Friday, January 30, 2009

State Superintendent Kathy Cox: Free Access to SAT Online Prep Course

Parents, would you like your child to score 50 points higher on the SAT without spending an extra dime?

If so, we have a great offer for you.

The state of Georgia offers high school students free access to the SAT Online Prep Course developed by the College Board, the group that administers the SAT. This online course gives students access to virtual preparation exercises, review quizzes and several practice tests. The practice quizzes and tests, including the essay portion, are scored and feedback is given directly to the student.

The free SAT Online Prep Course is open to all Georgia high school students – public, private and home schooled. While usage of the program continues to rise, we want to make sure that every parent and student knows about it and knows the impact it can have.

Among Georgia's 2008 graduating seniors, the students who used the free SAT Prep Course scored significantly better on all portions of this important college entrance exam. On average, these students:

- Scored 13 points better on the critical reading section
- Scored 19 points better on the mathematics section
- Scored 16 points better on the writing section

That means the students who used the online course scored, on average, a total of 48 points higher than those who did not. As you well know, 48 points could be the difference between getting into the college of your choice or not.

So, if you are, like me, the parent of a high school student in Georgia, please make sure he or she registers for the free Online SAT Prep Course and takes full advantage of it. It’s an easy – and economical – way to help your student be as successful as possible on this very important test.
Public school students should visit their guidance office to ask for a card that has an access code for the course. Private school and home-schooled students should go to the Georgia Department of Education’s website to register. The web address is www.gadoe.org/SATPrepClass.Kathy Cox, a parent and a veteran classroom teacher, is Georgia’s Superintendent of Schools.
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VSU Gains Another Online Education Master's Degree

The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia recently approved for Valdosta State University to offer a new online Master of Arts for Teachers program.

Students in the new program, which will open for enrollment fall 2010, can major in middle grades or secondary education. The new options will complement existing in-class and online programs offered under the Master of Education in the James L. and Dorothy H. Dewar College of Education.

"These degrees are part of our effort to supply additional, high quality teachers to our region," said Dr. Louis Levy, VSU provost. “These MAT degrees along with our traditional Master of Education degrees will enhance the supply of qualified teachers, especially in high-need disciplines."

Individuals holding bachelor’s degrees in sought-after academic disciplines, like mathematics and science, will have a degree route to initial teacher certification. Their extensive knowledge in their specific areas, combined with a new background in education will provide a fresh supply of qualified teachers to the area.

The MAT in middle grades or secondary education is offered collaboratively with several other USG institutions, including Columbus State, which will be the first to grant degrees. Students can enroll in the program via www.georgiaONmyLine.gov .

While VSU will not begin granting the MAT until 2010, students can now earn education specialist degrees in teaching and learning, online teaching and teaching of the gifted. Call the COE at (229) 333-5925 for information about these new programs.

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Poll: Voters Value College Quality, Access

Voters give high marks to Georgia’s four-year colleges and universities, and they believe higher education budget cuts should be minimized even in difficult economic times, according to a public opinion poll released today by ARCHE, the Atlanta Regional Council for Higher Education.

The poll documents that Georgia voters recognize the importance of public and private colleges and universities to economic development and to Georgia’s national reputation. They also recognize the importance of scientific research to the state. And they support funding – even from their own pockets – for enhanced quality of education and financial aid for students who need it.

The online poll of 600 registered Georgia voters was conducted in late November and early December 2008. At the 95 percent confidence level, the margin of error is +/- 4.0 percent for questions reporting the full sample. The poll is available in full on the ARCHE Web site at http://www.atlantahighered.org/Portals/12/UploadFiles/ARCHEpoll09web.pdf.

“Voters value great colleges and universities in Georgia, they want them to be even better, and they’re willing to pay for increased quality and access,” said ARCHE President Michael A. Gerber. “They want Georgia to be a national higher ed leader, although they’re not quite sure we’re there yet.”

Quality: Almost eight out of 10 Georgia voters rate the quality of the state’s four-year public and private colleges and universities as excellent or good (79 percent for the public institutions and 78 percent for the private institutions).

Leadership: Ninety-three percent say it is very or somewhat important for Georgia to be a national leader in the quality of its colleges. Forty-nine percent agree that Georgia is currently a national leader; 37 percent disagree; and 14 percent don’t know.

Importance to Georgians: Nearly all voters think higher education is important in shaping individual success, economic growth and quality of life in Georgia. For example, 96 percent rate Georgia’s colleges and universities very or somewhat important to economic growth in the state.

Funding quality: Eighty percent of voters believe that state budget cuts to public colleges and universities should be minimized, even during today’s economic downturn. Almost two thirds (65 percent) are willing to pay $1 more a week in taxes if the money goes to enhance the quality of education for college students.

Tuition: A majority (56 percent) favor increasing tuition at public institutions if it supports academic programs and need-based student financial aid. About half (49 percent) would suspend the state’s “fixed for four” tuition program for public colleges to avoid cutting programs and lowering quality.

Financial aid and college cost: Nearly eight in 10 Georgia voters support using lottery surplus funds for new financial aid for students who need it (78 percent support such a program). More than half (56 percent) would pay $1 more per week in taxes to fund additional low- and middle-income student aid in the state.

More than half (59 percent) say a college education is somewhat or very unaffordable without a HOPE scholarship.

Plans for college: Ninety-five percent of parents believe it’s very or somewhat likely that their school-age child will enroll in a four-year college. Of these, 94 percent say it is very or somewhat likely their child would attend a college or university in Georgia.

Research: A large majority (88 percent) think research is very or somewhat important to the state’s economy. Eighty-nine percent believe it very or somewhat important that the state invest in research to create new jobs, and 79 percent agree the state should offer financial incentives to attract new scientific research labs and companies.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Georgia Southern University Presidential Search Committee Named

The newly appointed Georgia Southern University Presidential Search and Screen Committee will hold its initial meeting on Monday, February 23 at 11 a.m. in the President's Dining Room in the Nessmith-Lane Continuing Education Building on the Georgia Southern campus. Regent Donald M. Leebern Jr. and Dr. Susan Herbst, University System of Georgia (USG) executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer, will give the committee its formal charge at this organizational meeting.

A national search will be conducted to replace Georgia Southern University President Bruce Grube, who will step down as President, effective June 30, 2009. Dr. Grube has served the University System in this role since July 1, 1999.

Regent Leebern, at the February 23rd meeting, will outline to the Presidential Search and Screen Committee the duties and responsibilities associated with its role in the search for new leadership at Georgia Southern.

The Presidential Search and Screen Committee will develop a position description; place announcements in appropriate national media and conduct on-campus interviews.

Members of the Presidential Search and Screen Committee are as follows:
Dr. Luther (Trey) Denton, professor of Marketing, chair of search and screen committee
Dr. Jean Bartels, chair and professor of Nursing
Dr. Peggy Hargis, chair and professor of Sociology
Dr. Fayth Parks, associate professor of Counselor Education
Dr. Georj Lewis, Dean of Students
Mr. Brandon Cook, president, Student Government Association
Mr. Don Howard, chairman, Bank of North Georgia
Ms. Caroline Harless, Georgia Southern University Foundation
Mr. Mike Cummings, past chair, Georgia Southern University Alumni Association

The campus-based committee will forward the credentials of three to five unranked candidates to a Special Regents’ Search Committee for the second phase. Regents Felton Jenkins, William H. NeSmith Jr., Benjamin J. Tarbutton III and Richard L. Tucker will serve as members of the Special Regents’ Search Committee chaired by Regent Donald M. Leebern Jr. This committee is responsible for recommending finalists to Chancellor Erroll B. Davis Jr., who will make a recommendation to the full Board of Regents.

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Calling All Whiz Kids: Discovery Education and 3M Search For America's Top Young Scientist

/PRNewswire/ -- Discovery Education and 3M announce a call for entries in the 2009 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge (YSC), the nation's premier science competition for students in grades 5 through 8. Ten finalists will be selected to receive an all-expense paid trip to New York City to compete in the final challenge in October. The winner will receive $50,000 in U.S. Savings Bonds ($25,000 cash value) and the title of "America's Top Young Scientist."

Details of the competition:

1. Middle school students in the U.S. are challenged to create a 1-2 minute video about a specific scientific concept that relates to innovative solutions for everyday life.

2. Videos will be evaluated by a panel of judges based on creativity, persuasiveness, classroom suitability and overall presentation.

3. All video entries must be submitted online at http://www.youngscientistchallenge.com/ by May 20, 2009.

4. The video entry should use science to create an innovative solution to one of these everyday problems:

-- How can I play my music system for my own enjoyment, without disturbing the rest of the house?

-- What can I do to the soles of my shoes to make them better perform when I skateboard?

-- What can I do to reduce the glare on my television when I'm playing video games?

-- What device or method can I create which might help lower my family's heating or cooling bills?

