University of Georgia
September 2016
Educating Leaders
UGA’s goodwill ambassadors

The Arch Society at the Arch: “We like to call ourselves 36 students representing 36,000 students.”

UGA’s goodwill ambassadors

The Arch Society teaches humble service to UGA. The members are the leaders in representing the university's mission.

Known around campus for their iconic blazers, the Arch Society serves as the University of Georgia’s official hosts and goodwill ambassadors.

These students give tours, greet alumni, help with large events, work athletic events and aid with conference registration. They hand out programs at groundbreakings and direct people to their seats at pre-work breakfasts.

Available by request, the Arch Society aids a variety of offices, including the president, provost, vice president of student affairs, alumni association and athletics and anyone who asks. “We can give tours to guests of the university, anyone from a kindergarten student to a Chinese diplomat. Both of which happened last year,” said Eddie Higginbotham IV, the organization’s adviser and the senior coordinator for leadership and transition in the Center for Leadership and Service, a unit of the Division of Student Affairs.

“We like to call ourselves 36 students representing 36,000 students,” said Taylor Canerday, a fourth-year mass media arts major from Tampa, Florida, and second-year member of the Arch Society. “We’re essentially UGA’s ambassadors, wherever they need us.”

Membership is only open to juniors, seniors, and graduate students who have completed at least one year of classes of UGA. Applicants are put through a rigorous three-round interview process. After a mandatory candidate interest session, students are then interviewed twice, first by a board of current Arch Society members and alumni, and then by selection panel composed of representatives from each of the offices the society serves and the vice president for student affairs.

“We are looking for students with strong leadership skills, a love for the university and the ability to serve humbly,” Higginbotham said. “Humble service is a huge thing in the Arch Society. I think that’s a hard balance to have that humility, the sincerity in your service, but also be a part of this prestigious organization.”

“While these incredible opportunities provided me with early experience in interacting with high profile individuals and representing the university, the single most salient skill I carry from my time on Arch is humble service.”

— Stan Jackson, Student Affairs

The society currently has 36 members—22 seniors and 14 juniors. Members go through weekly training sessions and meetings and learn about the society’s history, expectations, standards, UGA knowledge, tour training and hospitality skills. After training is complete, new members are inducted into the Arch Society in late April.

“One of the really cool perks I enjoy is that we get to be on the field for football games,” said Canerday. “We help out the athletic association by holding the giant banner the football team runs through. It’s sort of surreal standing on the field as the crowd goes crazy.”

The Arch Society was founded in 1992 by Tom Cochran, a former assistant vice president for finance and administration within the vice president for student affairs office and based upon Auburn University’s Plainsmen and War Eagle Girls.

Stan Jackson, director of Student Affairs communications and marketing initiatives, was an Arch Society member is 2005-2006.

He said joined for “genuine love for the University of Georgia.” He helped when UGA hosted George H. W. Bush for the Coverdell Building opening and remembers spending an entire football Saturday hosting Ambassador Andrew Young.

“I learned a lot in those few hours conversing with Ambassador Young. While these incredible opportunities provided me with early experience in interacting with high profile individuals and representing the university, the single most salient skill I carry from my time on Arch is humble service.”

As for his Arch Society blazer—it hangs behind his office door to this day—another tradition of the Arch Society, and a constant reminder of what he learned.

“I still keep up with my fellow Arch alumni,” he said. “I’m impressed with their careers and the excellent ways that they continue to serve as goodwill ambassadors for UGA.”

—Jim Lichtenwalter, Marketing & Communications