Tuesday, January 14, 2014
The University of West Georgia awarded university President Emeritus Dr. Beheruz N. Sethna the Founder’s Award during the winter 2013 commencement ceremony. Sethna received the Founder’s Award, the most prestigious honor given by the university, due to his tremendous contributions to the university during his 19-year tenure.
The Founder’s Award was first given in 1945 by UWG’s first president, Irvine S. Ingram. From 1996 to 2006, only eight recipients received the honor, and Sethna is the first to receive it in more than seven years. Other notable recipients of the Founder’s Award include many professors, judges, politicians, teachers, businessmen and volunteers who left UWG an even better institution than when they first encountered it. Now, Sethna joins their ranks.
"Dr. Beheruz N. Sethna has not only been a Founder helping UWG achieve what it is today, but a catalyst for what it will be in the future," said Dr. Kyle Marrero, the current president of UWG.
Sethna helped UWG, then West Georgia College, become a comprehensive, doctoral degree-granting SACS level VI university. Under his leadership, the student population grew to nearly 12,000, increasing the number of full-time enrollments by 50 percent. Sethna added more square footage of facilities than all other presidents combined throughout the previous 107 years. Additionally, he increased UWG’s endowment ten-fold. He implemented the now-essential Honors College and the Advanced Academy, the residential program for gifted high school students seeking college degrees.
He was the first person of Indian origin in the United States to ever become a university president, and he was also the first person of an ethnic minority to become president of a non-historically Black college or university in Georgia. In addition to his many awards and years of service in the University System of Georgia, he has been presented the Key to the City for two Georgia cities. As part of his commitment to academic excellence, Sethna mentored approximately 70 individual student researchers and published 30 of his 69 papers during his time as president at UWG. Sethna continues to serve as a faculty member at UWG since his retirement in 2013.
“As I said at commencement, I am truly honored and humbled by this wonderful award,” said Sethna. “ I am grateful to God, to my parents who sacrificed so much so that I could get the opportunities I had, to my wonderful family for their support and help, to my great colleagues and our students who have raised the stature of this outstanding university, to our alumni and supporters, and certainly to President Kyle Marrero and Dr. Jane Marrero for their friendship. Thank you all; thank you very much.”