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Army Scholarship Finances Graduate Medical, Dental & Veterinary Education

(BUSINESS WIRE)--In the coming months, many undergraduate students who have applied for medical and dental school will receive letters notifying them that they have been accepted for the fall semester. For some, the excitement of the news will be tinged with anxiety as they wonder how they will finance their education.

The United States Army Medical Department (AMEDD) through its F. Edward Hebert Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) is one option for students seeking a way to pay for their graduate medical, dental, veterinary or nursing degree. HPSP provides students with the full cost of tuition; school related fees and books; as well as a stipend of more than $1,900 per month during the school year. In addition, HPSP recipients are eligible for a one-time $20,000 (less tax) sign-on bonus.

For Sara Michael, a second year medical student at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, the scholarship enables her to stay focused on her education, “I’d say I’m less anxious about the future because my financial situation is more stable. That’s a huge perk.”

According to a 2007 study by the American Association of Medical Schools, the average student loan debt is more than $150,000 after graduation and is a barrier for many students. The report estimated that physicians who are on a standard 10-year loan repayment plan would see half of their after-tax earnings go to their loan payment.

“In a time of economic uncertainty and difficulty obtaining loans, the prospect of mounting debt is daunting,” said Colonel Rafael Montagno, commander U.S. Army Medical Recruiting Brigade. “Army Health Care provides students with a first rate education, advanced training and experience – and many students will be surprised to learn that they can specialize in forty-seven practices ranging from anesthesiology to vascular surgery, and have access to research opportunities that can take them around the world.”

The scholarship is available in 2, 3 and 4-year increments and provides benefits during school and after graduation for those planning a career in health care or who are currently enrolled in a graduate medical or dental program. In addition to a full tuition scholarship to the medical or dental school of choice, the program pays for required books, non-expendable equipment, other academic fees and a monthly stipend that is adjusted annually for cost-of-living increases. Upon graduation and entry onto active duty, AMEDD Officers receive increases in salary and new opportunities for a broad range of residencies, fellowships and special pay incentives. Acceptance of the Critical Skills Accessions Bonus includes a four-year active duty and four-year Reserve service obligation, which can be fulfilled concurrent with service obligations related to HPSP upon completion of residency programs and becoming licensed to practice.

For more information about HPSP and the Critical Skills Accession Bonus, please visit www.goarmy.com/amedd/hpsp.jsp or phone 800-USA-ARMY (800-872-2769).

Graduates of the HPSP program receive all the benefits of active duty Officers including:

* Paid continuing education courses, seminars and conferences
* No-cost or low-cost medical and dental care for you and your family
* A comfortable home on-post or a generous housing allowance if you live off-post
* Opportunities to travel throughout the world
* Attractive retirement benefits with 20 years of qualifying service
* A flexible, portable retirement savings and investment plan similar to a 401k
* 30 days of vacation earned each year
* Rank and privileges of an Army Officer
* Low-cost life insurance

ABOUT THE ARMY MEDICAL DEPARTMENT (AMEDD)

From nurses and entomologists to veterinarians, dietitians and physicians, Army Health Care offers more than 90 professional health care career paths – more than any other military service.

Army Health Care annually employs more than 73,500 active-duty professionals and 72,000 Reserve Soldiers who interact with more than 200,000 patients in an average day. The Army’s Health Care system is an $8 billion per year venture, employing 145,000 people and managing the care of three million beneficiaries. The active Army Medical Team is augmented by a Reserve Component, comprised of health care professionals in Reserve units throughout the United States and abroad.

One of the largest health care networks in the world, AMEDD operates more than 600 world-renowned hospitals, clinics and facilities around the globe. AMEDD encompasses six corps: Dental, Medical, Medical Service, Medical Specialist, Nurse and Veterinary.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Georgia Southern Teaches Cutting-Edge Technology

Georgia Southern University College of Information Technology One of Ten VMware Academies in the World to Teach Virtualization Computer Equipment Donation Gives Students a Rare Classroom Experience

Georgia Southern University’s College of Information Technology, the only one of its kind in the Southeast United States, is now one of only 10 universities in the world to teach the cutting-edge technology of virtualization on VMware software, thanks to VMware and a donation of computer equipment by Corus Consulting and Canvas Systems.

Corus Consulting and Canvas Systems values the equipment at $126,000 but professors in the College of Information Technology said it is hard to put a price on what the donation will add to an IT student’s education and career potential long term.

“With the equipment from Corus Consulting and Canvas Systems, our students will now have access to an educational experience that not many in the world have today,” said Timur Mirzoev, Ph.D. who is already using the donated equipment in two of his IT classes this semester. “We now have x86-based and UNIX servers, FC, iSCSI networked storage, switches, firewalls, VolP and much more dedicated specifically to education. We believe that this type of experience will give our graduates an additional competitive edge when they start their job search in an already in-demand field.”

The new equipment is being used to teach virtualization, which allows one server to host multiple virtual computers without the loss of their purpose or function. In addition, virtualization is changing the way businesses deploy and manage resources, simplifying and speeding IT response.

Designated a VMware Academy, Georgia Southern University’s College of Information Technology may teach VMware courses and certify students as Virtualization Certified Professionals. This certification saves future employers thousands of dollars in training costs and makes Georgia Southern graduates much more competitive in the job market. The designation as a VMware Academy was one of the key elements that impressed executives with Corus Consulting and Canvas Systems and prompted the computer equipment donation.

“Georgia Southern University’s College of Information Technology is now not only unique to Georgia and the Southeast, but the world. We wanted to work with an institution that was both innovative and a leader in IT education. Being one of only 10 VMware Academies in the world is an outstanding accomplishment for Georgia Southern and shows their commitment to preparing outstanding IT professionals,” said Brian Hoffman, Managing Director of Technology Services for Corus Consulting and Canvas Systems. “Georgia Southern graduates will posses hands on skills with industry leading technologies that very few IT students in the world have – including many graduates of the most respected universities in the world. These graduates will be productive employees on day one.”

According to Mirzoev, virtualization will ultimately save money, make computer systems perform more efficiently and allow for fast data and resources recovery in case of a disaster. Mirzoev says 90 percent of businesses in the world will virtualize their computer systems within the next five years. Many U.S. government agencies already require disaster recovery plans that rely extensively on virtualization technologies. But because only 10 universities in the world teach VMware technology, Georgia Southern University’s College of Information Technology graduates will be in great demand. “As a University, our goal is to be one of the leaders in this field,” says Mirzoev.Georgia Southern University, a Carnegie Doctoral/Research University, offers 116 degree programs serving nearly 18,000 students. Through eight colleges, the University offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs built on more than a century of academic achievement. The University, one of Georgia’s largest, is a top choice of Georgia’s HOPE scholars and is recognized for its student-centered approach to education. Visit: www.georgiasouthern.edu.
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Clayton State Graduate Studies Open House to Include Information on Master of Arts in Teaching

The Clayton State University School of Graduate Studies will be holding its next monthly informational Open House on Tuesday, Feb. 10 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in room 201 of the University’s Harry S. Downs Center.

The Open House will give prospective graduate students a chance to learn more about the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies, Master of Business Administration, Master of Health Administration, and Master of Science in Nursing. For the first time, representatives from Clayton State’s two newest graduate programs, the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) programs, the MAT - English and MAT - Mathematics, will also be attending.
The Clayton State School of Graduate Studies regularly holds open houses on the second Tuesday evening of each month.

The mission of graduate education at Clayton State is to stimulate, encourage and support efforts that build national distinction and that are characterized by innovation and by increasing contribution to the social, cultural, economic, health and technological development needs of Georgia and the nation. The University is committed to excellence, innovation and collaboration in research and in the preparation of professionals for the highest levels of practice.

Graduate education prepares: scholars in the arts, humanities, and the sciences who maintain and advance our understanding of the human condition; scientists, engineers, and other professionals needed by industry, government, and universities to conduct the nation's research and development; and scholars in all disciplines who become the faculties of our colleges and universities.

A unit of the University System of Georgia, Clayton State University is an outstanding comprehensive metropolitan university located 15 miles southeast of downtown Atlanta.
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New Military Charity Promotes “Civilians for Service Members.”

Task Force G.I. Concentrates on Creating Military Service Member Opportunity While Addressing Overseas Environment and Educational Needs.

Task Force G.I. is a non-profit Military charity that has been developed for the exclusive benefit of current and future members of the Armed Forces. Taskforce G.I. concentrates on five programs developed specifically to enhance overall overseas deployment environments and further the pursuit of obtaining educational degrees for enlisted members on active duty status with the five branches of service.

Taskforce G.I. has developed and promotes a lean operating platform designed to improve the return of all program investment. The focus is to use technology and volunteers to enhance the overall value received by Soldiers, Sailors, Airman and Marines. The website, TaskforceGI.org offers no obligation news letters to keep those interested in the progress of each Donor and Volunteer program. Interested parties can register for the newsletters by visiting the website, no Donor obligation is necessary to participate. Taskforce G.I. welcomes all involvement, allowing the largest voice possible so they can effectively contribute toward the betterment of Military Service Member’s education and environment.

