"Our present happiness joined to pleasing prospects should conspire to make us feel ourselves under the strongest obligation to form the youth, the rising hope of our Land," [Abraham] Baldwin wrote in the charter, which was adopted 232 years ago this week by the Georgia General Assembly on Jan. 27, 1785.
"Think about it—they couldn't even pay off their Revolutionary War debts, but they were looking for ways to provide public education for our students," said Sylvia M. Hutchinson, a professor emerita of reading education and higher education who serves as a senior adviser in the UGA Division of Academic Enhancement. "These people were far-reaching in their thinking."
The establishment of UGA as America's first public university sparked a movement that continues to shape this nation—creating tens of millions of informed citizens, new scientists and innovative entrepreneurs every generation.
Today, public colleges and universities across the United States educate about 15 million students each year. This includes the more than 300,000 students throughout the public colleges and universities that make up the University System of Georgia.
A great moment to celebrate, in the history of public higher education int he United States. In some ways, the challenges and struggles have never been greater, but when we look back to the very founding of UGA, as Dr. Hutchinson points out, we can be inspired by the breadth of vision that was present at the beginning to decide to invest in the future of the country by way of educating its citizens. In many ways it is the ultimate expression of hope, and we should let us guide again, once and for all.
Image: Photo illustration by Lindsay Bland Robinson