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01.14.2014

UGA alumnus Tom Okie (PHD ‘12) explains the history behind “The Peach State”

The Garden State. The Big Apple. The Magnolia State - there's no question as to which states these terms relate. And the Peach State? That should be an easy one!

In his award-winning dissertation and upcoming book, Everything is Peaches Down in Georgia: Culture and Agriculture in the American South, UGA graduate Tom Okie (PHD ’12) explains why "Peach State" became synonymous with our beloved Georgia. Okie’s interest in peaches is far from random; his father was a U.S. Department of Agriculture peach breeder based in Byron, Georgia.

In his book, Okie explains that the peach represented progress 100 years ago. At the dawn of the 20th century, cotton suddenly represented poverty and carried a negative connotation, relating to the “benighted vassalage” of the South’s cotton planters. The adoption of the peach as representation of change was carried out in order to give the the agricultural economy a face-lift. In his book, Okie says “the cultural footprint of the peach is much larger than its economic impact.” Despite the fact that blueberry sales significantly surpassed the annual value of peaches, the peach icon lives on because of its historical value to Georgia.

According to the alumnus, “Growing up [in Byron], I took for granted that middle Georgia was common, even ugly. But reading the glowing descriptions of these early horticulturists gave me a new appreciation of the nuanced beauty of my home. Wendell Berry has a line in his poem How to be a Poet that captures this feeling. He wrote, ‘there are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places.'”

I encourage you to read more about Okie and his dissertation, which was described as “a beautifully written, elegantly rendered tale full of surprises and profound implications for understanding America’s past” by the Society of American Historians. He even received the 2013 Allan Nevins Prize for best-written history doctoral dissertation on an American topic. The UGA Office of the Vice President for Research covered Okie's work beginning on page 27 of the Fall 2013 issue of "UGA Research."

Great work, Tom! The meaning behind "Peach State" is something that most of us should probably learn - thank you!

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08.18.2014

Class of 2018 Freshman Welcome

The Class of 2018 was welcomed into the Bulldog family with style yesterday afternoon during the fourth annual Freshman Welcome.

Freshman Welcome was a day of firsts for many of the students in attendance. First time at Sanford Stadium. First time Between the Hedges. First time hearing from President Jere W. Morehead (JD '80) and Football Coach Mark Richt. First time learning UGA game day traditions like Calling the Dawgs, Krypton and the Battle Hymn of the Bulldog Nation. Click here to view a video of yesterday's festivities - or check out students' photos on Twitter and Instagram using #uga18

Already boasting the highest average GPA and SAT scores of any incoming class at UGA, the UGA Alumni Association knows the Class of 2018 will leave its mark on UGA.

 

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08.07.2014

2014 Freshman Send-Off Recap

This summer, the UGA Alumni Association and alumni chapters from across the country welcomed incoming students and their families into the Bulldog family. Each participating chapter hosted its own Freshman Send-Off Party to introduce the Class of 2018 to the Bulldog Nation.

Nearly 40 chapters in 15 states participated in the Freshman Send-Off Parties, serving 1,323 students and their family members. Here are some photos from the events this summer:

We are happy to welcome the Class of 2018 and Go Dawgs!

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08.04.2014

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. James Marshall Shepherd

Another star is born - and this time, it is a UGA professor stepping into the spotlight.

Dr. James Marshall Shepherd, a professor in the Department of Geography, will host a new Weather Channel show titled, “WxGeeks” (meaning Weather Geeks). 

Shepherd received his bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees from Florida State University, and joined the UGA faculty in 2006. He teaches courses including ‘Introduction to Weather and Climate’ to ‘Applied Climatology in the Urban Environment.’

Though he may be a new celebrity to the general public, Shepherd is well-known in the climate and weather community. He is a former NASA scientist, the 2013 President of the American Meteorological Society, and heads the nationally-recognized Atmospheric Sciences Program at UGA.

During each episode, Shepherd and other special guests will share expert advice, news and weather-related conversation to educate the viewers in an entertaining format.

WxGeeks producer, Mike Chesterfield, said, “We hope the show can be as geeky and technical as an offline conversation between geeky weather people would be.”

Click here to learn more about "WxGeeks."

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