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08.15.2012

UGA to commemorate 50th anniversary of its first African-American graduate

The University of Georgia will celebrate a milestone in desegregation when it commemorates the 50th anniversary of the graduation of Mary Frances Early '62, the first African American to earn a degree from UGA, in a ceremony Aug. 15 at 3 p.m. in the university's Fine Arts Building. Highlights will include remarks from Early and several UGA dignitaries, musical performances from UGA students and a keynote address from civil rights pioneer Lonnie C. King Jr.

A native of Atlanta, Early earned a bachelor's degree in music education from Clark Atlanta University in 1957 and had started postgraduate work at the University of Michigan when she transferred to UGA to complete her studies in the summer of 1961. Earlier that year, Charlayne Hunter-Gault and Hamilton Holmes became the first African-American students to enroll at UGA. On Aug. 16, 1962, Early received her master's degree in music education, and in 1967, she earned a specialist in education degree from UGA, also in music education.

Her experiences at UGA contributed to her extensive career in music and education. She was a music teacher, a planning and development coordinator, an elementary division curriculum specialist and a music resource teacher at various schools in Atlanta. In addition, she worked as an adjunct professor at Morehouse and Spelman colleges and as a music coordinator and supervisor for the Atlanta Public Schools. She became the first African-American president of the Georgia Music Educators Association in 1981.

Most recently, Early served as music department head at Clark Atlanta University.

Early's many awards include the STAR Teacher Award, Coan Middle School, 1972; Benjamin E. Mays Black Music Heritage Award, 1995; UGA Outstanding Alumna Award, 2000; and the UGA Foot Soldier for Equal Justice Award, 2011.

Highlighting the 50th anniversary celebration will be a keynote address by King, who is considered one of the icons in the Atlanta civil rights movement. At age 24, King, along with fellow students Julian Bond, Herschelle Sullivan, Carolyn Long, Frank Smith, Joseph Pierce and others authored "An Appeal for Human Rights," which was published on March 9, 1960, as an advertisement in various Atlanta-area newspapers. The subsequent Committee on the Appeal for Human Rights, which King chaired, took the lead in initiating the Atlanta Student Civil Rights Movement, beginning with sit-ins in Atlanta-area racially segregated establishments.

King has remained involved in the cause of desegregation and human rights, serving as the president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Atlanta from 1969-1973. During his professional career, he worked in a number of equal employment opportunity positions within the federal government, including the U.S. Department of the Interior, as well as in private firms. Later, he served as a high school teacher and adjunct professor of history and African-American history in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Md., and Atlanta.

At the event, UGA President Michael F. Adams will present a proclamation in recognition of Early and the 50th anniversary.

Maurice Daniels, dean of the UGA School of Social Work, will address the historical significance of Early's graduation on the civil rights movement. Daniels, a social work professor and author, is the senior researcher and executive producer of the Donald L. Hollowell: Foot Soldier for Equal Justice documentary and executive producer of four critically acclaimed public television documentaries on the subject of desegregation.

Other highlights of the program include presentations by the UGA College of Education, the Graduate School, the School of Social Work and the Alumni Association. UGA students will perform musical selections, and Early will deliver closing remarks. A reception will immediately follow the program.

The UGA Office of Institutional Diversity is coordinating the event. Co-sponsors, along with the Office of Institutional Diversity, are the Office of the President, the School of Social Work, the College of Education and the Graduate School.

I salute the pioneering efforts of Mary Frances Early and express my deepest gratitude for her milestone contribution to progress at the University.  I am also proud of how well she has demonstrated the excellence of UGA alumni through her exceptional teaching career.  We look forward to celebrating this esteemed alumna and her many accomplishments!

For more information on Mary Frances Early, see the following UGA sites: Unsung Foot Soldiers, http://www.footsoldier.uga.edu/foot_soldiers/early.html; The Graduate School, http://www.grad.uga.edu/mfe-lecture/index.html; and Living/Oral History http://uga.edu/livinghistory/feature/mary-frances-early/.

