others become is one of the most amazing things ever, especially a UGA student. Just knowing that you’ve had a small part in what they’ve become is like nothing else. It’s what the UGA family, especially the UGA FACS family, is all about! Family.

Alumni turn their appreciation for the coast into an opportunity for a student

This story was written by Kelly Simmons and was originally posted to Outreach.uga.edu on July 8, 2019. 

You can see the salt marsh from nearly every room in Dorothea and Wink Smith’s Hilton Head home.

The activity varies with the tide. When the water is high, boats cruise through a channel that connects residents and businesses to the intercoastal waterway and the ocean. At low tide, you can walk out to the edge of the marsh where there might be wading birds, like herons, egrets and wood storks. Geckos perch on the wooden rail of the deck.

Their fascination with the marsh, its occupants and importance to the coastal ecosystem is what drew the Smiths from their home in Ohio to the South Carolina shore once they retired.

And it was that fascination that drew the Smiths to UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant on Skidaway Island, in neighboring Savannah.

“We live on the marsh, we walk on the beach,” Wink Smith (BBA ’72) says. “It fit right in.”

Since then, the Smiths committed money from the Patrick Family Foundation (Dorothea Smith’s family’s foundation) in Decatur, Georgia, to fund a summer internship at UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant on Skidaway Island for a UGA student interested in marine sciences. Their gift will endow one internship a year.

“We have an emphasis on education and community and being a part of anything that helps the environment,” Dorothea Smith (AB ’72) says of the foundation.

UGA offers summer internships in public education programming, communications, phytoplankton monitoring, marine careers, aquarium science, facilities operations and shellfish research at the Skidaway Marine Education Center and Aquarium.

“We went over there and were very impressed,” Dorothea Smith says. “We are facing ecological changes, and they’re on top of it.”

“The connection between us living here on the marsh and seeing what they’re doing with education made this scholarship opportunity push all the buttons we were looking for.”

Students supported by the Patrick Family Foundation Fund for the Smith Family Marine Summer Internship will have an opportunity to engage in a broad range of activities at the UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant facilities on Skidaway Island.

They can help care for the animals on display at the UGA Aquarium, learning to use scientific instruments commonly used in marine science research. They will have the opportunity to research specific behavioral and physical characteristics of several marine species, as well as their habitats and diet. They can shadow marine science researchers in the field and lab, learn about shellfish research, including oyster production at the UGA Hatchery, and perhaps apply their knowledge of marine science concepts in the design and execution of a research project.

“Summer interns in this role will gain a deep understanding of Georgia’s coastal habitats and the functions of coastal ecosystems,” said Mark Risse (BSAE ’87, MS ’89, PHD ’94), director of UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant. “The Smiths recognize that this experience is fundamental to a student interested in becoming a marine scientist or education.”

Dorothea Patrick Smith, from Decatur, Georgia, and Wink Smith, from East Liverpool, Ohio, met as students at UGA. They honeymooned on Hilton Head and made a home for their three girls in Ohio, where Wink Smith worked in the ceramics industry.

They bought their house in Hilton Head five years ago and spend 9-10 months of the year there. They plan to sell their Ohio home and relocate there permanently.

Between living on the marsh and the early morning walks on the beach, they have found ways to get involved in local conservation efforts. During a recent morning walk, Wink Smith found an unmarked turtle nest on the beach and contacted the person on Hilton Head responsible for tracking the turtles during nesting season.

“With education and communication we’re all becoming better stewards of the beach, the ocean and the marsh,” Dorothea Smith says.

Another successful fundraising year pushes UGA beyond campaign goals

Fundraising efforts for the University of Georgia continue to exceed expectations, with donors contributing $224 million in new gifts and pledges in fiscal year 2019.

This year’s giving drove the Commit to Georgia Campaign beyond two major goals: raising $1.2 billion and creating 400 Georgia Commitment Scholarships by the campaign’s conclusion on June 30, 2020. It also is the third consecutive year that fundraising has exceeded $200 million.

