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Soon-to-be UGA president speaks to Rotary Club

POSTED: March 19, 2013 12:52 a.m.
Scott Rogers/The Times

Jere Morehead, who will assume the presidency of the University of Georgia on July 1, speaks Monday afternoon at the First Baptist Church banquet hall during the Rotary Club of Gainesville lunch.

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Jere Morehead, provost and soon-to-be president of the University of Georgia, spoke Monday afternoon to the Rotary Club of Gainesville about the future of the university.

Morehead will replace the university’s current president, Michael Adams, on July 1.

Abit Massey, Rotary programs committee co-chairman, introduced Morehead to the crowd inside the banquet hall of the First Baptist Church on Green Street. Many of those in attendance were graduates or fans of the university themselves.

Morehead has served as provost since 2009. He has also served in several key roles, including vice president of instruction, vice provost of academic affairs and director of the honors program. During his 27-year career with the university he has received several teaching awards, including the university’s highest honor for teaching excellence, the Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teacher Award.

Massey praised Morehead for being an “outstanding and popular teacher” who is loved both on and off campus.

“He has served in every aspect of the University of Georgia,” Massey said. “He loves it and thinks it’s his hobby as well as his job.”

Morehead said he still has a lot of work to do as provost before he takes office as presdident this summer. But he intends to “hit the ground running.”

He said he has been preparing for his new role since it was announced in February by visiting with other college presidents, state and federal officeholders and alumni.

“All of these meetings have led me to the unmistakable conclusion that the future looks bright for our university,” Morehead said. “While we have accomplished many great things in the history of the University of Georgia, there is still a lot yet for the university to do in its future.”

He also has appointed a Presidential Transition Committee to help determine what he should focus on in his first six months as president.

“I want to hit the ground running and drive the institution forward,” Morehead said. “I want to make sure there is a lot of early momentum and that momentum in sustained throughout the coming years.”

Morehead said the university will continue to strive for success in both academics and research. It also will grow endowments and begin a capital campaign.

“Even though a lot of people like to focus on the challenges that the recession has created for higher education, I want to tell you that despite that recession, the university has continued to move forward and grown in reputation and stature,” Morehead said. “And I am optimistic as we stay focused on our academic mission that we will continue to reach new heights in the future.”

Morehead said the university is able to reach such heights because of the fine quality of faculty and staff that allows the school to recruit the finest students.

Freshmen have above-average grades and test scores with an average grade point average of 3.8, SAT score of 1273 and ACT score of 28. The school has 34,000 students.

After Morehead spoke, Philip Wilheit, vice chairman of the Board of Regents, spoke of Morehead’s qualifications. Wilheit was involved in the selection process of the university’s president.

Wilheit said of the 50 qualified applicants, Morehead’s “most impressive resume” stood out. He praised Morehead’s multiple teaching awards and roles within the university.

“The downside to having Jere Morehead as the president of the University of Georgia is that we’re going to lose him in the classroom,” Wilheit said.

Wilheit said Morehead has a wonderful handle on the many things going on at the university because of his vast experience.

He said the standard of excellence has been established at the university because of the hard work of people like Adams, Morehead and many others.


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