Following Dr. King’s Footsteps
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s commitment to creating a more promising future for individuals and communities lives on in the work of our faculty, staff and students.
Through the University’s New Approaches to Promote Diversity and Inclusion grants program, 21 new projects will support the recruitment, retention and success of underrepresented, underserved and first-generation students at UGA. The program is supported by private funds dedicated by President Morehead, and a total of 39 proposals were reviewed by a six-member committee charged by Michelle Cook, vice provost for diversity and inclusion and strategic university initiatives, and Arthur Tripp Jr., assistant to the president.
The winning proposals include projects to enhance the participation of underrepresented groups in business and STEM fields, new internship and mentoring programs, and programs for graduate and professional students. The College of Engineering, for example, will boost its recruitment efforts through local STEM clubs in partnership with the UGA chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers, while the School of Law will be launching a program named in honor of alumnus and Georgia Supreme Court Justice Robert Benham that will focus on recruitment, preparation for law school, academic support and career planning.
In addition, the UGA Alumni Association has launched a new giving society known as The 1961 Club to fund need-based scholarships for African-American students through the Black Alumni Scholarship Fund. The 1961 Club is named for the year that Charlyane Hunter-Gault and Hamilton Holmes became the first African-American students to enroll at UGA, and it is being spearheaded by the Alumni Association’s Black Alumni Affinity Group, which was launched this year on the University’s desegregation anniversary, Jan. 9.
Dr. King famously wrote “intelligence plus character–that is the goal of true education.” One of the most visible ways that our students demonstrate their character is through their participation in the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service events that are held across Athens. This year, volunteers will be beautifying the community, removing invasive species from greenways, and supporting local nonprofits and schools. Through ServeUGA, a program of the Center for Leadership and Service in the Division of Student Affairs, students have year-round opportunities to contribute their talents and energies to creating a brighter future in Athens and beyond. Students also address community needs through their participation in service-learning courses, whose enrollment has risen by nearly a third over the past five years.
Dr. King dedicated his life to advancing “goodwill that will transform the deep gloom of the old age into the exuberant gladness of the new age,” and our faculty, staff and students are following in his footsteps.