Tuesday, August 12, 2014

On the road again: UGA New Faculty Tour

Written by Timothy M. Chester, vice president for Information Technology.

Just finished my first day on the University of Georgia New Faculty Tour. This annual event takes approximately 40 new faculty members on a tour of Georgia to view first hand the impacts of teaching, research and service missions on the economy of the state of Georgia.

As the land-grant, flagship institution for Georgia, the university plays several important roles across the state. Our faculty members are key for each of these roles.

  • Teaching - Everywhere we stop we will meet graduates of UGA. UGA is beloved all across the state and our graduates are in leadership positions across all sectors of the economy. They all tell us of the impact of their faculty on them as they earned their degrees at UGA. 
  • Research - Across multiple sectors of the Georgia economy, from agriculture to advanced manufacturing to services, research by faculty and students at UGA drives innovation all across the state. 
  • Service - This is key for land-grant institutions like UGA. At every stop on the tour, we meet the local county extension agents and others who work closely with community leaders, business owners and families to provide support and access to the vast UGA resources that are available to every citizen of the state.
This is my second year to go on the tour, and I'm grateful to Vice President Jennifer Frum and Associate Vice President Steve Dempsey for allowing me to tag along again this year. For me, it's the chance to spend more time building relationships with our new faculty who five, 10 or 15 years from now will be the senior academic leaders of the institution. And after spending a day with them so far, I would say the future is very bright. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

New Faculty Tour Day One: Agribusiness and Agritourism and Spotlight on the Arts

Written by Timothy Chester, vice president for Information Technology. 

Here’s a quick recap of day one activities on the University of Georgia’s New Faculty Tour. After hearing from UGA President Jere Morehead and Vice President for Public Service and Outreach Jennifer Frum, the group assembled for a picture and then it was off to visit North Georgia. Highlights include:

Having lunch at Jaemor Farms, a family-owned farm that has been in business for over 100 years. Owner Jimmy Echols and Operations Manager Drew Echols represent the third and fifth generation of family leadership. They have expanded Jaemor Farms from simple agriculture production to being a tourist destination in its own right, complete with great food, annual activities such as the corn maze, and facilities for group meetings.

While at Jaemor, University System of Georgia Board of Regents Chairman Philip Wilheit discussed the importance of the agriculture economy in Georgia and how businesses such as Jaemor are deeply integrated into their local communities by producing products the community needs while also consuming necessary products like packaging from other businesses. Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black also spoke and challenged the faculty to be public servants in all that they do and to give back to the State of Georgia as all UGA faculty have done previously.

After lunch the group traveled to Wolf Mountain Vineyards and Winery to tour another family-owned business that has become a tourist destination in its own right. Owner and family patriarch Karl Boegner discussed the process of creating the vineyard’s award winning wines and the tour participants enjoyed a wine tasting event.

The final destination for the day included a stop at the Amicalola Falls State Park where Georgia State Parks Region I Manager Joe Yeager discussed the state’s extensive system of parks and recreational areas. After dinner the group enjoyed presentations by UGA Deputy Librarian (and soon to be University Librarian) Toby Graham who discussed the university’s resources for supporting teaching and research. Karen Paty, director of the Georgia Council for the Arts, discussed the history of the arts in the state and how the arts are a critical part of the state’s growing economy. The evening concluded with Georgia poet laureate Judson Mitcham recalling his fond memories of growing up in Georgia as he performed several readings of his poetry.

After a long and fruitful day the tour participants enjoyed a good night's rest at the Amicalola Falls lodge. Stops for Tuesday include the Shaw Industries plant in Cartersville, tours of the State Capital and the Martin Luther King center in Atlanta, a visit to the UGA Alumni Center in Buckhead and dinner with the Consular Corps of Atlanta. The tour has a full day ahead of it on Tuesday. More to come.