The New Faculty Tour, according to a UGA press release, is intended to expose new faculty members to Georgia’s geography, demographics, history, economy, culture and other aspects. The tour began Monday in Athens before moving through Alto, Dahlonega and Dawsonville before arriving at Cartersville. According to the tour’s schedule, faculty visited Jaemor Farms, Wolf Mountain Vineyards and Amicalola Falls State Park.
Steve Dempsey, an associate vice president for public service and outreach, said the tour is designed to give new faculty a well-rounded picture of Georgia and its residents.
“[The tour] orients the faculty so they understand where the students are coming from. Hopefully [it] will help them gear their research toward helping solve some of the problems of the state of Georgia. So for them to see it, feel it, touch it, know what the citizens are dealing with, brings them a little closer to the things they deal with in the classroom, in the research lab and in public service,” he said.
For approximately an hour, three groups of new UGA faculty and a handful of administrators walked the floor of Shaw Plant 15, seeing the entire process of how carpet tiles are made. From the looms to the packaging lines, tour members were able to see the processes up close and ask Shaw guides questions.
Brian Cook, who will teach in the College of Environment and Design, said the statewide tour was beneficial for new faculty.
“I think ... especially for someone that is new to Georgia, it’s pretty amazing to get to understand all the different components of this state,” he said. “So I work in landscape and environmental issues [and] ... all the different parts of the system that make up Georgia economically, environmentally ... is really important to understand. It’s pretty nice to learn all that before — or to be introduced at least — before I start teaching.
“... It’s a good introduction ... to be able to understand Georgia, and to meet the people. I think one thing I’ve been impressed by is the ... the alignment and the coordination, the appreciation, maybe, between both the state and the university and they’re so appreciative of each other. It’s good in that way.”
Following its stop in Cartersville, the tour moved on to Atlanta, visiting the Capitol, the Martin Luther King Jr. National Park Service Visitors Center and UGA Alumni Center. The rest of the week, according to UGA’s website, is to include visits to the Kia Motors plant in West Point, a CSX rail yard in Waycross and a walking tour of Savannah, among other locations. By the time the tour ends on Friday, the new faculty will have visited 14 cities and traveled through 48 counties, according to the press release.
Each year UGA plans a different tour route Dempsey said. Shaw Plant 15 was put on the list after Rick Hooper, a Shaw executive who works with Archway Partnership — one of the organizations involved in planning the yearly tour — suggested the site.
“We just try to sketch out a route and then we just inquire what’s in the area, what we can manage with a certain period of time, and Shaw was a partner. The general counsel for Shaw was a partner with us at the Archway Partnership up in Dalton and he said, ‘Hey, maybe you can come to Cartersville,’” Dempsey said.
Though the group was pressed for time in order to meet the rest of its schedule, Dempsey believed the new faculty enjoyed touring the plant. He also thanked Shaw for hosting one of the tour’s trips.
“They’ve been excellent. This has been — all the faces walking out of the room smiling — this was fantastic,” Dempsey said. “[The faculty] really have a better sense of what it takes to manufacture, how to run a business, what’s involved, the shifts, all that. I think there’s more of an appreciation for what industry does as the heart of the tour and seeing exactly what things go on inside of a facility like this.”