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Column: Expansion of Oxford program a win-win
by Loran Smith
Columnist
August 07, 2013 05:22 AM | 3851 views | 1 1 comments | 57 57 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Loran Smith
Loran Smith
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OXFORD, England — The University of Georgia has an enviable presence in this ancient and exclusive seat of learning and has for more than 25 years. You can easily find the UGA compound on Banbury Road by looking for the stone cottage with the bright red door.

What once was a summer program has evolved into year-round academic opportunity for those who want to do more than study abroad for the summer months. The university owns the property, which functions as a dormitory — there are 42 beds available to students — a library, a catering kitchen with parlor rooms and a spacious garden out back where students can sit in quiet comfort, depending on the United Kingdom’s unpredictable weather. Landscaped to near perfection, there are tables and chairs where one can sit and reflect on his or her view of the world.

The rigorous course of study, however, keeps most students who enroll here occupied most of the time. Oxford perhaps offers the smallest classes imaginable. You likely will be assigned to a professor and no more than two fellow students. Many times, you may find yourself as the only student working with a professor with no other classmates in the Oxford tutorial format.

If you have down time, there are considerable options. You might want to spend a weekend in London or dash over to the continent to visit the exciting European capitals. Many of these excursions are arranged at the beginning or conclusion of the student’s stay. After all, you are here for serious study and weekends are valuable time to ensure that you have done your considerable homework and class preparation.

The director of the university’s program at Oxford is Jamie McClung of Alpharetta. He has been affiliated with the UGA/Oxford program for more than 10 years. Forever a man on the go, he commutes to Athens, where he teaches English and then makes frequents trips to Oxford as the director of the program. His wife, Robyn, who is a specialist for AT&T in Atlanta, often joins him for the relaxed atmosphere of Oxford and side trips to Europe’s limitless landscapes and historical landmarks.

McClung is always eager to serve as a tour guide for any of Georgia’s guests who appear in Oxford: a friend of the university, a high-ranking university administrator or a visitor who simply wants to see what this exalted educational institution is all about.

He may start the tour at the quad, which was designed by Christopher Wren. He will point out landmark buildings and points of interest that define the ancient campus. He can not only identify the location of such buildings and centers but also provide a history of everything Oxford. For sure, he wants you to appreciate the fact that there are kids from places like Waycross, Americus, Rome, Augusta and the smaller towns of Georgia (and elsewhere) who can flourish and compete academically with students from anywhere in the world, including those from the storied Ivy League institutions.

“One of the things we are proudest of,” McClung said, “is that our students come here expecting to work and learn. They have good study habits and they put themselves into the routine with a full commitment to not only achieve what is expected of them as students, but to enjoy the educational journey. Learning in this environment can be so fulfilling and rewarding. They make us proud.”

It gives McClung and others within the UGA administration the greatest of pleasure to invite members of the Oxford faculty to Athens for a home football game, which they find intriguing and stimulating. They appreciate UGA’s heritage and are charmed by the beauty and hospitality of the UGA campus and Southern hospitality. Some even take a liking to grits.

The easygoing manner and generous hospitality of Jamie McClung probably has something to do with the favorable perception of Athens. He is highly regarded by the two faculties he interacts with — the University of Georgia and Oxford. He feels equally at home at either venue.

Loran Smith is an administrative specialist for the University of Georgia sports communication department. You can reach him at loransmithathens@bellsouth.net.
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Dabru
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August 15, 2013
I spend some time in Oxford and had heard that University of Georgia purchased a property there years ago. When I asked around, no one knew where it was but I finally found it and it is a nice building. You have to drive quite a distance out Banbury Road to get to it so not as convenient as staying at one of the colleges in the heart of Oxford, but it probably makes it easier for the study abroad dept. to ensure students have a place to stay.
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