“I want to offer my thanks and appreciation to each and every donor in the UGA family for helping us achieve these important goals that have advanced the university,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “Because of their incredible generosity, we are now reaching exciting, unprecedented heights across our missions of teaching, research and service.”

One of the most significant benchmarks for continued growth is the five-year rolling fundraising average, which averages the prior five years of giving at the end of each fiscal year. That number has risen every year of the campaign, and in FY19, it reached $204 million. Five years ago, that average was just under $115 million.

 

A chart displaying the last six years' five-year rolling averages.

“Year after year, the alumni and friends of the University of Georgia prove how exceptional they are,” said Kelly Kerner, vice president for development and alumni relations. “With their support, we reached our campaign goal 16 months ahead of schedule. The contributions that got us to that point are already helping students, creating new educational opportunities and enhancing research and scholarship.”

Because of private giving, UGA has made considerable progress in the Commit to Georgia Campaign’s three priorities: increasing scholarship support, enhancing the learning environment, and solving grand challenges through research and service.

In 2016, the university announced its intention to create at least 400 Georgia Commitment Scholarships—endowed scholarships for students with unmet financial need—by the end of the campaign. Currently, 451 scholarships have been established, with 191 created in FY19. The more than 300 contributors to the Georgia Commitment Scholarship program have given nearly $30 million in total, which has been matched dollar-for-dollar by the UGA Foundation.

In addition, this year saw the completion of several significant facilities projects funded, in part, by donors, including M. Douglas Ivester Hall and Sanford and Barbara Orkin Hall in the Business Learning Community, the West End Zone project in Sanford Stadium, the Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, the UGA Entrepreneurship Program’s Studio 225 on West Broad Street, and the Charles Schwab Financial Planning Center.

Private giving also created 17 new endowed faculty positions in FY19. These positions strengthen UGA’s ability to recruit and retain the brightest, most innovative educators and researchers. Since the start of the Commit to Georgia Campaign, UGA has added 87 endowed faculty positions.

The giving that has enabled all of these achievements has come from faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends of UGA, both near and far. In some cases, very near: 3,615 dedicated current and former UGA employees gave a total of $9.4 million in FY19. Current and former employee giving has accounted for $53.3 million over the course of the campaign.

Over 71,000 donors contributed to UGA in FY19, of which 39,658 were alumni. Thus far, more than 158,000 donors have given to the campaign, which was announced to the public in November 2016.

Meet Black Alumni Council President Dr. Ericka Davis (AB ’93)

Dr. Ericka Davis (AB ’93) became the UGA Black Alumni Leadership Council president on July 1. We invited her to share a few words with you, our alumni family, as she enters this role:

Ericka Davis (AB '93)When I first stepped onto UGA’s campus in the spring of 1988, I never imagined that the experience would be so life changing. When my parents drove off, and I walked through the doors of Brumby Hall to explore my new home, one student, Cameo “Cami” Garrett (AB ’92), approached me and asked if I was new to UGA and did I know anyone. I said yes that I was new, and no that I didn’t know anyone. She immediately said that I could come with her and that was the beginning of my meeting many other students who became more than just classmates but family both during my time at UGA and through the years since graduation.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was joining more than an institution of higher learning, but a family and a nation at the same time. The Black Alumni UGA family and Bulldog Nation has served as a great source of love, support, development and encouragement to me since that day in 1988. The people I’ve met, the experiences I’ve had and the memories that were made are priceless to me.

