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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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07.29.2015

UGA to reduce class sizes by hiring faculty, adding more than 300 course sections

In the latest in a series of steps to enhance the learning environment, UGA is investing $4.4 million to reduce class sizes by hiring faculty and creating more than 300 new course sections.

"This major initiative demonstrates the University of Georgia's strong commitment to putting students first," said UGA President Jere W. Morehead (JD '80). "Reducing the number of large class sections in critical instruction areas will improve student learning and success and further enhance our world-class learning environment."

The first of the new faculty members will begin teaching this fall, and a total of 56 will be hired in the coming year. By fall 2016, a total of 319 new course sections in 81 majors will be added, the majority of which will have fewer than 20 students.

UGA currently has an 18-1 student/faculty ratio, and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Pamela Whitten noted that the new courses will help ensure students receive even more personalized attention from their professors.

She added that the push to decrease class sizes at UGA builds upon a series of academic enhancements the institution has implemented in recent years. Last fall, the university hired 10 new faculty to teach in 80 high-demand course sections. In the spring, the university approved a new graduation requirement that will make UGA the largest public university in the nation to require that each of its nearly 27,000 undergraduate students engage in experiential learning-such as internships, research, study abroad or service-learning-prior to graduation.

"UGA offers the broad range of resources and opportunities that a major research university provides as well as personalized and hands-on learning experiences that are typically associated with smaller universities," Whitten said. "It's the best of both worlds, and it's exactly what our world-class students deserve."

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07.27.2015

UGA Majorette is No. 1 College Twirler

While Nicole Jensen ’15 has lit up Sanford Stadium with her flaming batons and show-stopping gymnastics moves as a UGA feature twirler on game days, she is also making her mark on the national stage. She has garnered attention for UGA and continued the legacy of national champions after winning the highly coveted title of Miss College Majorette of America. This is the highest award given to a college twirler at the National Baton Twirling Championships, held each year in South Bend, Indiana.

Nicole has been a UGA feature twirler for the past four years. This is highly sought after position among top twirlers in the nation. Nicole, a senior marketing major from Iowa City, Iowa, was selected through an intense audition process and has enjoyed every minute of her time twirling between the hedges at UGA. 

Nicole is no stranger to success. She was on the USA World Team, where she was a silver medalist, and has traveled and performed in Peru as an ambassador. She has won hundreds of awards and titles in her twirling career, including the Collegiate Women’s Solo National Champion in 2012. 

Representing UGA as the reigning top college twirler, Nicole has been touring the country this spring and summer, performing at events and competitions as an ambassador of her sport. This past weekend by performing at Notre Dame in the National Baton Twirling Championships, Nicole performed her final duties as College Miss Majorette of America. Make sure to check out Nicole, in her final season, and the rest of the UGA Majorettes at every home football game this fall! 

UGA mascot Hairy Dawg joined Nicole for her final performance at Notre Dame

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07.23.2015

Alumna’s songs featured on HBO’s “True Detective”

If you watch HBO's popular series "True Detective," odds are you've heard Lera Lynn Buettner's (AB '08) songs. The Nashville-based singer-songwriter has had four songs featured on the show's soundtrack. The UGA Alumni Association recently sat down with Lera to learn more about her musical career and time spent studying anthropology at UGA.  

Tell me a little bit about yourself. Where did you grow up and what led you to UGA? 

I was born in Texas, but my parents left soon after and slowly made their way to Georgia, stopping in Louisiana for about five years first. We moved around a good bit in Georgia, and I finished high school in Woodstock. It was around that time I visited Athens for the first time, to hang out with friends and see live music. I fell in love with the town's energy and lively music scene. That's ultimately what led me to UGA. My family stressed the importance of college, though I had my sights dead-set on music. UGA and Athens were my ticket to satisfying both.

As a student, were you involved in any activities or student groups on campus? Did you have a favorite professor or any fond memories from your time in Athens?

I worked my way through college, waiting tables, bartending and saving up as much as I could between semesters so that I could work fewer hours and still survive when school was in session. That said, I didn't have a lot of extra time for student groups. What time I did have was always devoted to music. Attending UGA still endures as some of my most fond memories. What a luxury it is to go to college and just learn all day! My senior year was definitely my best, as the courses were digging deeper into the things that truly interested me. I loved study groups that were assembled by classmates. I loved sitting in the group and discussing the subject matter in-depth outside of the classroom. It's easy to take that for granted when you're so young, but those are some of the most important conversations you can have; just digging in and bouncing ideas off of other people who are dedicating so much energy to the same things as you.

One of my favorite memories was a beautiful and moving lecture by Dr. Peter Brosius. He was recounting time spent researching in the field and the relationships he'd developed there; the focus being love at the center of everything in life. His lecture brought the whole class (100+ students) to tears. I think he was in tears, too. I will never forget the passion he has for what he does. It reminds me to do what I do for the right reasons. 

  

Since graduating, you’ve moved to Nashville. How did you establish yourself as a musician in there?

I've yet to establish myself anywhere, really, because I'm trying to establish myself everywhere all the time. As an artist, you're often trying to establish yourself on a national level. There's a difference between a studio musician in Nashville and an "artist."

You’ve had several songs featured on the soundtrack for HBO’s True Detective. Tell me how that project came about and what doors it has opened for you

I've had four songs featured in the series so far. I was lucky to have my manager set up a meeting with legendary producer, T Bone Burnett, after he expressed an interest in using the title track from an EP I released last year called "Lying in the Sun." We got along well. Burnett asked if I wanted to collaborate on music for the show and the rest is history. I got to appear in the show several times and I've learned a lot about the business side of music and show business. The show has exposed my music to many new eager ears - that's been the best part of the whole thing.

Do you have any other big projects in the pipeline? Where do you envision your career in five years?

I'm currently writing and recording my next LP. I'm really enjoying the process. I feel like there are so many more possibilities to explore. I hope that in the next five years I can buy a sensible new car. That would be success!

Learn more about Lera Lynn

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