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UNG Foundation receives Nason Award

Nason Award 2016
Richard Legon (fourth from left) presents the John W. Nason Award for Board Service to the University of North Georgia Foundation's Board of Trustees.

The University of North Georgia (UNG) Foundation has received the John W. Nason Award for Board Service from the Association of Governing Board (AGB) of Universities and Colleges for demonstrating innovation and exemplary leadership. The UNG Foundation's Board of Trustees was one of only six boards selected from nearly 50 applicants across the country.

The selections for the award were made by a panel of university presidents and board members led by former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen. The UNG Foundation was chosen unanimously because of "strong leadership in the face of significant challenges."

"The University of North Georgia's board has shown that dedication to mission need not be incompatible with necessary transformation and structural reorganization," Richard D. Legon, AGB president, said. "The board's thoughtful but forward-thinking action as they merged a military school with a community college is a model for other institutions facing challenging times."

The UNG Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising private philanthropic support to support the university's mission and students. UNG President Bonita C. Jacobs praised the board for being the first among consolidated Georgia universities to merge the foundations of the two former institutions.

"This group of dedicated volunteers has demonstrated great leadership by uniting to support the university and its students," Jacobs said. "With their support and commitment, we have increased annual fundraising for student scholarships by more than 500 percent since Fiscal Year 2012 and increased the value of the endowment to nearly $50 million."

According to the AGB, the winning boards demonstrated:

  • Exceptional leadership and initiative;
  • Distinct contributions to strengthening governance and trusteeship;
  • Unusual courage in the face of difficult circumstances; or
  • Significant achievement that benefits the institutions, system, or foundation.

"The leadership and determination evidenced by the members of the former Gainesville State College and the North Georgia College and State University foundations cannot be understated," said Mary Helen McGruder, chairman of the UNG Foundation Board of Trustees. "They set an example for the rest of the state to follow as they came together to work for a common good — our students. I am honored to serve as chairman and to have our efforts recognized on such a prestigious national platform." 

All boards selected for the award will be honored during a visit to their institutions by AGB's leadership during their spring board meetings and will receive a keepsake for display. Awardees will also receive three free registrations to AGB's National Conference on Trusteeship in April in Washington, D.C., where they will also be recognized at a plenary session. The work of the winning boards will also be highlighted across AGB's publications, including features in Trusteeship magazine and on

"The UNG Foundation has thoroughly demonstrated all of the qualities our institution stands for during recent times of transition and in helping to create the identity of the University of North Georgia," said Jeff Tarnowski, vice president for university advancement. "For the foundation to receive this recognition from the Association of Governing Boards is a much appreciated confirmation that we are on the right track in building a bright future for our university."

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