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07.18.2014

A Bulldog reunion 30 years in the making

With so many University of Georgia alumni and even former professors scattered around the world, you never know where two former Dawgs might run into each other, even after decades.

John Shearer (AB ’83) recently hooked up with his old Myers Hall faculty resident friend, Dr. Joe Snow, while traveling through Madrid, Spain, in a reunion that in some respects had been more than 30 years in the making. 


Dr. Joe Snow (left) and John Shearer in Madrid

The story of their friendship began when Shearer moved into Myers in January 1982 after two years of living in the now-razed McWhorter Hall as a walk-on football player and then four quarters in University Gardens Apartments off Baxter Street. In Myers, which was two-thirds male at the time, Shearer said he finally found the closely knit, small-college-like community of male and female students for which he had been longing.

Among the many people he befriended was Snow, a Spanish and Portuguese language instructor, who had an arrangement with university housing to live there at a greatly reduced rent. Snow's only job was to circulate among the students and help break down the barriers between students and faculty. 

Through Snow, Shearer found out about a 1983 spring break trip being planned to Russia, then called the Soviet Union, by then-University of Georgia Russian language professor Dr. Harold Schefski. Shearer ended up going on the trip with his mother, Dr. Snow, Dr. Snow’s sister and several other students. Upon their return to the United States in those pre-Internet days, they learned that Georgia had qualified for the Final Four in men’s and women’s basketball for the first time.

Shearer, who majored in geography, ended up keeping a journal about his trip, and that inspired him to pursue a journalism and writing career that continues 30 years later on a freelance basis from his home in Knoxville, Tenn.  In 2013, Shearer wrote a column on the 30th anniversary of his trip and through Dr. Schefski, who now teaches at California State University, Long Beach, he reconnected with Snow via email.

Snow, who became interested in Spanish while a high school student in New Jersey, had left UGA in the early 1990s to begin teaching at Michigan State University. Today, he spends most of his time in retirement in Madrid in a residence he was able to pay for in part due to his reduced rent while at Myers Hall.


Laura Shearer (ABJ '69) and Dr. Joe Snow

After realizing he would be traveling to Madrid in June with his wife, Laura Anderson Shearer (ABJ ’69), on the way to visit her son in Portugal, Shearer made plans to reconnect with Snow. And since it would be Shearer’s first overseas trip since the Russian excursion, he could say he had been with Snow on every international trip he had taken.

“It was neat reconnecting with him,” said Shearer, who had not seen Snow since the first year or two after he graduated. “He took us to an out-of-the way restaurant with which he was familiar, and it ended up being one of the best meals on our nearly two-week trip. But the conversation was even better. His engaging and warm manner that had endeared him to students became familiar again. 

“And most of all, it was neat comparing our memories of both the Russia trip and our experiences in Myers Hall, because my time in Myers was one of the happiest of my life.”

Written by freelance journalist John Shearer (AB ’83)

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02.09.2016

Building a welcoming and supportive campus community

Launched during the 2015 Homecoming Weekend in October, UGA Black Alumni is the official affinity group for black graduates of the University of Georgia. Similar to the Women of UGA program, UGA Black Alumni exists underneath the umbrella of the UGA Alumni Association and seeks to connect black alumni and students.

Each year, UGA enrolls an increasingly diverse student population and it is important to connect alumni and students with shared experiences to continue building a welcoming and supportive campus community. 

“As a student and an alumna, one thing I felt was missing from my UGA experience was the presence and mentorship of UGA alumni who looked like me. In 2008, I saw the first Black Alumni Homecoming Tailgate on Myers Quad and was full of emotion,” said Ambre Reed (BSFCS ’09), a member of the UGA Black Alumni Leadership Council. “The creation of UGA Black Alumni and its Black Alumni Leadership Council is so important to our community. Becoming involved was a no-brainer for me.” 

The mission of UGA Black Alumni is five-fold: recruit black students, faculty and staff; support black students to completion of a degree program; engage current students and alumni by mentoring and professional development; ‘friendraising’ and fundraising for UGA needs; and serve as UGA ambassadors in the community and to fellow Bulldogs 

Raymond Phillips (BS ’12), another member of the UGA Black Alumni Leadership Council says that groups like UGA Black Alumni and Women of UGA send an important message to the university community, as well as prospective students.

