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Pride Month Spotlight: UGA’s LGBT Resource Center

The University of Georgia aims to foster a welcoming and inclusive environment for students of all backgrounds. There are a variety of resources available to students seeking support and a community on campus, including the LGBT Resource Center. We sat down with Chad Mandala, the center’s director, during Pride Month to learn more about how his team supports UGA students throughout the year.

History

The LGBT Resource Center was established in 2005 to serve as a safe space for LGBT-identified students and their allies. The center is committed to supporting and affirming every member of the UGA community inclusive of sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression.

The LGBT Resource Center mission is to foster self-discovery and acceptance in a holistic, supportive environment. Located in Memorial Hall in the heart of campus, the center houses an extensive library with entertaining and educational films, books, pamphlets, and health resources. Students enjoy the center’s lounge area to relax, socialize and study between classes.

“It’s a community that has been like a safe haven,” said Tyquavious Kelley (BS ’21), a former student who valued the center.

From empowering students to educating the community, the LGBT Resource Center at UGA ensures that no Dawg barks alone.

“No matter what a student is going through, we are here to remind them that they are loved,” said Mandala.

Programs and resources

The LGBT Resource Center offers resources and programs to meet the needs of the LGBT and ally communities through advocacy, education, and support. Signature events like Sugar Rush and Lavender Graduation advocate for a safer, more equitable climate on campus. Educational programs provide opportunities for the UGA community to address the complicated issues that surround sexual and gender identity. Some of these programs include the student-run radio show, Queeries, and the Lunch with Leaders program, which coordinates a lunch for students and an LGBT-identified leader in the community who shares their coming-out story and career trajectory.

Chad shared a bit about the signature events his team hosts:

  • Sugar Rush: Sugar Rush is a social each September during which first-year students make campus connections over candy. It’s a “sweet” welcome for the newest generation of Bulldogs to the LGBT Resource Center.
  • PRISM: This dialogue group for students who identify as LGBTQ people of color was developed in partnership with the Office of Multicultural Services and Programs to recognize and address intersections of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual identity.
  • Lavender Graduation: Lavender Graduation is a cultural celebration to acknowledge the achievements and contributions of LGBT students on campus. This positive recognition will hopefully encourage graduating students to maintain a connection to UGA, its students, and fellow alumni beyond commencement.
  • Safe Space: This program is a 3.5 hour training for faculty, staff, and students who are interested in learning about gender and sexual identity, homophobia, heterosexism, and how they can support and become an ally for the LGBT community.

Support the LGBT community

The LGBT Resource Center relies on charitable donations to support the rapidly growing student population at UGA.

“As we continue to evolve, we need help. The ability to grow is dependent on alumni who believe in us. Every gift has the ability to transform what we are able to do,” said Mandala.

By donating to the LGBT Resource Center Endowment, you can help to end discrimination and promote lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer equality on campus. According to Mandala, the fund is one of the most effective ways to remove barriers and open doors for the next generation of Bulldogs because it provides general support for the center, including program expenses, guest speakers, conference expenses, emergency funding to support students in crisis situations, travel, equipment, supplies, etc.

 

Every day is Arbor Day for Select Trees

Arbor Day celebrates nature and encourages people around the world to plant trees. For Select Trees, though, planting trees is a year-round event.  

Select Trees produces high-quality sustainable landscape shade trees in the Southeast and is a wholesaler of Select Sustainable Trees. Curious where you can see some of these trees for yourself? Look no further than UGA’s beautiful campus. Through their tree trust, the company donated more than 770 large caliper oak trees to UGA.  

We talked with Corey Browning, the vice president of Select Trees, to learn more about all things trees.  

Corey BrowningWhat is your favorite part of the planting and growing process of trees?  

My favorite part is probably selecting new cultivars. So as part of what we do at Select Trees, we also have a sister company called Tree Introductions. We find new trees to clone and make new cultivars, and the process of doing that is just evaluating trees in the landscape and seeing what’s working and what’s not working. 

What is one important thing you want people to know about the process of selecting trees that they might now know? 

I think the most important thing that maybe is overlooked is choosing the right tree for the right place. For instance, people plant Crape Myrtles because they like the flower but then they may not realize that it’s a tree and it’s going to get 30 or 40 feet tall. And so, they get a landscape company to come through and prune it back really hard so that it fits in the space. So, it’s really important to look at the space that you have and determine, is it adequate for the trees that you really want to plant? 

