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Gov. Perdue, Outstanding USG Faculty, Alumni Honored at Regents’ Fifth Annual ‘Excellence Awards’

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Atlanta — March 28, 2009

The leadership of the University System of Georgia is gathering tonight as the University System of Georgia (USG) Foundation honors Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue with a “Lifetime Achievement Award” for his service to higher education in Georgia. The Fifth Annual Regents Awards for Excellence in Education Celebration also will recognize outstanding USG faculty and alumni.

The Governor, USG Foundation Chair James A. Bishop, USG Chancellor Erroll B. Davis Jr., most members of the Board of Regents and several regents emeriti all are scheduled to attend the event at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis. A number of elected state officials, corporate leaders and USG presidents, administrators, faculty and staff, as well as alumni and supporters, also are expected to attend the awards program.

“We are gathering to celebrate excellence in education - excellence in our students, excellence in our faculty and excellence in the alumni of University System institutions,” said Bishop, a regent as well as chair of the USG Foundation and the host of tonight’s program. “But this event also is about creating needed resources for student scholarships. During these challenging economic times we must remain steadfast in our commitment to meet our financial goals to provide scholarships and support to all USG institutions.”

The proceeds from the evening fund President’s Choice Scholarships at all 35 University System institutions. Each institution receives up to $10,000 annually, and the presidents choose the recipient or recipients based on academic merit. Thanks to the Regents’ Foundation Scholarships, students who are traditionally underserved by the system and face financial obstacles to attending college receive assistance in the form of full tuition and fees.

The USG Foundation has raised more than $1 million this year and awarded 38 President’s Choice Scholarships and 12 Foundation Scholarships, Bishop said. Nicole Williams, a President’s Choice Scholar from Atlanta Metropolitan College (AMC), and Tanya Rafferty, a Regents’ Foundation Scholar from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC), were chosen to represent all of the scholarship recipients at tonight’s event.

Gov. Perdue will receive the night’s featured award, “The Elridge McMillan Lifetime Achievement Award,” named for the longest-serving current member of the Board of Regents.

“Sonny Perdue has been a strong supporter of the University System and public higher education throughout his career as a public servant,” said Bishop. “His leadership as chair of the Senate Higher Education Appropriations subcommittee was invaluable, but it is as governor that he has made his most significant contributions.”

Among other notable moves, Bishop said, Perdue has approved $1.46 billion in new construction funding for 159 projects throughout the University System during his tenure as governor. He also signed into law a bill creating a new facilities authority to address special capital needs for both the University System and the Technical College System. Called the Georgia Higher Education Facilities Authority, or GHEFA, the authority gives the two systems an important new tool to meet growing student populations and needs.

The Governor also has supported the System’s efforts to address critical shortages of teachers, doctors, and allied health care professionals in Georgia, and he has supported the System’s growth through strong budget recommendations. In the current fiscal year, for example, the System’s funding as a percentage of total state appropriations reached its highest level in nine years - 12.1 percent of the total state budget. During his terms in office, funding for higher education has increased almost 42 percent.

Perdue is a product of the USG, having graduated from the University of Georgia in 1971 with a doctorate in veterinary medicine.

In addition to the Governor’s award, five outstanding USG faculty members and four notable USG alumni will be recognized for their significant contributions to public higher education in Georgia.

Every campus in the University System was asked to nominate faculty and alumni for these honors. A panel of University System officials evaluated the faculty nominations, and an external panel named by the University System of Georgia Foundation evaluated alumni nominations. The faculty recipients have each received a $5,000 check from the USG Foundation.

The following USG faculty members are being saluted at tonight’s event:

Regents Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Awards

  • Dr. Charles H. Atwood is a professor of chemistry at the University of Georgia (UGA). Since his appointment as director of general chemistry more than a decade ago, Atwood has shown an uncommon devotion to instruction in freshman chemistry. He developed JExam, an online homework and exam system and has systematically researched its effectiveness as a teaching and learning tool. The results have been outstanding, demonstrating a significant effect on student learning and increasing student retention in the sciences.
  • Dr. Matthew Laposata is an associate professor of environmental science at Kennesaw State University (KSU). Laposata has developed a method to gauge the effectiveness of a professor’s teaching by measuring improvement in student learning. His methods serve as a model for others engaged in the scholarship of teaching and learning. The number of grants supporting his work, his impressive record of professional peer-reviewed presentations and publications, and the availability of his teaching modules and techniques on several highly respected online libraries all bear witness to his teaching prowess.

