UGA News

UGA Class of 2021 achieves 92 percent career outcomes rate

Ninety-two percent of the University of Georgia Class of 2021 are employed, attending grad school or engaged in post-grad internships, all within six months of graduation, according to career outcomes data released by the UGA Career Center. The information includes undergraduate, graduate and professional students who earned degrees between August 2020 and May 2021.

Specifically, among 2021 UGA graduates, 63 percent reported being employed full time; 20 percent were attending graduate school; and 9 percent were engaged in post-graduate internships, fellowships, residencies, postdoctoral research, part-time jobs, reported their status as entrepreneurs or said they were not seeking employment.

“UGA students are exceptionally talented and possess not only the technical skills, but also key career readiness skills that employers are seeking. This includes leadership, teamwork, critical thinking and professionalism,” said Scott Williams, executive director of the UGA Career Center. “Furthermore, our university community is becoming more involved in helping students achieve their career goals, evidenced by the over 1,200 faculty and staff who were nominated and identified by students via UGA’s Career Outcomes Survey as individuals who greatly influenced their career development and decision making.”

A total of 2,950 unique employers hired graduates from UGA’s Class of 2021. Of the graduates working full time, they reported working across all sectors of the economy, including:

  • Business – 73 percent
  • Education – 17 percent
  • Government – 6 percent
  • Nonprofit – 4 percent

Top employers for the Class of 2021 include AT&T, Cox Communications, General Motors, State Farm Insurance and Wells Fargo & Company.

Of those graduates employed full time, 61 percent said they secured employment prior to graduation and 99 percent were hired within six months of graduation.

Following time off for travel, December 2021 graduate Merryn Ruthling will work as a SHINE marketing associate at Deloitte (a Top 25 Employer for the Class of 2021). She credits the UGA Career Center as the number one reason she landed this role. She met with her UGA career consultant to practice interviews, build a portfolio, create targeted resumes and cover letters and, finally, for tips on salary negotiations. Ruthling first visited the Career Center as an incoming freshman.

“Meeting with various career consultants helped me learn that getting a job is a combination of who you know, your experiences and what you study–not just what you majored in,” she said.

UGA welcomes and prepares students from around the world, but as a land- and sea-grant institution, it places great emphasis on ensuring the state of Georgia has a strong pipeline of leaders across all industries. Of the Class of 2021, 71 percent accepted jobs within the state of Georgia. The other 29 percent secured positions across 48 states and 21 countries. Some out-of-state destinations include Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, New York City, and Washington, D.C.

The 20 percent of 2021 graduates furthering their education have enrolled in top schools, including Columbia University, Duke University, Emory University, Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University, the University of Virginia and, of course, UGA.

For example, Lizy Hoepfinger, a December 2021 UGA graduate, chose to continue her education rather than entering the workforce following graduation.

“Using resources provided by the UGA Career Center, I determined what kind of job I want; from there I realized that going to grad school was the best next step for me,” she said.

Hoepfinger began a Master of Science in Artificial Intelligence at UGA and plans to pursue a career with an innovative tech company upon completion of her degree.

The UGA Career Center calculates the career outcomes rate each January by collecting information from surveys, phone calls, employer reporting, UGA departments, LinkedIn and the National Student Clearinghouse. The preceding data is based on the known career outcomes of 7,618 graduates from the Class of 2021.

UGA Class of 2021 sets new Senior Signature participation record

The University of Georgia Class of 2021 set a Senior Signature record with 3,009 students making a gift to the university prior to graduation. This is the fifth consecutive year that the graduating class broke the preceding class’s participation record and the highest donor count in the program’s 30-year history.

Students are asked to contribute to UGA through the Senior Signature program during their final year on campus. In appreciation for giving back to the university, students’ names are included on a plaque in Tate Plaza in the heart of campus.

“This record is a true sign of the senior class’s Bulldog tenacity,” said Kevin Nwogu, Student Alumni Council president-elect who also helped lead this year’s campaign. “They managed challenges presented by the pandemic alongside preparing for graduation—and still made room to give back to their soon-to-be alma mater.”

Senior Signature allows students to select any fund on campus to receive a portion of their gift—and students often select a program or department that enhanced their college experience. This year’s minimum donation was $30 in honor of Senior Signature’s 30th anniversary.