“The time and resources the university is investing into UGA Black Alumni demonstrates its commitment to diversity and inclusion,” he said. “This investment shows there is a place for everyone at UGA, regardless of one’s race, gender or age.”

Reed echoed this message.

“The creation of UGA Black Alumni sends the message that the university not only sees diversity as an asset while on campus, but after graduation, too,” she said.

Serving as an ambassador for UGA, a key part of the group’s mission, involves activities like participating in Give That Dawg a Bone, a card-writing campaign in partnership with the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, which invites alumni to write notes to accepted students, encouraging them to call UGA home for the next four years.

Members of UGA Black Alumni also are invited to attend information sessions and recruitment fairs throughout the year, where they can educate talented black high school students about UGA, its traditions and culture.

Reed admits that as a high school student, she never considered attending UGA. It was not until a black recruiter visited her high school in metro Atlanta and spoke about UGA with passion and pride that she realized it could be a place that she, a black student, could feel accepted and comfortable.

The services that are now a core part of UGA Black Alumni are what helped recruit Ambre and are what will help recruit more talented and diverse students in the future.

Another key component of UGA Black Alumni is raising funds for the Black Alumni Scholarship, which supports up to four students a year. Charles Orgbon III, a member of the Class of 2017 and recipient of the Black Alumni Scholarship, is CEO of Greening Forward, one of America’s largest youth-driven environmental organizations. It is talented students like Orgbon, who are supported by the important work of UGA Black Alumni, that are helping to further cement UGA’s reputation as a top-tier public institution.

The UGA Alumni Association is proud to support UGA Black Alumni as it continues to engage the university’s more than 288,000 alumni around the world.

To learn more about UGA Black Alumni, visit www.alumni.uga.edu/blackalumni.

Interested in joining Ambre and Raymond on the Black Alumni Leadership Council? Click here.

To support students like Charles Orgbon III and other recipients of the Black Alumni Scholarship, click here

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02.03.2016

Alumnus Spotlight: Peter Conlon (BBA '75)

One of the biggest attractions to the Atlanta music scene is its annual music festival, Music Midtown. From mainstream pop artists to rising rock bands, Music Midtown offers the crowds that gather performances from a wide variety of artists. For Peter Conlon (BBA '75), one of two founders of the festival and president of Peter Conlon Presents, this was the overall goal: to create an event fit for attendees of all music tastes and genres.

Conlon graduated from Georgia with a bachelor’s degree in international business in 1975. During his four years as an undergraduate student, he was a member of University Union where he first began booking rock concerts that featured artists such as Jethro Tull and the Allman Brothers. He attended law school for a short period of time after graduation, but then took a risk and dropped out to work as an intern for the Carter presidential campaign, a risk that ended up paying off through a victory.

Peter continued to work for Jimmy Carter throughout his presidential term. His position required that he help set up benefit concerts for the president. In 1982, Conlon partnered with Alex Cooley to begin his career in the music industry.

Music Midtown at Piedmont Park

After working many years booking concerts, the pair founded Music Midtown in 1994, inspired by the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. After having to pull the plug on the event in 2005 due to low sales, the festival was reintroduced in 2011 and now takes up several stages across Piedmont Park, hosts more than 30 different artists, and attracts attendees from all over the nation. Moreover, since the festival’s relaunch, it has generated $50 million for the local economy each year.

Congratulations to Peter and best wishes for the continued success of Music Midtown! 

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02.01.2016

Alumna Spotlight: Devin Clower (BFA ’08)

Anyone family with downtown Athens and its eclectic variety of shops is surely familiar with Frontier. Since opening nearly 20 years ago, the store has connected local artists with community members by providing a venue for them to showcase and sell their work. 

UGA alumna Devin Clower (BFA '08) took ownership of the store three years ago. Her background in interior design helped her with the introduction of custom framing and redesigning the store layout.

The store’s motto, “All for the heart and home,” is reflected in the unique gifts that you can find at the store. Devin has worked hard to fulfill the motto, and through her leadership, the store has grown into a local favorite.

Congratulations on your hard work, Devin!

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