“A very important part of my life was serving overseas in extreme conditions and hostile environments with the 82nd Airborne during Operation Desert Shield and the Persian Gulf War after reflection of that experience and consulting with others from current conflicts,” said Task Force G.I. founder Doug Wattenburger, “we feel that the initial program offering, serves members of the Military well.”

Task Force G.I. has five specific programs designed to address topics relating to overseas environment issues and educational progress for enlisted personnel. Taskforce G.I. has setup detailed donor programs for Individuals and Businesses that will permit rewarding experiences for all stakeholders involved. Specific program names are as follows: Education, Overseas Environment, Tools of the Trade, Emergency Assistance and Patriot. Detailed information on each program can be found on the website at TaskforceGI.org.
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Free Money for College Now Available to Next Fall’s Students

(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Sallie Mae Fund announced today that its scholarship application season is now open and invited students attending college in the fall to apply for scholarships it will award for the 2009-2010 school year. Applications, eligibility and deadline information are now available at www.salliemaefund.org/scholarships.

Scholarships are one of the four components of financial aid for college: scholarships, grants, work-study and student loans. The Institute for Higher Education Policy estimates that there are billions of dollars in college scholarships available each year. Awards can range from a few hundred dollars to a full ride for all four years, and best of all, they do not need to be repaid.

Erin Korsvall, vice president of The Sallie Mae Fund, reminds students that, to qualify for a scholarship, they must take the first step and apply. “Don’t miss out on scholarships by not applying. Get organized, note key deadlines, and give yourself plenty of time to find scholarships, request applications, complete them, and submit them. This free money will be well worth your time and energy.”

The Sallie Mae Fund offers students tips for finding free money for college:

* Don’t rule yourself out. Scholarships are not limited to class valedictorians and star athletes. They are awarded based on a number of factors — from your career goals to exceptional writing skills displayed in an essay contest.
* Apply for as many awards as you qualify for. Even small awards can be helpful in covering costs, such as books.
* Pay close attention to deadlines. Missing a deadline is a sure way to become disqualified.
* Look for scholarships offered by a variety of sources, including companies, unions, foundations, community organizations, churches, and more.
* Tell family, friends, teachers, and others in your community that you are looking for scholarships. They may know something you do not.
* Understand the conditions of an award, such as maintaining a specific GPA or participating on an athletic team.
* Make use of free scholarship directories and searches offered by reputable organizations, such as The Sallie Mae Fund.
* Watch for scholarship scams. You should never pay for scholarship advice or information.
* If you receive a scholarship, be sure to write a thank-you note to the organization. You may want to reapply for the scholarship in the future so it is important to leave a good impression.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, by 2016, colleges are expected to see a 45-percent growth in the number of Hispanic students enrolling and a 29-percent growth in the number of African-American students, many of whom will have greater financial need. To help meet this challenge, The Sallie Mae Fund provides scholarships through a number of its own programs that address a common barrier to higher education access: financial need. With deadlines ranging from April 15 to May 31, these scholarships include:

* “American Dream” Scholarship Program: The American Dream program was developed in partnership with U.N.C.F. and offers scholarships ranging from $500 to $5,000 to African-American students with demonstrated financial need. (Deadline: April 15)
* “First in My Family” Scholarship Program: This program, developed in partnership with the Hispanic College Fund, offers scholarships ranging from $500 to $5,000 to Hispanic-American students who are the first in their family to attend college and have financial need. (Deadline: April 15)
* “Unmet Need” Scholarship Program: Open to families with a combined income of less than $30,000, Unmet Need scholarships provide a “last-dollar” resource when no other funds are available. (Deadline: May 31)

* The Sallie Mae 911 Education Fund: Created in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, this program provides scholarship dollars to children of those who were killed or permanently disabled in the attacks. (Deadline: ongoing)

The Sallie Mae Fund also has online resources to help students research scholarships available from other organizations:

* A free, comprehensive database with billions of dollars worth of scholarships available at www.salliemaefund.org.
* Latino College Dollars, a directory of scholarships for Hispanic students, developed in partnership with the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute at the University of Southern California, available at www.latinocollegedollars.org.
* Black College Dollars, a directory of scholarships for African-American students, developed in partnership with BET Networks and the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education, available at www.blackcollegedollars.org.

For the 2008-2009 academic year, The Sallie Mae Fund awarded $2 million in scholarships to nearly 800 deserving students enrolled in colleges across the country. A record number of completed applications, more than 24,000, were submitted by college-bound students. For a complete listing of 2008-2009 scholarship recipients and the schools they attend and to access 2009-2010 scholarship application materials, visit www.salliemaefund.org.

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Learning Makes a Difference Foundation Announces $25,000 Grant From Dunn Foundation

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Learning Makes a Difference Foundation has been awarded a $25,000 grant by the Robert and Polly Dunn Foundation for the evaluation and blueprinting of the successful Learn, Earn and Achieve program. This generous gift will enable the Learning Makes a Difference Foundation to blueprint: creating a plan that anyone can follow to implement the Learn, Earn and Achieve program in their hometown.

Last year the Learning Makes a Difference Foundation implemented Phase 1 of the Learn, Earn and Achieve (previously named Learn and Earn) in conjunction with the Fulton County School system. Students who completed Learn and Earn, a pilot program that paid participants to attend after-school tutoring, showed improved performances in math and science following the completion of the 14-week program.

Learn and Earn began as an idea of Newt Gingrich's, was championed by Robb Pitts, Fulton County Commissioner, funded in Phase 1 by Charlie Loudermilk, chairman and CEO of Aaron Rents, trialed by the Fulton County school system and the Learning Makes a Difference Foundation. The LMD Foundation is continuing to raise funds for this important program.

The final report from the pilot program noted, "All of the students were excited about getting paid. One student stated, 'I treat it like I'm getting paid from my parents for good grades.' Another stated, 'It is fun to get paid for learning.' Another stated, 'It feels good. It motivates me to learn.' One high school student stated, 'It is like a job, you drag yourself in whether or not you feel like going.'"

As to their academic performance in math and science, Learn and Earn students outperformed similar students in a comparison group who did not receive pay or tutoring. Half of the Learn and Earn students improved in both math and science while only 20-30 percent of the comparison group improved in those subjects.

"At first I didn't like school, but now that I am bringing up my grades, I like school more and want to go to high school and college," said one eighth-grade program participant.

The mission of the LMD Foundation is to accelerate and enhance knowledge through innovative learning programs:

-- By acting as an incubator of ideas.
-- By creating, implementing and testing new initiatives.
-- By providing funding and support to non-profit organizations and
partners.


Learning Makes a Difference Foundation Inc. is an Atlanta-based non-profit whose mission is to accelerate and enhance knowledge through innovative learning programs. It is funded through private donations from individuals, corporations, grants and foundations. For more information, visit www.lmdfoundation.org.

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Champion for Students Named School Counselor of the Year

/PRNewswire/ -- Julie Hartline, a school counselor from Campbell High School (CHS) in Smyrna, Georgia, has been named the top school counselor in America. Hartline is one of more than 400 elementary, middle, and secondary school counselors nationwide that competed for the School Counselor of the Year award. The program, presented by Naviance and the American School Counselor Association, honors the professionals who devote their careers to serving as advocates and often lifesavers for the nation's students.

Hartline began working as a parole officer twenty years ago because she wanted to make a difference. When she discovered 85% of her caseload had never graduated from high school, she saw the need to make a difference earlier. She decided to become a teacher, which ultimately led her to her true calling as a school counselor. Now in her tenth year of counseling, Hartline continues to work tirelessly for the best interests of her students.

"Julie is a social change agent and is on the front lines advocating for excellence in education for her students," said Gail Smith, Supervisor of School Counseling, Cobb County School District. "She makes her vision a reality because of her commitment, her ability to collaborate, and her undying desire to provide her students with a meaningful and purposeful school experience."

The School Counselor of the Year awards program was open to all 100,000 members of the school counseling profession. The top ten school counselors were nominated by their peers and administrators, and judged by a select panel to be the "best of the best." The candidates were judged on several criteria, including: creative school counseling innovations, effective counseling programs, leadership skills, and contributions to student advancement.

Currently the Cobb County School Counselor Association President Elect, Hartline has introduced a variety of initiatives and programs to better serve her students and community. She revamped the CHS counseling program to include a registrar, allowing the remaining counselors to spend the majority of their time directly addressing student needs through classroom guidance and small group lessons. Hartline also developed a counselor appointment request system, so students have direct access to their counselor who is often the only trusted adult they can turn to in times of personal need.

