The sale of WUGA-TV to Marquee Broadcasting is scheduled to be completed on July 1, and we would be remiss not to note the end of this mini-epoch in university broadcasting. Since 2012, WUGA-TV existed as a local PBS affiliate in Athens, owned by UGA and whatever may have been its initial puropse or the original motivations behind the endeavor, the Franklin College became a significant contributor to the station. It broadcast, in every sense of the word, some of the work of our students, faculty, staff and visitors to an audience far wider than we would have ever reached alone. We are indebted to the station manager, Jimmy Sanders, and its former news director Jeff Dantre, for their openness to, belief in and enthusiasm for the content created by the Franklin College that ran on the station. More thoughts below the fold.
Interesting findings from Warnell School researchers that could have much broader implications (than just the sites mentioned) - natural wilderness areas need the protection of buffer zones:
Coveted for their beauty, these wilderness areas draw innumerable outdoor enthusiasts eager for a taste of primitive nature.
But University of Georgia researchers say these federally protected nature areas have a problem: Their boundaries have become prime real estate.
As the country's population continues to grow, people have built homes close to national parks, forests and wilderness areas for the same reasons these systems have been left protected from development. However, this construction and growth near the National Wilderness Preservation System is beginning to degrade the quality of these lands and erode biodiversity.
"People like the idea of having a national forest in their backyard," said Lauren Ward, a graduate student at UGA's Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. "But from over-applying lawn care chemicals to introducing invasive plant and animal species, landowners' choices can have far-reaching negative impacts on neighboring wilderness areas."
This idea can taken several steps farther - and the good journalists out there will use this study as an opportunity to do so. The protection of buffer zones would be effective for barrier islands, coastal and freshwater wetlands, even the natural areas that still surround many cities, all in desperate need of protection. Sprawl has decimated thousands of such areas in precisely the ways discussed here. And as much as we can force ourselves to accept that reality as simply the way things are, it's always instructive to view different countries from the air and see distinctions from what we're used to. Especially visible over small cities and towns in Europe, viewed from the air distinct demarcations of where the settlements end and the country, wilderness or farmland begins is unmistakable. And it is not because they don't want to grow, or that develpments in France or Germany don't naturally want to expand - it is just that they specifically disallow themselves from doing so. By law. It is an instructive practice. At any rate, more perspective is definitely helpful.
Image: A lakeshore runs along the White Mountain National Forest in Maine. (Credit: Bob Nichols/USDA)
One of the many reasons we love the symbiotic relations between town and gown, music and the university go together like UGA and Athens, GA and there is no better example than ATHfest:
AthFest is a multi-day music and arts festival in downtown Athens, GA that showcases local, regional, and national musical talent. The festival includes three outdoor stages, an artist market, a two-night Club Crawl in more than 10 venues, and a three-day KidsFest celebration. And all proceeds directly benefit AthFest Educates.
Since 2009, AthFest Educates, an Athens-based nonprofit, has awarded nearly $200,000 in grants to schools, community organizations, and government agencies to support high-quality music and arts education programming for Athens-Clarke County youth.
Lots of great art, music, food, crafts and family fun that is already well underway and MUCH more than a small town or a major research university might boast alone. But together? Here we go, and all for a good cause. The bands, artists, organizers and spectators are replete with Franklin College faculty, staff and students, who have our best wishes for a great weekend. Stay cool, find some alt transportation between downtown and chez vous, and be safe. Athfest rocks.
The speed with which the Confederate flag has fallen below the line of acceptability in a single week is inspiring. That symbol is not just being talked about - it is being taken down. As a part of this swirl of events in motion, predicated on the murderous rampage in Charleston one week ago, how will the conversation to make our campuses more inviting, welcoming and diverse - especially here in the South - continue to progress?
Other campuses are struggling to come up with their own solutions as the pressure to remove Confederate symbols intensifies.
The University of Texas at Austin was already debating a proposal to move a statue of Jefferson Davis, who was president of the Confederacy, from its prominent place on a central mall to a museum when the Charleston massacre occurred.
Several days later the statues of three Confederate leaders were spray-painted with the words "Black Lives Matter" as a petition circulated by the student government was gathering more than 2,800 signatures of people calling for the statues’ removal.
