UGA Alumni Awards

UGA announces 2021 Alumni Awards recipients

The University of Georgia Alumni Association has announced eight recipients of the 2021 Alumni Awards, an annual program dating back to 1936 that recognizes individuals and organizations who demonstrate a commitment to the university. The 2021 honorees are:

  • Chester Davenport, Alumni Merit Award
  • The Honorable Brian P. Kemp, Alumni Merit Award
  • Bonney Shuman, Alumni Merit Award
  • Dr. Libby Morris, Faculty Service Award
  • Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center, Friend of UGA Award
  • St. Mary’s Health Care System, Friend of UGA Award
  • The Paris Family, Family of the Year Award
  • Jonathan Jones, Young Alumni Award

“The University of Georgia would not be the great institution that it is today without our outstanding alumni, friends and partners,” said President Jere W. Morehead.  “To this year’s class of award recipients—congratulations on this distinguished honor and thank you for all that you continue to do to support and advance UGA.”

2021 Alumni Merit Awards

The UGA Alumni Association’s oldest and highest honor, the Alumni Merit Award is presented to individuals whose outstanding community leadership and service to the university reflects UGA’s highest values.

The late Chester Davenport
The late Chester Davenport played a significant role in the history of the University of Georgia School of Law. Davenport, a 1966 law school graduate, was the first Black student to enroll in the law school and was a founding member and executive editor of the Georgia Law Review. Today, the UGA chapter of the Black Law Student Association bears his name. Throughout his career of more than 50 years, Davenport was a public servant and successful attorney. He worked as a tax attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice and as a legislative assistant for a California senator. He served on Jimmy Carter’s transition team and eventually co-founded a law practice in Washington, D.C. He was a member of the law school’s Board of Visitors and UGA Arch Foundation and remained a UGA supporter throughout his life.

The Hon. Brian P. Kemp
The Honorable Brian P. Kemp, a 1987 graduate of UGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, is the 83rd governor of the state of Georgia. Prior to becoming governor, Kemp served as Georgia’s secretary of state from 2010 – 2018. He also served as a Georgia state senator from the 46th District from 2003 to 2007. Kemp was a home builder and developer before running for public office. As a third-generation Bulldog, he has hired fellow UGA graduates in both the private and public sector, and his family regularly supports UGA. His wife, Marty, graduated from UGA’s College of Family and Consumer Sciences, and two of his daughters currently attend the University. As Governor, he has been a champion for higher education and key University of Georgia initiatives.

Bonney Shuman
Bonney Shuman co-founded Bar Code Systems in 1983, which became Stratix Corporation. The 1980 Terry College of Business graduate served as president and CEO until she sold the company and retired in 2011. A longtime supporter of UGA, Shuman is a past president of the UGA Alumni Association and now serves as treasurer of the UGA Foundation Board of Trustees. Shuman mentors UGA students through the UGA Mentor program. Her husband, Billy Shuman, also attended the University of Georgia. Their generous and numerous gifts to UGA have gone to support students, research and service. Both of their children, Billy Shuman Jr. (MAB ’18) and Mary Ellen (BBA ’17, JD ’20), have earned degrees from UGA, and Mary Ellen was also on the UGA Women’s Golf Team.

2021 Faculty Service Award

Dr. Libby Morris
Dr. Libby Morris is receiving this year’s Faculty Service Award, which is presented to a faculty or staff member who has shown remarkable leadership in higher education. Morris earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from UGA in 1971. Since 1989, she has been a faculty member in the University’s Institute of Higher Education and has served as its director since 2006; she also holds the Zell B. Miller Distinguished Professorship of Higher Education. She served as vice provost for academic affairs from 2010 – 2013 and twice served as UGA’s interim provost. Libby Morris and her husband, Dr. Van Morris, a 1969 graduate, are also generous donors, giving back to their alma mater for more than 30 years. Their son, John Morris (BFA ’98), also attended UGA.

2021 Family of the Year Award

The Paris Family
The Paris family is receiving the Family of the Year Award. Following in their father’s footsteps, the late Thomas Paris Jr., a 1961 graduate, and his sister, Joyce Paris (MED ’64, EDS ’70), were longtime donors to UGA. Paris Jr. and his surviving wife, Alice (a 1960 graduate), set a strong, philanthropic example. Their daughter, Elizabeth Paris, graduated from UGA in 1985 and her son, William Paris Brooks, is an alumnus. Elizabeth’s late husband, Jeff Hagood, and late step-son, Cole Hagood, both attended UGA. She is a donor and a past member of the Parents Leadership Council. Elizabeth’s brother, Trey Paris, a Double Dawg, has been a respected business leader and community advocate; he is now the managing director of Taylor English Decisions Government Affairs Practice. Trey (BBA ’84, MBA ’85) is an emeritus trustee of the UGA Foundation and a past president of the UGA Alumni Association. He and his wife, Sandra, have two children, Eliza Paris (BSFCS ’14) and Thomas Paris (BBA ’17, JD ’20).