One of Hartline's greatest accomplishments was the creation of the CHS Career Center. Having realized that a majority of students at CHS were not adequately prepared for the world of work and that many of them were first-generation college applicants, she worked with parents and her school foundation to receive funding to open and run a career center at the school. The center provides students with the individualized attention and guidance they need to pursue their post-secondary dreams.

"The fundamental goal of our counseling program is to support students so they can achieve academically, personally, and in the future," said Hartline. "School counseling is my passion and I aim to make a difference for students each and every day."

Another initiative under Hartline's leadership was Campbell's participation in the district pilot of the ASCA National Model, which included the establishment of the Counseling Advisory Council with community, parent, and faculty representation and the completion of a closing the gap project. Because of the successful pilot, Hartline is now assisting Gail Smith in Cobb County's three year roll-out of ASCA model training. In 2008, CHS became one of only two high schools in Georgia to receive the prestigious Recognized ASCA Model Program (RAMP) award and Hartline is sharing her expertise in this area across the county and state.

"School counselors make significant contributions to the overall well-being of students and their success," said Richard Wong, Executive Director, American School Counselor Association. "They have unique qualifications and skills that allow them to address students' academic achievement, personal/social and career development needs."

The ten finalists for the 2009 School Counselor of the Year are: Marilyn Agee, Concord East Side Elementary, Elkhart, Ind.; Margaret Cheeley, Collins Hill High School, Suwanee, Ga.; Vanessa Gomez-Lee, Valley View High School, Moreno Valley, Cal.; Karen Griffith, Berkeley Lake Elementary School, Duluth, Ga.; Julie Hartline, Campbell High School, Smyrna, Ga.; Laurie Huntwork, Aloha Huber Park PK-8 School, Beaverton, Ore.; Michael "Brian" Law, Valdosta High School, Valdosta, Ga.; Ana Maria Leon, Wilton Manors Elementary School, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Diane Reese, T.C. Williams High School, Alexandria, Va.; and Steve Schneider, Sheboygan South High School, Sheboygan, Wis.

Hartline, along with the other nine finalists, will be flown to Washington, D.C., on January 28, 2009, for three days of celebratory events. The honorees will have meetings with their Members of Congress, attend a Congressional briefing and reception, and be formally recognized at a black-tie gala.

Co-chairs of the 2009 School Counselor of the Year program are Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Cal.) and Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.). The 2009 program is presented by Naviance, a provider of planning and advising systems for secondary schools, and the American School Counselor Association.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tim Hynes Named Interim President of Clayton State

University System of Georgia Chief Academic Officer Susan Herbst announced today that she has appointed Dr. Thomas J. (Tim) Hynes Jr., provost and vice president for academic affairs at the University of West Georgia (UWG) in Carrollton for many years, to serve as interim president of Clayton State University, effective June 1, 2009.

“We are extremely fortunate to be able to call on Dr. Hynes’ strong leadership skills during this transition,” Herbst said, referring to the previously announced resignation of Clayton State President Thomas K. Harden as of the above date. “Clayton State University has a great deal of momentum going for it, and I am confident that the institution will be in excellent hands under Dr. Hynes.”

Hynes has held his current position at the University of West Georgia for all but two years since 1996. On two occasions since 1999, Hynes served as acting president of UWG when President Beheruz N. Sethna was called to the University System Office in Atlanta to serve as interim executive vice chancellor for academic affairs.

Hynes previously served as interim dean of the University of Louisville in Louisville, Ky., from 1990 to 1996. Before that, he was associate dean of the university from 1988 to 1990 and had been a member of the University of Louisville faculty since 1978. Prior to that, he taught at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, the University of Massachusetts (UM) in Amherst and the University of North Carolina (UNC) in Chapel Hill.

Hynes was a member of the Board of Regents Advisory Committee that developed the 1998 Regents’ Principles for the Preparation of Teachers. Still in use today, these principles guarantee the quality of all teachers prepared by the University System of Georgia.

Hynes holds an undergraduate degree in mathematics and a Ph.D. in communications studies from UM and a Master of Arts degree in speech from UNC. In 2005, he earned a certificate of participation in the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Institute for Educational Management, and in 2003, he participated in the American Institute for Managing Diversity’s Diversity Leadership Academy.

Plans regarding the search for a permanent presidential appointee at Clayton State will be forthcoming at a later date.

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Georgia Southern University Launches Online Tour of Campus

Prospective Students and Parents Can Take a Tour at Home

Can’t make it to campus? No problem. Georgia Southern University has launched an online tour that gives prospective students and their parents a first-hand look at its scenic campus without having to leave home. The new tour is accessible from the University’s Web site at: www.georgiasouthern.edu.

Recognized as one of the most beautiful college campuses in the country, Georgia Southern’s campus features expansive green spaces designed with the University student in mind. With nearly every campus building within walking distance, the campus has been transformed during the past 10 years to include numerous new buildings and residence halls, a recently renovated library and a pedestrium that runs through the center of campus.

“This online tour will provide students, particularly those that would have to otherwise travel long distances, the opportunity to see our campus without ever leaving home,” said Susan Davies, director of admissions at Georgia Southern University. “While there is no substitute for seeing the campus in person, our online tour is the next best thing.”

Georgia Southern University asked current students and Southern Ambassadors Clay Turner and Waneik Montgomery to host the online tour which was designed to show off some of the most popular features of campus. From the beautiful scenery of historic Sweetheart Circle to taking an “inside” look at our newest residence halls, the short tour gives prospective students the feeling of what it’s like to be on campus.

“We pride ourselves on being a major research university with the feeling of a much smaller private college,” said Davies. “Our campus not only amazes prospective students and their parents, but also alumni that have not been back in a while.”

To access the online tour, prospective students and parents can visit: www.georgiasouthern.edu and click on the “Watch a Video Tour” link at the top of the University’s home page. Student s may also schedule a personal visit to campus by clicking on the “Plan a Campus Visit” link.
Georgia Southern University, a Carnegie Doctoral/Research University, offers 116 degree programs serving nearly 18,000 students. Through eight colleges, the University offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs built on more than a century of academic achievement. The University, one of Georgia’s largest, is a top choice of Georgia’s HOPE scholars and is recognized for its student-centered approach to education. Visit: www.georgiasouthern.edu.
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Monday, January 26, 2009

Brain Bee at Georgia State Opens Doors to Neuroscience and Beyond

As a student at Parkview High School in Lilburn, Ga., Stephanie Wang put her knowledge of neuroscience to the test during the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience’s Brain Bee — a two-round competition where high school students learn more about the complexities of the mind and brain.

And it opened not just new opportunities to explore a field that seeks to unlock those mysteries, but also to hands-on experience in science.

“It not only gave me some background on the subject, but it also allowed me to see fun and modern applications of neuroscience, and its importance,” said Wang, now a sophomore at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology majoring in chemical biochemical engineering.

Georgia students in grades 9-12 will also have this horizon-opening opportunity to explore neuroscience during the 2009 Georgia Regional Brain Bee on Feb. 7 at Georgia State University. The event is sponsored by the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience and the Atlanta Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience.

“The Brain Bee is a challenging and fun educational activity,” said Kyle Frantz, an associate professor in the Neuroscience Institute at Georgia State and a CBN educator. “Students learn about a wide variety of topics, including brain anatomy, brain development, aging and neurodegeneration, as well as other curiosities of the nervous system like learning and memory, sleep, and stress.”

Atlanta is one of 36 cities around the world hosting a Brain Bee regional competition, where students take a multiple choice test, and then participate in an oral competition similar to a spelling bee. The Atlanta Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience will sponsor the winner of the Georgia Regional Brain Bee and an adult chaperone to attend the National Brain Bee in Baltimore in March 2009.

After competing in the Brain Bee, Wang met CBN researchers and later went on to intern in Carruth’s laboratory during her junior year of high school during the CBN’s research program for high schoolers called the Institute On Neuroscience (ION) — giving Wang invaluable experience which helps her today in her college career.

“It definitely helped me in getting a step ahead in my high school biology classes, but more importantly, it helped to open doors to research,” Wang said.

For more information about the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience or the Brain Bee, visit www.cbn-atl.org.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Poster Design Competition for High School Seniors Proclaims 'Life is Better With Art In It'

/PRNewswire/ -- What would life be like if you walked into a museum and there were no pictures? Or if you visited a school, and there were no drawings on the wall? Art gives life depth, color, texture and joy.

To recognize the importance that art plays in everyone's lives, The Art Institutes and Americans for the Arts announce the annual Poster Design Competition for high school seniors illustrating the theme "Life is Better with Art In It."

Students with an interest in graphic design are eligible to win a scholarship worth $25,000 to study at one of The Art Institutes schools.

According to John Mazzoni, President of The Art Institutes, "High school seniors interested in a creative arts education may not be sure where their talents may lead. We are excited about offering this national graphic design competition and view it as a unique opportunity to encourage, recognize and reward talented artists who want to further their education in an evolving field that may lead to a fulfilling career in the industry."

