Home Carrollton UWG Hosts Groundbreaking Ceremony for First-Ever NPHC Garden

UWG Hosts Groundbreaking Ceremony for First-Ever NPHC Garden

UWG leaders strike the ground during the ceremony. Former UWG President Dr. Kyle Marrero (second from right) returned from his current position at Georgia Southern University for the ceremony. He was joined by UWG’s current Interim President Dr. Micheal Crafton (right).

The University of West Georgia recently held a groundbreaking ceremony for its National Pan-Hellenic Council Garden. The garden, scheduled for initial construction later this summer, will be located at the UWG Oaks Amphitheater.

“This is a proud distinction of our university,” said Dr. Micheal Crafton, UWG’s interim president. “This garden will provide opportunities for all our students to be engaged in learning, which will serve as a permanent reminder to our community of the strengths and bonds we’ve created thanks to our commitment to inclusiveness.”

The NPHC Garden is the vision of UWG alumni Jordan Watson ’18 and Wesley Hammonds ’18, who presented the idea and its potential contribution to UWG’s former President Kyle Marrero more than two years ago while enrolled as students.

“The NPHC garden will give the university a place where prospective students, incoming freshmen and current students can visit and learn about us,” said Watson. “It’s part of history and knowledge, and is inclusive for all students, not just African-American students.”

NPHC President Earnest Rainer speaks during the ceremony, relating his experience of traveling to Baylor University in Texas to gain inspiration for UWG’s garden.

NPHC President Earnest Rainer traveled to Waco, Texas, to visit Baylor University’s NPHC Garden to gain inspiration for UWG’s garden.

“It was imperative that we do the necessary research to determine if a garden would create a sense of ‘home’ for our sororities and fraternities,” said Rainer. “After my travels to Baylor, there was no doubt that the Oaks Amphitheater was the perfect location to make this dream a reality.”

NPHC, also known as the divine nine, represents nine historically African-American sororities and fraternities: Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc., Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc. and Iota Phi Theta Fraternity Inc.

Over the years, UWG’s NPHC has completed thousands of service hours and worked with more than 50 local and national charities, while offering a multitude of educational programming and opportunities for students on campus and at local elementary, middle and high schools.

Representatives from the “Divine Nine” fraternities and sororities in the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) gather for a photo during the groundbreaking ceremony for an NPHC Garden at the University of West Georgia.

“This garden honors the amazing contributions of NPHC organizations, but it also extends beyond the campus because black Greek-letter organizations play a prominent role in our community,” said UWG’s Chief Diversity Officer Dr. Yves-Rose Porcena. “It acknowledges the historical and cultural significance of the black experience at UWG.”

NPHC students echoed those sentiments in their proposal to Marrero in 2017, stating they “needed a place that symbolically and physically represented each organization’s presence on campus while giving alumni a sense of belonging and a place for reflection and celebration. We want a place to call our own.”

Marrero, who returned to campus for the groundbreaking ceremony, commended the students for their tireless efforts and commitment to creating a project with lasting impact.

The garden is made possible through the combined efforts of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, University Advancement, Campus Planning and Facilities, and the UWG National Pan-Hellenic Council.

“This project is evidence of UWG’s commitment to hearing and understanding the experiences of students of color as emphasized through the center’s partnership with the Lumina Fund for Racial Justice and Equity in fostering a more welcoming campus environment,” Porcena said.

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Colton Campbell
Born and raised in Carrollton, Ga., Colton Campbell has always been a writer. After graduating with a degree in journalism from Auburn University in 2011, he served for more than five years in the trenches of print journalism before starting a career as a communications specialist in higher education. In his current role at the University of West Georgia as Director of Strategic Communications, Colton develops and manages a comprehensive communications strategy for the university, while also leading the daily activities of the UCM communications team.