Happy holidays from the University of West Georgia! A year like no other, 2020 will soon be in the rearview. Before we move forward into the great unknown that is 2021, let’s take time to reflect on the highlights of this year and how UWG leaned in to the challenges presented by this year to emerge stronger in the future.
When Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) struck in the early months of 2020, members of the UWG community sprung into action to fight the pandemic anyway they could.
- Professor of Theatre and Costume Designer Alan Yeong-Marcello, along with Costume Shop Coordinator Nan Stephens, sewed masks for hospital workers.
- Graduate Sean O’Keefe transformed a brewery into a hand sanitizer production facility.
- Alumnae Heather Rodriguez and Emilee Barron began chronicling the pandemic for future historians and traveled to the frontlines of New York City to lend nursing skills, respectively.
- Professor of Educational Technology and Foundations Dr. Angela Branyon championed the accessibility to remote learning for K-12 students.
- The Small Business Development Center at UWG worked diligently alongside state officials to get help for Georgia business owners.
- And overall, thousands of UWG faculty and staff worked together to prepare for a full reopening of campus for the fall semester while continuing to prioritize the health and safety of the entire university community.
For the second time since its creation in 1975, the Truman Foundation awarded a scholarship to a UWG student. Rickia Stafford, a first-generation college student from Smyrna majoring in political science, was chosen from 773 applications from 316 institutions in the country and one of only four students chosen as finalists in Georgia. Intending to learn the justice system in order to bring about change, Stafford’s research focus is on juvenile delinquency and intends to learn the system in order to bring about change and let others know how important it is to be civically engaged.
Annual Giving Campaign
The University of West Georgia recently concluded its annual A Day to Give West – known as A Day – campaign, notching more than $1 million in gifts to support the university’s annual giving efforts. The $1,000,496 raised will support scholarships, enhancements to campus, laboratory equipment, recreational activities, and other initiatives and programs. The final amount makes the 2020 campaign, conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, the second-largest in the university’s history.
Jared Wright ’14 has been instrumental in preserving the history of Capricorn Records, a 1970s Macon-based record label, which some music historians have credited as the birthplace of Southern rock. Wright, a public history alum, was hired in 2016 as curator of the Museum at Capricorn. The museum is approximately 1,500 square feet of floor space and is a mix of artifacts with a heavy digital presence. Wright described it as having a lot of psychedelic artwork, which the label was known for, and a lot of wood paneling, a silver stereo, and items of the like. It opened earlier this year.
Historic Commencements and Record Conferrals
Due to COVID-19, UWG hosted virtual ceremonies for Spring and Summer graduations. Recently, those alumni were invited to join Fall graduates for a joint commencement celebrating the largest class consisting of more than 1,250 Wolves. Due to the size of the class and social distancing restrictions, this event marked only the second time graduation ceremonies were hosted at University Stadium.
The vision of Roy Richards Sr. Hall that will enhance opportunities for UWG students to succeed is edging closer to becoming a reality. This past summer, the state of Georgia approved $1.9 million in furniture, fixtures and equipment (FFE) funding for Richards Hall that will allow for the completion of the new space serving Richards College of Business students to be completed in time for the fall 2021 semester. The construction is currently in the vertical stage, and the 67,000-square-foot facility will include a dozen classrooms ranging in sizes from a 24-seat seminar classroom to a 105-seat lecture hall; an expanded lab to serve management information systems students; and 13 collaborative learning spaces open for use by students, faculty and staff.
Points of Pride
A host of national organizations recognized the value and quality of UWG’s programs and the university’s commitment to students.
- For the seventh year in a row, West Georgia was named one of the Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs – one of only two universities nationwide to receive this honor all seven years it has been presented.
- UWG was once again named to the Colleges of Distinction, an organization that recognizes institutions committed to individualized and engaging education, marking the fourth consecutive year UWG has earned the esteemed status.
- U.S. News & World Report recognized UWG as 48th in the country and second in Georgia among Top Performers in Social Mobility, measured by the extent to which a college or university educates more economically disadvantaged students at lower tuition and graduates them into good paying jobs.
- The UWG Freshmen Math Program won the 2020 Regents’ Momentum Year Award for Excellence in Teaching and Curricular Innovation.
- UWG was recognized by the Carnegie Foundation for its institutional commitment to community engagement through teaching, research and public service with the Community Engagement Classification – one of only 119 U.S. colleges and universities to receive the elective classification in 2020 and one of only 44 institutions nationwide that received the classification for the first time.
- The university contributed more than $632.3 million to the region’s economy during the state’s 2019 fiscal year, according to the annual economic impact study recently released by the University System of Georgia.
- The National Arbor Day Foundation added UWG as a Tree Campus USA honoree for the ninth year in a row.