2021 Friend of UGA Awards

Two Athens hospitals, Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center and St. Mary’s Health Care System, are receiving the Friend of UGA Award, which is presented to a non-alumnus or organization that has devoted themselves to the greater good of UGA. Both hospitals support the UGA campus, the city of Athens and surrounding communities, and each of them plays an integral role in educating medical students enrolled in the Augusta University/University of Georgia Medical Partnership. Through the trials of the COVID-19 pandemic, the bonds between the University and these hospitals have strengthened, as they collaborate to help serve the health care needs of the community through service and outreach. Two senior leaders at these hospitals have been at the vanguard of these efforts—Michael Burnett, CEO of Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center, and Montez Carter, president and CEO of St. Mary’s Health Care System.

2021 Young Alumni Award

Jonathan Jones
Jonathan Jones, a 2013 UGA College of Engineering graduate, is this year’s recipient of the Young Alumni Award, which is presented to an individual who brings recognition and honor to UGA through outstanding leadership and service to the university, the community and his or her profession. As an engineer at Corteva Agriscience in Indianapolis, Jones focuses on solving complex challenges in agriculture. Jones serves on several boards, including the College of Engineering Advisory Board. He has earned numerous recognitions for his work, including the 2018 Black Engineer of the Year Eugene Deloatch Award and the 2018 UGA Engineering Young Alumni Impact Award. The UGA Alumni Association included him in the 2018 40 under 40. Jones is committed to giving back to his community and is paving the way for future scientists.

Due to ongoing public health concerns surrounding public gatherings, the annual Alumni Awards luncheon, which typically takes place in April, will not take place. The University will recognize and thank these outstanding honorees virtually.

“We are so proud of these outstanding alumni and supporters of the University of Georgia. We look forward to celebrating them throughout the spring semester,” said Meredith Gurley Johnson, executive director of the Alumni Association.

Bulldogs help music community in time of need

Last year was uncharted territory for musicians, music venues and the overall music community. They struggled without the ability to host live music events and festivalsbut a few UGA alumni are committed to assisting the industry weather the storm on a local, state and national level. 

Keepin’ it local

Athens is known for its vibrant music scene. Most of the musicians at the heart of that scene have benefited from rehearsing at Nuçi’s Space, a nonprofit musician’s resource center that has been around for 20 years and is led by Executive Director Bob Sleppy (BS ’05, MBA ’10). Immediately after COVID-19 forced schools and businesses to shut downNuçi’s Space established the Garrie Vereen Memorial Emergency Relief Fund to support musicians, artists, venue staff, crew employees, and everyone else who makes Athens’s well-known entertainment venues thrive. The fund raised $10,000 within four days and distributed over $130,000 in emergency financial aid to 310+ individuals in the Athens-area entertainment industry. While working from home, the Nuçi’s Space staff made over 600 phone calls to check in on fellow musicians who usually frequent Nuçi’s Space, letting them know about the fund and providing encouragement.  

Nuci's Space team

Across the state 

The Georgia Music Foundation Board of Directors continues to distribute their annual grants and also approved the creation of the Georgia Music Relief Fund to award grants to those in the state’s music community who have been negatively affected by venue closures and tour cancellations. The board includes three UGA graduates, including Board Chair Dallas Davidson (M 00), George Fontaine, Jr. (ABJ ’04) and Russell Bennett (BSA ’00)The Savannah Music Festival (SMF) is a multi-year grant recipient of the foundation and while the SMF was postponed in 2020, Managing Director Erin Tatum (AB ’08, BBA ’08, MPA ’14) noted that they were able to pivot and continue engaging patrons. The SMF is hosted over 17 days each year and showcases hundreds of musicians from around the world. The festival provides free music education to 10,000+ students in coastal Georgia and South Carolina schools. Since the pandemic, SMF has taken its Musical Explorers program for K-12 virtual and is now providing music education to children nationwide.

