Category: Messages from the 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

A Message from the President: Memorial Day Update

Dear Faculty, Staff and Students:

As we head into the Memorial Day weekend, I want to update everyone on the status of the University’s ongoing efforts related to COVID-19. To begin, my appreciation for and pride in the hundreds of faculty and staff here on our campus who are working around the clock to address all aspects of this global pandemic cannot be overstated. And, as I have mentioned in earlier messages, many of our students, through their various outreach programs, have been helping communities across America as well as here in Tuscaloosa. My thanks to each of you for your work.

In line with Chancellor Finis St. John’s creation of the UA System Task Force and to further the implementation of his cornerstone objectives, I formed the Presidential Advisory Committee on the Return to Full Operations this past April. This group is now finalizing a comprehensive set of plans to prepare a safe, healthy campus environment for Fall 2020.  The committee and its multiple working groups are coordinating their efforts, tapping into the world-class expertise we have on our campus and within our System as well as guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH). The goal is to formulate robust, nimble strategies to address all the important aspects of preparing our campus for a return to full operations. As always, the health and safety of our students and employees are paramount in our decision making to return to a fully engaged campus.

The committee is analyzing dozens of elements of returning to in-person instruction and regular business operations, including academic quality, campus life, research, athletics, health and safety, HR issues, and more. We are exploring the most effective ways to implement a number of protocols that will promote the health, safety, success and privacy of each individual member of the campus community. These will include enhanced cleanings, the appropriate use of protective equipment, and potential modification of traditional classroom settings, among others. In addition, with guidance from ADPH and the UA System Task Force, we are planning to implement COVID-19 testing and symptom-tracking protocols. The effectiveness of our plans will be enhanced through the campus community’s use of a COVID-19 contact-tracing tool that the UA System Task Force is developing in partnership with Apple, Google, and ADPH. This voluntary, opt-in tracing tool will allow us to harness technology—without sacrificing the privacy of the individuals who use it—to slow the spread of COVID-19 so that we can all be safer together.

Now, more than ever before, The University of Alabama is truly Tide Together by strength, determination, and a desire to protect all members of our campus community. We will continue to update you as these plans evolve and solidify, but, for the latest updates, please visit the healthinfo.ua.edu website.

Stuart R. Bell

President

A Message from the President: Year in Review 2019- 2020

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

This week, I invite you to look back over the past year at The University of Alabama and the remarkable achievements of our community during the 2019-2020 academic year. We began our journey with the fall semester, welcoming over 38,000 students with legendary potential and the corresponding drive to initiate change, defy limitations and empower others. We celebrated the contributions and success of our alumni and friends, were inspired by the prominent work of our students, faculty and staff, and rallied together to overcome unique challenges. We adapted to change and united in extraordinary ways, demonstrating the true substance of our character as a University.

To view the Year In Review video click the image above or visit UA’s YouTube page.

Through it all, we remained devoted to our mission of transforming lives through the highest caliber of teaching, advanced research and service to others. As we reflect on and celebrate the accomplishments of the past year, we also look ahead with confidence to our boundless future. UA is stronger and more resilient than ever before. We are a community of champions, and I am honored to serve as your president.

Stuart R. Bell

President

Congratulations to the spring Class of 2020



Congratulations to the spring Class of 2020! Last week, we honored and recognized the accomplishments of our 6,326 spring graduates who have been invited to participate in UA commencement ceremonies later in the summer. I look forward to celebrating that milestone moment with them in person. As our graduates continue to celebrate with their families and friends this week, our UA community takes great pride in their success. When they enrolled at Alabama, they were among the best in the nation, and they stayed that course. I sent them each a special message of congratulations, recognizing that as UA graduates and future legends, they are now embarking on new paths to change the world.

Spring Class of 2020 graduate Anne Dillon Loflin is leaving UA with an experience in arts advocacy and arts education that changed her life. The dance program Loflin began for students in UA’s CrossingPoints, including her cousin, the late Walt Gary, will continue under the direction of UA students who share Loflin’s love for artistic expression as a means of developing community. With the end of the spring semester, many UA students remain actively engaged in service efforts. Sophomore Abigail Gunter, who became passionate about helping feed the hungry through the Beat Auburn Beat Hunger food drive, is serving free meals to students in the Tuscaloosa City Schools. Newly elected SGA president Demarcus Joiner is collaborating with Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey and 15 other SGA presidents in public institutions across the state to promote blood donation efforts. Now more than ever, UA students are demonstrating the resiliency and innovation that have been a staple of our institution for many years.

