It’s Fall Speed Ahead for UA: An update from President Bell
As we prepare to celebrate a wonderful Homecoming by welcoming our alumni, family and friends back to campus, I wanted to take a few minutes to recognize other good news that’s worth a round of applause.
To begin our new academic year, we announced a record-setting enrollment in mid-September, with a freshman class that includes 174 National Merit and National Achievement Finalists. More than one-third of our entering freshmen have an ACT of 30 or higher, and more than 2,200 freshmen are enrolled in our Honors College. With a total enrollment of 37,100, UA remains the largest four-year institution in the state, and we continue to enroll the most in-state residents of any Alabama university.
Drawing students to the Capstone from across the nation and globe are our nationally ranked academic programs. Several of our programs have made recent headlines with their success. In the 2015 Forbes rankings, our MBA at the Manderson Graduate School of Business ranks 25th among similar programs at all public schools in the nation, and fourth in the SEC.
Also gaining recognition, UA’s Dance program was recently ranked 15th in the nation, fourth in the South and first in the state by Dance-Colleges.com, who surveyed 322 public and private schools offering dance programs. UA is home to the only accredited dance program in the state and our students regularly perform nationally and internationally.
Our School of Social Work’s online master’s program was named the top-ranked program of its kind by BestColleges.com, based on factors that include graduation, acceptance, retention and enrollment rates. The same program was also ranked among the top 10 programs nationally by the experts of OnlineU.org. Students note the program’s flexibility, which allows them to work full-time as they pursue a master’s degree.
Another source of pride for the Capstone is our partnership as a founding member in a national effort to support minority women and girls interested in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. The National Academic STEM Collaborative is a consortium of 19 institutions of higher education and nonprofit partners committed to improving STEM diversity in the nation’s colleges and universities.
In late September, we were pleased to welcome Bob Pierce as our new vice president for Advancement. Bob, who comes to us from the University of Southern Mississippi, is an experienced leader in university advancement who brings an outstanding record in fundraising as well as energy and enthusiasm to The University of Alabama.
Earlier today, we also announced that Linda Bonnin has been named vice president for strategic communications at the University. Linda brings a strongly creative approach to problem-solving, a talent for team-building and an outstanding record of success in marketing and promotion, and we are excited that she is joining our team.
The annual Beat Auburn Beat Hunger drive was announced this past Monday and will run through Friday, Nov. 20. Started in 1994, Beat Auburn Beat Hunger has collected more than 2 million pounds of food to help fight hunger and poverty in West Alabama.
Looking forward and in the coming weeks, we will launch our strategic planning process for charting our University’s course forward. This is an exciting endeavor for all of our campus and I have asked Dr. Kevin Whitaker to work closely with me and our campus to lead this effort. We will focus on the mission, vision and objectives for our national flagship university and strategies for how we achieve these aspirations. Our plan will capture a rich discussion that will occur across campus over the coming months, guiding us for even greater achievements in the coming years. Since our campus and Dr. Whitaker will be focused on the elements necessary to produce a strong, deliberate and implementable strategic plan, we will look to begin our search for the permanent provost in the summer of 2016.
In closing, I am thrilled to be serving again at The University of Alabama, and I want to thank everyone for the gracious welcome extended to Susan and me. We are off to an excellent start for the fall semester. The positive outlook on campus is palpable, and I’m excited about the marvelous future that is ahead of us. Roll Tide and enjoy Homecoming 2015!