A Message from Michelle Cook

Michelle CookThe University of Georgia is a place of innovation, ideation and creativity. We are always looking to the future and the next big idea. We are developing solutions to the grand challenges of our time, as we also anticipate the challenges that lie ahead. This energy and commitment are two of the many reasons that our campuses are so dynamic and our community is so engaged.

We are also a place that recognizes and celebrates our rich history. This history is best told through the lives, the courage and the determination of individuals such as Harold Black, Mary Blackwell Diallo and Kerry Rushin Miller, who were the first Black first-year undergraduate students to attend and graduate from the University of Georgia. Theirs is a story of brilliance, tenacity and resolve. We had the privilege this fall of honoring these three incredible individuals with the dedication of Black-Diallo-Miller Hall, the latest addition to the university’s housing portfolio. This beautiful residence hall is located on Baxter Street in one of the busiest and liveliest areas of campus. While it honors these great alumni, it also stands as a reminder of the profound impact that individuals can have when they resolve to do hard things.

Bulldogs are always doing hard things and doing them well. This newsletter is a testament to some of the ways in which we can accomplish great things at UGA. Our faculty, staff and students are amazing examples of what is possible in community. We are an exciting community of individuals who strive to leave the world a better place, as we do all that we can to contribute to that better world. This commitment is not something to be taken lightly. If our commitment is going to be more than words, more than empty platitudes, then we must all lean in and step up, even when it is not convenient. That is what we see with faculty such as Joon Choi, who engages in work to address domestic violence in the Korean community, or Cheryl Gomillion, who studies how tissue engineering can help us understand and treat breast cancer.

We also celebrate and recognize those in our community who make significant contributions through service. Vice President for Student Affairs Victor Wilson was named the recipient of the University of Georgia Foundation Distinguished Service Award for his long-time support of the institution. We are proud to spotlight these and many others for their commitment to the institution and our tripartite mission of teaching, research and service. When we come together, our collective hard work and commitment pay incredible dividends. This year, for the ninth year in a row, UGA was the recipient of the INSIGHT Into Diversity Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award, which recognizes colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. This is an honor that we can celebrate as a community. It reminds me of the African proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” At the University of Georgia, we are going places … together!

Michelle Cook
Senior Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion and Strategic University Initiatives