This year, the Student Alumni Council, which educates the student body on how philanthropy at UGA improves lives, launched a new component to Senior Signature in which donors to the program vote on a student organization to receive a grant from the Senior Signature endowed fund. The hope is that this new initiative will build a ‘philanthropic cycle’ in which students donate, direct and receive funds—building an understanding of the power of private support at universities like UGA.

Senior Signature was established in 1991. Since then, more than 40,000 students have donated to UGA through the program—their names still visible on the plaques in Tate Plaza.

Learn more about Senior Signature at alumni.uga.edu/seniorsignature.

UGA Class of 2020 achieves 91% career outcomes rate despite pandemic

Of University of Georgia Class of 2020 graduates, 91% were employed or attending graduate school within six months of graduation, according to career outcomes data released by the UGA Career Center. The Class of 2020 data includes undergraduate, graduate, and professional students who earned degrees between August 2019 and May 2020.

Regarding 2020 UGA graduates:

  • 61% were employed full time.
  • 22% were attending graduate school.
  • 8% were engaged in post-graduation internships, fellowships, residencies, postdoctoral research, part-time jobs, reported their status as entrepreneurs or were not seeking employment.

“The impact of COVID-19 on the job market has been significant with fewer job opportunities, postponed or rescinded job offers, and more students altering plans to attend graduate school,” said Scott Williams, executive director of the UGA Career Center. “Overcoming all of these challenges reflects the tenacity, determination and resilience of the Class of 2020.”

Of those who reported full-time employment, 40% cited the UGA Career Center as the most effective resource used during their job search. Another 29% credited experiential learning for helping them find employment, indicating the university-wide experiential learning requirement is boosting career preparation. The requirement took effect in fall 2016, making the Class of 2020 the first graduating class for which every undergraduate student was required to have at least one significant hands-on learning experience.

Graduates from UGA’s Class of 2020 were hired by 2,880 unique employers and are working full time across all sectors of the economy, from business (72% of graduates working full time) to education (17%), government (6%) and nonprofit (5%). Top employers for the Class of 2020 include Amazon, Bank of America, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Deloitte and The Home Depot.

Of graduates employed full time, 59% secured employment prior to graduation and 99% were hired within six months of graduation.

“Despite the last few months of my college career being spent in a virtual environment, the UGA Career Center made every effort to provide the Class of 2020 with the resources we needed enter the ‘real world’ in these unprecedented times,” said Jyoti Makhijani, a May 2020 graduate who earned a degree in marketing.

When Makhijani’s start date with Big Four accounting firm KPMG was delayed from July to November as a result of the pandemic, she continued to lean on the UGA Career Center, which offers programming for both students and alumni.

“During these months of uncertainty, I continued networking through virtual Arch Ready sessions,” Makhijani said. “I remember attending a budgeting and money management Arch Ready presentation as an alumna and thinking how much I appreciate that the UGA Career Center is there for students and alumni every step of the way.”

Nearly three-quarters of Class of 2020 graduates working full time accepted employment within the state of Georgia. Graduates landed in 48 U.S. states and 33 countries in the six months after graduation, with top out-of-state destinations spanning the country and including major metropolitan areas such as Boston, Chicago, New York City and Washington, D.C.

The Class of 2020 data showed an increase in students who chose to pursue additional education, up three percentage points from the Class of 2019, amid uncertain economic conditions. The 22% of 2020 graduates furthering their education have enrolled in top graduate or professional schools including Columbia University, Duke University, Emory University, Georgetown University, Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University and Vanderbilt 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 8,581 graduates from the Class of 2020.

For more information on how the Class of 2020 overcame the pandemic and its economic effects, visit career.uga.edu/outcomes.

To learn about hiring UGA graduates, visit career.uga.edu/hireuga.

Isakson gift caps $4.5 million fundraising effort for Parkinson’s research chair

The University of Georgia’s campaign to create the John H. “Johnny” Isakson Chair for Parkinson’s Research and Georgia Research Alliance (GRA) Eminent Scholar position reached its goal of $4.5 million in private commitments, and the final contributor was the former U.S. Senator for whom the chair is named.

“We are deeply honored that Senator Isakson (BBA ’66) has made this commitment to the university. His decades of service to our state and nation and his support of UGA and higher education inspired this entire effort,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “We also are very grateful for the generous gifts from additional individuals and organizations that are supporting this endowed position.”

