Category: Messages from the President

October 1 Update


Dear Students, Faculty, Staff and Parents,

I am greatly encouraged by the continued efforts and excellent progress of our campus community in staying safe and healthy. For the third successive week, positive COVID cases at the University have dropped dramatically. Last week we saw a 60 percent decrease in student positives and record lows in occupancy of our isolation/quarantine space. I encourage everyone to stay the course and remain vigilant by sharing health information through UA Healthcheck, wearing a mask and practicing social distancing.

Earlier this week, Vice President for Student Life Myron Pope shared positive news about new guidelines allowing additional student activities. Effective today, and with safety measures in place, UA student organizations can begin hosting non-social engagement events that support their mission. Our more than 600 student organizations offer opportunities for growth, connection and leadership development that are an integral part of the Alabama experience. These new guidelines will allow these organizations to engage our students as they have in past semesters.

Class schedules for spring will be published next week and we have recently announced a modified 2021 Spring Semester calendar. First and foremost, we will see greater in-class learning opportunities for students across the board and on-campus residence will continue as normal in the spring. Please note these calendar modifications:

  • Our student Winter break is extended by one week with classes beginning Wednesday, Jan. 13.
  • With travel concerns and the lengthened Winter break, we will not include a Spring break week.
  • The last day for students to add/drop classes without a “W” is Wednesday, Jan. 20.
  • Classes will not meet on Monday, March 15, but University offices will remain open.

This weekend our 2020 game day protocols will enable us to provide a safe and enjoyable experience for all fans visiting Bryant-Denny Stadium. Whether enjoying a watch party from home or cheering from the stands, it will be an exciting afternoon of SEC football.

I am proud of your continued commitment to our mission and remain grateful for your support. Tide Together, we will persist and prevail.

Roll Tide!

Stuart R. Bell
President

A Message from the President

To students, faculty and staff:

This past week’s increase in COVID-positive cases among our students is of grave concern to me and to everyone who loves and cares for The University of Alabama.

Our Health and Safety Plan is guiding our operations aimed at reversing this trend through educating, testing, reporting, specialized care for at-risk students and disciplinary actions when required. As we accelerate education and enforcement efforts on and off campus, we look to each of you to do your part.

Those who fail to abide by the Health and Safety protocols face serious consequences. To date, we have issued more than 400 conduct referrals for COVID-related violations. Interim measures removing individuals from campus have been imposed in several of these cases. Those who blatantly disregard the rules will not be given the option of jeopardizing the semester for everyone else.

In addition to wearing your mask and practicing social distancing, it is imperative that you comply with all aspects of our testing and isolation or quarantine protocols. Students with COVID symptoms should seek testing through the Student Health Center or the University Medical Center testing site at Coleman Coliseum.

If you choose to test off campus, you are required to share positive results with the CV19 Support Program immediately by calling 205-348-CV19. Anyone who fails to disclose a positive test or violates the University’s isolation or quarantine protocols is subject to severe disciplinary action.

Sentinel testing will begin soon. The updated UA System Comprehensive Health and Safety Planoutlines mandatory participation for cause and cluster testing. Please read these updates carefully and contact the UA COVID-19 Support Program if you have questions.

Everyone who truly values the Alabama experience will continue to follow our Health and Safety protocols, which provide a path to complete the semester together on campus. I want to thank all of you – the vast majority of our campus community – for your sacrifice and commitment in support of our shared goals.

Tide Together,

Stuart R. Bell

President

Dear students, faculty and staff,

This is a critical moment for The University of Alabama.

Despite the robust testing, training, health and safety measures we carefully and clearly implemented, there is an unacceptable rise in positive COVID cases on our campus.

Make no mistake, this trend is a real threat to our ability to complete the semester on campus. The solution is proven: testing, mask wearing, social distancing, personal hygiene and compliance with crowd size limits are all that are asked as we work together to complete the semester together.

Violations to our health and safety protocols, both on and off campus, are subject to harsh disciplinary action, up to and including suspension from UA.

UAPD and the Tuscaloosa Police Department are partnering to monitor bars, restaurants and off-campus residences where the city’s COVID-19 ordinances and UA guidelines are not being followed. Joint task force officers are risking their personal health and safety to protect yours. UAPD officers are also focusing efforts on our residence halls and Greek housing to ensure safety and compliance.

Completing the fall semester together is our goal. The margin for error is shrinking.

Now is the time to take action, commit to protect each other, and hold each other accountable. Thank you for taking your responsibilities seriously. Together, through shared sacrifice and commitment, we will achieve our goal.

Tide Together,

Stuart R. Bell
President

Student Behavior Expectations for Fall 2020

Dear students, faculty and staff,

The University recently shared with all of you the policies and directives that underpin our plan to return to operations this semester.