Some seemingly-intractable realities are being swept up in the present momentum and altered for the better. And sure, the flag is symbolic, but we send all kinds of signals, all the time, about what we care about most by the prestige we devote to certain artifacts and cultural elements. And these signals determine how open and welcoming our campuses can be - especially to under-represented groups, to use the common parlance. It's flags and statues, but it's also names of buildings and even streets. Changing these to match not sensitivities but to reflect our priorities, to celebrate and announce the future we want to embrace, also sends a very loud signal. What we choose to honor and how it effects our perspective and reputation is self-fulfillng in a very direct way. There will be more space now to make these kinds of determinations about cultural priorities, and it will not be simple to embrace the future without erasing the past. There is power in historical legacy, but its real juice energizes the capacity to move us forward - to be confident in embracing the future we want, rather than one we're saddled with.
DADA was a between-the-world-wars movement that is either responsible for or guilty of many of the art 'isms' that would decorate the twentieth century, depending on one's view about that history. Helen S. Lanier Distinguished Professor of English Jed Rasula has a new book out on the subject of DADA, recently reviewed in The Economist and the Los Angeles Times:
When telling a story of individuals as incandescent as the Dadaists, it’s easy to disregard the influence of their social and cultural context. But no matter how radical, experimental, or iconoclastic a movement might be, it still exists in the world. Rasula therefore smartly structures the book geographically, focusing on “key locales,” rather than presenting the events and works chronologically, or structuring the book around the artists themselves. Starting in Zurich, he travels with the “virgin microbe” to Berlin, New York City, Paris, Hanover, Eastern Europe, and the rest of the world. In some ways it is impossible for contemporary readers, removed as we are from the restrictions of the Victorian age, to understand the emotional impact of Dada; but, by specifically locating the people and events, and describing the reaction of various audiences, Rasula begins to communicate the world of the artists and the challenges they faced. We may not be able to fully empathize, but we at least come away with a sense of why a performer like Hugo Ball “intoning a language of magical potions,” composed of nonsense sounds like “gadji beri bimba” or “blassa galassasa tuffm i zimbrabhim,” might drive an audience to violence.
Whatever your stance on DADA (and mine has been all over the map), it reflects a robust period in intellectual comedy aesthetics and liberation of thought, and there's no doubt that it influenced what would follow. How did it influence those things? Well, books could be written, and Dr. Rasula has contributed what sounds like a very good one. More on this to come, I'm sure.
The Willson Center announced that the great Alice Walker will visit UGA in the fall, as the inaugural Delta Visiting Chair for Global Understanding Oct. 14-15:
Walker is the first African-American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in fiction for her 1982 novel "The Color Purple," which also earned a National Book Award. She has written six other novels, four collections of short stories, four children's books and volumes of essays and poetry. Her first collection of poetry, "Once," was published in 1968, followed by her first novel, "The Third Life of Grange Copeland," in 1970. Throughout her public life, she has been an international activist for civil and human rights and a forceful advocate for women and girls.
Walker offered a personal message to the UGA and Athens communities: "This gathering at the historic University of Georgia offers a unique and splendid opportunity for the Southern community from which I come to gather for a time of introduction, contemplation and learning.
As the release states, Walker has been gone from Georgia and the South for some time, but her roots here remain strong. Should be a great experience for our students and faculty to interact with this great American author. Nice going Willson Center and Delta. Can't wait for this.
UGA graduate Jordan McLeod recently took home top prize in the 2014-2015 WxChallenge, an annual national collegiate weather forecasting competition:
McLeod, who was earning his master's degree at UGA when the forecasting competition began in fall 2014, beat out nearly 2,000 participants ranging from undergraduates to tenured professors from over 100 colleges and universities.
To compete, participants forecasted the weather conditions-daily maximum and minimum temperature, daily maximum sustained wind speed, daily precipitation total-for 10 selected cities across the U.S. Participants forecasted each city for two weeks and then submitted each city's forecast on the WxChallenge website.
The competitors with the top 64 cumulative scores at the end of the fall and spring semesters were then placed in a four-week forecasting tournament structured similarly to the NCAA basketball finals. McLeod began this year's tournament as a No. 7 seed and won every round to win the entire tournament.
"There is always something special about ‘winning it all.' That's exactly what Jordan did this year," said [John] Knox, an associate professor who serves as the team manager. "It is one more sign that UGA has one of the up-and-coming atmospheric sciences programs in the nation."
