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New PLC Chairs highlight importance of parent philanthropy

Talia Murphy first stepped foot on campus as a freshman in 1980 just in time to experience the University of Georgia’s national championship win later that year. Now she enjoys the pride of yet another national championship victory for the Georgia Bulldogs, as her daughter, Lily, attends classes. Talia states, “being back on campus with this victory buzz in the air has been so fun, and finding our own place on campus through the Parents Leadership Council has strengthened the experience for our whole family.” Along with her husband, John, Talia serves as the chair of the Parents Leadership Council (PLC), an organization of parents who are eager to contribute to the university and support student-serving organizations.

After her graduation, Talia and John spent 30 years overseas with their three daughters. She was relatively removed from the university during this time, but when John was called back to Atlanta for his career at Coca-Cola, UGA was back on the couple’s radar—especially as their youngest daughter, Lily, was getting ready to apply for colleges. All it took for her to be sold on UGA was attending the renowned, annual Georgia-Georgia Tech football game. Through their daughter, John and Talia reconnected with UGA and have remained passionate ever since. Even though John, an Irish citizen who did not go to college in the United States, had no previous connection to UGA, he has become an avid Dawgs fan.

For the past few years, John and Talia have known they wanted to invest in UGA. Together, they have pledged to create a Georgia Commitment Scholarship, a need-based scholarship program built on private donations. In supporting Lily, the Murphys have developed a passion for supporting every UGA student across campus. As Talia states, “Where your kids are, that’s where you put your time, your effort, and your financial support.” This philosophy steered the couple to the Parents Leadership Council.

The Murphys became involved in the PLC during the height of the pandemic. Though they were unable to meet other members in person, they believed in the program and wanted to stay involved. As time went on, they were able to find a community in the PLC and encourage other parents to do the same.

“We love that there’s an organization where we can really make a difference as parents”, said Talia. “It taps parents into what’s happening on campus and allows us to address the needs of students as they come up through the grants program.”

After the Murphys dedicated over a year to the PLC, getting deeply involved with the campus community and student life, the two were presented with the opportunity to serve as chairs. The couple takes great pride in holding this position, and they are striving to make the PLC even more active and engaged with campus organizations. The PLC Grants Program, a longstanding PLC effort and a major focus for John and Talia, awarded $875,000 last year to 100 campus organizations. The Murphys, working with the PLC Grants Committee Chairs, want to raise more money for grant funding than ever before: their goal is to reach $1 million in donations from PLC members this year.

John and Talia encourage any interested parent to consider joining the PLC for the tight-knit community, the service to the university and an opportunity to continue supporting your children throughout their years in college, as well as many other students and student organizations. The PLC offers parents a unique chance to show up in a very tangible way for their children.

“Whether it’s attending meetings or mingling with fellow PLC members, council members have an opportunity to be on campus. But best of all, we have an opportunity to make a difference in a student’s life,” said the Murphys. “Exploring downtown restaurants with Lily and her friends is one thing, but now we are able to feel an extra sense of gratification knowing that we are supporting her journey one step further through the PLC.”

Fresh Express – free student market opens on campus thanks to parent and student donors

For students, by students

“Dedicated to nourishing bodies, empowering minds, and creating a community of compassion.”

This is the mission of Fresh Express, a student-led market created to address food insecurity on UGA’s campus by providing produce and non-perishables to students.

The market, located in Joe Frank Harris Dining Commons on East Campus, is open on Thursdays and Fridays. In partnership with UGArden, Fresh Express provides produce to students who may be struggling to afford healthy meals during the semester. After serving students at tabling events during the Spring semester of 2022, the Student Government Association (SGA), with financial support from the 2021 Student Alumni Council Class Gift and Parents Leadership Council, celebrated its grand opening on August 31. Students interested in utilizing Fresh Express are encouraged to visit the Fresh Express website to register for a pick-up time.

Financial support for Fresh Express

Senior Signature

The Class Gift is coordinated by the Student Alumni Council and funded by Senior Signature, an annual giving campaign for UGA seniors to give back to campus by contributing to areas that were significant to their experience at the university. $10 of each contribution goes towards the Class Gift, which benefits one on-campus organization voted upon by Senior Signature donors. UGA student organizations are eligible to apply for the Class Gift each Spring to receive funds for the following academic year.

With the collective support of Senior Signature donors from the Class of 2021, Fresh Express is able to meet student needs across campus — but Senior Signature’s impact does not stop there. The Class of 2022 selected the UGA Chapter of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association as the recipient of their Class Gift. During the 2022-2023 academic year, this organization will receive up to $6,000 to support graduate students pursuing careers in speech-language pathology.

Parents Leadership Council

Fresh Express also is supported by funding from the Parents Leadership Council, a group of UGA parents who give back to undergraduate student organizations. After applying for a grant from the PLC, SGA was awarded $12,750 to assist with the establishment and day-to-day operations of Fresh Express and the SGA Professional Clothing Closet. The PLC grants are awarded annually to fund scholarships, support critical undergraduate student needs, and assist registered student organizations with projects and programs that enhance the quality of life for students. Over the past 10 years, the Parents Leadership Council has awarded $4.6 million in grant support to a variety of initiatives across campus–from student life and financial assistance to well-being and service learning. Grant applications for 2023 open in October.

Because of Fresh Express and the generosity of UGA students and parents, students facing food insecurity can focus on learning and getting involved on campus. If you are interested in making a difference through Senior Signature or Parents Leadership Council, visit the pages below to learn more.

 

 

Family ties lead to lesson in giving

Parents’ philanthropy inspires new generation of Bulldogs

Jeff and Allison Mitchell live on a steady diet of maroon and orange in the college town of Blacksburg, Virginia, where both Jeff and Allison are Virginia Tech alumni, regularly attending football games to cheer on the Hokies. Despite this familiar connection with Virginia Tech, their daughter Elizabeth Grace (ABJ ’21) elected to forge her own path at the University of Georgia.

Elizabeth Grace’s time in Athens offered her an education needed to succeed beyond graduation and it provided valuable lessons around the importance of giving and service. So, while Jeff and Allison may have earned their degrees elsewhere, they’re now building a legacy of giving alongside their daughter at UGA.

New Colors, Same Focus

When Elizabeth Grace arrived on campus, Jeff and Allison instantly joined the Bulldog family, swapping out their Hokies’ attire for red and black. They regularly visited the Classic City during Elizabeth Grace’s four years in Athens, engaging, giving and serving, primarily through service on UGA’s Parents Leadership Council, to demonstrate what a legacy of giving looks like.

“We wanted Elizabeth Grace to understand that supporting her university is something she needed to take the long-term view on,” Jeff said. “Don’t put it off and think ‘I’ll start giving later;’ get started now.”

Giving back is as natural for Jeff and Allison as breathing; they provide ample philanthropic support to a host of institutions and organizations, including their alma mater. They lead by example to ensure those lessons of generous giving are passed on to Elizabeth Grace.

Creating a New Legacy

As graduation neared, Jeff and Allison wanted to honor their daughter’s time at UGA and illustrate why giving is important. The Mitchells decided to recognize her with a legacy gift — a philanthropic gift made in honor of her time at UGA — establishing the Elizabeth Grace Mitchell Student Support Fund.

They sought her involvement, working with her to identify what she wanted the fund to address on campus. Elizabeth Grace recommended that the fund provide financial support to students in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication who are majoring in her field of study, entertainment and media studies (EMST).

“The Mitchell family’s support of student projects will help us fuel EMST film projects – the very heart of the department’s experiential learning efforts,” said Charles Davis (MA ’92) the dean of the Grady College. “This sort of support takes on increasing importance the more hands-on work we do as a college, so we deeply appreciate the fund and what it signifies.”

photo of the Mitchell family with Grady College Dean Charles Davis

Jeff and Allison Mitchell (far left and right) with their daughter, Elizabeth Grace Mitchell (AB ’21) and Grady College Dean Charles Davis (MA ’92) in December 2021.

The fund also gives the opportunity for Elizabeth Grace to engage philanthropically with UGA right after graduation. She’ll contribute directly to it, allowing her to start her own journey of giving while building a legacy that endures long after she’s graduated.

More Opportunities with PLC

In addition to the legacy gift, the Mitchells joined the Parents Leadership Council (PLC) during Elizabeth Grace’s freshman year. Ultimately, this decision launched the couple’s philanthropic journey at UGA.

The PLC offered the chance for their family to build a meaningful connection with the university, including a social network that Jeff and Allison could trust would support Elizabeth Grace during her time in Athens. The service-oriented group provides funding through parents’ annual gifts to various student programs and initiatives on campus.

In the last decade, the group has awarded more than $3.8 million to undergraduate student organizations and is the top supporter of the President’s Venture Fund. The response to these types of needs, as well as the opportunity to help prioritize what needs should be addressed, resonated with Jeff and Allison. It allowed them to proactively help determine how their contributions improved campus—something they offered their daughter when setting up the Elizabeth Grace Mitchell Student Support Fund.

Forever Connected to the Bulldog Family

For Jeff and Allison, establishing the legacy gift for Elizabeth Grace is the culmination of a series of relationships, experiences and opportunities that ultimately will connect them to UGA for the rest of their lives.

“Everybody knows the University of Georgia, but to have your daughter attend from out-of-state and understand the brand and the legacy here, it’s just special,” Jeff said. “We’ve met many, many passionate UGA alumni, and their joy and passion are infectious. You spend any time here, and you just get it. So, we’re happy to celebrate Elizabeth Grace and support the University of Georgia.”

Jeff and Allison hope their philanthropy will inspire other Bulldog parents to establish their own legacies in honor of their students’ UGA experiences. Doing so enables the next generation to strengthen UGA by creating new avenues to success for future Bulldogs.

Want to know more? Consider being a part of parent philanthropy at UGA and establishing your own legacy gift to benefit future generations of Bulldogs! Learn more about UGA’s Parent Fund and Parent Leadership Council.

Learn More About the Parent Fund Learn More About the PLC

Written by Johnathan McGinty (ABJ ’00)

A UGA parent paints the town red (and black)

When the Georgia Bulldogs secured their first national title in 41 years, the outpouring of emotion from University of Georgia alumni and fans was so intense, so widespread, it could’ve painted the sky red and black.

And in New York City, thanks to a UGA student’s parent, it did.

Shortly after the 2022 CFP National Championship finished, the iconic Empire State Building traded its usual illumination for red and black hues, and the world took notice.

https://twitter.com/CFBPlayoff/status/1480930289467670544

But it wasn’t just the Empire State Building. The Helmsley Building at 230 Park Avenue also lit up the night red and black—not just on Monday night, but Sunday and Tuesday, too.

230 Park Avenue in New York City on Tuesday, Jan. 12

Timelapse of 230 Park Avenue the night of Jan. 11

Timelapse of 230 Park Avenue the night of Jan. 11

It all began with Bill Elder, managing director and executive vice president at RXR Realty. Elder, whose youngest daughter, Eliza, is a third-year studying real estate at UGA, had already started planning the lighting of 230 Park Avenue, a building in RXR’s portfolio, when he realized he had an opportunity to go even bigger.

“I had a call scheduled with Tony Malkin [chairman, president and CEO of Empire State Realty Trust, Inc., which owns the Empire State Building], so I thought I’d see if he would do a favor for me,” said Bill. “So, I reached out to him on the Saturday before the game, and I said, ‘My daughter goes to Georgia, and we’re lighting 230 in red and black in honor of the game—do you think you could light up the Empire State Building? And he said ‘Absolutely, done.'”

The following Monday night, Bill was—like the rest of us—consumed by the drama of the national championship’s final minutes and the elation of the celebration that followed, so he didn’t know that Tony Malkin came through on his promise a little bit early: “The World’s Most Famous Building” wore red and black from the moment the Dawgs claimed victory until 2 a.m. Tuesday.

Bill’s role in amplifying the joy of Bulldog Nation is spectacular enough on its own, but it becomes even more so in light of the journey he and his wife Katie took to become UGA fans. Just a few short years ago, the Elders had just a passing familiarity with the university, but once their youngest daughter, Eliza, began to take an interest in attending, things started to change.

“I’ll admit, my first reaction was ‘not a great idea, too big, she’ll get lost,’ but then I went down there, took a tour, and within about 20 or 30 minutes of being on campus, I got immediately comfortable with the place and thought UGA was a great decision,” said Bill.

Katie and Bill Elder at Sanford Stadium

Katie and Bill Elder at Sanford Stadium

Once Eliza became a student, Bill and Katie were approached by members of the Parents Leadership Council (PLC), a group of highly engaged parents who support student-focused organizations and efforts on campus.

“I didn’t realize how much need there was among UGA students,” said Bill. “So, when I heard about the outreach and the kind of need fulfillment that the PLC was doing for these great kids, I was in. How could you not want to help somebody who might be the first person in their whole family to go to college? How could you not want to give students a better chance?”

Bill and Katie have been members of the PLC ever since. Beginning this August, they will serve as chairs of the PLC’s Grants Committee, which administers grants that provide funding to a variety of organizations across UGA’s campus. Last year, the PLC Grants Program awarded 69 grants totaling over $625,000, and the program has awarded more than $3.8 million over its lifetime to groups like Designated Dawgs, the Outreach and Financial Assistance Fund at the UGA Speech and Hearing Clinic, the Student Government Association’s Clothing Closet and the University Health Center’s Counseling and Psychiatric Services Program.

So, when some of Manhattan’s most iconic structures took on the colors of the national champion Georgia Bulldogs, it was an expression of the unbounded joy of alumni and fans who had waited nearly a half-century for a championship, but it was also a culmination of the Elders’ journey.

They are not a family with generations of Bulldogs, they didn’t grow up dreaming of Broad Street or Milledge Avenue, but they believe in the university and its mission just as strongly as a third-generation Dawg from Marietta.

“We went from knowing very little to humbly hoping that we can make a difference at the university,” said Bill. “UGA has embraced us, and we embrace them. We’re really happy to be a part of it, and we’re really proud to be a part of it.”

At home with the kids this summer?

By Frances Beusse and Jennifer Johnson, UGA Alumni Association

Summer is officially here, but it looks a little different than those past. If your traditional summer plans have been canceled, we’ve put together a few UGA-themed activities to enjoy with your kids instead.

Scroll through each section below (swipe on mobile) and have a wonderful summer, Dawgs!

Head Outdoors

State Botanical Garden of Georgia

Scavenger Hunt

Explore the great outdoors by participating in one of the many scavenger hunts available at the Botanical Gardens of Georgia.

Green Thumb

Plant a garden with tips from UGA Extension Office and 4-H.

Concrete Canvas

Grab some chalk and create your best “Go Dawgs,” Super G or Bulldog driveway art.

Get Active

UGA Cross Country Student Athlete Morgan Green Training

Scavenger Hunt

Explore the great outdoors by participating in one of the many scavenger hunts available at the Botanical Gardens of Georgia.

Green Thumb

Plant a garden with tips from UGA Extension Office and 4-H.

Concrete Canvas

Grab some chalk and create your best “Go Dawgs,” Super G or Bulldog driveway art.

Read Together

UGA Alumni Author Books for Kids

Scavenger Hunt

Explore the great outdoors by participating in one of the many scavenger hunts available at the Botanical Gardens of Georgia.

Green Thumb

Plant a garden with tips from UGA Extension Office and 4-H.

Concrete Canvas

Grab some chalk and create your best “Go Dawgs,” Super G or Bulldog driveway art.

Enjoy the Arts

UGA Student Playing the Trumpet

Scavenger Hunt

Explore the great outdoors by participating in one of the many scavenger hunts available at the Botanical Gardens of Georgia.

Green Thumb

Plant a garden with tips from UGA Extension Office and 4-H.

Concrete Canvas

Grab some chalk and create your best “Go Dawgs,” Super G or Bulldog driveway art.

Take a Virtual Trip

UGA Sanford Stadium Aerial

Scavenger Hunt

Explore the great outdoors by participating in one of the many scavenger hunts available at the Botanical Gardens of Georgia.

Green Thumb

Plant a garden with tips from UGA Extension Office and 4-H.

Concrete Canvas

Grab some chalk and create your best “Go Dawgs,” Super G or Bulldog driveway art.

For more information and resources, please visit the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, 4-H or Georgia Public Broadcasting.

From Fauci to philanthropy: one Georgia family’s story of mentorship and generosity

Left to Right: Suzanne, Shelly (AB ’19) and Steven Peskin’s family story is rich in mentorship, giving and Bulldog spirit.

Anthony Fauci is now a household name.

It happened quickly, as the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the country and government officials looked to experts like Dr. Fauci for guidance.

But for Suzanne Peskin’s family, Anthony Fauci was a household name long before we all became living room epidemiologists and socially distanced hermits. That is because Dr. Fauci, affectionately known in Suzanne Peskin’s family as “Tony,” is a family friend and former mentee of Suzanne’s father, Dr. Sheldon “Shelly” Wolff (BS ’52).

A Georgia Genesis

Drs. Herman Peskin (BS ’50) and Sheldon Wolff (BS ’52) met as students at UGA. Here, they pose for a photo at the wedding of Dr. Wolff’s daughter Suzanne to Dr. Peskin’s son Steven.

The Peskin family’s story is filled with examples of mentorship and philanthropy going back to Dr. Wolff’s undergraduate days in Athens. Originally from New Jersey, Dr. Wolff found himself in the South when UGA was the only school to offer him a full college scholarship. He came to Athens as a music major and eventually served as drum major of the Redcoat Band. During his time at UGA, Dr. Wolff changed plans, switching his major from art to science and setting his sights on medical school.

Dr. Wolff’s roommate was Phillip Peskin (BBA ’53). He and Philip joined Tau Epsilon Phi (TEP) fraternity and attended activities at the Hillel House, a Jewish student center near campus. Through TEP, Dr. Wolff also met Phillip’s older brother, Herman Peskin (BS ’50). Being far from home, Dr. Wolff enjoyed holidays meals during Jewish high holidays like Yom Kippur at the Peskin family home near Athens.

After college, Dr. Wolff and Phillip went their separate ways. Dr. Wolff attended medical school in Germany before transferring to Vanderbilt University to complete his degree. During his last year of medical school, he married Lila Leff before becoming an internal medicine resident in New York City.

Fauci and Friends

In 1960, Dr. Wolff joined the Laboratory of Clinical Investigation at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in Bethesda, Maryland. He later became the clinical director, serving at NIAID for 17 years. He valued research and enjoyed seeing the results of it improve patients’ lives. During that time, Dr. Fauci arrived at NIAID as a clinical associate working under Dr. Wolff. A friendship began between the two men that would last the rest of Dr. Wolff’s life. Dr. Fauci would later say that Dr. Wolff “clearly stands out as the person who made the greatest impact on (his) career.”

Dr. Wolff left NIAID in 1977 to become a professor and chair of the department of medicine at the Tufts University School of Medicine and physician-in-chief at the New England Medical Center Hospital in Boston. Dr. Fauci would go on to enjoy a successful career in public health research, working under six presidents on a variety of disease outbreaks, including HIV/AIDS and now the novel coronavirus.

“Shelly set me on the road to becoming a physician-scientist,” Dr. Fauci said in a 2007 award acceptance speech. “Besides being a generous mentor, he became one of my closest friends and ultimately the best man at my wedding.”

Dr. Wolff and Dr. Fauci became so close that, after her father died, Suzanne Peskin would occasionally call Dr. Fauci for advice on medical decisions. Suzanne knew she could trust that Dr. Fauci’s advice would be nearly identical to what her father would have said. Today, Suzanne believes that her father’s pandemic advice would be as simple as, “listen to Tony Fauci.”

Two Become One

But there is even more to this Bulldog story.

Dr. Wolff was working in Boston in 1981 when Steven Peskin, Herman Peskin’s son, was interviewing for a residency position at the hospital where Dr. Wolff worked. This was far from Steven’s hometown of Augusta. In the spirit of what was done for him during his undergraduate years at UGA, Dr. Wolff invited Steven to a Yom Kippur dinner. That is how Steven met Dr. Wolff’s daughter, Suzanne, who was a senior at Boston University.

Steven ended up matching for an internal medicine program in Boston that year and started dating Suzanne in 1982. They married three years later.

Steven later pursued an MBA on the advice of Dr. Wolff, who believed the degree would be useful as the field of medicine evolved. Steven eventually used that degree to transition to the corporate side of health care. He and Suzanne moved around the country, eventually settling in New Jersey. They have two children, Benjamin and Shelly, the latter named for Dr. Wolff.

The Bulldog Legacy Continues

Shelly Peskin (AB ’19), whose grandfathers met as students at UGA, keeps the family’s Bulldog legacy alive.

Shelly Peskin (AB ’19) is single-handedly carrying on her family’s Bulldog legacy, following in the steps of both of her grandfathers. According to her mother, Shelly decided to attend UGA during a trip to the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club during high school. During the trip, she toured UGA and visited the Hillel House. While there, she felt at home and connected to the place where her grandfathers had bonded as undergraduates.

When Suzanne and Steven attended UGA orientation with Shelly, they were inspired to join the Parents Leadership Council (PLC), a community of highly engaged parents who seek to foster a world-class learning experience for UGA students.

They viewed the PLC as an opportunity to plug in and give back to the university for all it has given their family. They wanted to feel as connected to UGA as they could, especially while their daughter began her journey in Athens. Suzanne and Steven served on the PLC from 2015 until Shelly graduated in 2019.

Everything came full circle for the family in 2017 when they endowed a need-based Georgia Commitment Scholarship in honor of Drs. Wolff and Herman Peskin. The opportunities given to their fathers fueled Steven and Suzanne’s spirit of generosity. Dr. Wolff’s music scholarship and Herman Peskin’s G.I. bill education allowed them to become successful doctors–and mentors for other successful professionals. The family wanted to help similar dreams come true for UGA students in the years to come. The first recipient of the scholarship started at UGA in fall 2018 and is now a rising third-year.

“(Our fathers) were able to achieve enormous success in their lives due to the generous scholarship opportunities that were made available to them,” Suzanne said. “They were both children of hard-working immigrants that came to America with nothing more than a strong work ethic and the desire to give their children the opportunity to be successful. That is our hope for the recipients of the Georgia Commitment Scholarship that is named in their memory.”

Dr. Wolff passed away due to complications from cancer in 1994. Suzanne is proud that her father’s legacy lives on in the people he mentored, trained, taught and treated during his life as a doctor and researcher.

“He left this world a better place,” Suzanne said. “Just far too early.”

 

You can also make a difference in the life of a student. Become a mentor.

Learn more about the Parents Leadership Council.

University of Georgia achieves 96 percent career outcomes rate for second year

University of Georgia achieved 96 percent career outcomes rate for the second year in a row.

University of Georgia graduates, for the second year in a row, are employed or attending graduate school within six months at a rate of 96 percent—11.7 percent higher than the national average.

Of those students:

  • 63 percent were employed full time;
  • 19 percent were attending graduate school; and
  • Approximately 12 percent were self-employed, interning full time or were employed part time.

“UGA students continue to excel in their post-graduate endeavors, and the consistency of statistics from last year to this year demonstrates that the university is providing career readiness skills through professional programming, academics, and experiential learning,” said Scott Williams, executive director of the UGA Career Center.

Nearly 3,000 unique employers hired UGA graduates from business to government, nonprofit to education. Some of the top employers for the Class of 2018 include Amazon, Delta Air Lines, The Home Depot and Teach for America.

Of those full-time professionals, 58 percent were employed before graduation, a three percent increase over the Class of 2017, and 98 percent were hired within six months of graduation.

Graduates landed in 47 states and 31 countries in the six months after graduation with 69 percent accepting employment within the state of Georgia. Top out-of-state destinations span the county and include cities like Austin, Texas and New York City.

Top 10 out of state destinations for the University of Georgia based on Class of 2018 career outcomes.

Of the 19 percent of graduates who are pursuing additional education, some of the top graduate or professional schools they will attend include Georgetown University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Vanderbilt University and Columbia 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 8,130 graduates from the Class of 2018.

To check out the UGA Career Center’s website highlighting the Class of 2018 career outcomes.

Learn more about hiring UGA graduates.