Leadership message: We’re all in this together

September 18th, 2014 Author: Linda Fox  |  706-542-4879  |  More about Linda

We were under a canopy of pines in the steamy Oconee National Forest.

It was late August outside Eatonton at the Rock Eagle 4-H Center at our annual FACS Leadership retreat.

I was a part of a group of about 10 FACS students and administrators who teamed up for a challenge course guided by a bright-eyed, 20-something instructor.

Our task seemed simple: we each had to step from one stump to the next without touching the ground before completing the circuit.

As with a lot of things in life, it proved more difficult than it looked.

But a funny thing happened: within seconds, we were holding hands as we gingerly leaped from one stump to the next; we were plotting, encouraging, laughing and, yes, even singing.

In the end, we accomplished our task, and as we all sat around discussing it, covered in sweat but with big smiles on our faces, we agreed on what it took to get there: teamwork.

I’ve thought a lot about that small goal we attained together in the middle of the woods on one of the hottest days of the year.

It took all of us working together as one seamless unit to achieve it; when one of us fell – and it happened a few times – the others were there to lend a hand and a reassuring word.

I like to think we all grew a little closer during this exercise. I know I walked away feeling deeply encouraged about the future of our college, thanks mostly to the leadership and the passion our students demonstrated in the woods and conference rooms of Rock Eagle that weekend.

I also think the team-building exercises, and the ingenuity and vision they required, mirrored the work we’re doing in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences.

I hope you’ll enjoy this issue of FACS Magazine and notice the theme of teamwork throughout these pages.

There’s the cover story on TMI professor Suraj Sharma and his exciting, innovative work involving algae and bioplastics, formed out of an early collaboration with College of Engineering professor K.C. Das.

Our college also received three new faculty positions as part of UGA President Jere Morehead’s interdisciplinary hiring initiative (see faculty profiles on Lilian Sattler and Heidi Ewen on pages 20-21). A third hire involving the TMI department will be announced later.

While we were deeply saddened at the death of Dr. Clifton Baile (page 39), we know his legacy will live on in the work of the campus-wide Obesity Initiative, itself a model of interdisciplinary collaboration involving FACS faculty in an effort to address this growing crisis.

These are but a few examples of the amazing efforts our faculty and students are putting forth in the spirit of teamwork and discovery.

Only we’re not merely jumping from one stump to the next. We’re collectively trying to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems, and giving the next generation of leaders the tools and knowledge they will need to address these challenges in the years ahead.

I am so proud to be a part of this impressive team and hope you agree with me that being a member of the FACS family is truly an honor.

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