UGA's Great Commitments

May 14, 2019

Credit Photo: University of Georgia

Thanks to the recommendations of a presidential working group, initiatives are now underway at the University of Georgia to further advance the institution’s Great Commitments of healthier people, a more secure future and stronger communities.

Included in the plans are an interdisciplinary research seed grant program focused on Great Commitments; an ambassador program designed to connect faculty and their research programs with communities around the state; a student-led service program focused on supporting Georgia communities; and a “tour of Georgia” program for students aligned with Great Commitments and modeled after the university’s highly successful faculty tour of Georgia.

UGA President Jere W. Morehead assembled the working group, which was chaired by Vice President for Public Service and Outreach Jennifer Frum, in spring 2018. The group was charged with developing programs to further engage the campus community in the grand challenges of our time. The group submitted its final report and recommendations last fall. “I want to thank Dr. Frum and the entire working group for their hard work and dedication,” said Morehead. “These initiatives have the potential to further enrich the educational environment of our great university and to connect our faculty, staff, and students with new opportunities to make a positive impact on our state, nation and world.”

The concept for a grand challenges initiative was introduced in the 2017 Task Force on Student Learning and Success, which outlined 12 recommendations to further enhance the learning environment at UGA. The third recommendation of the task force report called for new programs to be developed to explore “big ideas” as defined by the institution. The working group identified the institution’s Great Commitments framework as an ideal foundation on which to build new programming. “Great Commitments capture the breadth and depth of this university’s dedication to improving the world around us,” said Frum, “and I am pleased to see the recommendations of the working group beginning to take shape in meaningful ways on our campus.”

Two of the new programs already are up and running: The Great Commitments interdisciplinary seed grant program was launched by Morehead during his annual State of the University address in January, and the inaugural Student Tour of Georgia took place during spring break this past March. The faculty ambassador program and student-led service program will launch in fall 2019.

The working group included the ­following individuals: • Eric Atkinson, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs; • Michelle Cook, Vice Provost for ­Diversity and Inclusion and Strategic University Initiatives; • Marsha Davis, Interim Dean of the ­College of Public Health; • Tim Foutz, Meigs Professor of ­ Engineering; • Jennifer Frum, Vice President for Public Service and Outreach; • Ammishaddai Grand-Jean, Immediate Past Student Government Association President; • Libby Morris, Interim Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost; • Sam Pardue, Dean and Director of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences; • Usha Rodrigues, University Professor and M.E. Kilpatrick Chair of Corporate Finance and Securities Law; • Kyle Tschepikow, Special Assistant to the President and Director for Strategy and Innovation; • Cynthia Ward, Meigs Professor of Internal Medicine and Chief Medical Officer for Small Animal Medicine in the College of Veterinary Medicine; and • David Williams, Associate Provost and Director of the Honors Program and Morehead Distinguished Professor of Religion.

More information regarding UGA’s Great Commitments can be found here: https://greatcommitments.uga.edu/.