That’s also why I wanted my daughter, Jessica Davis ’20, to attend UGA and after completing her first year, she’s just as passionate about “Her UGA” as I am about mine. I’m even more proud of being a part of the rich legacy of courage and determination that belongs to all African American alumni. That legacy began on January 9, 1961, with our founders, Charlayne Hunter-Gault (ABJ ’63), Hamilton Holmes (BS ’63), and Mary Frances Early (MMED ’62, EDS ’71). The doors they opened for us is a debt that I feel I could never repay and am morally obligated to do my part to pay it forward. That’s how the 1961 Club began. It’s a tribute to the sacrifice those three made and a reminder that the sacrifice, nor the purpose behind it, should be forgotten or taken lightly. We have one unifying goal: to keep the Arch open to all.

As the incoming president of the Black Alumni Leadership Council (BALC), I am committed to that goal and to being an advocate for UGA. I have been honored to work with the “Originals,” the pioneering members of the BALC during the last 3 years. The strides we made have been phenomenal, but there is still work to be done. This council is committed and passionate. Within their first week of service, they took immediate action to fund an additional student scholarship, bringing our total to nine students receiving scholarship funding for four years while attending UGA.

Please know that we can’t do this great work alone. Your help is critical to continuing the legacy. We need your gifts, your time, and your talent. We look forward to having you join us in our goal to keep the Arch open. Charlayne, Hamilton, and Mary would expect no less of us.

Go Dawgs,

Ericka

Proudly announcing our new board president and members

On July 1, our 76th UGA Alumni Association president, Brian Dill (AB ’94, MBA ’19), and seven members began their terms on the UGA Alumni Association Board of Directors. We’re excited to introduce you to these outstanding alumni and look forward to working with them over the next few years.

Brian has served on our board of directors since 2007 and will serve as president for two years. He succeeds Bonney Shuman (BBA ’80), whose term concluded June 30.

Brian is the vice president of external affairs for Tanner Health System and the executive director of the Tanner Foundation in Carrollton, Georgia. He has spent 17 years in corporate and industrial business development and recruitment as an economic development executive in several Georgia communities as well as the COO for the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. Prior to that, he served as a federal and state lobbyist for the Georgia Farm Bureau.

“Brian has been an especially valued member of our board for a number of years,” said Meredith Gurley Johnson (BSFCS ’00, MED ’16), executive director of alumni relations. “He has been a strong servant leader among this group of passionate alumni, helping to guide our strategic direction and offering to lend a hand whenever he can. A truly loyal Bulldog—with the passion to match!”

Brian is a native of Irwin County, Georgia. He graduated from the University of Georgia in 1994 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and was a member of the Redcoat Band. This year, he earned a Master of Business Administration from the Terry College of Business. His wife, Carmen, is a 1995 UGA graduate and a teacher at Carrollton High School. The couple resides in Carrollton with their son, Mason.

The alumni who joined Brian on the board on July 1 include:

Anne Beckwith Headshot

Anne Beckwith (BBA ’90)

Title/Employer: Retired / Community Volunteer
City: Atlanta, Georgia
UGA Involvement: Gamma Phi Beta House Corp; UGA Alumni Association Women of UGA Leadership Council
Favorite UGA Memory: I met my husband at a party in my own apartment. He was looking for beer, not his future wife …
UGA in Three Words: Home | Transformational | Dynamic
Favorite Athens Eatery: The National
UGA Grad Who Inspires You: Jason Huggins (BBA ’95) – faces challenges with humor and resilience and cares deeply about everyone he meets


Travis Bryant Headshot

Travis Bryant (BBA ’99)

Title/Employer: President and CEO, Coastal Plywood Company
City: Tallahassee, Florida


TJ Callaway Headshot

T.J. Callaway (BBA ’07)

Title/Employer: Founder and CEO, Onward Reserve
City: Atlanta, GA
UGA Involvement: Terry College Young Alumni Board; UGA Alumni Association Young Alumni Council; speaks to students in ILA, fashion merchandising and Entrepreneurship Program; apparel provider for the Magill Society; student mentor; Dinner with a Dozen Dawgs host; 2018 Terry Young Alumni of the Year; UGA 40 Under 40 Class of 2012; 5-time Bulldog 100 business
Favorite UGA Memory: Taking my daughter onto the field in Sanford Stadium before a game in 2018.
UGA in Three Words: World Class Institution
Favorite Athens Eatery: Last Resort
UGA Grad Who Inspires You: Terry Brown (BBA ’84) – my first investor and a steadfast mentor and friend