A national focus 

MusiCares, the nonprofit arm of the Recording Academy, is led by UGA graduate Debbie Carrol (MSW ’93). Its mission is to “provide resources to music people in times of need.” By the end of 2020, MusiCares distributed over $20 million in assistance. After launching an online application in March, Debbie’s team of 12 was manually vetting 500600 applications per week and distributed $1,000 grants to 20,000 individuals nationwide. MusiCares was thrilled to see 1,600+ artists donate to the cause along with a number of well-known companies within the music and streaming services industriesIn addition to providing financial assistance, MusiCares provided additional support by conducting a mental health survey and created virtual programming that included topics from adjusting to life off the road to how to incorporate mediation into your day. Due to her impressive leadership during the challenges of the pandemicPollstar named Debbie to its ‘2020 Impact 50’ list, which honors music executives who are improving the live entertainment industry.  

Recording Academy Musicares digital sign

 There are countless others in the Bulldog family who are doing great things to keep the music industry alive and well until live music venues reopen, tours can recommence, and those working in the industry are back on their feet. We’re proud of all those alumni who stepped up last year and continue to do so … because when Bulldogs come together, they change the world.  

UGA’s Music Business Program prepares the next generation of change-makers in the music industry. Learn more about the program at the video below. Want to help enhance its offerings? Make a gift today! 

Job Search Week (Jan. 25-29) will walk you through the full search process

With a new year comes the opportunity to realize your professional goals–and the UGA Career Center is here to help. From January 25-29, UGA’s Alumni Career Services office will host webinars with top career coaches, human resource professionals, and certified resume writers. Join in to hear from these job search strategy experts who will demonstrate how to masterfully execute your job search and stand out from other job seekers.

DAY 1

Mastering the Stages of Change: Mindsets for Career Changers 

Monday, January 25  |  1 p.m. EST

Ever wonder why change is so difficult? In this workshop we will share a six-stage model of change. Once you understand the change process, and what stage you are at in your job search, you’ll understand why you might feel stuck. Viewing your job search through the model, you’ll feel more empowered in your job search and how to combat resistance to change to make the career move you need.

DAY 2

Jumpstart Your Career in 2021

Tuesday, January 26  |  1 p.m. EST

Whether you are new to the workforce or are a seasoned professional, it can be easy to lose focus on opportunities to progress. We get busy, time flies, and the pandemic can make it feel impossible to pursue new career goals. Layer on working remotely, and you may lose sight of your dreams in the day-to-day balancing act. Or, maybe you find yourself in a temporary position that you want to take to the next level. This webinar will help you refocus on the big picture.

Day 3

Strategic Job Search and Networking Methods

Wednesday, January 27  |  1 p.m. EST

Do you know where to find the right roles? Are you tired of online job boards like Indeed.com? This presentation will help you learn the top job search strategies that will get you noticed. We will discuss how to conduct an industry-specific job search, which platforms to use, and why you need to move beyond online job boards to have a successful search.

DAY 4

Advanced Resumes and Cover Letters 

Thursday, January 28  |  1 p.m. EST

You have probably heard that it’s important to tailor your resume to match individual roles during your job search, but what does that look like? In this webinar, we will discuss practical tips for creating a resume that can be easily tailored. We’ll also walk through steps to tailor your resume to maximize your job search success rate.

DAY 5

Top 10 Job Search and Interview Tips

Friday, January 29  |  1 p.m. EST

Where you work can affect your happiness. Rose Opengart, career coach and former HR staffing manager, will share how to job search and interview to land the best job for you! Some takeaways from this webinar include:

  • The job search should be a strategic process; not a “spray and pray.”
  • The job interview is a two-way street!

You will learn how to answer tough interview questions and which interview questions to ask so you can find your dream job!

 

You do not want to miss these opportunities to build the career of your dreams. Register today! NOTE: You must register for each webinar individually. If you have any questions, contact Kali DeWald, Associate Director of Alumni Career Services. For information about other Alumni Career Services, visit the UGA Career Center.

Happy New Year! Happy Mentor Month!

Happy New Year!

We hope that you enjoyed the holidays. The new year brings the start of a new semester, which means students will be looking for new alumni mentors. Now is the perfect time to become a UGA mentor. Or, if you’re already a mentor, please log in to the platform and to ensure your mentor profile is up-to-date.

Have you opted in to informational interviews? In November 2020, we rolled out an informational interview feature to provide you with another meaningful opportunity to connect with UGA students. With the introduction of informational interviews, you can determine if you have the capacity to mentor a student for 16 weeks and/or be available for 30-minute informational interviews. You are in the driver’s seat. Learn more about how your interactions with students can work around your schedule.

