Scholarship support for students has been a focus for Jacobs since her inauguration in 2013, during which the first Scholarship Gala was held. The UNG Foundation has awarded a total of $6,149,637.19 in student scholarships from Jan. 1, 2013 to June 30, 2017.
“Student scholarships are our No. 1 fundraising priority at UNG,” said Jeff Tarnowski, vice president for University Advancement. “The Scholarship Gala provides an opportunity each year to highlight the importance and profound impact of scholarship grants for our students. The added visibility from this event has enabled us to raise more money each year to support our students, and for that we are truly grateful.”
During the gala, Dr. Jacobs presented the 2018 Presidential Leadership Award to John and Mary Helen McGruder. The award, established in 2010, recognizes those who have made a significant, positive impact in the life and advancement of the university.
Mary Helen McGruder is an alumna of UNG and is chairperson of the UNG Foundation. She served on the UNG Consolidation Implementation Committee, which led the institution-wide consolidation process in 2012. She also has led the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce, the Forsyth County Library Board of Trustees, and the Sawnee Mountain Foundation. Dr. John P. McGruder is a doctor of veterinary medicine and founder of Crestview Animal Hospital in Cumming, Georgia; serves as a director of the Citizens Bank of Forsyth County; and serves on the building committee of the Cumming First United Methodist Church.
Previous winners of the Presidential Leadership Award are retired Lt. Gen. James L. Terry, Mike Cottrell, Paul Stringer, George Coleman, Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt, retired Lt.Gen. Randy Mixon, and Lessie Smithgall.
The Summit Award, established in 2016, recognizes an individual, family or organization for significant contributions to scholarships at UNG over an extended period and was presented to former president and first lady of UNG, Nathaniel “Nat” Hansford and Frances Fincher Hansford.
The Hansfords served at UNG from 1999 to 2005, a period marked by significant construction projects, including the Health & Natural Sciences Building, John H. Owen Residence Hall and a new plant operations building, as well as securing state funding for the Library Technology Center built in 2008. During Hansford’s tenure, UNG expanded the Corps of Cadets and solidified the university’s leadership initiative and its role as a state leadership institution. Frances Fincher Hansford was instrumental in building relationships within the university and with the broader community. Since their retirement, the Hansfords have remained active members of the UNG family, and their philanthropy has been both impactful and exemplary.
Previous recipients of the Summit Award are the Pennington Family, in honor of Brooks Pennington, Jr., in 2016; and Bob and Wanda Swoszowski in 2017.