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UNG celebrates donors, 150th anniversary with annual Scholarship Gala
Scholarship Gala
Maj. Nicholas Ober gives the invocation for UNG's 2022 Scholarship Gala. - photo by Sabrina Kerns

Leaders and community members from across Forsyth and surrounding counties came out to the Forsyth Conference Center Friday, Oct. 7, to attend the University of North Georgia’s 9th annual Scholarship Gala.

But the night filled with food, drinks and celebration was especially significant for UNG and the UNG Foundation this year as it marked the university’s 150th anniversary and President Bonita Jacobs’ upcoming retirement.

“What a great night to celebrate a rich, 150-year history,” said Nick Massengill, chair of the UNG Foundation’s Board of Trustees, as he welcomed the crowd of more than 100 guests.

The gala was one of several events this year where university and foundation leaders took time to recognize the sesquicentennial anniversary, celebrating years of service to the state that began in 1873.

UNG began as North Georgia Agricultural College in Dahlonega and was later renamed North Georgia College in 1929. Then, as the college grew and began to offer more academic programs, the University System of Georgia reclassified it as a state university and renamed it North Georgia College and State University.

It wasn’t until 2013 that it consolidated with Gainesville State College to become the University of North Georgia that the community knows today. Now, UNG has five total campuses in Cumming, Dahlonega, Gainesville, Blue Ridge and Oconee.

“The determined spirit that led to the creation of then-North Georgia Agricultural College sustains us still today,” Jacobs said. “We have unwavering commitments to student success and service to our region and state, and for 150 years, we have produced civic, professional and military leaders who make a positive impact in their communities and beyond.”

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Scholarship gala
UNG's 2022 Scholarship Gala - photo by Sabrina Kerns

Massengill said the UNG Foundation hopes to continue that history with the help of donors by providing more opportunities for students to become community leaders in the future.

Each year, the Scholarship Gala helps to raise funds for student scholarships with donors offering to sponsor the event and tables along with other donations given throughout the year. Massengill thanked each sponsor during the event, including the night’s top sponsor, Northeast Georgia Health System.

“What you’re doing in this room tonight is extremely important for the future of UNG,” Massengill said.

This past year, donors provided $24 million to the UNG Foundation in the form of gifts and pledges — the highest amount it has received since the foundation’s inception in 1959 during the college’s 86th year.

Since 2017, the foundation has awarded nearly $14 million in scholarships to students, and the number continues to increase with each year. This academic year, the foundation provided $3 million to students and $700,000 to the cadets attending the university’s well known military college.

Anna Moller, president of UNG’s Student Government Association, thanked each of the donors for their continued support for the university’s students.

“The investment you all are doing and have done sets the foundation for the development we students can get and experience at UNG to become leaders,” Moller said. “Every penny you all put in, every effort, every voluntary engagement you do is felt. It provides a real impact on real students and their development and career moving forward.”

Before the end of the night, The Military College of Georgia also recognized two former UNG cadets, retired Lt. Randy Mixon and Col. Gerald Lord, inducting them into the 2022 Army ROTC Hall of Fame.

Both alumni have been strong supporters of the university even through their service in the U.S. Army, serving on boards and providing monetary donations when possible. They both said they continue to support the university because they know from personal experience how great of an impact it has on students and the community.

“North Georgia is primarily responsible for my success as an Army officer and my values that carried me through my entire adult life in and out of the service,” Mixon said.

Mixon believes the university will continue to have that impact on students, especially as the university grows and changes. Before ending his speech, Mixon also thanked Jacobs for her leadership over the years and helping to grow the university for the better.

“We wish you the very best for the future and we thank you for all you have done for not only the cadets but this entire university,” Mixon said.

For more information about the Scholarship Gala and UNG’s 150th anniversary, visit www.ung.edu/news.

Scholarship gala
Two retired officers are inducted into The Military College of Georgia's 2022 Army ROTC Hall of Fame. - photo by Sabrina Kerns