In a continued spirit of fellowship and support for the University and its alumni, students, parents and friends, the UA National Alumni Association recently made a $50,000 contribution to the Tide Together Student Support Fund. The fund is a lifeline for many UA students who need extra assistance, and we remain grateful for the support from those who can contribute.

Finally, Alabama fans are very proud of the nine former Crimson Tide football players recently selected in the 2020 NFL draft, including four in the first round. From student-athlete accolades to nationally recognized academic programs, cutting-edge research and community engagement, The University of Alabama boldly produces champions and change-makers.

As we turn our attention to the upcoming summer sessions, we are actively planning for in-person instruction this fall. I have appointed a campuswide task force, which will work with faculty and staff and in concert with the UA System, to implement safety and health initiatives in preparation for the return of our campus community. We continue to fulfill our mission at the highest level, recruit great young people to our campus and provide an education and experience second to none. We will meet the challenges and put into action the plans that will get us to where we need to be. I am eager to see you all soon, and it remains my honor to serve as your president.

Congratulations again, spring Class of 2020. You are one of the most gifted classes we have ever seen, and we could not be more proud of you.

Roll Tide!

Stuart R. Bell

President

A Message from the President – Final Week of Spring 2020

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

Today we are beginning the final week of the spring semester. Students, I know you have been diligently preparing for your exams this week. Your professors continue to compliment the quality of the work you are doing. Each class you complete takes you one step closer to accomplishing your goals, and with every bit of new knowledge and each valuable experience, you increase your legendary potential. Finish strong and be confident in what you have learned this semester. We are very proud of you!

Over the past few weeks, many students have continued to make impactful societal and academic contributions. Students in UA’s opera theatre program have delighted the elderly and those self-isolating at home by singing uniquely tailored songs through videoconferencing and phone calls. We are grateful for Dr. Paul Houghtaling, professor of opera, and all students involved for bringing special musical concerts and joy to homes within our communities. Senior Alexus Cumbie, an Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award winner, was recently featured in the Sullivan Foundation magazine in the article “The Beloved Community – Alexus Cumbie’s Poetry, Policy and Passion for Changemaking.” Cumbie was recognized for the contributions she has made and the honors she has received during her four years at the Capstone. She was also one of 50 college students who interned with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation in Washington, D.C. last fall with the help of a stipend through UA’s Career Center.

I want to congratulate Dr. Sharony Green, UA associate professor of history, for being awarded the2020 PEN/Jean Stein Grant for Literary Oral History for her nonfiction literary work, “The Baa Haas.” Dr. Green has conducted extensive research since 2013 for the project, and we are proud of her well-deserved recognition. UA’s ACCESS Support Center, in collaboration with the Alabama State Department of Education, continues to offer free online courses for grades 7-12 throughout the state of Alabama for educators and students seeking high-quality instruction while learning at home. The Office for Undergraduate Research remains very productive as well. Its premier undergraduate research event, the Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities Conference, was recently held virtually. More than 250 students participated, and student projects and presentations are still available for viewing. Undergraduate Research also extended its recruitment of students for fall 2020’s Emerging Scholars Program to the virtual realm and is just one of the many UA research programs incoming students can join.

Finally, today we are commemorating the nine-year anniversary of the tornadoes that struck Tuscaloosa and the surrounding region. We faced another unparalleled time in our community’s history in 2011, but we rallied together to help with recovery, to mourn and to rebuild. I hope you will pause today to honor the 53 lives lost in the storm, including six UA students and one UA employee. On campus today at 5:13 p.m., Denny Chimes will ring 53 times in their honor. Throughout the day, you can also positively impact others in a variety of ways, such as thanking first responders, supporting the local economy or donating blood. Our UA community remains resilient and ready to lend a hand to help those in need.

Again, I wish everyone the best this week. As we prepare to transition to the summer sessions, The University of Alabama remains committed to the success of our students, faculty and staff. I look forward to welcoming everyone back home to campus in the future, and I am honored to serve as your president.

Stuart R. Bell

President