When the University of Georgia was incorporated by an act of the General Assembly on January 27, 1785, Georgia became the first state to charter a state-supported university. In 1784 the General Assembly had set aside 40,000 acres of land to endow a college or seminary of learning. At the first meeting of the board of trustees, held in Augusta on February 13, 1786, Abraham Baldwin was selected president of the university. A native of Connecticut and a graduate of Yale University, Baldwin — who had come to Georgia in 1784 — drafted the charter adopted by the General Assembly.
The university was actually established in 1801 when a committee of the board of trustees selected a land site. John Milledge, later a governor of the state, purchased and gave to the board of trustees the chosen tract of 633 acres on the banks of the Oconee River in northeast Georgia. Josiah Meigs was named president of the university and work was begun on the first building, originally called Franklin College in honor of Benjamin Franklin and now known as Old College. The university graduated its first class in 1804. The curriculum of traditional classical studies was broadened in 1843 to include courses in law, and again in 1872 when the university received federal funds for instruction in agriculture and mechanical arts.
The University of Georgia, a land-grant and sea-grant university with statewide commitments and responsibilities, is the state’s oldest, most comprehensive, and most diversified institution of higher education. Its motto, “to teach, to serve, and to inquire into the nature of things,” reflects the University’s integral and unique role in the conservation and enhancement of the state’s and nation’s intellectual, cultural, and environmental heritage.
The Mission of the University of Georgia
The University of Georgia shares with the other research universities of the University System of Georgia the following core characteristics:
- a statewide responsibility and commitment to excellence and academic achievements having national and international recognition;
- a commitment to excellence in a teaching/learning environment dedicated to serving a diverse and well-prepared student body, to promoting high levels of student achievement, and to providing appropriate academic support services;
- a commitment to excellence in research, scholarship, and creative endeavors that are focused on organized programs to create, maintain, and apply new knowledge and theories; that promote instructional quality and effectiveness; and that enhance institutionally relevant faculty qualifications;
- a commitment to excellence in public service, economic development, and technical assistance activities designed to address the strategic needs of the state of Georgia along with a comprehensive offering of continuing education designed to meet the needs of Georgia’s citizens in life-long learning and professional education;.
- a wide range of academic and professional programming at the baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral levels.
Facts of Georgia university
- Chartered by the Georgia General Assembly Jan. 27, 1785, in Savannah, The University of Georgia is America’s first state-chartered university and the birthplace of the American system of public higher education.
- Two men who were leaders of the early University of Georgia also signed the United States Constitution. Abraham Baldwin, who wrote UGA’s charter and was the institution’s first president, and William Few, a member of the Board of Trustees, signed the Constitution on behalf of Georgia at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pa., in 1787.
- The University of Georgia continues to be one of the best values in public higher education in the nation. Top value and low debt at graduation earned UGA 12th-place status on Kiplinger Magazine’s 2018 list of 100 best values among public colleges and universities.