Home Carrollton UWG raises record $153,000+ at Presidential Black Tie Gala

UWG raises record $153,000+ at Presidential Black Tie Gala

photography by Julia Mothersole

Surrounded by symbolic reminders of live oaks, more than 300 members of the University of West Georgia community celebrated the institution’s live impact at the 2022 Presidential Black Tie Gala over the weekend, raising a record of more than $153,000 to support student outcomes.

The sold-out event (which also had record attendance) was the first presidential gala hosted since Dr. Brendan B. Kelly began as UWG president in 2020.

“We are at the beginning of a new age for UWG and for higher education as a whole,” said Kelly during his address. “Growth and maturity cannot occur unless we plant the seeds for the future. Your gifts to the university plant seeds that create opportunities for students today and for those who have not yet chosen to make UWG part of their life.”

The event’s proceeds will be utilized to support outcomes for students in growing academic programs, advancing professional learning opportunities for students and positioning the institution as a whole to evolve in its sophistication and complexity.

Kelly was joined by a cadre of other speakers for the event: masters of ceremonies Dr. Nancy Irwin ’77, who recently endowed UWG’s Inge Manski Lundeen Opera Scholarship, and Darryl Forges ’14, CNN correspondent; UWG alumnus and composer Katahj Copley ’21, whose orchestral piece “Sunshine” played over the outset of dinner; and Ann Newman, chair of the University of West Georgia Foundation board of trustees.

“Hosted in partnership with the UWG Foundation, this is our largest fundraising event of the year,” said Newman. “Through scholarships and program support, the UWG Foundation continues to strategically invest in building a strong talent pipeline of students to better serve regional business and industry. We also invest in capital projects like the new, beautiful Roy Richards Sr. Hall and Biology Building to elevate physical spaces as part of our institution’s strategic priority of placemaking.”

Alumni Copley, Forges and Irwin shared their UWG stories during the program, highlighting the transformative professional learning opportunities they leveraged both while enrolled and after graduation. Copley’s musical piece, composed while he was a student at UWG, played while attendees enjoyed dinner designed by Chef Jacqueline Fenton-Miller and catered by Dine West.

Kelly featured current students and how UWG curates an education for them in alignment with what is known as the “Big Six,” a collection of experiences identified by a Gallup and Purdue University as linking to preparedness for life after college.

“The experiences students have at UWG make the difference between being prepared to make a living and having the tools to make a life,” he said. “It is not one action or one gift but rather a multitude of intentional, targeted investments in UWG and our students that make all the difference in people’s lives.”

Kelly’s remarks centered on planting the seed for a first-choice university and how students’ needs indicate where UWG needs to “plant the seeds” to become the institution the region and state need it to be.

“Seeds are what create a forest,” Kelly said. “Every tree, program, idea, organization, impact and relationship at this university started out as a seed to be planted. It is the planting of seeds and what they become that we celebrate tonight.”

The 2023 Presidential Black Tie Gala will be held Saturday, March 25, 2023. Tickets and sponsorships are now available online.

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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.