UGA Heritage:

Fanning Institute for Leadership and Development



The J.W. Fanning Building; Dr. John W. Fanning


The Fanning Institute for Leadership and Development is named for UGA’s first vice president for services, Dr. John W. Fanning, and the J.W. Fanning Building was completed in 2002.

Fanning was born in 1905 on a farm in Wilkes County, Ga. He earned his BSA in 1927 and an MSA the following year – both from the University of Georgia. He then began his career with the UGA Extension Service and worked in Clarke County, Macon, Perry and Tifton, Georgia.

In the mid-1950s, he resigned from the Extension Service and began a lifelong focus on community development throughout the state. His efforts and continued involvement with the University led to the creation of the Institute of Community and Area Development in 1961. He was appointed the Institute’s first director. In 1965, he was named vice president for services and held that position until he retired in 1971.

The next year, Fanning formed Leadership Georgia, a program that later became one of the most respected and diverse programs of its kind in the country. Fanning and his wife Cora were active members of the First Baptist Church of Athens.

Fanning received many accolades during his lifetime, including the Distinguished Faculty Award from the Terry College of Business and the Faculty Merit Award from the UGA Alumni Association. Former Georgia Governor Carl Sanders declared a J.W. Fanning Day in Georgia, and Mercer University granted him an honorary doctor of law degree.

Fanning’s personal motto was “May you stay alive as long as you live,” which later became the title of his biography written by Eugene Younts. Fanning died in 1997.

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