The University of Georgia is proud of its Southern heritage, as well as its status as the United States’ first public state-chartered university. The charter was first drawn up in 1784, but the university didn’t graduate its first class until 1804. While the curriculum originally focused on the traditional liberal arts education, law classes were added in 1843, and in 1872, the university used federal funds to establish agriculture and mechanical arts schools. From there, the University of Georgia slowly added a slew of professional schools to its campus, ending up with its current fifteen—-the last of which, the College of Public Health, was added in 2005.
UGA’s ties to the South have forced the school to confront a number of national controversies. While the Civil War raged on in nearby Atlanta, UGA shuttered its doors between October 1863 until after the war ended, in January 1866. The other, far touchier incident was UGA’s long fight against integration. When Charlayne Hunter and Hamilton Holmes, both black, saw their applications rejected in 1960, they elected to attend other schools while their case was appealed. Finally, in January 1961, a state judge ruled Hunter and Holmes were to be admitted to UGA as transfer students and that the state of Georgia would have to continue funding the UGA, despite state law decreeing any integrated state school would be cut off. After a tumultuous few weeks involving tear gas, riots, and state troopers, UGA was finally, reluctantly, integrated. The first African-American to graduate from the school was Mary Frances Early, who got her master’s in music in August 1962.
While UGA once divided its 614-acre spread into North Campus and South Campus, recent expansions have added East and Western points to the campus compass. Picturesque North Campus opens with its iconic cast-iron arch modeled after the state seal of Georgia and contains a majority of the school’s older, historic buildings and landmarks. Antebellum and Federal-style buildings ground the school’s oldest buildings (including the Chapel, Old College, New College, Demosthenian, the President’s Office, Main Library, and Law School) in the school’s colonial and Southern history, and the many trees and beautifully-landscaped squares and gardens have earned this side of campus its designation as an official state arboretum.
Central campus separates North and South campus, and some of the university’s most-used structures serve as a convenient dividing line. They include the UGA Bookstore, the Tate Student Center, the Student Learning Center, and the home of Dawg football, Sanford Stadium.
Students cross the Tanyard Creek bridge by the stadium to reach South Campus. A little less stylized and a little more spread-out, South Campus is home to most of the science and agriculture classrooms and facilities at UGA.
East Campus Road divides South from East, where apartment-style facilities house a number of UGA students. East Campus is also home to the majority of UGA’s performing and fine arts structures, including the Georgia Museum of Art and School of Music, and a relocated Lamar Dodd School of Art, as well as student gym facilities at Ramsey Center.
Finally, West Campus has grown between old school boundaries out to its current Church Street border, and just how far the school has grown in recent years is evidenced by West Campus’ mix of private and University residences. Except for a few athletic and administrative facilities, West Campus is nearly entirely composed of residential buildings, dorms, and several frats asked by the school in 2006 to relocate their houses to clear room for University construction.
The University of Georgia is located 60 miles to the northeast of Atlanta in Athens.This location makes it approximately 1.5 hours to Atlanta, so students are able to enjoy the small-town college atmosphere of Athens (including its bars and famous live-music scene) while still taking advantage of Atlanta’s dining, shopping, and entertainment. The city of Athens is fairly small; most students live within 15 minutes of campus and other friends. Non-students usually live farther away from downtown Athens and the University (in Watkinsville, for example).
The Athens area does have a high poverty rate, an issue that is currently being addressed by a community poverty commission. This does mean that a few areas near the University are not the most safe or well-maintained. But overall, the safety issue has never been a problem for most students and living near campus (or on an easy bus line) is often desired. Most students stay within a ‘bubble’ of the University, especially since the surrounding area can seem pretty rural at parts. But students can always find things that they need–-there are two Wal-Marts, a Target, a mall, numerous grocery stores, restaurants, gyms, etc.
Football is a religion in Athens, which makes the surrounding rituals as revered and well-observed as Christmas. And, like church, the pre-game and post-game parties are a chance for spirited students (especially Greeks) to wear their Sunday best.
The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party is held prior to the annual Georgia/Florida football match-up every fall, where alum and students from both schools travel to neutral Jacksonville to take part in the outdoor, liquor-fueled revelry.
The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, a match-up between Auburn University and UGA, is another occasion to put on the suits and pearls and have a tailgate—-and has been for some time, as the rivalry dates back to 1892.
