UGA Honors Faculty for their Efforts in Public Service and Outreach

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2024

Six University of Georgia faculty received awards Monday for their commitment to public service and outreach.

The awards were presented at the 33rd Annual Public Service and Outreach Meeting and Awards Luncheon, held at the UGA Center for Continuing Education & Hotel.

Public Service and Outreach (PSO) continues to expand UGA’s impact across the state. The most recent economic impact study shows UGA contributing $8.1 billion to the state in 2023. Of that, $1.2 billion was generated by PSO and Cooperative Extension. UGA has engaged more than 10,000 UGA students and offered more than 30,000 programs at the local level through outreach efforts. In the last five years, the Small Business Development Center, has supported the launch of more than 2,000 small businesses.

“Whether we are training economic development professionals, launching regional leadership programs, or supporting urban and rural agriculture, we are fulfilling our mission as the state’s land-grant and sea-grant university: to make Georgia a more prosperous state for all its residents,” said Jennifer Frum, UGA vice president for Public Service and Outreach. “The faculty members selected this year once again are among the university’s strongest advocates for outreach and are committed to helping fulfill that mission.”

Danny Bivins, a senior public service associate with the UGA Institute of Government, was presented the Walter B. Hill Fellow Award for Distinguished Achievement in Public Service and Outreach. The Hill Fellow Award is UGA’s highest award in public service and outreach and is comparable to a distinguished professorship.

Bivins builds partnerships that increase the economic development potential of communities and provide valuable experiential learning opportunities to students. Since 2013, he has directed the Georgia Downtown Renaissance Partnership, a statewide downtown revitalization program that has impacted design and economic development for over 60 Georgia communities and has resulted in more than $150 million dollars invested in construction, revitalization and other improvements.

Four UGA faculty members received Walter B. Hill Awards. These awards recognize the distinguished achievements by public service faculty who have contributed to a better quality of life for the people of Georgia. They are:

• Phillip Edwards, the Southwest District Water Agent and a senior public service associate for UGA Extension. Edwards has served as a county extension coordinator in Irwin County for 18 years, managing the overall strategic direction of the office. A cotton expert, he connects with farmers, agribusinesses, and county agents through his informative newsletters. Every year he makes more than 1,000 direct contacts with farmers to answers questions about specific cotton topics.

• Anne Lindsay, associate director of marine education and senior public service associate at UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant. Lindsay oversees marine science and coastal ecology for PreK through adult audiences and oversees the UGA Marine Education Center and Aquarium on Skidaway Island. Under her leadership over 50,000 students of all ages and backgrounds have connected with the natural world, engaged in current coastal science and developed as stewards of Georgia’s coast in 2023.

• Carolina Ramon, director of specialty programs for the UGA Small Business Development Center. Ramon manages the SBDC’s International Trade Center, Multicultural Business Division and the state Small Business Credit Initiative across Georgia. Since 2015, she has provided more than 3,500 hours of consulting to help 460 small business owners understand complex government contracting programs, helping them secure $148 million in contracts.

• Uttam Kumar Saha,a senior public service associate and the program coordinator of the Feed and Environmental Water Laboratory for UGA Extension. Saha operates a lab with a collaborative team of UGA experts who test for and mitigate threats to water, air and animal feed. In 2012, Saha and his colleagues were awarded a Georgia State Indoor Radon Grant by the EPA, with awards currently totaling $2.5 million, and have helped with mitigation of 3,000 homes for indoor air radon and 200 private wells for radon in water through ongoing monitoring.

The UGA Public Service and Outreach Engaged Scholar Award was presented to Diane Bales, an Extension human development specialist, Child Life Program director and professor of human development and family science in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences. Since 1998, Bales has provided leadership and content expertise for the Better Brains for Babies initiative, a collaboration to support early brain development in infants and young children. As primary investigator on grants from the USDA Rural Health and Safety Education program on opioid awareness, she helped assess six Georgia communities and developed education plans for opioid misuse. She has also served as primary investigator on grants addressing stress and mental health challenges in farmers and farm families.