The Isakson Chair and GRA Eminent Scholar position will help UGA attract a leading authority on brain disorders—with an emphasis on Parkinson’s, with which Isakson was diagnosed in 2015—to engage in teaching, research and public service. Fundraising for the chair attracted a variety of donors including individuals, businesses, foundations and more.

“I’m very proud to play a part in this effort,” said Isakson. “Of course, I’m honored that this position would carry my name, but more than anything, I am glad to see so many willing to give so much for this important cause. My deepest gratitude goes out to everyone who gave.”

A major supporter of the Isakson Chair and GRA Eminent Scholar position is the Georgia Research Alliance. GRA grows Georgia’s economy by expanding university research capacity and seeding and shaping startup companies around inventions and discoveries. UGA currently has 18 GRA Eminent Scholars on faculty, and a 19th is set to join the university in fall 2021.

The Isakson Chair and GRA Eminent Scholar will also be the director of UGA’s forthcoming Center for Brain Science and Neurological Disorders. Fundraising efforts are underway for the center, which will leverage UGA’s broad, comprehensive strengths to create an interdisciplinary program that will expand opportunities for collaborative and innovative solutions.

“I think the supporters of both the Isakson Chair and GRA Eminent Scholar and this new center understand the unique position UGA occupies and the potential for great work that comes with that,” said Kelly Kerner, vice president for development and alumni relations. “It’s very exciting, seeing these things come together and knowing that all the great work to come will honor a great man.”

Johnny Isakson

Isakson graduated from UGA in 1966 with a Bachelor of Business Administration in real estate. He met his future wife, Dianne, while both were UGA students, and they married in 1968. The year prior, he began working for Atlanta real estate firm Northside Realty, eventually serving as its president from 1979 to 1999.

His political career began in 1976, when he was elected to the first of seven terms in the Georgia House of Representatives. He was Republican minority leader in the Georgia House from 1983 to 1990. In 1993, he was elected to the Georgia State Senate, serving there until he was appointed chair of the state Board of Education by Gov. Zell Miller in 1996.

Isakson was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1999 and served as a U.S. representative until he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004. He was reelected to the U.S. Senate in 2010 and 2016. Among his duties in the U.S. Senate, he served as chair of the Committee on Veterans Affairs and chair of the Select Committee on Ethics.

After his 2015 diagnosis with Parkinson’s, Isakson continued to work in public service until his health compelled him to resign from the Senate on Dec. 31, 2019. In 2017, Isakson received the Fox Foundation’s Parkinson’s Advocacy Award for his work to improve the lives of people living with the disease and for his advocacy in funding new treatments.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stafford, Smart endow new social justice program for UGA Athletics

This story was originally published on the University of Georgia Athletics site on August 14, 2020.

The University of Georgia Athletic Association has launched an ambitious program that seeks to implement strategic initiatives in the areas of diversity, inclusion, equity and social justice, according to an announcement Friday by UGA J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Greg McGarity.

To fund the cost of the initiative in perpetuity, initial significant gifts totaling $500,000 have been made by former UGA quarterback Matthew Stafford and his wife Kelly ($350,000) and current Bulldog head coach Kirby Smart and his wife Mary Beth ($150,000). These commitments are part of larger gifts made by both the Staffords and Smarts, the specifics of which will be forthcoming as they are finalized.

“The generosity of Matthew and Coach Smart allows the Athletic Association to implement strategic initiatives in diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice,” said McGarity.  “These gifts will help the Athletic Association educate, implement dynamic programming, and execute service opportunities to achieve our goals, those being to foster critical consciousness, cultural competence and further developing change within the Athletic Association and our greater community.”

“I am grateful to Matthew Stafford and Coach Kirby Smart for their generous gifts to fund this important initiative and am excited about the opportunity the program presents for us to promote an inclusive culture among our student-athletes, coaches, and staff,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead.

The primary goal of this program is to continue developing an environment that will effect meaningful change in these areas for all the Association’s members, including student-athletes, coaches and staff.

“The Athletic Association remains committed to leading a sustained dialogue on diversity, inclusion and innovation in what continues to be historic times for our nation,” said Matt Borman,  Deputy Athletic Director for Development.  “The significant gifts from Matthew and Coach Smart will allow the Athletic Association to apply important initiatives in these critical areas. We have exceptional student-athletes, staff, and community leaders who will help us inspire, motivate, and stimulate meaningful action moving forward in this effort.”

