A Message from Alton M. Standifer

Alton StandiferAs the birthplace of higher education in America, the University of Georgia is committed to pursuing excellence and cultivating a people-centered culture in our teaching, research, and service. In my new role, I am excited to contribute to our efforts to build a welcoming community where students, faculty, and staff feel that they can learn, grow, and thrive. It is an honor for me to follow in the footsteps of my good friend and colleague, Dr. Michelle G. Cook, and learn from her legacy of inspirational leadership.

This edition of the Diversity Newsletter is a testament to our ongoing commitment to create an inclusive environment for faculty, staff, and students. From receiving the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award for the 10th consecutive year to being ranked No. 9 among U.S. public universities by Niche, UGA’s efforts are being noticed nationally. However, we won’t stop here. We plan to reach even higher and strive for an institution that is better and stronger tomorrow than it is today.

In classrooms, laboratories, and offices, Georgia Bulldogs are making the world around them a better place. UGA student Mariah Cady was recently named a 2024 Rhodes Scholar, making UGA the only school in the SEC, and one of only five public universities in the U.S., to have a Rhodes recipient this year. Another UGA student, Gabriela Castillo, received the 2023 Student Veteran Leadership Award for her service, and UGA professor and leading expert in weather and climate J. Marshall Shepherd was recognized with the prestigious 2023 Environmental Achievement Award.

In addition to our work on campus, we also support and invest in our local communities. The Bobbi Meeler Sahm Service and Outreach Award continues to provide funding for multiple projects including the partnership between the UGA School of Social Work and Athens nonprofit Farm to Neighborhood. Meanwhile, John Salazar, director of the Hospitality and Food Industry Management (HFIM) program, builds connections between local governments and communities while strengthening innovation and engagement in the classroom. Our faculty including Yan Jin and Keith Langston conduct important research on topics such as crisis communication and endangered languages.

As you can see, our faculty and staff are innovative and determined as they tackle pressing issues on our campus and more broadly. It is more important than ever to support one another in all that we do and in all that we are. Doing so not only takes the form of large university initiatives and programs, but it also relies on the efforts and kindness of everyone on our campus.

As we finish up this semester and prepare for the next, I encourage you all to remember and celebrate the ways in which you enrich our UGA community through your engagement, outreach, curiosity, and leadership. Your unique perspectives and contributions are a significant and valuable part of what makes UGA such a special place. I am grateful and honored to work alongside you.

Alton M. Standifer
Vice Provost for Inclusive Excellence and Chief of Staff to the Provost