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Faculty and staff recognized for service and retirement

Faculty and staff recognized for service and retirement
Dr. Richard Oates was recognized for his 35 years of service at UNG's annual Service Awards and Retirement Ceremonies.

Dr. Richard Oates vividly remembers his first years at the University of North Georgia (UNG), when he came to the mountain community of Dahlonega, Georgia in the late summer of 1982 to be the school's intramural director. He had just received his master's degree in physical education administration from the University of Georgia (UGA) and the job at UNG was his first in academia.

"Nearly all of the new faculty lived in the faculty housing up on the hill where the Health & Natural Sciences Building is today," Oates, now the vice president of UNG’s Gainesville Campus, said. "To me, it was a great place to start my academic career. We were all feeling out this place, trying to make sense of where we were."

With 35 years of service, Oates is the longest-tenured individual at UNG honored at the university's annual awards ceremonies this year, held on April 19 on the Gainesville Campus and on April 20 on the Dahlonega Campus.

As intramural director, Oates taught first aid, swimming, volleyball, golf—anything requiring breaking a sweat. He also organized intramural tackle football games with the Corps of Cadets, populating the six teams—one for each company of cadets—with commuter students eager to hit the gridiron, and each other.

"Any sport that involved a ball of some kind, I taught," Oates said. "It was a lot of fun for me because I got to spend so much time with the students."

Oates was nominated by the university administration to take part in the Faculty Development in Georgia initiative, a program that gives faculty members an opportunity to continue their graduate education on a full-time basis. He took a leave of absence to return to UGA to earn his doctorate, which he received in 1993.

In the years since his return, Oates has climbed the ranks in administration at UNG, becoming department head, Health & Physical Education; associate dean, College of Education; associate vice president for academic affairs; associate provost for academic administration; and vice president of the Gainesville Campus in 2016.

Throughout his years, although the name of the institution has changed Oates said the mission has stayed the same: serving students.

"We're serving more students now that our footprint has grown to five campuses, so we are meeting a larger need of educating students for the workforce," Oates said. "UNG is committed to being student-focused and our sense of family is strong no matter how much we grow."

When asked how long he plans to continue to be part of the UNG family, Oates said, "As long as they'll have me."

Others recognized at the ceremonies included 75 individuals for five years of service, 66 individuals for 10 years of service, 12 individuals for 15 years of service, 10 for 20 years of service, seven for 25 years of service, and two for 30 years of service. Also included were 27 faculty and staff who retired during the 2017-18 academic year. The Service Awards and Retirement Ceremony programs includes a full listing of every person recognized. 

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