Happy Mentor Month!

January is National Mentoring Month, an opportunity to recognize the power of one-on-one relationships that help young people find and follow their passions, identify interesting career paths, and pursue their dreams. At the University of Georgia, we are celebrating all month with particular emphasis on these dates:

I am a UGA Mentor Day – January 7

On this day, we’ll celebrate the role UGA mentors play in empowering the leaders of tomorrow.

International Mentoring Day – January 15

Internationally, this day honors Muhammad Ali’s birthday (January 17) in recognition of his six principles (confidence, conviction, dedication, respect, giving and spirituality), which apply well to mentoring relationships. This year, we’ll celebrate on January 15 by acknowledging our international student mentees and the outstanding UGA mentors located around the globe.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service – January 18

MLK Day honors the memory of this great civil rights leader and elevates the spirit of service through volunteerism. If you have a mentee, this is a good day to reach out and share your volunteer experiences. Maybe you will bond over a cause in which you both believe.

I am a UGA Mentee Day – January 21

On this day, we’ll celebrate mentees. If you have a mentee or have had one in the past, take a moment to reach out to them and check in on how they are doing.

 

Stay updated on the UGA Mentor Program and follow along with National Mentor Month celebrations by following the UGA Mentor Program LinkedIn page or via the UGA Mentor Program Ambassadors’ Instagram account @ump_ambassadors.

 

ALSO HAPPENING IN JANUARY:

UGA Celebrates 60th Anniversary of Desegregation

Through a series of programs and events, the university will honor those who broke down barriers and transformed UGA beginning in 1961. Festivities will launch with a virtual program on January 9 and continue through February.

 

*Photo above taken prior to March 2020 and features UGA mentee Kevin Nwogu ’22 speaking with UGA mentor Raymond Phillips (BS ’12, MBA ’18).

A new year = a fresh chance to realize your career goals

The University of Georgia’s Alumni Career Services office is here to help you pursue your dreams with a slate of virtual events this spring.

Job Search Week – January 25-29

Kick off your job search with a week full of webinars with top career coaches, human resource professionals, and certified resume writers, experts in job search strategy that will teach you how to successfully and masterfully execute your job search. You must register for each day’s webinar individually.

Job Search Boot Camp

Jump start your job search with a free 4-week course for all UGA alumni. Tips and strategies in this course will help you understand what employers in today’s market are seeking. This course will improve your ability to communicate your top skills to employers and get hired.

Job Search Support Groups

Job searching takes time, energy, and requires a strong support network. Together, alumni can learn from each other, support one another, and focus on what matters during the job search process–along with the support of certified career coaches and resume writers leading each session. You must register for a specific month. Groups meet on Thursdays at noon ET. Registration is limited. 

Alumni Webinar Series

Check out the amazing webinar topics and speakers that UGA Alumni Career Services is offering this spring. From applying to graduate school to finding a meaningful career as an experienced professional – these topics are sure to help you on your professional journey.

Resume and LinkedIn Critiques

It’s never too late to enhance your resume and LinkedIn profile. Let a certified professional resume writer share how to improve your brand to get noticed by employers. Critiques will occur via Zoom and you will have 15 minutes to ask questions about your resume and/or LinkedIn profile. Critiques are scheduled in 15-minute increments one Monday a month from 10 am to noon ET. Registration is limited.

Virtual Career Fairs

While UGA Career Fairs are not targeted specifically for alumni, you may attend if you register far enough in advance. The registration process is a bit more involved for alumni, so please register at least two weeks out to allow enough time to complete the process.

 

UGA Alumni Association reveals 2021 Bulldog 100 businesses

LeaseQuery CEO George Azih speaks after his company was named the No. 1 fastest-growing business at the 2020 Bulldog 100 Celebration.

LeaseQuery CEO George Azih speaks after his company was named the No. 1 fastest-growing business at the 2020 Bulldog 100 Celebration on Feb. 8, 2020. LeaseQuery is one of several 2020 Bulldog 100 businesses to make the 2021 Bulldog 100 list.

The University of Georgia Alumni Association has unveiled the 2021 Bulldog 100, a list of the 100 fastest-growing businesses owned or operated by UGA alumni. UGA received 429 nominations for the 2021 list.

The 2021 Bulldog 100 celebrates organizations from over two dozen industries, including agriculture, construction, health care, nonprofits and software. Of the 100 businesses, 81 are located within the state of Georgia. In total, two countries and nine U.S. states are represented in this year’s Bulldog 100.

