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University of North Georgia celebrates inauguration of President Jacobs

Dr. Bonita Jacobs Inauguration
Dr. Bonita C. Jacobs is applauded after her formal installation as the president of the University of North Georgia.

On April 26, the University of North Georgia celebrated the inauguration of President Bonita C. Jacobs with an installation ceremony, reception, and an inaugural scholarship ball.

Inaugurations are historic academic ceremonies that mark changes in an institution's highest level of leadership. Though Dr. Jacobs came to North Georgia College & State University in July 2011, plans for her inauguration were deferred when the school began consolidation with Gainesville State College. On Jan. 8, 2013, the University System of Georgia Board of Regents ratified the consolidation of Gainesville State College and North Georgia College & State University as the University of North Georgia.

To celebrate this milestone in the university's history and to highlight UNG's mission and vision, the inauguration has included several events in addition to the installation ceremony.

The inauguration theme, "Building on a Tradition of Excellence" emphasized the university's designations as a state leadership institution and as The Military College of Georgia, as well as its student-centered approach to instruction and academic success.

"We stand on the shoulders of a talented faculty whose impact on student success is a powerful calling and responsibility," Jacobs said. "I am certain that if I asked the alumni in our audience about their college experiences, they could easily name faculty members who were not only experts in their field, but who also knew them by name, someone who eagerly shared their time and expertise and who took an interest in their education. That type of instruction and relationship has defined the academic experience on each of our campuses. We will honor these traditions of excellence and build upon them for the future of our university."

President Jacobs and Gov. Nathan Deal
President Jacobs is congratulated by Gov. Nathan Deal

The installation ceremony was held this afternoon on the General Bill "Lipp" Livsey Drill Field in Dahlonega, and Friday evening's scholarship ball was held in the Martha T. Nesbitt Building in Gainesville. Hosted by the university's two philanthropic foundations, net proceeds from the ball will be used to support student scholarships on each of the four campuses. Jacobs announced the creation of new scholarships at the event.

Other activities leading up to the installation included academic presentations and student events held on all four campuses. 

The installation ceremony included comments from Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal; University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby; Gen. Joe Jarrard, assistant adjutant general of the Georgia Department of Defense and a UNG alumnus; Philip Wilheit, vice chairman of the USG Board of Regents; and representatives from UNG faculty, staff, students, administrators, alumni and foundations. Attending the ceremony were UNG faculty, staff, students, administrators and alumni; community members; local and state lawmakers, including former U.S. Sen. Zell Miller, who also served as governor of Georgia and founded the HOPE scholarship program; members of Dr. Jacobs' family; and representatives from colleges and universities across the state and the country.

Jacobs noted that with four campuses across northeast Georgia, UNG is poised to make a significant impact on the region.

"The institutions that formed UNG have a strong heritage of producing leaders that comprise the very fabric of this region. Look at government, law enforcement, healthcare, education, art, banking, business, or the non-profit sector; the leadership of our communities is filled with alumni from our four campuses," Jacobs said. "Incredible opportunities lie ahead for us to build on this legacy. By promoting student engagement through service-learning and internships and by partnering with community leaders to address the needs of the region, our university will dramatically increase the educational attainment of students and prepare our graduates for service as future leaders in their communities."

Dr. Jacobs and Chancellor Huckaby
President Jacobs is formally installed by USG Chancellor Hank Huckaby.

The University of North Georgia, a member of the University System of Georgia, is a leading public university with an enrollment of about 15,000 students and campuses in Cumming, Dahlonega, Gainesville, and Oconee.  In concluding her speech before the hundreds of guests gathered for the installation ceremony, Jacobs vowed to continue UNG's "tradition of excellence."

"We will continue to build upon these high standards and traditions of excellence to fulfill the promise of future generations. I invite you to share and support this vision for our future as we create a university greater than the sum of its parts, a university that is capable of changing the world through skilled and talented leaders who have their roots in the communities and values of northeast Georgia," Jacobs said. "Serving as president of the University of North Georgia is a privilege and it is an honor. I am excited about what we – together – will accomplish in the years ahead, and I thank you."

The installation of a university president refers to the occasion when the articles or symbols of the office of president are conferred to that individual. The academic mace, which symbolizes the authority invested in the president by the school's governing body, bears the UNG seal on one side and the Boar's Head Brigade crest on the reverse. The mace was a gift to the university from the Student Government Associations, and it was carried in this afternoon's processional by UNG Faculty Senate Chairman Dr. Mark Spraker. The president's chain of office, which is part of the presidential academic regalia and bears the names of the university's former presidents, was presented to Jacobs by Huckaby during this afternoon's ceremony.

Prior to her appointment to the presidency, Jacobs was a professor in counseling and higher education at the University of North Texas, where she also served as executive director of the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students (2009-2011) and as vice president for student development (1998-2009). She previously served as interim vice chancellor for student development and dean of students at Western Carolina University.

Jacobs earned both a bachelor's degree in Spanish and history and a master's degree in counseling from Stephen F. Austin State University, where she also served as director of residence life. She earned her doctorate in educational administration from Texas A&M University.

Jacobs is originally from Huntington, Texas. She and her husband, Glenn, have three children: Craig, Ashlee and Scott.

UNG offers more than 100 programs of study, ranging from certificates to doctoral degrees, to help develop students into leaders for a diverse and global society. As one of six federally designated senior military colleges in the nation, the university carries the distinction of The Military College of Georgia. Additionally, UNG is designated as a state leadership institution and has earned the Community Engagement Classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Click here to read the entire text of Jacobs' inauguration speech.

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