The University of Georgia's College of Education could soon be named in honor of a Georgia pioneer, thanks to a recently-launched new campaign.
The special initiative will name the College of Education for Mary Frances Early, the first African-American to graduate from UGA.
Dean Denise Splangler says she and President Jere Morehead have been working on the proposal for just over a year.
“We both felt that it was an important legacy that needed to be recognized. There were a lot of things that needed to happen behind the scenes, people and processes that needed to be put in place.”
The Atlanta native came to UGA in the summer of 1961, the same year Charlayne Hunter-Gault and Hamilton Holmes first integrated the institution.
“She’s always quietly, but strongly and persistently, pushed the boundaries to make sure that all students and all people have access to the wonderful education and the opportunities available at the University of Georgia,” according to Splangler.
Spangler says Early’s efforts led to success for countless others.
“She has opened doors for so many people who have been able to come to the University of Georgia and people who she educated in the Atlanta Public Schools and in higher education during her career.”
President Morehead is providing the lead gift in the effort, with a designation of $200,000 from the President’s Venture Fund.
The funds will be matched by the UGA Foundation to create four new $100,000 Georgia Commitment Scholarships for students with financial need.
Early retired in 1994 after working for 37 years in public schools. She later taught at Morehouse College, Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University as head of the music department.
President Morehead led the dedication of her portrait in the University’s Administration Building in the fall, and in January 2018, she was named the recipient of one of UGA’s highest honors, the President’s Medal. She was presented with an honorary doctorate from UGA in 2013, and a documentary, “Mary Frances Early: The Quiet Trailblazer,” is dedicated to her life. Her life and accomplishments were featured in a Georgia Groundbreakers profile.