Bill Flatt receives UGA Presidential Medal

Author: Sara Freeland

The University of Georgia bestowed one of its highest honors on William “Bill” P. Flatt, D.W. Brooks Distinguished Professor Emeritus, and the late Ivery Clifton, a former faculty member and administrator in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and associate vice president for academic affairs.

The President’s Medal recognizes extraordinary contributions of individuals who are not current employees of UGA and who have supported students and academic programs, advanced research and inspired community leaders to enhance the quality of life of citizens in Georgia. The honor is awarded in conjunction with UGA’s annual Founders Day celebration.

Flatt served UGA for 51 years in a career that included positions as director of the Agricultural Experiment Stations (1970-1981), dean and coordinator of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (1981-1994), D.W. Brooks Distinguished Professor (1994-1999) and professor emeritus in the department of foods and nutrition within the College of Family and Consumer Sciences (1999-2020).

He is known for his love of the university, his generosity and his cheerful refrain that he’s doing “better’n ever.”

Flatt’s lifetime philanthropy to the university amounts to more than $1.7 million. 

“I had the resources, and I figured I should give as much to UGA as I could,” he said. 

Flatt’s gifts have endowed multiple scholarships, fellowships, professorships and awards in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and the College of Family and Consumer Sciences and have provided support for students to study internationally.

“He knew how important private support would become and was quick to help,” said Katrina Bowers, formerly senior director of development in the Terry College of Business, who recently retired. “One of the most touching moments came during the passing of Bill’s daughter, Melynda, of an unexpected illness in 2010. This was right after losing his wife, June, who had been paralyzed from Guillain-Barre syndrome since 1973. In the middle of the anxiety and sadness, Bill came to my office and wanted to create a scholarship in Melynda’s memory. We cried as we worked through the details. Even as he was losing a child, he was thinking of others’ children.”

Flatt has been a beloved and inspiring guest lecturer for many classes over the years, sharing his passion for health and nutrition with generations of students. He has used his personal experience with weight loss — losing 60 pounds — to model a healthy lifestyle and effective weight management.