The expected rules and behaviors of all students and student organizations have been clearly defined. While we are appreciative to those who have taken these expectations seriously, I am deeply disappointed that those guidelines are not being followed by each and every member of our student body.

This afternoon the Division of Student Life will announce additional directives that are focused solely on the safety and well-being of our campus community. That information also will be shared with the parents and families of our students.

Tide Together now more than ever, we are seeing the harsh consequences at other universities which have been forced to close abruptly because safety protocols were not followed.  The eyes of the nation are following us closely and I am confident we will meet and exceed our status as frontrunners.

Despite the challenges, we can measure success by many benchmarks.

  • Our student re-entry testing is nearly complete and the positive rate is around 1%, far below national averages. Results will be posted at www.uasystem.edu beginning Monday afternoon on the new System-wide data dashboard and will be updated as we move into sentinel testing.
  • More than 20 employees have been assigned to focus solely on exposure notifications, isolation, quarantining and sanitization protocols. More than 450 beds have been dedicated for isolation purposes. Although more than 90% of those beds are vacant, we will expand those resources as needed.
  • Hundreds of hours have been invested by our Situational Response Team and the President’s Advisory Committee to develop and implement guidelines that are consistent with the UA System Task Force Comprehensive Health and Safety Plan. Their work continues 24/7.
  • As an institution, we are 45,000 strong, representing every county in Alabama, every state in the nation, and most countries around the world. It is a privilege to lead you.
  • Please know that I am counting on each of you not only to do your part to keep our campus safe, but to report any activities that you believe might compromise the overall health and safety of our University community. Reports can be made online or by calling 1-866-362-9476.

I look forward to your comments and suggestions, which we urge you to share at president@ua.edu.

Thank you,

Stuart R. Bell
President

Fall Semester 2020 Preparation


Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

Classes begin on Wednesday, and it is great to have everyone back!

We have been proactively preparing for your return to campus. I hope you have stayed informed through our weekly Inside UA updates, our comprehensive healthinfo.ua.edu website and our recent COVID educational videos produced by SGA and Strategic Communications. It is critical that each of us takes personal responsibility to wear masks, practice social distancing, avoid large social gatherings and participate in the UA Healthcheck. With your help, the guidelines we have established will keep our community as healthy and safe as possible. We anticipate a successful fall semester at the Capstone, and I am glad you are here.

Recently, and in preparation for the fall semester, the University of Alabama System updated its Comprehensive Health and Safety Plan. Updates to the UA Return to Full Operations Plan have been made, as well, to include new protocols and recommendations from health experts. Please review both plans carefully to ensure your understanding and compliance with all necessary safety procedures.

I do want to take this opportunity at the beginning of a new semester to reaffirm and reinforce the University’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. I appointed a committee last fall aimed at enhancing the UA experience for all students, faculty and staff under the leadership of the vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion, Dr. Christine Taylor. As outlined in my message last week, careful planning has continued over the spring and summer for the continuation and implementation of many important diversity initiatives that will be presented by a variety of offices, departments and organizations on campus.

In addition, earlier this month the UA Board of Trustees made the unanimous decision to amend the name of Nott Hall, which is now called Honors Hall, to demonstrate and honor our values. UA will continue to be a welcoming and inclusive home for all people.

As we begin the fall semester with eager anticipation, please know I am honored you chose The University of Alabama to pursue your educational goals or as the place to share your expertise with our future legends. Across campus, our people will continue to make a positive difference and to help others, even in an ever-changing world. Please take a minute to watch this special videocreated for you as we begin the new semester as a unified campus community.

Roll Tide!

Stuart R. Bell
President

Update on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Efforts

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

Welcome back! As we begin the Fall 2020 Semester, I would like to take the opportunity to update you on a matter that is very important to me. In October 2019, I appointed a Presidential Advisory Committee for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The committee, led by Dr. Christine Taylor, vice president and associate vice provost for diversity, equity and inclusion, is actively identifying practices that are aimed at enhancing the UA experience for all students, faculty and staff.

Even during COVID-19 restrictions, the committee continued its progress. I personally appreciate the time and energy invested by each of them — students, faculty and staff. Fostering a culture of inclusivity is one of the four primary goals of my Strategic Plan for the University. This is personal and critical for me.  As I have stated previously — bias, violence and acts of hate contradict the values of our beloved institution.

Over the summer, the timeliness and importance of the committee’s tasks have been underscored by recent events both on and off campus. Our Board of Trustees, the chancellor and I took action to remove plaques from the Quad. The Board has appointed a working group to thoughtfully review building names across the System, and Nott Hall was recently renamed as Honors Hall. Those discussions and the work of the Board continue.

While the final report of the Presidential Advisory Committee is concluding, we will undertake a number of efforts immediately. These initial actions are intended to, and will, maintain our momentum, and the momentum of the important work being undertaken by Dr. Taylor and the committee.

