UNG to name campus building after late House Speaker David Ralston

The University of North Georgia says a new academic building on the UNG campus in Blue Ridge will be named in honor of the late Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, who was a Blue Ridge native.

From Clark Leonard, UNG…

The new academic building under construction at the University of North Georgia’s Blue Ridge Campus will be named David E. Ralston Hall in honor of the late speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives, thanks to University System of Georgia approval granted at the April 16 Board of Regents meeting.

Ralston was instrumental in securing funding for the original Blue Ridge Campus location that opened in 2015, the current stand-alone campus that opened in 2020 and the expansion opening in spring 2025.

Born in Ellijay, Georgia, Ralston graduated from Gilmer County High School and then-North Georgia College. He earned his law degree from the University of Georgia and practiced law in Blue Ridge for many years.

From 1992-1998, he served as a member of the Georgia Senate, and he was the Republican nominee for attorney general of Georgia in 1998. In 2002, he was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives to represent the 7th District and its constituents in Fannin, Gilmer and Dawson counties. In January 2010, he began serving as the 73rd speaker of the Georgia House, a position he held until his untimely death in November 2022.

“Speaker Ralston was a staunch advocate for the north Georgia region, and the second-longest serving speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives. He played a pivotal role in shaping legislation that has had a lasting positive impact by promoting economic development and enhancing the overall well-being of Georgians,” UNG President Michael Shannon said. “His visionary leadership was instrumental in expanding access to mental health resources and championing rural economic development.”

UNG’s Blue Ridge Campus has grown from 20 students when it opened in 2015 to 230 for the 2023-24 academic year. The 22,300-square-foot facility opening in spring 2025 will provide specialized spaces for the College of Education to allow it to offer a blended cohort for students who will complete their degrees in Blue Ridge. It will also enable the College of Health Sciences & Professions to offer a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program to existing students in the area who may have started through the Technical College System of Georgia or other programs.

“Speaker Ralston was a champion for UNG’s Blue Ridge Campus from the beginning and saw the opportunities that having UNG in Blue Ridge would open not only for students but for the entire region of north Georgia,” Sandy Ott, executive director of the Blue Ridge Campus, said. “The naming of this new building is a tribute to his legacy and impact on so many lives in the past, present and future.”

In March, the Georgia House of Representatives unveiled a portrait of Ralston, honoring his life of service to the state. Commissioned by the UNG Foundation in July, the portrait will be placed just outside the House chamber. Ralston’s widow, Sheree, and his children were on hand for the special occasion. That same day, the Georgia Senate passed a resolution encouraging the Board of Regents to approve naming the building on UNG’s Blue Ridge Campus for Ralston.

The portrait of Ralston will be displayed across from an existing portrait of former House Speaker Tom Murphy. Murphy, also a UNG alumnus, and Ralston were the two longest-serving speakers in the history of the Georgia House. Murphy served in the role for 30 years and Ralston for 13 years.

Ralston earned the Presidential Leadership Award given at the 2019 UNG Scholarship Gala.

Tim Bryant

Tim Bryant

Tim Bryant hosts Classic City Today, 6-10 weekday mornings on 98.7FM & AM 1340 WGAU in Athens.



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