Wow. Our atmospheric sciences program in the department of geography truly knows no bounds in preparing students to reach for outstanding acheivements. As Professor Knox said, contests inspire people to excel, and that includes in academics. Congratulations to McLeod, Knox and all of the UGA particpants - your distinguished performances and preparation honor us all.
One hundred and fifty years ago today, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation took effect and two months after Appomattox, the U.S. Army took possession of Galveston Island and began a late-arriving battle against slavery in Texas:
The historical origins of Juneteenth are clear. On June 19, 1865, U.S. Major General Gordon Granger, newly arrived with 1,800 men in Texas, ordered that “all slaves are free” in Texas and that there would be an “absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves.” The idea that any such proclamation would still need to be issued in June 1865 – two months after the surrender at Appomattox - forces us to rethink how and when slavery and the Civil War really ended. And in turn it helps us recognize Juneteenth as not just a bookend to the Civil War but as a celebration and commemoration of the epic struggles of emancipation and Reconstruction.
Long-known as Juneteenth Day, Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, the occasion has long been celebrated by African-Americans and recognized by most states, including Georgia, as a holiday in ceremonial observance. We join in this year's celebration with great sadness about the travesty in Charleston. The festering wound of racism continues to bleed through the denial of its very existence. May we begin to emancipate ourselves from the hatred that pervades, and as well the symbols that help preserve it.
Image: Juneteenth celebration in Eastwoods Park, Austin, 1900 (Austin History Center)
AMICO is an anti-malware program developed by Roberto Perdisci, an assistant professor of computer science at UGA, and his students that helps to protect sensitive information from cybercriminals. This summer, the program is part of a Cyber Innovation Internship Program, a 10-week summer program where the Telos Corporation works with local Loudoun County[Virginia] High School students, exiting seniors and college freshman (University of Virginia & George Mason University) to work on applied technologies in cyber security while continuing to gain real world experience in more advanced topics in computer science and programming, mathematics, cyber security, collaboration, business innovation and entrepreneurship.
The primary focus of the program is to apply the student’s diverse academic backgrounds, knowledge and skills, to current “real-world” cyber challenges and opportunities while giving them the guidance in solving (“learn by doing”) real world cyber security problems in a collaborative team environment. The program also gives students an opportunity to work with US national Laboratories and Universities to develop cyber related start-up ventures with direction and mentorship in applied entrepreneurship and with a formal business rigor and methodology.
UGA is one of a few universities taking part in this intership program, which is sponsored by the Telos Corporation and supported by the Department of Homeland Security. The participating students will perform a technical and business analysis of the AMICO project that will be part of a business plan to create a suitable path for commercializing the AMICO technology. That would be a big breakthrough for a big breaktgrouhg, so to speak, and a great opportunity for these students to learn about the tech side of entrepreneurship. The program begins June 22 and runs through August 28.
As university research projects continue to enter the entrepreneurial realm, look for more great programs like this, which create multiple teaching opportunities as they evolve toward the private sector industry. Great job, Dr. Perdisci and students.
Columns this weeks honors Richard Graham, UGA's first full-time African American faculty member, who passed away last month:
Richard M. Graham, the first full-time African-American faculty member at UGA, died May 4 at the age of 83. Graham was a former director of the Hugh Hodgson School of Music, which is part of the university's Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.
Born in Kansas City, Missouri, Graham took up piano at an early age and changed to the trumpet in high school. His college years were spent at the University of Kansas, where he earned a bachelor's degree in music education in 1955 and a master's degree in 1958. After completing his internship at Topeka State Hospital, he worked for three years at Logansport State Hospital in Indiana, serving a diverse client population. He then moved to Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri, where he built an academic program from the ground up while completing his doctorate at KU in 1965. Graham joined the UGA faculty in 1968 where he taught music education and music therapy at the Hodgson School. He retired from the university in 2000.
Dr. Graham was and always be a major part of UGA's history. To the many students he touched as a teacher and mentor, his legacy lives on in their teaching and music therapy practices around the state and the nation. We gratefully acknolwedge his service to the university and his contributions as a scholar that built a distinguished career and serve as an important foundation for the success the Hodgson School enjoys today.