Recruiting, Retaining and Graduating More Diverse Students

  • Enrollment Management, the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), and the Division of Community Affairs will continue to expand the University’s efforts to recruit diverse students through programs such as Our Bama and Vision Days.
  • DEI will work collaboratively with Alumni Affairs to expand programming.
  • The Graduate School will strengthen our pipelines with Historically Black Colleges or Universities.
  • Future Bama Bound sessions will include further information about DEI resources for students.
  • We will assist SGA to institutionalize its DEI Certificate Program.
  • University administration will continue to hold diversity student leader meetings each semester as we did during the 2019-2020 academic year.

Recruiting and Retaining a More Diverse Faculty

  • UA will develop and implement campuswide inclusive hiring practice workshops.
  • We will explore proposals to establish student, faculty and staff awards related to DEI.

Creating a More Welcoming Campus Community

  • Campus tours will highlight UA’s resources to support DEI initiatives.
  • We will continue to support efforts to complete the process of joining Universities Studying Slavery, a consortium of universities across the nation and world that share resources as they confront the role of slavery and racism in their histories and its impact today.
  • UA will institutionalize the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Campus Commemorative Committee.
  • UA will continue to affirm its dedication to academic freedom and free speech on campus. In June, the UA Board of Trustees passed a resolution underscoring the importance of its commitment to these principles.
  • The Intercultural Diversity Center has been expanded and relocated to the Ferguson Student Center. Larger plans are being discussed for the future.

Developing Cultural Competence for Faculty, Staff and Students

  • HR will add information on DEI resources and support to orientation presentations.
  • The Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will continue to expand its support and capabilities.

As stated, these are just the beginning. As the Advisory Committee wraps up its work, expect more announcements and initiatives. I am ready to move forward and continue to strengthen our work related to diversity, equity and inclusion.  Our University takes pride in preparing some of the country’s best and brightest minds for leadership in an increasingly diverse and global society. The efforts we make today will undoubtedly have a positive impact on UA’s future and the future of our students.

Roll Tide!

Stuart R. Bell
President

A Message from the President

Dear Campus Community:

In just nine days, the fall semester will begin and our campus is already alive and bustling with preparations and activity. I have had the chance to meet a few new students around the Quad, and I have been pleased to see the consistent use of face coverings and the upholding of required social distancing measures. The University has important health and safety procedures in place to protect our students, faculty and staff, and masks and physical distancing are two essential ways in which we can all help prevent the spread of COVID-19 this fall. Thank you for showing that you care about your University family. Your personal commitment to following these guidelines is what will allow us to continue to be on campus and enjoy the Alabama experience we all love.

Last week, the Board of Trustees of The University of Alabama System shared a revised, updated UA System Health and Safety Plan.  By tapping the expertise across our campus, system and numerous health experts, we will continue to nimbly adapt our policies as needed to keep our campuses as safe as possible. Among the modified provisions are the Test + Train + Check = Welcome Back steps every student and employee must follow prior to returning to campus. Similar updates to the UA campus plan will be posted and shared later this week. I encourage you to carefully review the summary of the revisions to these plans before the fall semester begins.

Students, on Aug. 5 the Division of Student Life kicked off the Weeks of Welcome events by hosting UA’s first virtual Acoustic Karaoke Night. The University Programs team has been hard at work planning safe, fun events to help you create unforgettable memories during your first weeks on campus.

I also want to congratulate the 10 UA students who were awarded scholarships through the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program during the 2019-2020 academic year to study or intern abroad. UA students continue to pursue excellence and to reap the rewards of their academic efforts.

Well-deserved praise is also extended to Dr. Mark Nelson, dean of the UA College of Communication and Information Sciences, his esteemed faculty and the extraordinarily talented students in the UA Department of Advertising and Public Relations. The department was named the Most Outstanding Education Program in the nation during the 2020 PRWeek Awards in late July. It was the department’s ninth recognition as a finalist for the award, and first selection as the top public relations program in the country. We are very proud of their ongoing success.

Finally, special recognition is merited for another UA first. Art history faculty members Dr. Tanja Jones and Dr. Doris Sung were awarded the Capstone’s first Digital Art History Grant from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. Their impressive work is yet another example of the valuable contributions of our gifted and respected faculty. I know our faculty and staff are ready to be back with our students — doing what they love and do so well.

The campus is ready. Our safety measures are in place, and I have every belief and expectation that each member of our campus community will do his or her part to maintain a safe and healthy environment this fall. Now, it is time to come back to your campus home and step into your remarkable futures. We begin the fall semester Tide Together, and we will remain united and successful as one campus community. I will see you soon.

Roll Tide!