Co-sponsor for the national Poster Design Competition, Americans for the Arts, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and advocating for arts in schools. "Art programs in many schools across the country are often tragically on the chopping block when it becomes necessary to trim budget," says Robert Lynch, CEO of Americans for the Arts. "Our partnership in this competition is aimed at raising awareness of the importance that art plays in the lives of children of all ages."

Deadline for entries is February 6, 2009. Selection and notification of a national winner will be made by May 15, 2009.

For more information on how to enter the Poster Design Competition and to view the competition rules, visit www.artinstitutes.edu/pr.aspx?ID=pdc093 .

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Recession Proof: The Need for Nurses Continues to Rise at Record Rate

With announcements of rising unemployment and an ongoing economic recession, Georgia Southern University Nursing graduates are finding that they are not only in high demand, but those employers are fiercely competing for their services upon graduation. Among the highest ranked Nursing program in the state of Georgia, Georgia Southern University is seeing not only increased interest in its graduates, but also a rise in applicants to its highly competitive program.

“It is really amazing to see the interest from not only employers, but also the increase in the number of applicants to our program,” said Jean Bartels, Ph.D., professor and chair of the School of Nursing at Georgia Southern University. “Employers continue to aggressively recruit our students, considered to be the best in the state, both at the undergraduate and graduate level.”

Some students within the School of Nursing at Georgia Southern are not only receiving one or two job offers, but receiving them before they even graduate. In fact, more than two thirds of the December 2008 graduating class received two to three job offers from health care agencies both in and out of state. For area health care agencies, Georgia Southern graduates were the most heavily recruited Nursing graduates of any regional University. In fact, one large metropolitan hospital hired only Georgia Southern graduates this December.

A recent news story by the Associated Press noted that some employers are becoming very creative going as far as offering red carpet treatment and gas cards just to entice job seekers to attend job fair. “Nearly every recruiter that comes to Georgia Southern’s campus is trying to find a way to stand out versus the competition. In such a competitive market, recruiters are definitely searching for unique ways to attract graduates.”

Demand on the Rise

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 233,000 additional new jobs will open for registered nurses each year through 2016. That is on top of about 2.5 million current positions. When you take into consideration that only about 200,000 candidates passed the required RN licensing exam in 2008, the need for new nurses becomes even more alarming.

According to Bartels, Georgia ranks 42 nationally in the supply of RNs creating an RN vacancy rate of as high as 15 percent, well above the national average. By 2012, Georgia alone will have an estimated shortfall of more than 20,000 nurses. “Even with a best-case scenario, assuming all nursing graduates pass the licensure exam, remain in Georgia, and work full time, it is estimated that with current capacity and practices, the state will only be able to produce a maximum of 12,000 of the needed 20,000 RNs by 2012.”

“The need for well educated nurses is not only tied to the increased demand for healthcare, but can also be attributed to increasing numbers of retiring nurses,” said Bartels. “Nurses are retiring at a faster rate than Universities can train and supply new nurses not to mention addressing additional need on top of that.”

Becoming More Competitive

Bartels is also seeing another trend – the desire of current nurses to earn additional higher degrees in their field. Georgia Southern University offers several programs that have grown rapidly in the past year. These include the RN-BSN program where a currently registered nurse may earn a bachelor’s degree through a completely online program. In addition, the University also offers a Master of Science and Nursing and this past year introduced a Doctor of Nursing Program (DNP). The RN-BSN and DNP are offered completely online while the Master of Science in Nursing is taught through a combination of online and classroom instruction.

All three programs have been designed for nurses working long hours or varying shifts. “There is an obvious interest in achieving additional nursing education and we designed the programs so that nurses could not only pursue their degree, but do so while they continued to work,” said Bartels.

One need that Bartels continues to reinforce is the need for additional nursing faculty. “I am trying to search for a faculty member right now to fill a position and there are just not enough faculty members to go around.” To counter this trend, programs like Georgia Southern have launched doctorate level programs designed to prepare nurses not only for advanced nursing practice, but also to return to the classroom to teach what they have learned. Georgia Southern’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program is one of only two of its kind in the state and now students have access to one of the nation’s top nursing programs at any location with an Internet connection.

With current economic conditions, demand for new nurses, the challenge to provide additional training for current nurses and the need for new faculty, Bartels says creativity is the key. “You’ve got to be creative, persistent and willing to step outside the box,” she says. “At Georgia Southern we are continually looking for new ways to not only address the existing shortage, but prepare for expected future demand.”

Prospective students may find out more about Georgia Southern’s nursing programs at: www.georgiasouthern.edu. The application deadline for the Doctor of Nursing Practice program is March 1, 2009. The RN-BSN program and the Master of Science in Nursing program accept applications throughout the year.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

2009 State of the University of Georgia Address

University of Georgia President Michael F. Adams presented the 2009 State of the University Address today. The full text of the address is below.

The State of the University Address
by Michael F. Adams, President
The University of Georgia

Thank you, Bruce, for that introduction and for your leadership on Council this year.

Good afternoon to each of you, and thank you for joining me as I am privileged to report annually to the faculty on the state of the university.

Who could have predicted the changes and challenges that 2008 would bring locally, nationally and internationally? An African-American and a woman in the Democratic presidential primary, competing for the opportunity to face the oldest presidential candidate in history in one of the most unusual elections ever in America. A man named Wakamatsu became a manager in major league baseball, while in Chicago “Da Bears” were coached by a man named Lovie and the White Sox managed by a Hispanic.

Couple all that with one of the oddest vice presidential picks in history, and “you betcha” it was a year of change.

The world is changing.

On a serious note, these events highlight the kind of world for which we are preparing our students.

This has been both a rewarding and challenging year for the University of Georgia. Great successes in some areas have been tempered somewhat by the difficulties in the state budget. The markets remain low with a high degree of volatility. The optimism generated by the success of the Archway to Excellence campaign has been offset by these uncertainties. Despite challenges, we are committed together, without hesitation, to our core missions of teaching, research and service. Indeed, many of you have gone the extra mile and carried heavier burdens, and I am indebted to you for that.

I particularly wish to recognize the faculty of this great university. Through these difficult times, despite the larger classes, despite the late hours, despite decreased office resources, and other obstacles that have positioned themselves before you, you have stepped up your efforts and labored to teach, to serve and to inquire into the nature of things. Your commitment to the academy and to this institution is what has sustained our progress, and for that I am truly grateful.

If you are a faculty member here today, I would like to ask you to stand so that we can express our gratitude to you.

As difficult as some of the circumstances we face may seem, we have faced obstacles here before. Listen now to these words from Tom Dyer’s excellent bicentennial history of the University of Georgia, written to describe the outlook for this place in its earliest days:

“Baldwin’s prophecy (that Georgians ‘may soon see under their fostering care a very respectable literary institution’) proved overly sanguine, for the enthusiasm that marked the early planning soon faded. Sixteen years dragged by before the charter’s design was implemented and the university opened its doors to students in 1801. In the hiatus, false starts, incessant haggling, a declining interest in higher education, and even hints of embezzlement plagued the efforts of those who sought to establish a seat of higher education for the state.”

And these:

“{B}y 1806 a variety of religious, political and personality difficulties threatened to tear the institution apart. No single cause stood at the base of the problems, but religious disputes assumed increasing importance.”

“So desperate had the financial situation become by 1806 that the trustees petitioned the legislature for permission to conduct a lottery ‘to raise $3,000 to purchase books for the use of the University.’

The accumulating problems convinced the legislature to order the trustees to account for the low state into which the university had fallen.”

Some things never change. Instead of a $3,000 shortfall, University Librarian Bill Potter tells me that today it’s more like $3 million.

In 1818 there was a legislative attempt to move the university to Milledgeville. In 1830, New College burned.

In 1841, the General Assembly, unhappy with what it perceived to be an elitist cast to the university (history does echo, doesn’t it?), voted to cut the year’s appropriation by half that year and in full the following year. Dyer writes:

“Soon after the unwelcome legislation, the Board of Trustees moved to reduce the size of the faculty by one third, with the dismissal of two faculty members. Although the board regretted the action, it saw no other course, thus lowering the faculty from six to four. With six faculty members, Georgia stood respectably among the better colleges in the country.

But with the reduction in force came a reduction in status and a lowering of prospects for future growth.”

In the spring and summer of 1861, 75 of the 123 enrolled students withdrew to fight in the Civil War. By early 1862, there were only 39 students on campus; three trustees would die in battle. In the fall of 1863, the board voted to suspend the operation of the university; it would not re-open until January 1866, with 78 students.

In the 1920s, concern grew over the prominence of athletics (I’m glad we don’t face that issue today), to the point that some wondered whether the city of Athens would have to expand the streets to accommodate gameday traffic. (Clearly an ancient concern that is not meaningful in 2009.)

