Thursday, October 2, 2008

UGA to Name Building for Joe Frank Harris at Dedication Ceremony Oct. 10

The University of Georgia will officially name another building for a former Georgia governor Oct. 10 with a dedication ceremony for the Joe Frank Harris Commons.

The 2 p.m. ceremony will be on the lawn outside the building formerly known as East Campus Village Commons. The building is just north of the Ramsey Student Center for Physical Activities and close to the East Campus Village residence halls.

Harris, who served two terms as Georgia’s 78th governor from 1983 to 1991, will be present and will speak, and UGA President Michael F. Adams will make remarks. A ribbon-cutting and plaque unveiling will be followed by a reception.

This is the second of three prominent buildings UGA is naming to recognize former governors for their contributions to higher education in Georgia and their support of UGA. An East Campus Village residence hall was named in September for the late S. Ernest Vandiver and another dedication ceremony is scheduled later in October for a building honoring Zell Miller.

Harris, a Cartersville native who earned a business administration degree from UGA in 1958, worked to strengthen education in Georgia at all levels. State funding for education rose by $2 billion, teachers’ salaries climbed 70 percent and the number of students in public colleges and universities grew by a third during his administration.

He created the Georgia Research Consortium, which helped channel $213 million to research facilities at state universities including UGA, which received money for life sciences teaching and research that led to construction of the Fred Davison Life Sciences Complex and the Riverbend Research Center. The state also provided full formula funding for public higher education for the first time while he was governor.

Harris instituted the Quality Basic Education program and created a state department to oversee technical and adult education. Some 1,100 elementary and secondary school buildings were constructed while he was governor.

In 1999, Gov. Roy Barnes appointed Harris to the University System of Georgia Board of Regents, making him the first former governor to serve as a regent. He was twice elected chair of the board during his seven-year term.

Joe Frank Harris Commons, opened in 2004, is a hub of student activities on East Campus. It houses the primary food service facilities for students living in East Campus Village including a large cafeteria with specialty food stations, a small cafe and a convenience store. The building also includes spaces for meetings and student activities, commissary and production facilities to support food venues, and offices of university parking services.

By Larry B. Dendy
University of Georgia

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