CENTERS of Excellence

Thanks to private gifts from donors and community demand, the Mike Cottrell College of Business has three Centers of Excellence. Each Center provides incredible value to not only the students, faculty and staff at the University of North Georgia, but to our regional community as well.


The BB&T Center for Ethical Leadership has worked diligently to educate students, faculty, staff and business community members on the topics of business ethics and leadership since its inception. Over this past academic year, the Business Ethics Education (BEE) program – an initiative to educate students in the area of business ethics – expanded as members of the Cottrell Scholars, business and technology students selected based on their interpersonal, academic, and leadership success, engaged in delivering BEE curriculum to area high school students. These experiences provide UNG business and technology students with opportunities to exercise their professional and leadership skills throughout the region and add value as they become stronger leaders.

On UNG’s Dahlonega campus, the BB&T Center for Ethical Leadership hosted the Mid-Atlantic Regional Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl for the second time. This one-day competition brought 18 teams from 15 universities from the Mid-Atlantic region together in a debate-style critical thinking competition around ethics cases published by the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics.

Partnering with UNG’s Human Resources department and the UNG Institute for Leadership and Strategic Studies, the BB&T Center for Ethical Leadership created the Staff Leadership Development Program. The first class of 15 graduated in April 2019, and preparations are underway for the second class. This program is designed to help on-campus leaders build on their strengths and overcome their limitations so that they can lead UNG into new opportunities.


The Center for Cyber Operations Education prepares students for military and civilian careers in cybersecurity, cyber operations and cyber defense. UNG finished third out of 377 schools – behind only Georgia Tech and Oregon State – in the National Security Agency (NSA) Codebreaker Challenge. As a result of their third-place finish, UNG was able to take a team of cadets to participate in the NSA’s National Cyber Exercise at the Air Force Academy April 15 – 17, 2019, a three-day cyber operations training exercise with the U.S. services academies. UNG was one of only three senior military colleges invited for the first time to take part.

The NSA’s GenCyber Program also awarded UNG a grant of $99,381.26 to host its fourth annual GenCyber Warrior Academy from June 20-29, 2019. Thanks to the grant, UNG offered a 10-day cybersecurity course, which featured nine days of academic courses, lodging on UNG’s Dahlonega campus and a day trip to NSA’s Fort Gordon offices in Augusta for 40 high school students.

In addition to the GenCyber grant, a $40,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education allowed UNG to teach cyber skills to 60 students in the summer of 2019 as part of Upward Bound, a program helping high school students learn more about their future higher education pursuits.


The Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation is a collaborative initiative that engages students, faculty, staff and regional communities who imagine, innovate, start and grow new and existing ventures. Over the past two years, the Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation has successfully opened the eLab, a student focused business incubator and shared workspace facility, hosted multiple pitch challenges including the innovateUNG Pitch Challenge and supported the rapidly-growing academic entrepreneurship program. Looking into 2019-2020, the Center will host the first ever innovateUNG High School Pitch Challenge, establish its first CEO student entrepreneurship club and will participate in Women in Entrepreneurship Week.

The results of the center’s activities and its partnership with the academic entrepreneurship programs include launching several student startups and a strengthened entrepreneurship ecosystem both on campus and in our regional communities.