Daily Reports




‘The hardest setting’: UWG raises record $255,000+ at Presidential Black Tie Gala

by Colton Campbell

When the University of West Georgia announced its elevation to NCAA Division I athletics last fall, it was a turning point for the institution: a call to pursue a higher level of excellence not only in UWG Athletics but throughout all aspects of the university.

It is that holistic elevation of UWG that was celebrated – and advanced – Saturday night during the 2024 Presidential Black Tie Gala, during which more than 350 members of the university community raised more than $255,000 (a new record) to support outcomes for students.

The sold-out event, which also had record attendance, is the university’s largest fundraising event of the year. UWG President Dr. Brendan Kelly, who celebrated his fourth anniversary as president of the university on Saturday, shared keynote remarks centered around the concept of placing UWG on the “hardest setting” to ensure the institution becomes – and remains – competitive in a new marketplace.

“Three years ago, when we launched the Becoming UWG strategic plan, we set UWG on the hardest setting, and we have endeavored to make ‘exceptional’ the norm,” Kelly said. “At events like our Presidential Black Tie Gala, we have the opportunity to gather with some of our university’s most significant supporters to both celebrate what we have achieved together and build what is to come.”

The event’s proceeds will be utilized to support outcomes for students by funding need-based scholarships, growing academic programs, advancing professional learning opportunities and positioning the university as a whole to continue evolving in its sophistication.

Kelly was joined in the program by the emcee – Jesimina Walker, a current UWG student and the reigning Miss Carroll County – and Cade Parian ’00, who served as the event’s auctioneer. Allyson Bretch ’14, UWG’s interim vice president for university advancement and interim CEO of the university’s philanthropic foundations, shared her gratitude for the event’s attendees.

“Hosted in partnership with the UWG Foundation, this is our largest fundraising event of the year, and we are thrilled to share that we had record attendance and proceeds from this year’s gala,” Bretch said. “This evening is all about how we can best position students for careers that enhance their lives and the quality of life in our communities. We could not achieve excellence in service to students without the critical role our supporters provide.”

While attendees enjoyed dinner designed by Chef Jacqueline Fenton-Miller and catered by Dine West, they also delighted in a performance from the Carroll Symphony Orchestra Jazz Quartet.

During his remarks, Kelly featured several recent alumni and initiatives in place at the university, imploring attendees to continue being advocates for the institution.

“The two desired outcomes of our strategic plan are growth and excellence, and to create those outcomes, we have leaned in to transformative change to future-proof the University of West Georgia,” Kelly said. “But evolution does not just happen at universities as part of the natural course of events. As we elevate, we have to continue to invest, too, and I am so grateful for everyone who has invested in UWG to support us – and especially our students – at the next level.”

Following the presidential address and live auction, guests danced the night away outside the Campus Center to the musical stylings of The Party Crashers, voted the No. 1 party band in the nation. UWG will host next year’s Presidential Black Tie Gala on Saturday, March 22, 2025. To become a sponsor of next year’s event, visit this webpage.


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