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10.18.2013

Sixteen alumni honored by UGA Graduate School

The UGA Graduate School is honoring 16 graduates with the 2013 Alumni of Distinction Award for achieving exceptional success in their professional careers and in service to their communities. The Alumni of Distinction Award was established last year and the first recipients were named this year. Recipients have enjoyed success in their professional field, exemplified themselves as a mentor and served as a role model for others. All graduate-level UGA alumni are eligible to be considered for the annual award. I’m pleased to share that this year’s recipients are:

N. Kirby Alton (BS '74, PHD '81), of Thousand Oaks, Calif., was the founding scientist and former senior vice president of development for AmGen Inc., a biotechnology company that was the first to produce a successful human biopharmaceutical for treating human disease. He was the founder and director of Ascent Air LLC and is the current chairman of the board of directors of Abeome Corp. Alton currently serves on the UGA Research Foundation board of directors.

Devron R. Averett (BS '71, MS '74), of Cardiff By The Sea, Calif., is the current chief scientific officer at EcoActive Surfaces Inc., and provides consulting services in the discovery and development of human medicines. He has been instrumental in developing technologies that have resulted in the development of medicines for both HIV and hepatitis B and is the inventor on more than 17 issued and nine pending patents.

Phillip G. Bartley (PHD '04), of Athens, is the CEO, president and co-founder of Innovative Measurement Solutions Inc. His work has focused on the development and improvement of techniques used for measuring the electromagnetic properties of materials, which have become industry standards and have been utilized by the U.S. military, NASA and medical researchers.

James Eugene Bottoms (BSED '60, EDD '65), of Tucker, is the senior vice president of the Southern Regional Education Board and is the founder and director of the “High Schools that Work" program, which is used in more than 1,100 high schools in 26 states. He was appointed to the National Commission on the Senior Year, a U.S. Department of Education initiative that studies students’ final year in high school. Bottoms is the former executive director at the American Vocational Association and served as director of educational improvement for the Georgia Department of Education for 13 years.

Maxine Hubbard Burton (BSED '72, MED '78), of Athens, is the founder and president of burton + BURTON, a supplier of balloons and related gift items with a worldwide customer base. She was appointed to the Georgia Council of the Arts in 2013 by Gov. Nathan Deal. She received the Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year in the retail/wholesale category and the Spirit of Georgia Award from the Georgia Industrial Development Association.

Richard J. Cebula (MA '68), of Jupiter, Fla., is the Walker/Wachovia Bank Professor of Finance in the Davis College of Business at Jacksonville University and the author of 13 books and almost 500 articles concerning finance, economics, business, management and statistics. He is ranked among the world’s leading economists by Research Papers in Economics and is the president-elect of the Mid-Continent Regional Science Association.

Richard T. Cupitt (AB '74, MA '78, PHD '85), of Washington, D.C., served as an expert to the 1540 Committee of the United Nations Security Council, which dealt with ways to combat the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the activities of terrorists and other criminals. Cupitt was instrumental in developing UGA’s Center for International Trade and Security into a global research center for the study of security export controls.

Peter C. Griffith (PHD '88), of Baltimore, Md., is the founding director of NASA’s Carbon Cycle and Ecosystems Office, which supports the North American Carbon Program and is a component of the U.S. Global Change Research Program. Griffith is currently the chief support scientist for Sigma Space Corp. As a result of his efforts with the Large Scale Biosphere Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia, NASA presented him with a Group Achievement Award in 2003.

Joel D. Haber (MS '81, PHD '83), of Golden Bridge, N.Y., is a clinical psychologist and parenting expert who focuses on bullying prevention. He authored “Bullyproof Your Child for Life,” co-authored “The Resilience Formula” and founded the Respect U Program, a bully prevention and management curriculum used in schools, camps, organizations, sports teams and families. He serves as a leading expert for the LG Text Education Council and is an adviser to Cartoon Network’s “Stop Bullying: Speak Up” campaign. As a recipient of a U.S State Department grant, he was able to start a national dialogue in South Korea, which allowed him to meet with government officials, teachers, counselors, and universities that train leaders in education.

