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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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10.24.2014

UGA Graduate School honors 2014 Alumni of Distinction

The University of Georgia Graduate School has honored 10 graduates with the 2014 Alumni of Distinction Award for achieving exceptional success in their professional careers and in service to their communities. The professional achievements and contributions to society made by these graduate alumni exemplify the best of UGA.

As the Director of the Emory Institute for Drug Development of Bioanalytical Chemistry, Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics Group, Richard F. Arrendale (BSEH '74, MS '80, PHD '88) has played a lead role in the preclinical and early clinical development of new treatments for tumors in tobacco users. Additionally, he co-chaired the 2012 UGA Symposium on Pharmaceutical Development.

Phillip J. Brantley (MS '77, PHD '80) is the associate executive director for scientific education at Louisiana State University's Pennington Biomedical Research Center. More than 30 years of research grants, mostly from the National Institutes of Health, have funded his research in weight loss and long-term weight management. Brantley is a member of the executive council of the Obesity Society and has served on the executive boards of the Louisiana Psychological Association and the Society of Behavioral Medicine.

UGA professor Perry W. Buffington (MA '73) is a bestselling author, speaker, media personality and licensed applied psychologist. He teaches clinical psychopharmacology in UGA's Franklin College of Arts and Sciences' program on the Griffin campus and was awarded the Teaching Excellence Award by the UGA psychology department in 2014. In addition to lecturing worldwide on ways to reduce drug errors, he is also a former contributing editor to Delta Air Lines' in-flight magazine, Sky.

Christopher Francis D'Elia (PHD '74) is the dean of the School of the Coast and Environment at Louisiana State University. His research is centered on the nutrient dynamics of estuaries and coral reefs. D'Elia is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, has served on numerous advisory panels to the National Science Foundation, and previously directed the International Ocean Institute-USA and the Center for Science and Policy Applications for the Coastal Environment.

Brain cancer survivor Michael Feuerstein (MS '75, PHD '77) is a professor of medical and clinical psychology and preventative medicine/biometrics at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. In 1994, he developed and directed a clinical psychology Ph.D. program for the Department of Defense to train clinical providers and military leaders in behavioral health and medicine. Feurstein has dedicated his career to improving the health, health care, function and well being of other cancer survivors.

Pamela Flattau (MS '72, PHD '74) has  served as a senior staff officer and task leader in Washington, D.C. for 40 years with the National Research Council, National Science Foundation, and Institute for Defense Analyses' Science and Technology Policy Institute. This year, she launched the nonprofit business venture, The PsySiP Project, to advance behavioral measures associated with sustainable consumption for integration into the U.S. System of National Accounts for the U.N.'s post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda.

Triple Dawg and Athens resident Kurt C. Lawrence (BSAE '85, MS '87, PHD '97) is  a supervisory research agricultural engineer and research leader of the quality and safety assessment research unit within the agricultural research service division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He is recognized internationally as an expert in radio-frequency moisture sensing in cereal grains, crack detection in shell eggs, and imaging systems used to detect poultry contamination.

Roland McElroy (AB '65, MA '69) is president of McElroy & Associates, a public relations firm focused on providing strategic advice for corporate and public policy clients. In Washington, D.C. he served U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn for 15 years, first as press secretary and later as chief-of-staff. In 2001, he wrote a history of the Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Georgia, entitled "Georgia Blue." His next project, a political memoir of his time with Nunn, is due to be released in 2015.

Kathleen Slevin (MA '74, PHD '75) is the former vice provost for academic affairs and Chancellor Professor of Sociology at the College of William and Mary. Her scholarship centered on age and gender inequalities. In 1990, she was appointed by the Governor of Virginia to serve on the Affirmative Action Monitoring and Advisor Committee. She currently serves as the president of the Southern Sociological Society and is the faculty advisor for the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.

Mrs. USA 1990 Deborah Williams (MS '83, PHD '85) is the president and CEO of the apparel and event productions company, Her Game 2. Through an exclusive merchandise licensing agreement with the National Basketball Association, she supplies apparel for NBA fans across the country. She is also the Founder of Behind the Bench: The National Basketball Wives Association. She was also selected as one of the 25 Most Influential African American Women in Business by The Network Journal.

The UGA Alumni Association congratulates you all on your success!

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10.22.2014

Bulldogs in the Sunshine State

Southern California is known for its beaches, beautiful weather and the glamour of Hollywood, but the Sunshine State has a touch of Bulldog, topo. With more than 3,535 UGA alumni, Southern California is home to a host of alumni and alumni-owned businesses. 

A beer tap made from a Harley engine? Check. An annual Halloween party that includes a strait jacket escape contest and something called the Dead Marionette Theater? Check. A Johnny Cash shrine? Sure! All these elements and more come together to create the Gasser Lounge, a rock n’ roll bar located in Redondo Beach, California, the pride of owner Mike Bouchard (BBA ’03).

Serving as the Southern California Chapter’s game watching party venue, the Gasser Lounge hosts an energetic crew of football devotees every week for an indoor tailgating experience unlike any other, complete with a red leather interior and a special surprise after every Dawgs touchdown, served up by bartender Bouchard.

Bouchard and his bar aren’t the only ones keeping the Southern California Chapter entertained, however.

  

M. Ali Salimi (BBA ’03), president of the chapter, is an esteemed attorney who lived in Switzerland and London before beginning his own firm in Irvine.

Outside of work, Salimi opts for a hobby that’s a little less serious - gracing the stages of comedy clubs across the region. 

The UGA Alumni Association is proud of your accomplishments, Mike and Ali! Continue keeping the Southern California Chapter interesting.

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10.21.2014

2014-2015 Signature Lecture Series

Guest Blogger: Meg Amstutz, Ph.D. 
Associate Provost for Academic Programs

UGA is now highlighting a number of premier lectures through its new Signature Lectures designation, designed to help focus attention on the variety of prominent thinkers visiting campus.

When I first came to UGA in 1997, one thing I missed from my prior institution was the twice-yearly notice of its endowed lecture series. At the beginning of each semester, the arrival of the list of upcoming lectures would prompt my fellow graduate students and me to mark our calendars and chat with friends and colleagues about the topics that interested us most. Faculty across campus encouraged students to attend these lectures, and they often incorporated the work of the speakers into the classes they were teaching.    

In 2013-2014, more than 50 individual lectures were listed on UGA’s Master Calendar, signaling the strong level of intellectual activity taking place. At the same time, this long list signaled an opportunity to reframe these offerings conceptually, so that students and faculty might more easily mark the dates, participate and engage in classroom discussion together.

To that end, we have launched the UGA Signature Lectures, featuring speakers noted for their broad, multidisciplinary appeal and compelling bodies of work. This special designation recognizes a number of UGA’s endowed lectures, including the Gregory Lecture and the Mason Public Leadership Lecture, as well as lectures with historic significance on our campus, such as the Louise McBee Lecture, the Holmes-Hunter Lecture, and UGA’s Founders Day Lecture.

I am grateful to those who have chosen to endow lectures, because these Signature Lectures are one of the best ways for students to discover that they are truly part of a larger, international intellectual conversation.

For a full list of the 2014-2015 Signature Lecture, please click here.

The UGA Alumni Association will hold the 2015 Founders Day Lecture at the Chapel on Tuesday, January 27 at 1:30 p.m. The public is invited to attend.

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