Across the region

UGA graduates will need more for honors


ATHENS, GA. — Professors at the University of Georgia have decided to make it tougher for students to graduate with honors.

UGA officials voted to make the change last month because the proportion of students earning honor diplomas has crept up to nearly half.

Of those graduating Friday, 40 percent finished with grades meeting at least the current standard for cum laude distinction. About half that many students graduated with honors 15 years ago.

Other colleges have recently opted to make honors more difficult to earn, said Rodney Mauricio, the Educational Affairs Committee chairman for the UGA University Council.

Under the new standards, students will be required to have a grade-point average of 3.6 to graduate cum laude, compared to 3.5 now. Magna cum laude grads will need a 3.75 average, up from 3.7. The 3.9 grade-point average required to graduate summa cum laude is unchanged.

The changes don’t take effect until December 2018.

Man sentenced to life in wife’s death

BAXLEY, GA. — A man convicted of making up a story about a fatal home invasion has been sentenced to life in his wife’s slaying.

Michael Courson of Bax­ley pleaded guilty Monday to charges of felony murder, filing a false report and tampering with evidence. In January 2013, Courson told investigators that two men broke into his home and strangled his wife, Mandy.

Witnesses said Courson tried claiming a life insurance policy in his wife’s name, was responsible for loans on several cars he did not own, and closed all of the couple’s joint accounts three days after her death.

1,000 ounces of gold taken from shipwreck

CHARLESTON, S.C. — An expedition to bring back the remaining gold from a steamship that sank in 1857 off South Carolina in one of the nation’s worst maritime disasters has recovered almost 1,000 ounces of gold – the first gold recovered from the wreck in almost a quarter-century.

The S.S. Central America was bringing gold back from California when it sank in a hurricane claiming 425 lives. About $50 million was recovered during expeditions to the wreck in the late 1980s and early 1990s before legal disputes shut down the operation.