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.

The Delta Air Lines Foundation commits $5 million to UGA Innovation District, Engineering

The University of Georgia will take a major step forward in its Innovation District initiative and enhance the College of Engineering, thanks to a $5 million gift from The Delta Air Lines Foundation.

The Innovation District initiative brings together people, programs and places to foster innovation, entrepreneurship and experiential learning at the University of Georgia. The first step of the initiative established Studio 225, the home of UGA’s thriving Student Center for Entrepreneurship, and The Delta Foundation’s gift catalyzes the next step to grow research commercialization and university-industry collaboration.

“I want to express my deepest appreciation to our loyal friends at The Delta Air Lines Foundation for their ongoing and generous support of the University of Georgia,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “This gift will help us prepare our students to be successful leaders in the knowledge economy while enabling the research discoveries of our faculty to make the greatest impact on society.”

The gift includes $2.5 million to renovate the Spring Street Building, located just off Broad Street in Athens’ downtown area. The facility will provide flexible workspace, conference rooms and presentation areas to support faculty startup companies and enable students and industry partners to collaborate on company-based research and development projects.

“The Delta Air Lines Foundation is pleased to support the University of Georgia Foundation with a grant to promote innovation and entrepreneurship, and foster leadership in collaboration, design and development,” said Tad Hutcheson, senior vice president of The Delta Air Lines Foundation.

The Office of University Experiential Learning will receive $1 million from The Delta Foundation’s gift to launch the Student Industry Fellows Program. Students who participate in this program will complete training to develop innovation competencies, serve as campus ambassadors for the Innovation District and work alongside industry partners to solve real-world business challenges.

The remaining $1.5 million of The Delta Foundation’s gift will support the Student Success Center at Driftmier Engineering Center, home to the UGA College of Engineering. This center will provide space for academic advising, student support offices and experiential learning by way of spaces devoted to team projects and collaboration between students, faculty and industry partners.

The Student Success Center will also house the Emerging Engineers Leadership Development program (EELD). EELD was designed in partnership with the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development to provide undergraduate engineering majors with an opportunity to explore and cultivate leadership skills necessary for success as a professional.

This is the latest in a long line of significant contributions to UGA from The Delta Air Lines Foundation. Alongside this $5 million commitment, The Delta Foundation has pledged another $2.5 million to support UGA Athletics. In 2015, The Delta Foundation committed $5 million to the construction of the UGA Washington Semester Program’s residential facility, Delta Hall. The Willson Center for Humanities & Arts established the Delta Visiting Chair for Global Understanding thanks to an $800,000 gift in 1997. In recognition of The Delta Foundation’s many gifts and the long-standing relationship between the university and Delta, the airline received the 2018 Friend of UGA Alumni Award.

The Delta Air Lines Foundation’s gift is a significant step in enhancing the learning environment at UGA, a priority of the university’s Commit to Georgia Campaign, a record-breaking fundraising campaign that began in 2012 and will end in June. The campaign surpassed its $1.2 billion goal in 2019 and is now the most successful fundraising effort in UGA history.

Founding SPIA dean receives President’s Medal

This story was written by Sara Freeland and was originally posted to UGA Today on January 13, 2020. 

The University of Georgia will bestow one of its highest honors to Thomas P. Lauth, the founding dean of the School of Public and International Affairs, during Founders Day activities on Jan. 15.

The President’s Medal recognizes extraordinary contributions of individuals who are not current employees of UGA and who have supported students and academic programs, advanced research and inspired community leaders to enhance the quality of life of citizens in Georgia.

“Dr. Lauth provided wise counsel to me and to many others at the institutional level and helped build the reputation of the School of Public and International Affairs at UGA. He guided a new school exceptionally well and provided many years of outstanding service as a dean and faculty member,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “I look forward to honoring him for his service to UGA, the Athens community and our state and nation.”

A professor emeritus of public administration and policy, Lauth retired from UGA in 2013. He was a faculty member at UGA from 1981 to 2013, serving as head of the department of political science from 1988 to 2001 before becoming dean.