In 1941, one of the most serious threats to the University of Georgia originated in the Governor’s office, when Governor Eugene Talmadge, angered over what he interpreted to be a pro-integration stance in the College of Education, “began a purge of the University System of Georgia.”

Talmadge bullied the Board of Regents into firing Dean Walter Cocking; when UGA Chancellor Caldwell threatened to resign in protest, the board voted to rehire Cocking.

An angry Talmadge then stacked the board with members who had agreed to fire Cocking. Emboldened, Talmadge sought the removal of other University System faculty for allegedly supporting racism and communism.

In December 1941, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools voted unanimously to strip the University System – not just UGA – of its accreditation in the fall of 1942. Accreditation became the central issue of the 1942 gubernatorial campaign, and Ellis Arnall won that race easily. The controversy resulted in the reformation of the Board of Regents, most significantly giving that board constitutional status. Accreditation was restored on September 1, 1942.

In the early 1960s the university was again the scene of racial strife, and only the late Ernest Vandiver’s willingness to change his mind after running on a segregationist platform kept UGA open for the admission of Charlayne Hunter and Hamilton Holmes. Governor Vandiver’s courageous action changed the direction of the University of Georgia toward greater inclusion forever.

You can be certain that throughout Georgia history the most pressing social issues have hit this campus before they hit the rest of the state. In many ways, UGA is a town hall where the state can vocalize its various opinions.

In more recent times, we have dealt with significant budget cuts in the early 1990s and during the 2002-2003 budget cycle, both of which resulted in multi-million-dollar programmatic cuts and layoffs.

I hope the point is clear – UGA has faced much significant challenge -- even threat -- that at the time seemed to portend doom. Yet every time, this great university came out of those challenges stronger, more focused and more committed to serving the state of Georgia.

Today we again face a significant challenge, yet I am fully confident that we will emerge from this as we always have – stronger, more focused and more committed to serving the people of Georgia.

The human tendency in times like these is to focus on the negative; we all fall prey to that temptation periodically. I have spent more time in the past year on options for reducing expenditures than I ever care to again.

And yet, the net result is that while we have contracted through attrition in several ways, we have to this point avoided layoffs.

The Herculean management efforts of many, but especially the fiduciary leadership of Arnett Mace, Tim Burgess, Ryan Nesbit and Chris Miller has allowed us to protect jobs. I would like for them to stand so that you may join me in thanking them publicly.

Among the documents that cross my desk every week are those that remind me of what we do well around here. I want to share some of those things with you today, in no particular order, but simply to demonstrate the depth of good work done by the people of this great university:

UGA is tied for 20th among public universities in the 2009 edition of U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges” edition. UGA has been in the top 20 eight out of the past 10 years.

UGA was the only public university to have two students in the 2008 class of Rhodes Scholars. In addition, we had students receive Truman, Marshall and Goldwater scholarships. Only three other schools in the country had students win all of those honors – Columbia, Stanford and Yale. Late last year, we learned that a UGA student had received a Mitchell scholarship.

The Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases received the largest medical grant in UGA history -- $18.7 million from the Gates Foundation – to continue and expand research into treatments for schistosomiasis. That disease affects more than 200 million people in Africa, the Middle East and the Americas.

Two UGA faculty were among the 68 recipients of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. Presented during a White House ceremony, the award recognizes young faculty who have made significant advances in their fields of study.

In four out of the past five years, a UGA law graduate has been selected to clerk in the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Archway Project, which connects the resources of the university with communities in need, now serves seven communities: Moultrie/Colquitt County; Sandersville/Tennille /Washington County; Brunswick/Glynn County; Clayton County; Hart County; and Americus/Sumter County.

The Carl Vinson Institute of Government has signed a contract with the State Personnel Administration to conduct training for all state agencies.

The Institute also provides training and certification for county commissioners, city council members and judges, and more than 20,000 of them registered for those programs last year.

Under the auspices of the UGA Research Foundation, we purchased WNEG-TV and are in the process of converting space at the Grady College for studios and offices.

The UGA Alumni Association is the oldest such group in the South and the fourth oldest in the nation.

There are some 250,000 living alumni of the University of Georgia, and I have had the privilege of conferring almost one-third of those degrees.

Fulbright grants for international travel and study were awarded to six UGA students, five UGA faculty members and one staff member.

UGA is one of only two universities in the country to earn the Cleaning Industry Management Standard Certification with Honors. The certification applies to the management of the 28 buildings in the green corridor on North Campus.

Through the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, we own or manage with great care 23,928 acres around the state.

During the 2007-2008 academic year, more than 10,000 UGA students contributed nearly 300,000 hours of service to the community. For two years we have been recognized by the Corporation for National and Community Service for our programs to encourage and support student volunteerism.

UGA was included on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, which recognizes colleges and universities that support innovative and effective community service and service-learning programs.

According to the Institute of International Education, we are now fifth in the country in students having a long-term, residential study abroad experience.

Coincidentally, our Oxford program celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, and Cortona celebrates its 40th. I continue to believe that international education changes lives.

UGA operates 77 weather stations around the state which monitor temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, solar radiation and soil moisture continuously. (We do everything but produce rain.)

Our Visitors Center recorded more than 55,000 contacts last year. Almost 19,000 people took a campus tour, with requests coming from 45 states and 13 countries.

Licensing revenues from research discoveries reached almost $24 million in fiscal year 2008, up almost 47 percent over the previous year and the seventh consecutive year of increased revenue.

We operate 157 Cooperative Extension Service offices around the state, putting the expertise of the University of Georgia within reach of everyone in the state. There are 163,000 students in Georgia enrolled in 4-H programs.

In a facility in Griffin are stored samples of more than 1,500 plant species from around the world, part of a USDA program to rebuild the world’s agricultural infrastructure in the event of a global catastrophe. UGA is one of four institutions in the nation where such samples are stored.

I could go on, but I will stop there. The point is that the University of Georgia, through its people, is continuing to do the good work that it has done for decades. More importantly, we will continue to do that good work in the coming years. The people of Georgia need us more today than they have in many years.

Indeed, 2010 marks the 225th anniversary of the signing of the UGA charter, and offers an opportunity both to recall the grand and glorious history of this place and, more importantly, to look to its future. I believe that in 2010, we will be a stronger university than we are today, and we will celebrate our past as we move briskly toward our future. To that end, I am appointing a university committee this year that will plan an anniversary celebration and symposium to be held during the spring semester of 2010.

Emeritus University professor and former vice president of instruction Dr. Tom Dyer, now retired, has accepted my request to chair that committee. Dr. Dyer authored a wonderful book on the history of the University of Georgia, and you have heard me reference passages from it today.

Dyer also helped the university with its bicentennial celebration in 1985. Among the many great things that happened during that celebration was the inauguration of the Holmes/Hunter Lecture.

I can think of no other more suited to lead our celebratory efforts in this regard, and I am grateful to Dr. Dyer for graciously stepping forth to do so.

Perhaps the most important thing that was completed in 2008 was the Archway to Excellence campaign.

Frankly, I was a bit surprised when I reviewed previous State of the University speeches and realized how little I had said about the campaign or about the important role of fundraising in general.

What was the Archway to Excellence campaign? What did we do, and why did we do it? First, we did our research. We analyzed the development statistics, with particular attention to the endowment, which was the single greatest deficiency.

In 1997, when I arrived, UGA’s endowment was approximately $220 million. It reached $700 million before the downturn in the markets and will get there again, with another $200 million in income-producing properties.

How did we get there? First and foremost, through the loyalty and support of UGA’s friends and alumni, who have come to understand that private support is a necessity, not a luxury. Truly great universities have very high levels of private support, and our alumni and friends want the University of Georgia to be one of those truly great universities.

Second is the hard work and shoe leather of the vice presidents, deans and development staff, who cultivate prospects and link their interests to our needs. The simple fact is that fundraising is friendraising first. We have hundreds of thousands of friends out there, and we want to meet them all. And frankly we want all of them to give a little something to little old UGA.

Steve Wrigley, now vice president for government relations who also served as senior vice president for external affairs through much of the campaign, and Tom Landrum, who now holds that senior vice president’s post, have been often praised for their leadership.

But there are five other people who have played critical roles in this success, and I want to recognize them today. Robert Hawkins is associate vice president for development, with primary responsibility for directing the institution’s fundraising efforts.

Keith Oelke is executive director of both corporate and foundation relations and gift and estate planning. With $108 million, or 16.5 percent, of the campaign total coming from those two sources, it is easy to see what an important role Keith has played.

Greg Daniels is senior director of principal and major gifts. Any successful campaign is built on a foundation of large gifts, and Greg is responsible for cultivating those people with the capacity for multi-million-dollar gifts.

Tammy Gilland is senior director of constituent-based programs. She manages the relationship between the university’s fundraising efforts and those of the more than two dozen development officers for the schools, colleges and other units at UGA.