This year’s list of fastest-growing businesses, in alphabetical order, is as follows:

5Market Realty, Athens

Ad Victoriam Solutions, Alpharetta

ADD’s Personal Care Pharmacy, Bogart

Agora Vintage, Athens

American Tank Maintenance LLC, Warthen

Ansley Atlanta Real Estate, Atlanta

Applied Resource Group, Alpharetta

ASW Distillery, Atlanta

Backyard Escape Inc., Atlanta

Biren Patel Engineering, Macon

BlueBear Solutions Inc., Atlanta

Books for Keeps, Athens

Breda Pest Management, Loganville

BrightStar Care, Cumming

Buckhead Beans, Marietta

Builders Specialty Contractors, Boynton Beach, Florida

Cabo Luxury LLC, Las Vegas, Nevada

Calendly, Atlanta

Caplan Cobb LLP, Atlanta

Charlotte Lucas Interior Design, Charlotte, North Carolina

Chicken Salad Chick, Auburn, Alabama

Choice Media & Communications LLC, Franklin, Tennessee

Christopher’s Bridge Home Care, Watkinsville

Classic Overland, Macon

Consume Media, Norcross

Crawford and Boyle LLC, Monroe

Currie Design + Build, Roswell

DearthGalat LLC, Atlanta

Dental ClaimSupport, Savannah

DigitalCrafts, Atlanta

Eagle Christian Tours, Rome

Edwards & Hawkins LLC, Atlanta

Elinor H. Portivent, PC, Calhoun

Expert Technical Solutions, Atlanta

Fairway Insurance Group Inc., Acworth

FTM Travel, Brentwood, Tennessee

Globe Trotter Properties, Arlington, Virginia

Golden Isles Pharmacy, Brunswick

Greater Athens Properties, Athens

Grist Pallets, Tifton

Hager Design International Inc., Vancouver, British Columbia

Hardeman Hobson Waste Services LLC, Athens

Hardy’s Peanuts Inc., Hawkinsville

HatchWorks Technologies, Atlanta

Heather McElroy Real Estate, Athens

inBrain, Atlanta

Innovative Tax and Accounting Solutions LLC, Savannah

Irvin Retail Group of Marcus & Millichap, Atlanta

J&M Pool Company, Senoia

Jackrabbit Technologies, Huntersville, North Carolina

Kabbage, Atlanta

King’s Pharmacy Hayesville, Hayesville, North Carolina

Lamar Smith Homes, Richmond Hill

Langford Allergy, Macon

LeaseQuery, Atlanta

Liteworks Window & Door, Marietta

Litner + Deganian Personal Injury Firm, Atlanta

M. Jeffrey Martin, CPA, LLC, Saint Simons Island

MAB Corporate Advisors, Marietta

Maggie Griffin Design, Gainesville

Mark Spain Real Estate, Alpharetta

Marketwake, Atlanta

McNeal, Sports & Wilson Risk Advisers, Waycross

Meeting Street South, Sandy Springs

Merit Partners, Atlanta

Milestone Construction LLC, Athens

Millstone Homes Inc., Watkinsville

Moore Civil, Hawkinsville

Murray Osorio PLLC, Fairfax, Virginia

Nationwide Permitting Services, Mableton

Northern Lights Exteriors, Fort Lupton, Colorado

oneRepSALES, Athens

Park Place Outreach Youth Emergency Services, Savannah

PDI, Alpharetta

PeopleSuite, Mooresville, North Carolina

Puppy Haven, Sandy Springs

Rev Coffee Roasters, Smyrna

RGX LLC, Cornelius, North Carolina

Rheos Nautical Eyewear, Charleston, South Carolina

Roadie, Atlanta

SculptHouse, Atlanta

SFB IDEAS, Atlanta

Smith Planning Group, Watkinsville

Sole Boutique and Dish Boutique, Statesboro

Southern Baked Pie Company, Gainesville

Southern Belle Farm, McDonough

Southern Straws Cheese Straws, Columbus

Surcheros Fresh Mex, Douglas

Svaha USA, Chantilly, Virginia

The Barnes Law Office LLC, Atlanta

The Brogdon Firm LLC, Atlanta

The Brokery, Forsyth

The Hipster Hound, Savannah

The Keller Group, PA, Seneca, South Carolina

The Sign Brothers, Bogart

TRUE Automotive, Lawrenceville

Two Maids & A Mop, Birmingham, Alabama

W&A Engineering, Athens

Womack Custom Homes, Cartersville

This year’s list does not reflect the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on businesses. Each year, Bulldog 100 applicants are measured by their business’s compounded annual growth rate during a three-year period. The 2021 Bulldog 100 list is based on submitted financial information for 2017-19. The Atlanta office of Warren Averett CPAs and Advisors, a Bulldog 100 partner since the program began in 2009, verified the information submitted by each company.