Under Lauth’s leadership, SPIA quickly gained a reputation for excellence with world-renowned faculty, two research centers, multiple study abroad programs and highly successful students and alumni. Its public affairs graduate program was ranked third in the nation and first among public universities.

An outstanding scholar and educator, Lauth taught courses, delivered lectures and presented papers in China, Korea, Taiwan and Ukraine. He is the author or co-author of more than 50 peer reviewed journal articles and invited book chapters. During his years as an active faculty member, he directed 30 Ph.D. dissertations. In 2010, he delivered the 100th Anniversary Graduate Commencement Address at UGA.

Lauth is an elected fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration and the recipient of a lifetime scholarly achievement award from the Association for Budgeting and Financial Management. He was elected president of the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration and was appointed to the U.S. Comptroller General’s Educators’ Advisory Panel, advising the Comptroller General on the top fiscal challenges facing the nation.

Since his retirement, Lauth has continued to contribute to the academic culture of UGA as an Emeriti Scholar. He also served as president of the UGA Retirees Association and as UGA’s representative to the University System of Georgia Retiree Council.

Among his contributions to the local community, Lauth represented District 7 on the Athens-Clarke County Citizens Advisory Committee that reviewed all Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) 2020 projects.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in government from the University of Notre Dame and his doctorate in political science from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.

Founders Week

The President’s Medal ceremony is part of Founders Week, when UGA observes its anniversary as the birthplace of public higher education in America.

The Founders Day Lecture will be held Jan. 15 at 1:30 p.m. in the Chapel and is open to the public. William Eiland, director of the Georgia Museum of Art, will speak on “Colonization and Its Discontents.”

The Founders Day Lecture is traditionally held on or near the date the university was established: Jan. 27. On this day in 1785, the Georgia General Assembly adopted a charter establishing the University of Georgia as the first institution of public higher education in America.

The lecture is sponsored by the Office of the President, the Alumni Association and the Emeriti Scholars, a group of retired faculty members known for their teaching abilities who continue to enhance the university’s academic endeavors through part-time teaching, research and service assignments.

Hurricane Dorian

Hurricanes in Georgia: what you need to know from Dr. Marshall Shepherd

As hurricane season approaches its peak and storms are forming, we wanted to learn more about what to expect this year, how to prepare and what the future looks like for hurricane forecasting. For these pressing questions, we turned to Dr. Marshall Shepherd, who is director of the UGA Atmospheric Sciences program, the Georgia Athletic Association Distinguished Professor of Geography and Atmospheric Sciences, a Forbes contributor, the host of Weather Geeks on The Weather Channel, and the former president of the American Meteorological Society. Let’s just say he’s a big deal when it comes to weather and climate.

Marshall Shepherd

What does a typical hurricane season look like in Georgia?

We have not had an actual land-falling hurricane in over a hundred or so years, and interestingly, it’s because the coast of Georgia sort of aligns in such a way that there’s something in the Atlantic ocean called the Bermuda High, a large high pressure system. Because of the way the air circulates around that high pressure system in the northern hemisphere is a clockwise circulation, it means when those hurricanes are coming out of the tropics, they tend to end up on the left side of that high, and so they’re already starting to curve and head northward, so they don’t really sort of move into the coast. 

So I would say for hurricane seasons here in Georgia, although our coast can certainly be impacted by a land-falling storm, it is unlikely because of that curvature. However, as we saw in 2018 with Hurricane Michael and we’ve seen in the past with storms like Tropical Storm Alberto and even with Irma, it is possible. Hurricane season for Georgia is two-faceted: one in the sense that we theoretically can get land-falling hurricanes on our coast but we rarely do because of the curvature, and secondly, we often can get storms that move into our state once they make landfall elsewhere.

Hurricane Michael and Irma are good examples of that, and they also illustrate something that I always try to convey about hurricane impacts, which is that we shouldn’t get too fixated on category all the time, because the impacts associated with a storm like an Irma or a Michael can certainly impact us in Georgia.

Often hurricanes are downgraded to tropical storms by the time they get to Athens. What are the main threats that impact Athens in hurricane season?

