The Business Learning Community, a $140 million project that is transforming business education at UGA, is funded by a nearly 50-50 match of public and private support.

Defining the Future of Teaching and Learning

For the fourth consecutive year, the University of Georgia enrolled the most academically talented class of first-year students in its long history.

The Class of 2020—unprecedented in terms of diversity and academic achievement—earned an average high school grade point average of 3.98, a significant increase over last year’s average of 3.91. In addition, the average SAT score for the incoming class reached a new high of 1302 this year, and the average score for students who took the ACT was 29, which tied the previous year’s record.

To match the growing strength of the student body, during the past year the University continued to enhance its world-class learning environment by implementing several exciting new academic initiatives.

The Class of 2020 enrolled with unprecedented credentials

3.98 avg GPA
1302 avg SAT
29 avg ACT

Expanding Experiential Learning

The new Experiential Learning Initiative (ELI), implemented last fall, is a perfect example of the kind of innovative steps UGA is taking to promote a higher quality of learning for students. Through the ELI, beginning with the Class of 2020, every undergraduate student will participate in hands-on learning prior to graduation.

UGA offers more than 1,200 unique experiential learning opportunities, ranging from internships and undergraduate research to service-learning courses and study abroad programs—all of which have been evaluated by faculty members for academic rigor.

These experiences yield tremendous educational benefits for students, helping them to build enduring relationships with faculty and professional mentors as well as to develop valuable skills that support their academic and career aspirations. With the launch of this pioneering initiative, UGA became the largest research university in the nation to provide all of its undergraduate students with an experiential learning opportunity.

Teaching Entrepreneurship

As the ELI takes root, the number of UGA students launching successful businesses is rising, and groups across the nation are taking notice. Justine Avoudikpon, a May 2017 graduate from the Terry College of Business, led one of just eight teams of students selected from more than 200 to reach the final round of the South by Southwest Student Startup Madness Competition in Austin, Texas in March. Along with a colleague, Avoudikpon created a ridesharing application for smartphones, Swifte, which connects individuals who wish to carpool and makes it easier for them to split costs. Also in March, a team of four students from the School of Public and International Affairs and the College of Public Health won $10,000 to complete the development of TurnKey, an app they designed to dissuade high school students from sending text messages while driving.

These student success stories, and many others like them, underscore the culture of entrepreneurship that has taken root at UGA. In the fall of 2016, the University launched a campus-wide entrepreneurship certificate to equip students with tools and resources to pursue their own startup ventures. Housed in the Terry College and open to students of all majors, this new program is thriving: enrollment has surpassed 340 students from 10 of UGA’s schools and colleges.

Paving New Pathways

In today’s economy, employers are seeking individuals who can develop novel, interdisciplinary solutions to complex problems. This year, UGA launched the Double Dawgs Program to prepare students to be successful in the modern professional landscape.

Through this program, students can earn joint bachelor’s and master’s degrees, often in complementary fields such as biochemical engineering and business administration. Joint degree programs also allow students to develop advanced skills and knowledge at a lower cost and in a shorter time frame—within five years.

Ensuring Student Success

To help students identify courses and majors aligned with their academic and professional goals, UGA offers comprehensive support services. These services include academic and career advising that help students to navigate academic decisions, identify efficient pathways to graduation, and prepare for successful careers.

Enhancing Academic Advising

Academic advising plays a critical role in student success, and UGA has invested heavily in this area in recent years, hiring 35 additional professional advisors to provide more personalized attention and introducing new web-based tools to help students and advisors better track progress toward degree completion. This year, UGA took another important step to enhance academic advising for students: opening the Exploratory Center.

This new center provides tailored advising services to students who are undecided in their majors, who want to change majors, or who are pre-business or pre-journalism. Nearly 70 percent of UGA students change majors at least once, and the center’s specially trained advisors help these students to adapt their academic plans to make the most of existing course credits.

This individualized direction promotes timely graduation and cost savings for students and their families. In the center’s first 10 months of operation, advisors held more than 10,150 meetings with students, clear evidence of demand for the center’s unique services.

Moving from Campus to Career

The UGA Career Center provides a range of services to help students—from helping them to identify career paths to connecting them with employers for job interviews. The center’s success is evident: within six months of graduation, 95 percent of the Class of 2016 was employed or enrolled in graduate school—a career outcomes rate 13 percent higher than the national average.

To continue enhancing career services for students, UGA renovated the Career Center’s home, Clark Howell Hall. The $6M project—funded by the state—created modern spaces for advising, networking events, and job interviews.

The renovated facility opened this fall and also houses the Disability Resource Center, which offers a variety of critical academic and support services to students with disabilities, including transit and note-taking services, testing accommodations, and sign language interpreters.


Ernie Johnson, Spring 2017 Commencement Speaker

Spring Commencement speaker and UGA alumnus Ernie Johnson, left, speaks with recent graduates. To prepare students for success on campus and after graduation, UGA opened the Exploratory Center and renovated Clark Howell Hall, the home of the UGA Career Center.

Building on Tradition

The University advanced a number of critical capital projects to elevate student learning and success. Facilities such as the Business Learning Community, Baldwin Hall, and Science Learning Center are furthering the University’s long tradition of excellence in teaching and learning, while enhancing the physical environment of one of America’s most beautiful campuses.

Business Learning Community

Business Learning Community
The Business Learning Community, a three-phase project at the heart of campus, features a music business recording studio, a capital markets lab, and other cutting-edge spaces for students to learn and interact with faculty.

Construction on the Terry College’s Business Learning Community made great strides in the 2017 fiscal year. Phase II, which includes Amos Hall, Benson Hall, and Moore-Rooker Hall, opened this fall. This phase includes a capital markets lab, a music business recording studio, and other features to teach students the critical business skills needed to be successful in the world’s evolving economy.

The state approved $18 million to build the final phase of the Business Learning Community, and construction is underway. These funds have been matched by $21 million in private donations, bringing the total funding of all three phases of the Business Learning Community to a nearly 50-50 match of state and private support. The final phase will contain modern classrooms, a sales and behavioral lab, and other learning spaces designed to deliver the very best business education.

Baldwin Hall

The School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA)—housed in historic Baldwin Hall on North Campus—was founded in 2001 as the academic home to 450 students. That number has expanded to nearly 1,600 today. As a result of this tremendous growth, demand for classroom and meeting space exceeded Baldwin Hall’s capacity, and a plan to renovate and expand the facility was conceived.

The renovation and expansion, which was supported by $7.75 million in state funds, was completed over the summer. The project provides additional instructional and meeting space for SPIA students and faculty as well as modern technology to facilitate the highest levels of teaching and learning.

Renovations to the existing structure have enhanced instructional spaces and improved accessibility to the building, which also supports the departments of sociology and anthropology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences in addition to SPIA’s academic departments.

Science Learning Center

Science Learning Center
Science Learning Center

The Science Learning Center opened in fall 2016, transforming science education at UGA. Funded by $48 million in state support, this new facility features the latest in instructional technology and houses modern laboratories and classrooms designed to foster student engagement and collaboration in core undergraduate science courses.

This facility opened at the right time for the University and the right time for the state: more than one in five UGA students now graduates with a degree in the STEM disciplines, while demand for training in science, technology, engineering, and math continues to rise in Georgia. In this way, the Science Learning Center symbolizes the great partnership that exists between the University and the state it proudly calls home.