Finally, David Jones is the director of the Donor Research unit, and he also directs the Annual Fund, which raises critically important unrestricted funds for UGA as well as money designated for specific schools and colleges.

Please join me thanking them for their very good work on behalf of the University of Georgia.

The Archway to Excellence campaign set out with a goal of $500 million in support of the mission of this university. It closed on June 30, 2008 with $653.4 million in gifts and pledges. I am deeply grateful to the alumni, friends and supporters of this university for their tremendous support of the campaign and UGA.

More important than the total, though, is the fact that the people of Georgia now fully understand the role that private giving plays in building a top-quality flagship university for this state.

So what did the campaign do for UGA? More than 102,000 donors made gifts or pledges totaling $653.6 million. By category, those gifts were

$82.3 million for student scholarships, awards and other support
$54.7 million for endowed professorships, chairs and faculty support
$174.3 million for academic and research program support
$51.9 million to help build the new learning environment
$38 million to serve the state and nation with outreach programs
$84.9 million for general unrestricted support
$151.8 million for the Georgia Bulldog Club’s support of varsity athletic programs
And millions more for other projects and needs. This is a historic record for UGA.
Given those, what did the campaign not do? A campaign, no matter how successful, never solves all problems. Most gifts and pledges are restricted – the donor gives money to the institution for a specific purpose, program or project. Few of the funds go toward operating expenses. As I noted earlier, some of the gifts are planned or deferred – wills, estates, trusts or other vehicles that dedicate future revenue to the university.

Yet as the prior list demonstrated, virtually everybody on campus has benefited or will benefit from the campaign in some way.

This is certainly not the last campaign that UGA will undertake. But in the next few years, what you will see is a shift from overall university fundraising to a focus on school, college and unit fundraising.

The responsibility is now on the Franklin College and the Terry College and the Grady College and the School of Law and the College of Veterinary Medicine and the School of Social Work and all the colleges and schools to build the same sort of case for support among their constituencies that we built for the Archway campaign.

It is on the State Botanical Garden and the Athletic Association and the Performing Arts Center and other units to do the same.

The construction that will soon begin on the much-needed expansion of the Georgia Museum of Art is a good example of the kind of constituent-based fundraising that will be required for units to meet their own goals. That project will cost $20 million, and it is all private money.

The biggest challenge for us right now is that just when it appeared that we were beginning to recover from the $54 million in cuts we suffered in FY03-04, we are again facing substantial cuts in the FY09 budget that will clearly stretch into FY10 as well.

We have two choices. We can sit around and whine and wring our hands, bemoaning our fate and pointing fingers, or we can produce our way out of this by generating additional revenue and becoming more self-sustaining. It will not be easy, and yet it is not easy for the Governor and the Legislature, either. State tax receipts are down relative to budget expectations, and the predictions for a quick and full recovery are not good. The University System is 10.4 percent of the state’s $22 billion budget, and UGA’s portion of the state budget is about 2.35%. With some 38 percent of our budget coming directly from the state, we are not well insulated from a sustained downturn in the state’s economy.

This is not to criticize the state, which has been quite helpful to UGA. But we do need to understand the gravity of the situation and we need to say to the state that we will help.

The best course of action for the University of Georgia is to continue to generate more revenue on our own, reducing the need for state funding. To that end, there are five actions we must undertake.

First, we must be successful in the move to unit-based fundraising.

There are faculty in law, in ecology, in family and consumer sciences, in environment and design and in every school and college who deserve to be in endowed professorships and chairs. There are likewise students who deserve scholarships and fellowships. There are alumni and friends of every college and school with the capacity and desire to make those gifts.

There are programs in the Institute for Behavioral Research, in the Graduate School, at the Ag farms and across this campus that deserve outside support, and there are people with the capacity and the desire to support them.

The task at hand is to identify those people, build relationships with them and connect their resources to our needs as we did so successfully in the Archway campaign.

A dean, vice president or, yes, president at any college or university who is not spending at least one-third of his or her time on development is not going to be successful and, frankly, is holding the institution back. It is an essential part of the job.

This does not signal the end of the campaign but a refocusing of our efforts toward the birth of a new culture of development at the University of Georgia.

Second, we must generate more money on our own. We have had some successes in this area – after several relatively flat years, research grants are now on an upward trajectory. In 2008, UGA received $4.1 million from the Department of Agriculture to study the mysterious deaths of honeybee colonies; $9.2 million from the National Institutes of Health to look into the molecular underpinnings of the early steps that cells take in becoming specialized cell types; and a $9 million NIH grant to study barriers to effective addiction treatment, among many others.

I have no doubt that there is additional research currently underway at UGA that is deserving of such funding, if we are willing to do the work of seeking it and applying for it. In what is a very competitive grant environment, we simply have to do more and do better. Faculty must be more aggressive in pursuing grant funding.

The initiative with the Medical College of Georgia to train physicians in Athens will provide opportunities to boost proposals and grants for the College of Public Health, communications, business, law, biostatistics and other areas.

Third, we must raise tuition at least to the mid-range of Southern Regional Education Board flagships. Currently, we are at the bottom of that list. I never thought I would live to see the day where tuition at the University of Georgia, a top-20 public university, was $80 below Alabama, $300 below Tennessee, $2,700 below South Carolina and $1,500 below Kentucky.

I am willing to move tuition toward the middle of the SREB pack either through straight tuition or through a fee structure.

Tuition is an investment in the quality of the educational experience for every student at UGA. All the good intentions in the world are not going to pay faculty at an appropriate level.

In December, Smart Money magazine, a publication of the Wall Street Journal, published a story entitled, “Why the Ivies Aren’t Worth It.” The story looked at the return on investment by comparing what students paid in tuition and what they earned in their early and mid-careers. UGA placed fourth on that ranking, with a return almost twice that of Harvard. As I told the reporter, “We are such a bargain.”

In recent months, the Governor of Florida and that state’s higher education leadership have approved tuition increases that will float to the national norm. I don’t want to be behind Florida in anything.

Fourth, we must develop a realistic pricing structure for auxiliary units such as athletics, housing, student activities, food services, transportation and parking. I will recommend to the Cabinet that we assess a percentage of auxiliary revenues for the purpose of supporting the academic mission of the university.

The university provides central administrative and leadership support to the auxiliaries, and they all ultimately rise and fall on the strength of the academic program. (Nobody comes to UGA for our parking, after all.)

The captured dollars will go to funding the core instructional mission of the University of Georgia.

Fifth, and perhaps most importantly, we must produce more credit hours. In the past five years, credit hour production has remained flat, as has enrollment.

The formula which determines the level of our funding has a two-year lag, meaning that this year’s funding is based on enrollment and credit-hour production during the 2006-07 academic year; enrollment and credit-hour production this year will fund the 2010-11 academic year. It is easy to see how the number of credits we generate can stagnate that revenue source for years at a time if we are not more intentional about teaching more.

The formula’s most serious flaw, however, is that it is exclusively quantity-driven, with no qualitative indicators. Call me biased, but I believe that a credit hour at the University of Georgia is one of the very best credit hours in the system, but the formula does not. There is no consideration of the value – and expense – of producing a credit hour at a research university. No consideration of retention, of graduation rates, of the success of our alumni. Until the formula recognizes quality, we, like most major public universities, have little choice but to examine revenue production and use in every phase of this endeavor. Instead of worrying about what is being done to our budget, we can work in this area to improve a revenue stream to the benefit of the entire university community.

The fact is that this one area, particularly with the new facility for graduate programs in Gwinnett and the undergraduate programs in Griffin and Tifton, may offer the greatest potential for enhancing the university’s bottom line. And lest these measures seem too stringent, remember that the only end of these means is to benefit students and faculty.

The University of Georgia has endured hard times before – closing the campus during war, integration, political threats to academic freedom, budget cuts – and every time, the people of this university have risen to the challenge, done what had to be done and lived to enjoy even greater success. I am confident that we will do so again. The choice for us, again, is clear – carp and moan and sit by while the quality we have built at this university declines, or produce ourselves through this challenge.

For me, it’s an easy choice. I will not allow us to wallow in self-pity.

I wish that the trajectory of this university were always upward, without interruption. I wish we never had to face the challenges we have faced this year. I wish that the hardships placed upon the faculty and staff, and particularly those at the lower end of the wage scale, were not as significant as they have been. But an institution that has been around for 224 years will face times like these periodically.

There can be no doubt that UGA is infinitely stronger today than it was 15 or 20 years ago. Indeed that strength, coupled with a palpable commitment to excellence by all of my colleagues and the efficient and innovative management of those I have already mentioned will allow us to weather this downturn as we have done before.

For the average student there was relatively little impact from the budget crisis in 2008. The imposition of a $100 temporary student fee does require our students to assist with the management of this situation as we have been asking faculty and staff to do at, frankly, a greater level.