With storms that are going to impact us in north and central Georgia, we’re typically going to see lots of rainfall. Even though the storm is weakened from a hurricane, as we saw with Irma or Michael, it still can have tropical storm force winds, which, coupled with rainfall, can be a hazard for falling trees, causing power outages. When storms make landfall in the panhandle of Florida, we can experience tornadoes in the outer rain bands as those bands spiral out to land. The worst impacts of a land-falling hurricane tend to be on the right-front quadrant of the storm, and so that’s where the worst storm surge is on the coast, but it’s also where you get the strongest winds and where you’re most likely to have those spin-up tornadoes.

Hurricane Dorian

What are some of the precautions Georgians can take to prepare for hurricane season?

Hurricane season for Athens is probably going to be rainfall, wind and loss of power, and so it’s important to prepare the way you would for any storm where you might lose power. Some things to have on hand:

  • Extra batteries
  • Your cell phone and extra charging capacity
  • Nonperishable food items in case you can’t cook for a while.

Before a storm arrives, remove items from your deck or outside your home that could become projectiles in 50 or 60 mile-per-hour winds. I recommend keeping an eye out for large trees around the home, because when you have a lot of rain and wind, those things can fall.

Editor note: UGA Extension reminds Georgians to put more than milk and bread in emergency food supply.

When does hurricane season begin for Georgia?

Typically, August tends to be like the first hill on a roller coaster. We can certainly get a very active season once we get into September and October. In August, the formation point for hurricanes tends to shift more to the western Caribbean, but by September we’re getting to what we call the Cape Verde hurricane season. We start getting waves coming off of the African coastline and some of them, if the conditions are favorable, can develop. [As of late August], the busiest part of the season still looms ahead of us.

What factors influence how active each hurricane season is in Georgia?

Various things. For example, if we’re in an El Nino, which we were for much of the past year, that can tend to lessen hurricane activity in the Atlantic Ocean and the Atlantic Basin because it brings the jet stream too far south and hurricanes don’t like a lot of wind shear. During La Nina, it tends to be the opposite because the jet stream stays to the north. So those are the background factors. We always start by looking to see if we’re in a La Nina, El Nino or a neutral year. I think we’re trending from a weak El Nino to somewhat of a neutral situation, which is perhaps why some experts have upped their estimations for this year’s activity.

Another factor for the Atlantic hurricane season that’s actually quite impactful right now is that there’s a lot of Saharan dust coming off Africa, and that dust actually can inhibit the formation of these waves. If you look at satellite images, there’s quite a bit of dust over the Atlantic ocean. Other than that, you just need warm water and not a lot of wind shear in the atmosphere, so if you can get all of those conditions and you can get these things to develop, then you can certainly get more active hurricanes. 

Now what determines where they go is dependent on the center of that high pressure system that I mentioned. If that thing is further out towards Europe, then as they start curving around, they’re going to curve out to sea. If that high is closer to the United States, then it’s more likely that they’ll curve and affect Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. So we’re always looking for the location of that semi-permanent high pressure system.

What kinds of research is UGA doing regarding hurricanes?

There’s research being conducted in various places across campus, including our Atmospheric Sciences program. My research group’s work is funded by NASA and is focused on the Brown Ocean Effect. It’s this notion that sometimes hurricanes, when they make landfall, don’t weaken as we expect, and they can maintain their strength or intensify if the soil is moist or it moves over a swamp or wet land mass. I have a group looking at that with a sophisticated mass of models; it’s really interesting hurricane and tropical cyclone work.

There’s interesting research out of the Skidaway Institute for Oceanography about these robotic drones, and they can plunge deep into the water and measure water temperature, salinity and some other things. That’s huge, because we often hear about hurricanes and the sea surface temperature, but it’s really the depth of the warm water, something we call the ocean heat content, so these drones allow us to learn about the structure of that deep water. One of the things that happens as hurricanes come along and tap into that warm water is they churn up water, and often they churn up cold water, which self-limits development. But if it’s churning up warm water, that’s still sufficient to support hurricanes. We’re pretty good with hurricane track forecasts, but hurricane intensity forecasts lag behind, and part of the reason is we lack the understanding of what’s going on in the deep ocean water, so I think that research by the University of Georgia is game-changing.

Is there anything else Georgians should know about hurricane season?

There’s a lot of fake information about weather out there on social media, so I would recommend people follow credible sources of information about weather. The first place I start is the National Hurricane Center.

Thank you to Dr. Shepherd for taking the time to share this information with us, especially as Hurricane Dorian threatens the Southeast in the coming days. Be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook.