The 2013 class of Leadership Georgia visited Dahlonega and the University of North Georgia (UNG) recently, one of only five communities the group will visit this year.
Leadership Georgia is statewide leadership development program that aims to educate participants about topics and issues affecting the state through presentations and discussions by local experts and officials during two-day visits to each of five different communities. In its 30-plus years, Leadership Georgia has included more than 3,000 business, civic and community leaders.
Visitors from across the state that make up this year's Leadership Georgia class were impressed by UNG and the community.
"The university is very impressive," said Marcia Hampton, assistant city manager of Douglasville, Ga. "I have seen it grow over the years, and have seen the expansion, and I think it's great."
Scott Hilton, who works with Bank of America in Atlanta, and wife Meredith Hilton were just slightly familiar with UNG before visiting campus with Leadership Georgia.
"This visit really opened our eyes," Scott Hilton said. "The campus and the work they've done on the buildings were beautiful. We left very impressed; it's a beautiful setting for a campus."
Meredith Hilton was impressed after hearing about UNG's academic achievements.
"The campus was definitely impressive, but also the caliber of the students who go there. I didn't realize it was the No. 3 university in freshman SAT scores."
The group's first night included a visit to UNG's Dahlonega Campus for a demonstration by the Blue Ridge Rifles drill team and dinner featuring comments from Speaker of the House David Ralston, also a UNG alumnus, and UNG President Bonita Jacobs.
During the visit, the group learned about Dahlonega businesses and UNG's involvement in economic development and ecology in the region.
Dr. Bryson Payne, head of the university's Department of Computer Science, talked about the North Georgia Network, which encircles a region of northern Georgia, and provides fiber-optic connectivity to an area with more than 334,000 people in eight counties.
Dr. Robert Fuller, UNG geosciences professor and director of the university's Environmental Leadership Center, talked about his 1,500-mile canoeing journey from the headwaters of the Chattahoochee River to the Gulf of Mexico and back. Fuller traveled the length of the Chattahoochee and Apalachicola river systems to the Gulf of Mexico and Mobile Bay and returned to Dahlonega via the Alabama, Coosa and Etowah rivers. He has since written and spoken extensively about his research during the trip.