In that regard, just this morning, Dr. Arnett Mace shared with his staff his intention to retire as Provost at the end of this calendar year -- something that he shared with me just a few weeks ago. You may not know that he first approached me two years ago expressing those very same intentions. However, I prevailed upon him to remain and provide leadership to our academic enterprise and help steward us through these financially challenging times. He selflessly agreed to serve longer than he had originally planned.

I will have more to say about his retirement from the Provost’s position at an appropriate time at the end of the year. But it behooves me to share with you today that Arnett’s contributions to the University of Georgia have made this a better place for everyone. I am neither exaggerating nor being melodramatic when I say that there are many people who would, quite frankly, not be employed today but for Dr. Mace’s extraordinary management leadership, particularly during these past two years. And there are literally thousands of students who would have experienced an education of lesser quality and value if not for Arnett’s efforts.

Even as he retires, I’ve asked him to continue to serve this institution on a part-time basis for another two years to help shepherd the medical initiative to its permanent location at the Navy School property and to help assist with a few key donors that provide promise for the University of Georgia going forward.

Arnett, we thank you for your stalwart dedication, commitment and service to this university community. I ask you to please stand, and I ask the audience to join me in expressing our gratitude to Provost Arnett C. Mace Jr.

We are here, first and foremost, to serve the students in good times and bad, and we will continue to do so to the best of our ability. We will continue to make progress in 2009.

We will finish the new Pharmacy Building. We will open the Tate Center Expansion. We will begin to expand the Georgia Museum of Art. We will open the expanded Student Health Center. We will begin the Special Collections Library.

We will teach more effectively, we will manage more prudently, we will research with a wider scope and we will not take one step back from serving the people of Georgia.

We will work with our friends in government and with our many alumni and supporters. We will not whine or criticize. But when recovery comes, as it surely will, we will hold our funding partners to the same level of cooperation that we have demonstrated to them.

We will not retreat. We will not accept a march toward mediocrity. This will be a better place in 2009 and beyond than it was when the 21st century began.

I am privileged to work with the quality of people who commit their talents to the University of Georgia, and it is an honor to continue to call you colleagues and friends.

Thank you.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Students Can Explore Nature's 'Gifts' in Poster Contest

Teachers and students across Georgia are invited to discover “Nature’s Gifts: The Plants and Animals of Georgia” by taking part in the annual Give Wildlife a Chance Poster Contest. What do students hear, smell or see in their schoolyard, backyard or community park? Was it frogs, whip-poor-wills, cicadas or even a bat? Turn these sights and sounds into artwork and enter the 19th annual conservation art contest. The deadline for entries in the state-level contest is March 9.

The contest is open to all kindergarten through 5th-grade students in public schools, private schools and home school. Participants enter at the local school level with drawings that depict their observations of Georgia’s native plants and animals. Top school-level entries proceed to the state contest at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia in Athens. First-, second- and third-place winners are chosen there for four divisions: kindergarten, first and second grade, third and fourth grade, and fifth grade.

The top 12 winners will be showcased in the 2009-2010 Give Wildlife a Chance Poster Contest calendar. All state-level contest entries will be on display at the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center in Mansfield from March 21-April 4.

This year’s competition theme, “Nature’s Gifts: The Plants and Animals of Georgia,” showcases Georgia’s magnificent plants and animals and their unique interactions by which they thrive and call this state home. In the wild, animals’ survival depends heavily on plants, and in most cases, plants need the assistance of animals to survive as well.

Whether in the schoolyard or the backyard, students can illustrate all the out-of-doors has to offer while learning more about Georgia’s nongame plants and animals – nature’s gifts to Georgia! The artwork might reflect the melodies of birds and insects, or the chirps of frogs and hoots of owls at a nearby pond. What do the trees and soil feel like?

With a touch of creativity and color, these sights and sounds can be transformed into magnificent artwork that depicts wildlife in their native Georgia habitat.

2009 poster contest sponsors include the Georgia DNR’s Wildlife Resources Division, the State Botanical Garden of Georgia and The Environmental Resources Network Inc. (T.E.R.N.), the friends group of the Wildlife Resources Division.

Visit www.georgiawildlife.com (click “Get Involved” and the “Wildlife Poster Contest” link) or www.uga.edu/botgarden for contest rules, entry forms and further information about the Give Wildlife a Chance Poster Contest.

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Center for Economic Education Hosts Workshops for Teachers

The Berry College Center for Economic Education will close out its 2008-09 workshop schedule Feb. 10, 11 and 12 with a trio of offerings for area teachers.

On Feb. 10, the center will host “Georgia Economic History,” a one-day workshop for eighth-grade Georgia studies teachers. This award-winning program brings together an array of resources to help teachers lead their students in a study of their own local economic history. Teachers get hands-on experience with the tools of the historian and learn how to work with local history groups.

The Feb. 11 workshop, “Personal Finance,” focuses on how teachers in grades 6-12 can “coach” their students in the new personal finance curriculum, thus helping them to become skilled consumers, savers and investors.

The schedule concludes Feb. 12 with “Elementary School Economics, K-2.” This workshop focuses on basic economics content with a focus on learning the economics concepts found in the Georgia Performance Standards.

Teachers interested in attending these workshops should contact Dr. Leslie Marlow at lmarlow@berry.edu or 706-238-7889. Online registration is available at www.gcee.org/workshops/register_for_workshops.asp. Additional information about the center and its offerings can be found at www.berry.edu/academics/education/econed.

Established in 1974 under the leadership of Dr. Ouida Word Dickey, the Center for Economic Education is in its first year operating under the umbrella of Berry’s Charter School of Education and Human Sciences. Its goal is to provide teachers with a supportive network, access to professional training and curriculum materials. Area school administrators are welcome to contact the center staff to arrange special topic workshops and courses.

“We are delighted to have the Center for Economic Education housed in the Charter School,” said Dr. Jacqueline McDowell, Charter School dean. “I personally welcome every workshop participant and encourage them to send us high school students from their school districts who want to be teachers. The center helps us to recruit, prepare and inspire teachers to teach economics.”


Prepared by student writer Leigh Harris.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

College Students, Parents May Reduce Taxes Based on College Expenses

/PRNewswire/ -- USA Funds(R), the nation's leading education loan guarantor, advises families that paid college expenses during 2008 that they may qualify for deductions or credits when they file their federal income tax returns.

"In recent years the U.S. Congress has enacted and extended measures to provide federal income tax benefits for families that pay tuition, fees and other higher education expenses," said Carl C. Dalstrom, USA Funds president and CEO. "USA Funds urges taxpayers to consider potential tax benefits that may apply to them as they prepare their 2008 income tax returns."

Among changes in the higher education tax benefits for the 2008 tax year are the following items:

Deduction for higher education expenses. Late last year Congress extended for the 2008 and 2009 tax years this deduction, which was scheduled to expire. Taxpayers may qualify to deduct from their taxable income up to $4,000 in tuition and fees that they paid during the year. Taxpayers do not have to itemize deductions to claim this benefit, but their modified adjusted gross income must be $80,000 or less -- $160,000 or less for married taxpayers filing joint returns -- to qualify for this deduction.

Hope and Lifetime Learning credits. The maximum Hope credit has increased to $1,800, up from $1,650 for the previous tax year. In addition, the maximum income permitted to qualify for the Hope and Lifetime Learning tax credits has been increased by $1,000 for single taxpayers and by $2,000 for joint filers. Single taxpayers with modified adjusted gross incomes of less than $58,000, and married taxpayers filing jointly with incomes of less than $116,000, now qualify for at least a partial credit. The Hope credit permits taxpayers to reduce their taxes for out-of-pocket tuition and fees for each of the first two years of postsecondary study. The Lifetime Learning credit provides a maximum $2,000 credit based on qualified tuition and related expenses paid for any year of postsecondary study. Taxpayers in portions of 10 Midwestern states that were declared federal disaster areas last summer may quality for higher Hope and Lifetime Learning credits.

Higher income limits for joint filers to qualify for student loan interest deduction. Taxpayers who paid interest on qualified student loans during 2008 may be eligible to deduct up to $2,500 from their taxable income. The income limits for married couples filing joint returns to qualify for this deduction have increased by $5,000. Single taxpayers with modified adjusted gross incomes of less than $70,000, and married taxpayers who file joint tax returns reporting modified adjusted incomes of less than $145,000, may qualify for at least a partial deduction.

Other higher education tax benefits. Taxpayers also should consider potential tax savings based on earnings from so-called 529 college savings plans and Coverdell Education Savings Accounts, as well as employer-paid education benefits.

To help students and parents take advantage of these benefits, USA Funds offers a summary of these higher education tax benefits on its Web site at www.usafunds.org/taxbenefits. USA Funds also provides a brochure "Higher Education Tax Benefits - Expanded Taxpayer Savings," which is available free of charge from many colleges, universities and private career colleges.

USA Funds recommends that taxpayers consult with a qualified tax adviser or the Internal Revenue Service to determine their eligibility for any of these tax benefits.

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