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Brian Dill (AB ’94, MBA ’19)

Title/Employer: Vice President-External Affairs, Tanner Health System / Executive Director, Tanner Foundation
City: Carrollton, Georgia
UGA Involvement: UGA Alumni Association chapter leader; Freshman Send-Offs; class speaker; SPIA supporter; Redcoat Band alumni events; student mentor
Favorite UGA Memory: My first football game as a Redcoat; it was a night game against LSU in Baton Rouge!
UGA in Three Words: Tradition | Excellence | Class
Favorite Athens Eatery: Peking Chinese Restaurant
UGA Grad Who Inspires You: Carmen Dill (BSFCS ’95) – my wife; her ‘service above self’ attitude drives me to give back to the next generation of alumni!


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Cathy Fish (BSA ’93, DVM ’96)

Title/Employer: Associate Veterinarian, Georgia Veterinary Associates
City: Flowery Brand, Georgia
UGA Involvement: Georgia football fan; UGA Alumni Weekend attendee
Favorite UGA Memory: Sharing my love for UGA with my children.
UGA in Three Words: Inclusive | Amazing | Life-changing
Favorite Athens Eatery: Guthrie’s
UGA Grad Who Inspires You: Malcolm Mitchell (AB ’15) – a great inspiration!


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Kevin A. Gooch (JD ’04)

Title/Employer: Partner-Finance Group, DLA Piper LLP (US)
City: Atlanta, Georgia
UGA Involvement: Georgia Law Board of Visitors (2005-2008); Transactional Law Curriculum Committee (2008-2010); student mentor; UGA Alumni Association 40 Under 40 Class of 2015
Favorite UGA Memory: Walking onto North Campus, past Herty Fountain, and crossing the quad for the first time to enter into a law school that has produced some of the best and brightest legal minds in our state and country.
UGA in Three Words: Wisdom | Justice | Connectivity
Favorite Athens Eatery: Inoko Express
UGA Grad Who Inspires You: Chester Davenport (LLB ’66), Sharon Nyota Tucker (JD ’74), Justice Robert Benham (JD ’70), Judge Horace Johnson (JD ’82)


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Camille Kesler (BSFCS ’94)

Title/Employer: Executive Director, Rebuilding Together Atlanta // Owner, Smallcakes Cupcakery in North Druid Hills
City: Atlanta, Georgia
UGA Involvement: UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences Alumni Board of Directors (2014-2018); 2013 FACS Outstanding Service Award; UGA Alumni Association 40 Under 40 Class of 2012
Favorite UGA Memory: Attending the Pearl Jam concert at Legion Field. It was my first-ever concert!
UGA in Three Words: Tradition | Family | Connecting
Favorite Athens Eatery: Guthrie’s
UGA Grad Who Inspires You: Mary Frances Early (MMED ’62, EDS ’71)


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Mark Mahoney

Title/Employer: Co-founder, Jackrabbit Technologies
City: Cornelius, North Carolina
UGA Involvement: Multi-year Bulldog 100 business; inaugural recipient of the Michael J. Bryan Award


The UGA Alumni Association Board of Directors works with Alumni Association and campus staff to promote, support and advance the programs and services that are offered by the UGA Alumni Association to the university community, especially the more than 324,000 living alumni around the world.

“These new board members represent a variety of alumni experiences at the University of Georgia,” said Johnson. “Their advice and perspectives are invaluable for my team as we work to engage alumni in meaningful ways.”

To view the full list of UGA Alumni Association Board of Directors, visit alumni.uga.edu/board-of-directors.