What is the biggest misconception you hear the most about the process?  

I think the biggest misconception would be just what a tree requires to be established. Oftentimes, for what we do at Select Trees, we’re harvesting trees so that means we’re taking them out of the ground and moving them to another place. And so, trees are not bulletproof. They need help, in that first year especially, to get established. 

Where on UGA’s campus can students and faculty enjoy the trees Select Trees has planted?  

One of the places on campus that stands out is the Reed Hall alley behind the stadium. At the intramural fields just above the train tracks, there’s a really nice row of Hightower Willow Oaks. At the women’s sports complex, there are quite a few of our trees, and really just all over campus through the donation process. There have been different spots all over campus that have benefited from the donation. 

IM Fields Tree Progression

Intramural Fields Tree Progression

Do you have a favorite tree to plant? If so, what is it? 

My favorite tree — and it’s one that we’ve sent quite a few of to campus — is called Highbeam Overcup Oak. It’s a cultivar of Overcup that we introduced about 25 years ago, and it’s just a really great native tree that not only looks fantastic, but it has a lot of environmental benefits as well. 

Do Select Trees have anything planned for Arbor Day? 

It’s just another day unfortunately because propagation season kicks off really quick, so we’re getting all of our greenhouses and things like that set up to start new trees. 

 

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.

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.

New meal plan scholarship named for “Miss Sandra”

Sandra Patterson, the beloved “Miss Sandra” to scores of University of Georgia students who frequented the dining halls where she worked, will have a meal plan scholarship named in her honor, following a crowdfunding campaign that raised over $25,000.

More than 600 donors contributed $20,000 to the campaign, which ran in December of last year—Patterson retired the month before—and asked donors to celebrate her by giving to support food security at UGA. After the close of the campaign, UGA President Jere W. Morehead added an additional $5,500 from the President’s Venture Fund.

“This is such an honor,” said Patterson. “I’m so proud of what these donors have done, and I am so happy that my name could help people to give back and help other people.”

Initially, campaign donations were to be routed to the Let All The Big Dogs Eat (LATBDE) Meal Plan Scholarship. LATBDE, a donor-supported scholarship directed by UGA Student Affairs in partnership with UGA Dining Services, awards meal plans to multiple UGA students each fall and spring semester as part of UGA’s food scholarship initiative.

But following the campaign’s overwhelming response and Morehead’s contribution, the decision was made to create a stand-alone fund that would simultaneously contribute to the food scholarship initiative by providing additional meal plans for students and honor Patterson’s outsized impact on campus: the Miss Sandra Patterson Meal Plan Scholarship.

Patterson’s UGA career spanned more than 30 years, and she established herself as a campus legend by offering welcome, comfort and, most notably, hugs to students in UGA’s dining halls. Donors to the “Say Thank You To Miss Sandra” campaign were invited to offer personal messages along with their donation, and many took that opportunity to share the deep impact Patterson made on their UGA experience.

“I would trek all the way across campus for lunch just to get a hug from Miss Sandra,” wrote John Bowden, a 2013 graduate. “She always knew how to make a bad or stressful day so much better with love and kindness.”

Even once COVID-19 hampered the personal contact for which she is known, she offered students elbow bumps and kind words from behind a face covering. In October, she greeted graduating students arriving for UGA’s rescheduled spring 2020 commencement ceremony from a safe distance with “virtual hugs.”

That kind of dedication and care was typical of Miss Sandra’s career, who corrects herself when she begins to say, “it was a great job.”

“It wasn’t a job. It was just a second home to go to each day with all my kids there.”

Now, thanks to the scholarship that bears her name, she’ll be able to take care of her kids for years to come.

$1 million gift to promote Terry College Sustainability Initiative

The University of Georgia received a $1 million pledge to the Terry College of Business to launch the college’s new Sustainability Initiative and fund faculty support for the endeavor.

The pledge by the family of Joanna and Stuart Brown of Telluride, Colorado, will help attract, retain and support a scholar who serves as a champion for sustainable development instruction. The endowment will provide financial resources to launch the environmental initiative and annual funds to support programs at Terry for years to come.