Stuart R. Bell
President

A Message from the President 8-3-20

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

It was a special weekend in Tuscaloosa, with families and our campus sending off our most recent graduates. Everyone attending honored our graduates, meeting all of our health and safety protocols to ensure a safe and successful graduation. As always, I am so very proud of our graduates for all they have accomplished during their time at the Capstone.

Now, the long-awaited fall semester is upon us, bringing a familiar sense of excitement and promise that is matched by unique and unprecedented challenges. As we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will continue implementing our proactive plans for a safe return to campus, which will help protect you, the University and our community. Compliance with all requirementsis essential to our ability to complete the fall semester on campus.

Last week the Vice President of Student Life, Dr. Myron Pope, shared important rules and expectations directly with our students. The detailed plans he imparted will affect all aspects of campus life, including social events. There are limits to the size of gatherings, and new protocols in the classroom, outdoor spaces and residential housing. Testing requirements, training procedures and other important safety measures were also included in Dr. Pope’s message. Please review it carefully.

We are fortunate that our UA System is providing full support to enable the safe return to campus. Each of us has a personal responsibility, as well. We must not and cannot be cavalier in our approach to the virus. Avoiding crowds both on and off campus is crucial to our success in controlling the spread of COVID-19 and being able to successfully complete the semester as planned.

Students, as members of The University of Alabama’s academic community, you pledge to abide by our code of conduct. That means observing rules that benefit classmates, the community and our University. Your behavior at any location (on or off campus) is a reflection of your character and qualification to be a member of the UA student body. We are all responsible for how our actions affect the safety and security of others. Please take our directives seriously. I trust you will do your part to follow the established guidelines and represent our University well.

As the fall semester approaches, I am mindful there are many unknowns. One thing remains constant — we all love The University of Alabama, and we are all part of one campus family. I implore you to remain Tide Together and to abide by the policies and guidelines created to protect the health and well-being of our family. I look forward to seeing you again on campus very soon.

Stuart R. Bell

President

A Message from the President: Plan for Return to Full Operations

Dear Faculty and Staff:

Since March, we have faced extraordinary challenges that have tested our adaptability, our spirit and our resolve as a community. I am so proud of how the resilience, determination and character of our UA family have shown through.

COVID-19 affected how we ended the spring semester and decisions for our summer sessions. As we learn more from healthcare professionals in our System and other experts, we continue to plan for fall with a proactive approach to keeping our people healthy and safe while recapturing campus activities that are important to our students, faculty and staff. Campus has not been the same without you, and it will be wonderful to have everyone back together.

Through the extensive efforts of Chancellor St. John, the University of Alabama System Task Force, the President’s Advisory Committee and with the Board of Trustees’ support, we are pleased to share a draft of our Plan for a Return to Full Operations. The plan will guide our path through the summer and during our on-campus fall semester, which will begin August 19.

Our mission of transforming lives through teaching, research and service drives our plan, but we also recognize the necessity for preparation and training, reasonable accommodations, testing, tracking and managing those who may become affected by the virus. As part of the plan, we must all focus on doing our part to safeguard the vulnerable members of our campus community. Our timeline is for a phased return to full operations, a “new normal,” this fall.

Pease carefully review the plan. The UA plan is governed by the System’s Comprehensive Health and Safety Plan released last week. We will continue to post changes and updates to healthinfo.ua.edu/returnplan as they are made available.

As we move forward, I want to thank our faculty, staff, students and supporters for all that you continue to do for our great university. We are a community, united in purpose and committed to our mission. As we continue the summer sessions Still Tide Together, I look forward to seeing you on campus this fall.

Roll Tide!

Stuart R. Bell

President

UA community response to recent tragedies

Dear UA Community:

Today my heart is heavy as I reflect on recent tragedies, deaths and incidents of racialized violence across our country. The death of George Floyd is just the latest example of the challenges that our nation faces and a somber reminder of the disproportionate impact such actions have on so many members of our community.

At The University of Alabama our core principles include fostering a culture of inclusivity and respect for every member of our community, whether we are together in Tuscaloosa or engaging virtually throughout the world. Bias, violence and acts of hate contradict those values. As a community, we must remain united in our resolve to address such injustices in meaningful ways. Our University, preparing some of the brightest minds in the country for leadership in an increasingly diverse and global society, must be a beacon of hope, equality and inclusivity.

Please remember there are a variety of campus resources available to support you, including the Employee Assistance Program, Student Care and Well-Being, the University’s Counseling Center, the UA Title IX Office and the University of Alabama Police Department. In addition, in the coming days and months, our Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will be continuing its series “Come Sit at My Table,” an opportunity to share and learn about a number of issues related to diversity.

As president, I pledge to continue promoting a safe and respectful environment for every member of our campus community, and to support those who are particular targets of hate and racism. At UA, we will continue to do more and be better because of the efforts and kindness of our incredible students, faculty and staff. Remember, we are Still Tide Together.

Stuart R. Bell

President