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04.23.2014

Alumna puts passion for historic preservation into action

Catherine Garner (MHP ’13) has a passion for preserving the historic buildings of Salisbury, NC. After finishing her undergraduate degree in geography and urban planning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Garner interned with preservation planners in Winston-Salem. Fulfilled by the work, she chose to pursue the path of historic preservation, eventually earning her master's degree from UGA in preservation planning.

Since then, Garner has landed her dream job as Salisbury’s newest city planner and liaison to the City’s Historic Preservation Commission. In this position, she help develop communities in which people want to live. She is involved in the city’s new "one-stop shop" for development services. The innovative program encourages local business owners to obtain city permits and a business license under the same roof. By streamlining the process, more local businesses will be involved in the city planning process.

Congratulations, Catherine! It’s great to see an alumna making a difference in her community. The work you do will impact Salisbury for generations to come.

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04.22.2014

Longtime UGA supporter hangs his “Gone Fishing” sign

William “Dink” H. NeSmith, Jr. (ABJ ’70) is one of the most passionate Bulldogs you will meet. A 1970 graduate of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, NeSmith is co-owner and publisher of Athens-based Community Newspapers, Inc., which publishes dozens of newspapers in Georgia, Florida and North Carolina. As if his professional responsibilities didn’t keep him busy enough, NeSmith, a self-admitted “joiner,” has dedicated as much (if not more) of his free time to higher education.The list of his past university volunteer roles is unparalleled:

  -  chairman of Grady's advisory board and president of its alumni board;

  -  chairman of the board of directors of the Fanning Leadership Institute;

  -  chairman of the Richard B. Russell Foundation;

  -  member of the Athletic Association Board of Directors; and

  -  trustee of the UGA Foundation

In addition, NeSmith is a past president of the UGA Alumni Association and served from 2003 to 2005. He could always be counted on to support his alma mater, and his leadership was surely a factor in UGA’s rise to a top 20 public institution of higher education.

In 2008, Gov. Sonny Perdue asked NeSmith to join the University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents. Five years later, he was serving as chairman of the 18-person governing board for USG. Only the third Athenian to fill this position, NeSmith recently concluded his term as chairman.

Reflecting on a lifetime of professional and philanthropic endeavors, NeSmith recently penned a short piece about his readiness to enjoy his greatest accomplishment: his family. The alumnus is surrounded by an ever-growing swath of Bulldog Faithful: his wife, Pam (BSHE ’71); three children, Alan (BSA ’04), Emily (AB ’99) and Eric (ABJ ’02); and seven grandsons. Upon the birth of each grandchild, NeSmith proudly gave them each a lifetime membership with the UGA Alumni Association. Although the Alumni Association is no longer dues-based, the NeSmith family boasts an impressive 15 lifetime members!

Read more about NeSmith’s transition to “grandpa time” here. This is one alumnus who has certainly earned the right to hang his “Gone Fishing” sign on the door. Thank you for your continued support, Dink, and your fine leadership in many areas across campus and the state.

Dink NeSmith is a regular contributor to the Athens Banner-Herald; read more of his pieces here.

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04.21.2014

McCall Wilder Designs offers timeless clothing options for children

McCall Wilder (ABJ '92) was having trouble locating the perfect outfit for her first baby's Christening. After an usuccessful search, the alumna decided to take matters into her own hands and create her own elegant and timeless clothing pieces for children. And so, in 2001, McCall Wilder Designs was established.

Wilder grew up in Athens with dreams of designing and pursuing journalism. She attended Hollins College in Virginia before transferring to UGA to study broadcast news in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. After graduating, Wilder interned and worked for CNN in Atlanta, taking part in the launch of CNN.com, the Internet’s first news site. She remained at CNN as a writer and producer until 1999.

Wilder’s “Baby McCall line” of heirloom gowns and special occasion outfits was only available by appointment until May 2008, when the first McCall Wilder Couture for Children Boutique & Atelier opened in the heart of Atlanta. The Baby McCall and McCall Wilder Designs lines now include more than 50 different styles, from crib bedding to dresses for teens and women.

Congratulations on your successful business venture, McCall. Your clothes and other products are simply beautiful.

Stay up-to-date on news and design ideas through the McCall Wilder Designs Facebook page.

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