The third rivalry old enough to be its own holiday, UGA versus Georgia Tech, is dubbed “Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate,” and Georgia Tech and UGA students both spend the entire week leading up to the annual game pulling pranks and making jokes about their in-state foes. Naturally, after each football win, the Chapel Bell on campus rings. But if UGA beats Georgia Tech, the bells ring all night.
Just off campus, Athfest is Athens’ annual free music festival, featuring local bands and artists. Held each summer, the festival draws kids from all over Georgia and showcases the best from the well-known college music scene in Athens.
Like most freshmen, UGA newbies are nervous about their chances of making it out intact with a diploma in hand. Campus superstition dictates any undergraduate who walks through the school’s gateway, the Arch, will never graduate. Until recently, freshmen were especially forbidden (and physically blocked) from doing so by upperclassmen. Now, it’s just up to them whether they choose to tempt fate or not. While the success rate of doing so has never been chronicled, freshmen tend to avoid the Arch at all costs.
Phil Gramm (1964) is a former U.S. Senator from Texas.
Theresa Brown (1989)is a professional WNBA player and 5-time women’s basketball Olympian.
Deborah Norville (1981) is a TV anchor and host of Inside Edition.
Dan Amos (1973) is the CEO and Chairman of AFLAC.
Hines Ward (1998) is a former UGA wide receiver and Super Bowl MVP with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
John Bell and Michael Houser (1986) were members of the band Widespread Panic.
The Bulldog mascot (“Dawgs,” if you’ve got that Georgia drawl) was inspired by Yale University’s bulldog, but UGA’s athletic program has overshadowed its Ivy inspiration. Its varsity teams have won over 35 national championships and 128 Southeastern Conference titles. While the football team brings out the most fervent fan devotion, other teams, like women’s gymnastics (“Gym Dawgs”), men’s and women’s tennis, women’s swimming and diving, men’s baseball (“Diamond Dawgs”) and men’s golf, have claimed the lion’s share of national titles.
UGA fields 19 Division I varsity teams, and they all are regularly competitive in Southeastern Conference play. But what draws fans out consistently—-rain or shine, win or lose—-are Dawgs football games. Students and alums host lavish tailgates and focus more on clinching key rivalry games than national titles (although that’s always the hope). University president Michael Adams sparked controversy by declining to renew the contract for legendary athletic director Vince Dooley in 2004. Dissatisfaction cooled by 2006 when Dooley’s successor, Damon Evans, was able to boost performance on the field and off, bringing the Dawgs a record $23.9 million profit on their athletic programs.
Top 10 Things Freshmen Should Know About UGA Football
The UGA mascot, a bulldog named Uga, is currently the seventh real-live dawg to hold the title. Like the pharaohs, he’s referred to as Uga VII.
UGA has its own Artificial Intelligence Center, a research and teaching school within the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.
UGA’s Grady College of Journalism founded and gives out the prestigious Peabody Awards each year for excellent in TV, radio, and entertainment.
UGA’s dorm life, once solely the province of freshmen who couldn’t get off campus fast enough, has been growing recently as more upperclassmen decide to get in on good on-campus room deals and the university promises renovations will transform cramped, aging quarters.
Most dorms are located in three groups-—one square in the middle of campus near Sanford Stadium, one near the edge of South Campus, another between Lumpkin and Church Streets in West Campus, and a third all the way down near South Campus’ athletic fields. All the dorms are gathered in groups of three or four to form their own “community” or “village.” Brumby Community (which houses over 900 freshmen women in double-occupancy rooms), Russell Community (double rooms with co-ed floors for 975 freshmen), and the Hill Community (five different dorms, each holding about 160 students in double rooms) are all located on West Campus.
East Campus Village, located appropriately close to the arts facilities on East Campus, offers 1,200 students apartment-style living in four different buildings with full amenities. They’re designed with more independent upperclassmen and grad students in mind, and younger students are allowed to draw in only after upperclassmen have had their pick.
Reed and Myers Communities are both located close to the Central Campus hub. Since the location offers easy access to the main student-life buildings on campus, many of these rooms are set aside for Honors College students, different living-learning communities, and the Franklin Residential College. They allow students a range of roommate options, and, of course, prime territory to stake out for UGA tailgates.