Regents Teaching Excellence Awards

  • Dr. Carol Barnum is a professor of information design/technical communication at Southern Polytechnic State University (SPSU). Barnum has an international reputation as a teacher and scholar, having won the J. R. Gould Award for Excellence in Teaching Technical Communication and the International Society for Technical Communication Distinguished Award for her book, “Usability Testing and Research.” A faculty member at SPSU since 1979, she is the director of SPSU’s Usability Center, which helps businesses to design more useful products.
  • Dr. Christy Price is a professor of psychology at Dalton State College (DSC). Price, who won the 2007 DSC Foundation Teaching Excellence Award, has a distinguished record of contributing to best practices in teaching and learning. The depth of her understanding of the elements of effective teaching has led to numerous conference presentations and invited professional-development workshops for faculty at institutions both within and beyond the University System of Georgia.
  • Dr. Balasubramaniam Ramesh is the Board of Advisors professor of computer information systems at Georgia State University (GSU). With an impressive record of teaching and research awards from Georgia State University, Ramesh is a leader in creating opportunities for students to learn in a global environment and working with area public schools to advance science, technology, engineering and math education. Ramesh also has demonstrated outstanding responsiveness to industry needs by developing new curriculum.

The following USG alumni are being saluted at tonight’s event:

  • Lois Taylor Ellison, a graduate of the Medical College of Georgia (MCG), earned a medical degree as one of four women in a class of 78 students in the 1940s. On graduating, she was appointed to the MCG faculty where she helped develop the University’s cardiopulmonary laboratory, serving as its director until 1992. Among her many honors are the MCG School of Medicine Distinguished Alumnus Award, the MCG School of Medicine Lifetime Achievement Award, the Woman of Excellence Award in Health and the Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation Stewardship. She and her late husband were jointly awarded the MCG Vessel of Life Award in 2005, the highest recognition offered by the Medical College of Georgia.
  • Bertie Mae Garrett, a graduate of Middle Georgia College (MGC), dedicated 43 years of her life to the field of education, working as a schoolteacher, an associate professor of business education at MGC for 15 years, a Peace Corps volunteer in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for two years and a summer missionary in 37 countries, as recently as 2004, when she served in Russia. At age 91, she is still giving back, contributing to several scholarships and causes. In 2008, Gov. Perdue and the Georgia Senate recognized Garrett as the Georgia Council on Aging’s Distinguished Senior Georgian.
  • Mike Garrett, a graduate of Georgia College and State University (GCSU) and Southern Polytechnic State University (SPSU), leads one of the nation’s largest generators of electricity as president and CEO of Georgia Power. In this role, he instills a commitment to education and community in the company’s young professionals. Outside the boardroom, he actively promotes these ideals to up-and-coming students he meets as they pursue their education and career opportunities. Garrett credits SPSU for providing him with the foundation for his education and professional journey. He credits GCSU for the sound business practices he acquired as a student.
  • M. Troy Woods, a graduate of Columbus State University (CSU), successfully charted a course from part-time employee and full-time student to president and COO of TSYS, one of the world’s largest companies for outsourced payment services. His journey is one of determination, vision, exceptional business sense and a commitment to servant leadership, making him a role model for students, alumni and community members. Under Woods’ leadership, TSYS is recognized as an economic asset in the region and one of the best companies to work for in America. Woods’ continued involvement with CSU includes membership in the Tower Society, a group of alumni who have pledged to support the university substantially each year.

The University System of Georgia Foundation supports the primary goal of the University System and its 35 colleges and universities to ensure access to academic excellence and educational opportunities for all Georgians.

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