Charles E. Hamner Jr(DMV '60,  MS '62, PHD '64), of Chapel Hill, N.C., is the founder and chair of the board of directors of the Hamner Institute for Health Sciences. He previously served as the president and CEO of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center while also teaching in the obstetrics and gynecology department at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. In 2011 he received the North Carolina Award for Public Service, the highest honor a civilian can be awarded.

Donald K. Ingram (MS '77, PHD '78), of Baton Rouge, La., is a professor at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University. He founded the Laboratory of Experimental Gerontology at the National Institute on Aging and previously was the chief of the Behavioral Neuroscience Section of the National Institutes of Health. He has developed and patented four drugs to treat Alzheimer’s disease and authored more than 300 scientific publications.

William B. Jones (BBA '66, MED '70), of Jackson, Ga., is the founder and president of Jones Petroleum Company Inc. As a former superintendent of the Butts County School System, he established the first fully funded public kindergarten program in a rural Georgia school system. Jones served four terms as a Georgia state representative during which time he was instrumental in passing legislation that required prospective teachers to undergo professional testing prior to receiving a teaching certificate.

Thomas L. Lyons (AB '71, MS '71), of Atlanta, is an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis and currently works as an OB-GYN. His career has focused not only on women’s health care, but also on the education and training of gynecologists, developing specialized surgical procedures. Previously, Lyons was a team physician for UGA’s women’s athletic teams. He played football for UGA and was selected in the 1971 NFL draft by the Denver Broncos, for whom he played for six seasons.

Carl E. Swearingen (ABJ  '67, MA '69), of Atlanta, is the former senior vice president of BellSouth Corp. and the president of BellSouth Telecommunications in Georgia. He serves on the University of Georgia Foundation Board and the board of directors for the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. Swearingen was appointed by Gov. Sonny Perdue to the Commission for a New Georgia and has served as chairman of the Technical College System of Georgia Board. He was the UGA Alumni Association president from 1997 to 1999.

Ronald L. Vaughn (PHD '75), of Tampa, Fla., has been the president of the University of Tampa since 1995. Prior to becoming president, Vaughn was the coordinator of the marketing department and was the Max H. Hollingsworth Endowed Chair of American Enterprise. He was director of the M.B.A. program, dean of the College of Business and Graduate Studies, and co-chief academic officer.

Karl E. Wycoff (AB '75, MA '77), of Herndon, Va., is the senior policy adviser to the Corporate Council on Africa. He previously served in a variety of roles at the U.S. Department of State that included deputy assistant secretary for African Affairs, director for Central African Affairs, head of the Action Against Terrorism Unit and deputy coordinator for counterterrorism.

Congratulations to these great alumni. It never ceases to amaze me the caliber of graduates UGA is sending into the world and this set of individuals is no exception. Go Dawgs!

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Recent Entries


04.24.2014

Caplan and Cobb: the new dynamic duo of Atlanta law

Mike Caplan (AB '02, MBA ’05, JD ’06) and James Cobb (BS ’00) recently launched Caplan Cobb LLP, a new law firm focusing on business litigation in the Atlanta area. Mike’s practice focuses on complex business litigation while James’s practice is focused on the resolution of complex business disputes.

Triple Dawg Caplan left quite a legacy graduating magna cum laude from the University of Georgia School of Law in addition to his membership in both the Order of the Coif and the Order of the Barristers. In 2012, he received the Southern Center for Human Rights' inaugural Gideon's Promise Award for his work in Flournoy v. State, which led to significant reforms to Georgia's indigent-defense system.

Cobb graduated summa cum laude from the George Washington University Law School in 2005. While he was at GWU, he was a member of the Order of the Coif and the Senior Projects Editor of the George Washington Law Review. Outside of his business practice, James represents individuals and entities in civil-rights, criminal, and education-related matters.

The duo originally met in college as competitors in a national moot court competition and became friends in the following years. SuperLawyers Magazine named both Caplan and Cobb rising stars in Georgia for Business Litigation. Good luck to both Mike and James as they take on the Atlanta business law world!

To learn more about Caplan Cobb LLP, visit their website here.

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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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