The president of the University of Georgia has plans to bestow one of the institution’s highest honors upon one of Hall County’s own.
Former Georgia Poultry Federation President Abit Massey is one of two individuals (the other, posthumously) who on Jan. 27 will receive UGA’s President’s Medal — an accolade recognizing contributions of those who are not current employees of UGA but “have supported students and academic programs, advanced research and inspired community leaders to enhance Georgians’ quality of life.”
“We are honored to recognize two great Georgians for helping to improve our state and strengthen the university,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “Through their influential vision and tremendous generosity, both Abit Massey and the late Jane Willson have had a profound impact on UGA, and their contributions will continue to benefit the university for generations to come.”
Massey graduated from UGA in 1949 and received his Juris Doctor from Emory University. Known to many as the “dean of the poultry industry,” he became the executive director of the Georgia Poultry Federation in 1960. He served in this role until 2009 when he became president emeritus.
Prior to his work in the poultry industry, Massey was head of the Georgia Department of Commerce, now Economic Development, where he created the tourist division and built the first welcome station.
His numerous honors and awards include the 1986 UGA Alumni Merit Award, the 2012 Harold E. Ford Lifetime Achievement Award from the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association and the inaugural Medallion of Honor for Service to the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. He was the first UGA graduate to receive the Presidential Citation from Georgia Tech.
He served as president of the UGA Alumni Association from 1991 to 1993, is on the board of directors of the Georgia Research Foundation and the UGA Real Estate Foundation and is an emeritus trustee of the UGA Foundation. He has worked closely with UGA to strengthen the research, teaching and extension programs of the poultry industry across the state.
Massey and his wife, Kayanne, a former Miss Georgia, have more than 18 family members who attended UGA. The Massey family was named the UGA Alumni Association Family of the Year in 2014.