University of Georgia President Jere Morehead presents the State of the University address at the UGA North Chapel on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019, in Athens, Georgia. In the address, President Moorehead emphasized record-high numbers of graduation rates, standardized test scores of incoming freshmen and the university’s economic impact on the state of Georgia. (Photo/Gabriella Audi, www.gabbyaudi10.wixsite.com/mysite-1)

University of Georgia President Jere Morehead held the first University Cabinet meeting of the spring semester on Feb. 27 and discussed UGA’s recent accomplishments in fundraising, awards, admissions and faculty hiring. Later in the day, Morehead led the first University Council meeting of the semester. Here is everything you need to know.

University Cabinet 

“We have now surpassed the $1.2 billion goal of our Commit to Georgia campaign 16 months early,” Morehead said in his opening remarks, thanking Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Kelly Kerner for his efforts in the campaign.

“The bottom line is we are now focused on seeing how much higher we can get before the end of this campaign because every gift helps transform the university,” Morehead said.

Morehead announced that UGA Admissions had received an all-time high of 29,300 applications with decisions to be released in March. Looking ahead, he cautioned that admissions credentials may be approaching a “ceiling.”

“The credentials [of applicants] are better than ever,” Morehead said. “But we are sort of reaching a ceiling now, so everyone needs to be prepared that you cannot get much better than what we have had in the past.”

Morehead extended congratulations to a number of cabinet members, including Honors Program Director David Williams on UGA’s record of 16 acceptances to the Fulbright Student Program, Director of Athletics Greg McGarity and head coach Jeff Wallace on the women’s tennis team’s recent ITA National Team Indoor Championship, and Vice President of Student Affairs Victor Wilson for his role in the success of the UGA Miracle 24-hour Dance Marathon.

In other achievements, Morehead provided new statistics from the Career Center indicating that 96 percent of UGA graduates are either enrolled in graduate school or employed six months following graduation. He then addressed ongoing construction projects.

“Phase one of the Interdisciplinary STEM Research facility is underway,” Morehead said. “We are now in the process of seeking funding to begin design and planning for the second phase … I have spent a lot of time at the Capitol making that case as well as some other capital priorities that we have focused on.”

Among these other priorities mentioned include the Driftmier Engineering Center project and a full funding system for the University System of Georgia to help keep expenses low.

In other updates, Morehead announced an implementation team for the Innovation District and thanked Michelle Cook for her work in coming up with the University’s next Strategic Plan for 2020 to 2025.

He then turned to Interim Provost Libby Morris, whom he thanked for her service during the transition period. In her report, Morris highlighted recent investments in faculty hiring.

Morris discussed two ongoing hiring initiatives. Using $3 million of startup funding allocated by Morehead, hiring is underway for up to 12 tenure-track positions across six colleges. Secondly, Morris mentioned the Investment in Data Literacy and Writing Lecturers Intensive Hiring Initiative, which has allocated $1 million to hire up 13 tenure track faculty and lecturers.

“Investments in faculty, of course, are critical,” Morris said. “We also recognize that our facilities play an important role in attracting and retaining faculty members.”

Morris said $1.5 million has been allocated through the President’s Initiative for Laboratory Enhancement to allow faculty members to be more competitive in seeking research grants and attract new faculty members.

Morris closed her report with the most recent estimate of UGA’s annual economic impact, according to a study by Professor Jeffrey Dorfman, reported at $6.3 billion.

Members then voted to approve donor naming action items. Kerner then delivered a report on alumni development and relations, focused on the Commit to Georgia campaign. Kerner said UGA had doubled its offering of endowed scholarships since 2008.

Jenna Jambeck and Jason Locklin presented an update on their work researching the environmental impact of plastic and the development of plastic alternatives with the New Materials Institute before the meeting adjourned.

University Council meeting

The University Council met Wednesday for its first meeting of the spring 2019 semester and approved all action items on the agenda.

President Jere Morehead called the meeting to order and highlighted many of the same developments mentioned in his earlier University Cabinet report.

From the University Curriculum Committee, the Council voted to offer the existing Master of Social Work as an online program, a new minor in general business, new graduate certificates in organizational coaching and in science and health communication, as well as an online graduate certificate in public health.

The University Council also voted to deactivate the online major in general business and eliminate both the undergraduate certificate in community forestry and the graduate certificate in research administration.

Chair of the Committee on Statutes, Bylaws, and Committees Scott Pegan then presented a number of action items from his committee, updating the membership rules of the University Council, University Council executive committee, Educational Affairs Committee and Faculty Affairs Committee. The Council approved all of these items, as well as items relating to revising committee duties.

Staff Council President Maria Mize then delivered a report thanking Morehead for his dedication to professional development before Student Government Association President Ammishaddai Grand-Jean delivered a report on his administration’s accomplishments in its platform of efficiency, transparency and cooperation.

Among the accomplishments listed were the Deck Check feature on the UGA app, opening the Legion Pool parking lot after 5 p.m., passing legislation to create a professional clothing closet, hosting virtual town halls and organizing UGAvotes.

Gracen Pace contributed to this article.

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