Stuart Brown serves as a director of Brown-Forman Corp., one of the largest American-owned companies in the spirits and wine business. He graduated from UGA in 1992 with a bachelor’s degree in history, and Joanna Brown earned a bachelor’s degree in education in 1987. Their son, Stuart Brown Jr., graduated in 2014 with a degree in political science.

“I have been involved with many sustainability and Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance initiatives at the company,” Stuart Brown said. “It is important to us to be a sustainability leader in the beverage alcohol industry, as well as in corporate America. As Brown-Forman celebrates 150 years of business excellence, we want to encourage Terry students to embrace the vitally important values of sustainability.”

Plans for Terry’s Sustainability Initiative include hiring faculty, expanding course offerings, launching a new undergraduate area of emphasis in sustainable development and supporting new experiential learning opportunities, said Benjamin C. Ayers, dean of the Terry College of Business. The Terry College is focused on securing additional funding for a sustainability speaker series, research support, faculty-led study away programming and internship opportunities.

“With this important gift, we hope to advance a culture of sustainability within the college that transcends one course or a single major,” Ayers said. “Our goal for sustainability initiatives is to educate and inspire students to become ethical leaders who create sustainable businesses and develop innovative models that transform business in all sectors.”

Brown-Forman was founded in 1870 and is headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky. It employs more than 4,700 people worldwide, with about 1,300 located in Louisville. Brown-Forman sells its products globally and has more than 25 brands, including Jack Daniel’s, Woodford Reserve, Old Forester and Herradura, in its portfolio of wines and spirits.

To learn more about Terry’s new Sustainability Initiative, please contact Kathy Ortstadt in the Terry Development and Alumni Relations Office at ude.agu@tdatstro.

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! 

UGA athletics director pledges $100K to need-based aid

Josh Brooks (MS ’14), the newly named J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics at the University of Georgia, recently pledged $100,000 to create a need-based scholarship that will support UGA students from Athens-Clarke County.

“This generous gift reaffirms Josh’s commitment to the success of University of Georgia students,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “I am very excited about the future of UGA Athletics with Josh at the helm, and this scholarship gift is a terrific start to his tenure. Need-based aid is a vital tool to improve our university, so we are grateful to Josh for his support in that area.”

Brooks’ pledge came less than a week after he became UGA’s 12th director of athletics, his seventh post in 11 years working for the university’s athletic association.

“I love this town, this community, and I want to help make a difference here locally,” said Brooks. “I have three children who go to school here in Athens-Clarke County, I live here in Athens, and I’m aware of how many kids are in need in this county, so it is important to me to help these students find a pathway to the University of Georgia.”

Brooks’ gift will create a Georgia Commitment Scholarship (GCS), adding to the more than 550 endowed, need-based scholarships created under the GCS program since its launch in January 2017. These scholarships will be awarded in perpetuity and provide recipients with support through special on-campus programming in partnership with the Division of Academic Enhancement.

“Our new director of athletics has only been in the role a week, and he’s already making a positive impact at UGA,” said Kelly Kerner, UGA vice president for development and alumni relations. “Josh’s belief in the power of a UGA education—and the support he’s demonstrated as a result—will open doors for generations of students.”

Marlise O. Harrell, 1969

The scholarship, which will be named the Marlise O. Harrell Georgia Commitment Scholarship, honors Brooks’ late mother-in-law.

“Education was always important to her, it was something she always stressed with my children, her grandchildren,” said Brooks. “She had a heart of gold, and she was someone who always put other people first in everything she did.”

This gift is the latest example of Brooks’ support for the Athens-Clarke County community. He was heavily involved in the creation and implementation of the “Dawgs for Pups” initiative benefitting Athens-Clarke County students. The initiative has, to date, provided Wi-Fi hotspots and organized food and coat drives for grade-school students.

“For me, charity starts locally,” said Brooks. “So, when I was blessed with the opportunity to become director of athletics, I felt the responsibility to give back. The University of Georgia has done so much for me, and I felt it was important that I give back in a way that supports the university and the community I love.”

UGA alumni pro golfers headline donors to new scholarship

Thanks to the play of nearly a dozen current and former University of Georgia golfers in a recent PGA Tour event and the generosity of Bulldogs on and off the course, contributions totaling more than $100,000 will create a new endowed, need-based scholarship at UGA.

Eleven UGA-affiliated golfers took part in the RSM Classic on St. Simons Island in November. Former UGA Alumni Association President Bonney Shuman (BBA ’80), a resident of St. Simons Island, saw an opportunity to pull together the group to support their alma mater.

“While my golfing talent is more watching than playing, these players and I do share something powerful: pride in our university,” said Shuman. “UGA made incredible experiences possible for all of us, so we are proud to help UGA make incredible experiences possible for future generations through a Georgia Commitment Scholarship.”

The Georgia Commitment Scholarship (GCS) Program—a need-based aid program built on private donations matched by the UGA Foundation—captured the attention of many donors since its 2017 launch, resulting in the creation of over 520 endowed, need-based scholarships.

Shuman joined Harris English (BSFC ’11), Brian Harman (BBA ’11), Russell Henley (BSFCS ’11), Chris Kirk (BSED ’08), Kevin Kisner (BBA ’06), Keith Mitchell (BBA ’14), Sepp Straka (BBA ’15), Hudson Swafford (BSFCS ’11) and Brendon Todd (BBA ’07) in pledging $5,000 each, which was then matched by the UGA Foundation, resulting in $100,000 committed to the UGA Alumni PGA Tour Professionals Georgia Commitment Scholarship.

Support also came from beyond Sea Island Golf Club. Prior to the RSM Classic, the UGA Alumni Association asked a select group to pledge “A Buck A Birdie” to the scholarship fund: $1 for every birdie by a UGA golfer during the tournament. At the close of the event, the golfers had scored 155 birdies, bringing the total amount pledged to more than $2,500.

“Our alumni are some of the most generous and supportive that you are likely to find, and the work of incredible volunteers like Bonney, who take their passion for UGA into their communities, is a big reason why,” said Kelly Kerner, vice president for development and alumni relations. “Every Bulldog who contributed to this scholarship has made a tangible, long-term impact on students in Georgia, and they have my gratitude.”

This isn’t the RSM Classic’s only connection to the GCS Program: last year, the Davis Love Foundation, which hosts the tournament, created its own GCS fund with a $50,000 gift.

Georgia Commitment Scholars are supported not just by funding from the scholarship, but with a rich slate of programming that offers ways to connect with other GCS recipients and the donors who created the scholarships. GCS students can receive special tutoring, workshops, academic coaching and other support through the Division of Academic Enhancement.

Giving Tuesday is a great day to make a difference

Before the rush of the holidays takes over, Giving Tuesday is a day to pause and support the causes that mean the most to you. This year, the University of Georgia is highlighting three causes on campus that are addressing timely issues.

UGA Student Emergency Fund

The UGA Student Emergency Fund provides limited, one-time financial assistance to UGA students who are unable to meet immediate, essential expenses because of temporary hardship related to an emergency situation, such as an accident, illness, death of a family member, natural disaster, or other unforeseen circumstance (like a pandemic).

Looking for a stocking stuffer this holiday season? Each purchase of a pair of UGA face coverings also supports the Student Emergency Fund.

UGA Black Alumni Scholarship

The Black Alumni Scholarship Fund provides scholarship funds to a first-year student who exhibits dedication to racial equality through previous experience and creativity in improving race relations in the community. Donors of $19.61 or more to the Black Alumni Scholarship Fund will automatically become a member of the 1961 Club. Commemorating the year in which Hamilton E. Holmes (BS ’63) and Charlayne Hunter-Gault (ABJ ’63) courageously integrated the University of Georgia, the 1961 Club continues their legacy through its commitment to removing barriers and opening doors.

Vets for Pets and People

Run by UGA College of Veterinary Medicine students, Vets for Pets and People (VFPP) partners with Project Safe, a nonprofit working to end domestic violence in the Athens area. As women and children enter Project Safe’s network of safe houses, they often cannot take their pets with them. VFPP offers a temporary foster home for those animals that includes veterinary and nutrition care so that families can receive the care they need without worrying about their pets’ safety.

And you aren’t limited to these causes.

UGA is solving grand challenges on a local and global scale. In celebration of Giving Tuesday, show your support for the Bulldog Nation and your community with a commitment that inspires you. If you’d like to donate elsewhere, there are many causes. One heart.