The UGA Alumni Association will host the annual Bulldog 100 Celebration virtually Feb. 11, 2021, to celebrate these alumni business leaders and count down the ranked list to ultimately reveal the No. 1 fastest-growing business.

“These alumni demonstrate the incredible value of a degree from UGA and we are committed to continuing the tradition of recognizing their achievements and connecting them with current students, who will become the next generation of entrepreneurs,” said Meredith Gurley Johnson, executive director of the UGA Alumni Association. “These leaders inspire us by bringing better solutions and building stronger communities, so we will ensure they are celebrated even as necessity requires this to be done virtually.”

UGA alumni at The Home Depot come together to endow scholarship

The University of Georgia Corporate Alumni Chapter at The Home Depot is composed of a group of alumni who are very proud of their Bulldog roots. Beyond their fond memories at UGA, they have a collective, deep-seated belief that their education at the University of Georgia was instrumental in getting them to where they are today 

With that in mind, in 2017, they decided to embark on an ambitious project of creating an endowed need-based scholarship to open doors and remove barriers for students who wanted to attend UGA. 

“For many, college is financially out of reach. They never get to experience a Thursday night in Athens, collegiate friendships that stand the test of time, or the feeling of accomplishment come graduation day,” said Wes Neece (BBA ’00) Vice President of Merchandising at The Home Depot“It was important to me to join in this initiative with my fellow alumni colleagues to give a worthy individual a lifetime of experiences.” 

The collective fundraising effort spanned three years. During this time, the Chapter hosted lunch and learn events featuring UGA faculty and staff speakers and breakfast meet-and-greets to encourage alumni givingIn support of its employees, The Home Depot Foundation matched the gifts these alumni made 

Home depot logo with UGA swag

In 2020, their hard work paid off: The Chapter met their goal to create an endowed need-based scholarshipIn total, 75 alumni came together to create this opportunity for UGA students. A deserving scholar was selected in Fall 2020. The Home Depot Alumni Chapter Scholarship will last in perpetuity, helping students become part of the Bulldog family.  

Although they met their goal, these Bulldog alums didn’t stop there. Chapter members are continuing to add to the scholarship fund by giving their annual gift to UGA through The Home Depot Alumni Chapter Scholarship, in order to increase its impact for the student recipients.  

“It was incredibly heartwarming to watch The Home Depot’s Corporate Alumni Chapter set a goal to help a current Bulldog in need and continue to work towards the finish line until they not only met that goal but surpassed it,” said Stacy Stanford, Director of Corporate Relations at UGA. Their generosity as an alumni corporate chapter is inspiring. 

Helping Bulldogs feel a little less alone through art

Thanks to Hillary Brown (AB ’00, MA ’10), director of communications for the Georgia Museum of Art, for this guest blog. All images provided by the Georgia Museum of Art.

The Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia usually hosts tens of thousands of visitors a year with tours and programs, but that’s not possible at the moment. With COVID-19 keeping people in their homes, the museum’s staff, many of whom are UGA alumni, saw an opportunity to serve an even wider audience than usual, bringing programming to visitors rather than the other way around and helping Bulldogs feel a little less alone through art.

Online Exhibitions

The museum worked with Athens firm The Adsmith [owned by Kirk Smith (BFA ’85)] to put existing and upcoming exhibitions online, incorporating 360-degree views of galleries where art was installed. Although these exhibitions do not have the same effect as wandering the galleries in person, they can also stay up indefinitely, reaching a larger group of visitors. The annual master of fine arts degree candidates’ exhibition for the Lamar Dodd School of Art, a tradition dating back decades, was reconfigured into an online format that allowed for greater flexibility and gave graduating students a way to show their work.

The exhibition “Louis Comfort Tiffany: Treasures from the Driehaus Collection” was only partway through its scheduled run and many people were disappointed to have missed the opportunity to see it. The Richard H. Driehaus Museum allowed the Georgia Museum of Art to use the files from its Acoustiguide tour to create a virtual tour of the show, available on YouTube through May 10.

Other exhibitions available online include “The Monsters Are Due on Broad Street: Patrick Dean” (BFA ’97), “Drama and Devotion in Baroque Rome” and “Rediscovering the Art of Victoria Hutson Huntley,” with more to come soon.

Yoga in the Galleries

Shannon Ball (BSED ’96), co-owner of Five Points Yoga, leads “Yoga in the Galleries” via Zoom.

Online Education Opportunities

The museum’s education staff [Callan Steinmann (AB ’07, PHD ’17), Sage Kincaid (AB ’05, PHD ’22), Emily Hogrefe-Ribeiro (PHD ’22) and Madison Hogan (AB ’18)] has been traveling to the building once a week to stream Yoga in the Galleries and Morning Mindfulness programs via Zoom (while maintaining a safe distance from the instructors teaching those courses!). Presenting them online has doubled the number of visitors participating.

A four-part art class on introductory printmaking techniques also moved to Zoom, allowing the museum to teach new skills and pay local artist Brian Hitselberger (MFA ’10) for his time teaching. Curators have recorded mini tours in the galleries to replace the museum’s usual weekly tour every Tuesday at 2 p.m., and, when possible, planned lectures are being recorded and put online. YouTube’s subtitles and the now-asynchronous format of these programs also increase their accessibility.

Step-by-step images of the creation of styrofoam plate art,

Art at Home: Styrofoam Plate Cityscapes project in conjunction with the exhibition “Rediscovering the Art of Victoria Hutson Huntley.”

Online Programs and Events

Many of the new and revised programs point the way forward to better ways of reaching audiences, such as the museum’s new Art at Home page, which includes simple art projects that can be made with easy-to-find materials. The museum already had downloadable teacher packets on its website, with activities and suggested lesson plans keyed to Georgia Performance Standards in art, language arts, history, science, math, engineering and other disciplines.

Family Day, one of the museum’s most popular programs, has moved online, too, with Art at Home activities and kits that can be ordered for free from Athens’ K.A. Artist Shop, sponsored by Heyward Allen Toyota, Heyward Allen Motor Company and the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art. The Museum Shop is still fulfilling orders for books, including many of the ones associated with the Tiffany exhibition, and the museum’s blog is updating more often than its usual weekly schedule. Crosswords with the hashtag #museumgames post weekly, and you can find a Daily Inspiration on Instagram Monday through Friday. Weekends bring close-looking activities with interactive components through Instagram Stories. No matter the program, the museum is working on ways to bring it to you and help us all find a window through art.

Donating to the Community

Staff members also went through museum materials, donating personal protective equipment to organizations in need and assembling art kits for Clarke County School District (CCSD) students that could be picked up at CCSD meal-distribution sites. Work continues behind the scenes as well, with preparators framing and unframing art and working to schedule pickups and drop-offs, donations being processed as usual, registrars revising loan agreements and continuing to add objects to the museum’s online collections database (currently at more than 7,000 objects), curators working on reconfiguring the exhibition schedule and writing for upcoming shows, and all busily planning for the future while adapting on the fly.

The best way to keep up with what the museum is working on is to follow its accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Georgia Museum of Art receives large gift of “cutting-edge” contemporary art

This article was written by Hillary Brown and originally posted to UGA Today on March 5, 2020.

The Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia received a major gift from John and Sara Shlesinger consisting of 110 contemporary works of art valued at over $2.6 million from the Shlesingers’ personal collection, spanning a wide variety of artists and mediums.

A partial list of artists represented in the donation includes Damien Hirst, Daniel Arsham, Shannon Ebner, David Altjmed and Mike Kelley. According to William U. Eiland, director of the Georgia Museum of Art, this gift will fundamentally transform how the museum operates.

“This gift from Sara and John Shlesinger to the Georgia Museum of Art is certainly a quantitative change for our collection, but most important, it is a qualitative one,” said Eiland. “It gives us the means not only to teach and to exhibit the cutting-edge art of the past 25 years, but also allows us to help students and our general audiences to find, to understand and to step beyond that edge. Overnight, due to their generosity, we are able to extend our collection planning and augment our ability to teach in an age when visual-arts education has become more and more necessary.”

Sara Shlesinger grew up surrounded by realist and impressionist art and studied art history abroad, earning a bachelor’s in fine arts from Brandeis University. Meanwhile, John—a 1983 UGA master’s of business administration graduate—knew little about art before marrying Sara, but collected local contemporary art. Interested in starting a collection together and curious about the contemporary art world, they traveled and visited galleries and museums.

In 1997, they decided to purchase an early spin painting by Damien Hirst—now a part of the gift to the museum. The couple first focused on Young British Artists, amassing works by Hirst, Gary Hume, Sarah Morris and Gavin Turk. They then expanded their vision, developing relationships with gallerists, dealers and the artists themselves in order to fully understand and appreciate the art they collect.

After 23 years, the couple have amassed a collection of several hundred works by emerging and established contemporary artists from around the world. Most recently, the Shlesingers acquired works by Katharine Fritsch, Nathaniel Mary Quinn and Atlanta’s own Shanequa Gay.

Chen Yi, “Naomi Wang’s Anniversary,” 2006. Part of The John and Sara Shlesinger Collection

Chen Yi, “Naomi Wang’s Anniversary,” 2006.

Gabriela Palmieri, former vice chair of Sotheby’s North America and now an independent art consultant, has worked with the Shlesingers for years. Palmieri says she can think of almost no other collectors who approach art in the way the Shlesingers do, citing their tendency to take risks and the fact that they buy works because they love them and want to live with them, not as part of an investment portfolio.

“Their tendency to collect works from across an artist’s lifetime will allow UGA students to see the trajectories of different careers. That’s unusual even among people who collect contemporary work,” said Palmieri. “Their desire to educate and instruct was a driving factor in this gift.”

For example, she points to their purchase of one of Damien Hirst’s early spin paintings the year it was made. Created using a mechanism that rotates the canvas and leaving much to the power of chance, these works were a new approach to painting, almost removing the hand of the artist.

In celebration of the donation, the museum plans to have a small exhibition this summer with a larger one to follow that will introduce visitors to the works provided by the Shlesingers.

John Shlesinger is a vice chairman at CBRE, a publicly traded, global commercial real estate firm, and serves on the boards of the Atlanta History Center, Oakland Cemetery and Tech Square Ventures. He was previously a member of UGA’s Board of Visitors and the board of the High Museum of Art.

Sara Shlesinger is a community leader on both a local and national basis. She is a board member at Emory University’s Michael C. Carlos Museum and is on the advisory board for Art 21. Sara has served on the selection committee for the Venice Biennale and on MoMA’s Modern Women’s Fund Committee. In Atlanta, she was on the founding board for the Children’s Museum and is currently involved with various organizations and working in the art world.

UGA achieves career outcomes rate of 95%+ for fifth year running

University of Georgia Class of 2019 graduates are employed or attending graduate school within six months at a rate of 95 percent—eight percent higher than the national average.

Regarding these 2019 UGA graduates:

  • 66 percent were employed full time;
  • 19 percent were attending graduate school; and
  • Approximately 10 percent engaged in post-graduation internships, fellowships, residencies, postdoctoral research, part-time jobs, or have reported their status as entrepreneurs.

“Students continue to excel in their post-graduate endeavors as UGA’s career outcomes rate has been 95 percent or above over the past five years,” said Scott Williams, executive director of the UGA Career Center. “This extraordinary level of consistency demonstrates that our students’ strong academic performance is supported through career readiness skills development and complemented by experiential learning.”

UGA graduates are now making an impact in positions across all sectors of the economy from business to government, nonprofit to education. Over 3,000 unique employers hired UGA graduates. Top employers for the Class of 2019 include Emory Healthcare, Delta Air Lines, The Home Depot and NCR Corporation.

Of those full-time professionals, 60 percent were employed before graduation and 98 percent were hired within six months of graduation.

“Internships that I secured through UGA’s job board, Handshake, provided me with hands-on experience to see that I actually enjoy sales.” said Erin Orem, a May 2019 graduate. “I was able to confidently speak about my internships at the UGA Career Fair, where I met my current employer, TTI. Using UGA Career Center resources, I began preparing for my job search in my freshman year, so I never stressed about finding a job!”

71 percent, nearly three-quarters of the Class of 2019 graduates working full-time, accepted employment within the state of Georgia. Graduates landed in all 50 states and in 43 countries in the six months after graduation, with top out-of-state destinations spanning the country and including major metropolitan areas such as Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C.

The 19 percent of graduates who are furthering their education have chosen top graduate or professional schools including Duke University, University of Pennsylvania, Emory University and the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University.

The UGA Career Center calculates the career outcomes rate each January by leveraging information from surveys, phone calls, employer reporting, UGA departmental collaboration, LinkedIn, and the National Student Clearinghouse. The preceding data is based on the known career outcomes of 8,289 graduates from the Class of 2019.

Check out a video and infographics highlighting the Class of 2019 career outcomes.

Image provided by University of Georgia Marketing and Communications/Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker