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Happy Thanksgiving, Bulldogs!

At this time of Thanksgiving, we pause to reflect on the support of our friends and the impact it has made on the University of Georgia.

Because of this generosity, we overcome obstacles, join together as one, and rise to the top. It allows our students, faculty, and staff to experience opportunities that would have been impossible without your it.

We proudly present the 2019 Thanksgiving video, which tells a story of community and gratitude in the UGA family. Please share the video with your family and friends!

*A special thanks to our cast, staff, student workers, and many campus partners who came together to produce this video.

Another successful fundraising year pushes UGA beyond campaign goals

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank-You-Giving-Week-2019

3,500+ donors participate in UGA’s inaugural Giving Week

More than 3,500 members of the UGA community, including alumni, parents, faculty, staff, students and friends, came together the week of April 20 to raise over $1.4 million in support of the university’s goals of removing barriers to education, enhancing the learning environment and solving grand challenges.

“We called all Dawgs – and they answered. We are exceptionally grateful for the Bulldog family’s display of generosity and pride during Giving Week,” said Kelly Kerner, vice president for development and alumni relations. “The gifts made in just one week will have an incredible impact in the form of scholarships, new programs, study abroad opportunities, research funds and so much more.”

Bulldogs from 45 states and six different countries made gifts in support of many areas of the university, including all 17 schools, Athletics, Academic Affairs, the Botanical Gardens, Libraries, Research and an array of student organizations. Most donors gave to the Georgia Fund, UGA’s unrestricted fund that supports the university’s most pressing needs, which fully supported student scholarships this year. Schools’ unrestricted funds are used at each dean’s discretion. Gifts to the College of Veterinary Medicine might be used for provisions as basic as peanut butter – it’s used by the gallon during animal rehabilitation and often in short supply.

“Giving Week is all about alumni participation and the power of collective giving,” said Kerner. “We had gifts ranging in size from $5 to $175,000, and each one is important and fuels UGA’s success and mission.”

The success of Giving Week was bolstered by the efforts of the UGA Alumni Association Board of Directors and many alumni volunteers, such as chapter and leadership councils, who reminded their peers that every Dawg counts. Prominent alumni, including Coach Kirby Smart, Malcolm Mitchell, and Dave Haywood and Charles Kelley of Lady Antebellum challenged the Georgia family to show the world just how loud Dawgs can bark.

Not only does alumni giving participation create a diverse base of current and future support, but it has an effect on UGA’s reputation. Alumni participation is one of the seven factors considered in U.S. News & World Report’s Best College Rankings. With participation rates down across the country, Georgia Giving Week was a dedicated time to reinvigorate and inspire our alumni donors.

“It was encouraging to see so many alumni around the globe come together to give back to our alma mater,” said Bonney Shuman, UGA Alumni Association president. “As alumni, we share a sense of duty and dedication for future generations of Bulldogs. I couldn’t be more proud of what we did in support of current and future students during Giving Week!”

Fundraising corresponds to the fiscal year, which ends on June 30. If alumni and friends missed Georgia Giving Week, they can still be counted as donors and make a difference this year with their gifts.

To learn more about giving to the University of Georgia, visit give.uga.edu.

Class of 2019 sets Senior Signature record

For the third year in a row, UGA’s graduating class has set a Senior Signature giving record.

Senior-Signature-Record-2540-Donors

2,540 graduating seniors collectively donated $127,000 to the university through this fundraising campaign spearheaded by the UGA Student Alumni Association. Each student donor’s name has been engraved on a plaque in Tate Plaza in honor of their commitment to UGA.

“I gave to the Senior Signature campaign because of those who have come before me and given, as well as for those who will come after me,” said Nash Davis, a member of the Class of 2019 and president of the Student Alumni Association. “Giving to UGA provides opportunities that I myself will never have the opportunity to gain anything from and I think that’s what makes giving so important.”

Senior Signature was established in 1991 with just several hundred donors in its first year. Since that time, over 35,000 students have donated more than $1.5 million to UGA through the program. Each year, graduating seniors are asked to “make their mark” on UGA by donating $50. Of that gift, $20 is directed to the Georga Fund and the other portion can be designated to a specific school, college, department, program, or scholarship that the donor wishes to support.

Join us in congratulating (and THANKING) the Class of 2019 for this record-breaking effort. RING THE BELL!

A Student’s Perspective on Thank a Donor Day 2019

When it comes to Tate Plaza, students are used to passing some pretty strange things on their way to class. A camel, a cow or just a bunch of extracurricular flyers are not out of the ordinary at all on any day of the week. However, a Tate Plaza event so spectacular that it requires the presence of President Morehead, Miss University of Georgia, Hairy Dawg and hundreds of students only happens once a year. The eighth annual Thank a Donor Day 2019 was on April 11th, 2019, and the student body is better because of it.

Hairy Dawg and a student

Hairy Dawg took photos with students who attended TADD, including the author.

Thank a Donor Day, simply put, is a day where students and faculty members thank university donors for all they have contributed to the University of Georgia. All of our colleges, campus facilities, certificates and student programs are what they are because of the university’s generous donors. Thank a Donor Day is a celebration of those donors, while also being important for educating the student body about what goes on behind the scenes at a university.

A student signs a banner dedicated to thanking donors.

A student signs the banner thanking donors.

Thousands of students depend on and benefit from scholarships – those are thanks to donors. All of the state-of-the-art new facilities on campus, like the Terry expansion or the new Veterinary Medicine building, have been built thanks to donors. Programs like the Public Affairs Professional Certificate program at Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communication have been founded thanks to the generosity of a donor. See? There’s a lot to be thankful for as a University of Georgia student, because at least several aspects of all our educations are made possible because of donors.

It’s important to take a day to give back, while still making that show of appreciation simple for a student on the go. More than 900 students expressed their gratitude through signing the community thank-you card, writing a note and decorating posters. It was easy to genuinely thank donors in a time-efficient manner. Plus, no student can resist the lure of a free t-shirt and a Chick-fil-A lemonade and cookie in exchange for their act of thanks.

A photo of the t-shirt table at TADD.

Students who completed all three of the tasks on their card received a free t-shirt, and a Chick-fil-A cookie and lemonade.

It was a beautiful day, filled with students smiling, saying thank you, and becoming made aware of all the ways others have contributed to making their time at the University of Georgia a worthwhile and excellent experience. While Thank a Donor Day is only once a year, hopefully it encourages students to remember every day to be grateful for all the things we are so lucky to have here.

Before and after Thank a Donor Day, Athens faced some pretty terrible weather. On the day of the event, the sun was shining and the conditions were perfect for an outdoor event. Maybe that’s a sign that we are better on days that we are thankful.

Check out our Instagram story here.

UGA named No. 13 Best Public University by U.S. News & World Report

As University of Georgia alumni and friends strengthen their commitment to UGA year over year, the world is taking notice—U.S. News & World Report named UGA No. 13 on its list of 2019 Best Public Universities.

This ranking (up three spots from last year’s ranking) represents the power of the ever-increasing support UGA has received in the last several years, particularly from alumni—in fact, a “loyal alumni participation number” factors into the U.S. News & World Report ranking.

Our alumni’s support is critical to UGA’s success, and the stronger UGA becomes, the more accomplished and engaged our alumni become. Yvette Dupree (BBA ’03, MAT ’07, PHD ’12), a member of the Young Alumni Council, is an example of our motivated alumni who understand this well.

“The Young Alumni Council wants alumni to realize that their gifts are vitally important to the university’s ranking and our reputation around the world,” said Yvette. “The better the ranking, the better it is for alumni. It’s a win-win.”

“The Young Alumni Council wants alumni to realize that their gifts are vitally important to the university’s ranking and our reputation around the world. The better the ranking, the better it is for alumni. It’s a win-win.”

Alumni organizations like these empower our alumni and, in turn, empower the university. Our alumni chapters are ready to welcome Georgia Bulldogs all over the world, help them stay connected to UGA, and make sure they never bark alone.

To those who have made a gift to UGA in the last year, thank you for your continued commitment to your alma mater. If you have not already made a gift, please learn more about the Commit to Georgia Campaign and consider making a gift today to count in upcoming rankings.

UGA alumni help set 5 fundraising records in 5 years

For the fifth consecutive year, UGA donors have set a new record in fundraising, contributing a total of $242 million in new gifts and pledges to the Commit to Georgia Campaign. This is the second consecutive year that the total has surpassed $200 million.

 


“I am overwhelmed with gratitude,” said President Jere W. Morehead, “and I want to thank each and every donor who contributed to this historic achievement. They are changing lives with their generosity and loyalty to the University of Georgia, and I am deeply grateful.”

More than 140,000 donors have contributed to the Commit to Georgia Campaign, which has raised over $1 billion toward its ultimate goal of $1.2 billion by 2020. The priorities of the campaign are to increase scholarship support, enhance the learning environment, and solve grand challenges through research and service.

“Bulldogs always answer the call to support other Bulldogs, and this record-breaking year of giving is proof of that,” said Bonney Shuman, president of the UGA Alumni Association Board of Directors. “We are creating the kind of future we want to see, and I am excited about the next two years and what it holds for us as we work to strengthen our alumni community. As the Commit to Georgia Campaign narrative says so eloquently, ‘Some call it going the extra mile, we call it being a Bulldog.'”

Through the UGA Alumni Association, 11 students are currently receiving $40,000 of support from the Alumni Association’s general endowed scholarship, Black Alumni Scholarship and study abroad scholarships. Through The 1961 Club giving society, donors to the Black Alumni Scholarship gave more than $112,000 this year to increase the amount of funding those scholarship recipients receive as well as the number of students receiving the scholarship. The Women of UGA affinity group is close to their $50,000 goal to establish a Georgia Commitment Scholarship, and the Chapters Scholarship Fund is expected to reach its endowment goal by the end of the calendar year. We asked some of our alumni volunteers why they give to their alma mater. Here is what they had to say:


Anne BeckwithAnne Beckwith (BBA ’90), Secretary, Women of UGA Leadership Council – “I want to help UGA students to experience the entirety of college–attending a university is more than just going to class. It’s socializing with your peers, but also with adults. It’s making good friends. It’s learning to give a hand to those who need it. I feel strongly that as a successful UGA graduate, I should try to help others to have the space in their college lives to do those outside things, which I can do by increasing UGA’s ability to address financial need. It’s hard to do more than go to class when you are worried about your next meal or where you will sleep next week.”


Derek Hammock (BBA ’15, MACC ’16), Member, Young Alumni Leadership Council – “The value of my education was not on my own merit. So many alumni will tell you their degrees are worth more now. That’s partly a result of private giving, which provides greater opportunities to students to attract the best and brightest. I give back to help current students have even better experiences than the incredible ones I had.”


Ericka Davis (AB ’93), Fundraising Chair, Black Alumni Leadership Council – “The impact didn’t hit me until I recently met a recipient of the Black Alumni Scholarship. Hearing from him about the impact the scholarship was making on his time at UGA, it was really moving.”


Todd Phinney (BBA ’88) Member, UGA Alumni Association Board of Directors – “My wife and I share our time, talent and treasure with UGA because this is our state, our university and UGA continues to give back to us, and our two children, who are also graduates. We are tremendously proud of our Dawg heritage, and for what this incredible institution does every day in Georgia, for the nation and internationally.”


Jessica Wallace Gray (ABJ ’11), President, Jacksonville Alumni Chapter – “I give back because I want present and future students to be able to experience all that UGA has to offer. I was so fortunate to have four amazing years at UGA, and feel so blessed at the opportunities I’ve had because of my time there. I want UGA to continue growing as an institution and to make sure that the best and brightest students have every opportunity that I was given.”


T.J. Snowden (BSED ’04) President, Black Alumni Leadership Council – “I’m committed to increasing diversity and black philanthropy at UGA. UGA has only been integrated for a little more than 57 years, so there is a need to develop and sustain philanthropic efforts among black students and alumni to aid UGA in its support of students of color.”