Home Carrollton An art to it: UWG placemaking team builds community connectedness through Penley...

An art to it: UWG placemaking team builds community connectedness through Penley prints

L to R: Dr. Brendan Kelly, president, UWG; Dr. Meredith Brunen, vice president of university advancement, UWG; Allyson Bretch, executive director of alumni and constituent engagement, UWG; Loy Howard, president and CEO, Tanner Health System

The University of West Georgia is dedicated to being a proactive point of connection in the community. Few initiatives demonstrate that priority more holistically than The Placemakers, a group of faculty and staff who ensure the presence of UWG and its brand in local businesses and community organizations.

Housed in the Office of Alumni and Constituent Engagement, UWG’s placemaking team’s mission is to develop, foster, maintain and strengthen relationships, goodwill and connectivity via brand placement through various outreach avenues. This work is done in alignment with a key priority of the institution’s strategic plan.

One of the team’s key projects has been the placement of signed prints of a painting by Steve Penley depicting a birdseye view of the university’s Carrollton campus as a symbol of partnership and connectivity in several local businesses and organizations. The original painting, produced in 2014, hangs in the Office of the President.

“A community is defined by the willingness of its people to connect, advance together and celebrate one another,” said UWG President Dr. Brendan Kelly, who has personally delivered the prints to each local entity. “Our curation of a first-choice university does not end at the borders of our campus. We are proud – and grateful – to have such a compelling, artful indication of UWG’s presence in our community in places of prominence and look forward to deepening our work in creating place at the University of West Georgia and beyond.”

So far, The Placemakers have coordinated the delivery of Penley prints to the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce, Southwire, Tanner Health System, and United Community Bank. The team has plans to deliver additional prints to other university partners this spring.

The union of UWG and Southwire, North America’s leading manufacturer of wire and cable, can trace its roots back almost 100 years through its founder, Roy Richards Sr. – a 1931 alumnus of Fourth District A&M School, the institution that became the University of West Georgia.

“Our relationship has grown to a strong, multifaceted partnership – one that includes on-campus programs and initiatives, career connections, community impact and much more,” said Rich Stinson, president and CEO of Southwire. “The Penley print we were gifted by Dr. Kelly and UWG is displayed proudly at Southwire’s corporate headquarters in Carrollton.”

Another recipient, President and CEO of Tanner Health System Loy Howard, said displaying the artwork provides a constant reminder of what can be achieved while working together as a community.

“We have been so proud to partner with the university to create opportunities for people to pursue their interest in nursing,” Howard explained. “The Tanner Health System School of Nursing has been an invaluable pipeline of talented healthcare professionals to our own organization and hospitals across Georgia at a time of significant staffing shortages.”

Penley is one of America’s most celebrated artists with works exhibited worldwide. He has produced paintings for major companies, numerous U.S. presidents, and other prominent figures and organizations. Penley has also authored and illustrated several books and has received a number of awards and honors for his talents. He is heavily involved in charitable giving, especially to organizations that benefit U.S. servicemen, servicewomen and veterans.

Tim Warren, president of United Community Bank in Carrollton, was presented with one of the prints and said he cannot understate the importance of the community’s relationship with the university.

“United Community Bank is honored to have partnered with the University of West Georgia for over 25 years,” Warren said. “As residents of the West Georgia area, we do not have to look far to see UWG’s footprint on our community’s progress – economically, socially and culturally. The administration, faculty and staff personally invest in our West Georgia community, creating a better place for all of us to live, work and play.”

Beneficiary Karen Handel, president and CEO of the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce and Carroll Tomorrow, echoed the sentiment.

“As the drivers of economic development in Carroll County, we have the privilege to partner with educational institutions in our region like the University of West Georgia that provide Georgians with the skills and experiences they need to have successful careers after graduation,” she said. “To have such a dynamic, tangible representation of that partnership that we can proudly display in our office is truly an honor.”

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Sam Gentry is a lifelong resident of Carroll County, Georgia. In August of 2007, while enrolled at the University of West Georgia, Sam worked at University Communications and Marketing for two semesters as a student assistant. He began writing for a local newspaper that same year. After graduating from UWG in 2010, Sam continued working for the same paper, where he made his way through the ranks, eventually becoming General Manager in 2017. Sam joined the UCM team again in January of 2020 where he serves as Manager of Media Relations. Besides being a liaison to media outlets, Sam’s writing efforts are focused on the Richards College of Business. In his free time, Sam enjoys writing songs, woodworking, and traveling with his wife, Becky, and four children: Samantha, Will, Audrey, and Gracie.