Category: Messages from the 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

Message from the President 4/20

 

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

The past month has been a unique experience for our campus community. We have faced individual challenges and difficulties, but the foundation of The University of Alabama is strong, and our mission of transforming lives through teaching, research and service has not wavered. We are in this together, and our foremost priority remains the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff.

Last night, UAPD, Tuscaloosa Fire Rescue and UA facilities crews worked tirelessly to contain a fire in the third-floor sections of the south wing of the Moody Music Building. We are thankful for the quick response and efforts of our first responders. Director of Bands Ken Ozzello and School of Music Director Charles “Skip” Snead were also on-site alongside Mayor Walt Maddox and me throughout the evening. While the cause of the blaze and the extent of the damage is still unknown, what matters most is that no one was injured.

Even as national events unfold, our students continue to do their part in communities around the globe. UA senior John Glidden III returned to his hometown of Closter, New Jersey, where he is volunteering as an EMT at both a virus testing site and a non-profit ambulance service. While he’s finishing his final few weeks of classes and preparing for his future career at Lockheed Martin as an aerospace engineer, John is also giving back to those in need. He is a great example of how one person can contribute, even in a time of adversity. Other UA students in a group calledUASpace are now working to inspire the next generation of students to pursue STEM fields. UASpace members created math and science lessons for Alabama public school students that help bring virtual space-centered instruction to rural areas of the state for students learning at home. These students exemplify the actions of thousands of UA students who are actively helping those in need.

Even with social distancing measures in place, UA’s Career Center continues to find innovative ways to support our students and their professional goals. Now more than ever, students can stay connected through Handshake, UA’s online recruiting system where employers can link with students to do virtual events, career fairs and interviews. Companies in the state and across the nation continue to recognize the value of a degree from Alabama, and we will continue to offer resources to aid our students’ internship placements and job searches.

The University of Alabama’s Writing Center and Capstone Center for Student Success have also made the transition to online services. Tutors at the Writing Center are available to provide personalized writing assistance, while the Capstone Center for Student Success is offering free online tutoringacademic coaching and skills sessions through Zoom. I encourage our students to utilize these valuable resources as the semester draws to a close.

We remain hopeful of the possibility of returning to on-site instruction later in the summer. Recently we announced that all summer courses with a class start date before June 22 will be taught in an online or remote format, which includes Interim, summer 1 and full summer term sessions. Even though we would like to see our students back on campus sooner, we are confident in the quality of our online programs, which offer students appealing multimedia content and easy access to their instructors and peers.

Prospective and admitted new students are still visiting Tuscaloosa, just in a different, virtual way. Our essential research efforts continue to move forward, and we continue to deliver superior coursework. We invited our Spring 2020 graduating class to join the summer commencement program. We also continue to provide students with the opportunity to accessshort-term financial help with housing, technology, travel and other necessities.

We remain strong. We remain determined. We remain a community.

Thank you for the courage and compassion you continue to demonstrate. You make me proud, and I am honored to serve as your president.

Roll Tide!

Stuart R. Bell

President

Message from the President April 13, 2020

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

It is hard to believe there are only three weeks remaining in the spring semester. I miss seeing our students on campus. I know the current circumstances in our nation do not define us as a University, but they do give us an opportunity to grow in thankfulness and grace and to rally together for the good of those around us.

I have never been prouder to lead this institution, as we witness the kindness and resiliency of our people. UA students continue to find ways to be compassionately involved in relief efforts. Students have been shopping for seniors through a free grocery delivery service in Tuscaloosa and Birmingham called Leave it To Us, a non-profit organization begun in Chicago during spring break by UA junior Michael Arundel. UA freshman Nathan Eads is managing a student group in Atlanta making 3D printed face shields for health care workers funded through a gofundme.com account created to raise revenue for the cause. UA junior Matthew Roy, who plans to attend medical school next year, is volunteering at the Ross Bridge Medical Center test site in Hoover with a small group of others, contacting patients through telemedicine and assisting with test sampling. These stories are just a small sample of the many ways our students are responding to the needs of others during this unique time, and I will be sharing more examples in the coming weeks.

We also continue to observe special ceremonies traditionally held on campus. Our UA community cherishes the recognition of the achievements of our graduating class at commencement. Although our plans must be contingent on how our summer health outlook progresses, we are moving forward to provide the spring Class of 2020 with the same opportunity to celebrate. Students who were approved to graduate in May are invited to be part of the summer commencement programs on Friday, July 31, and Saturday, August 1. We will be sending out more information in the coming weeks and hope all spring graduates will be able to join us. Last Friday, we also held a live virtual Tapping on the Mound ceremony to induct new members in University honor groups and to recognize various recipients of student and faculty awards.

Even in the midst of current events, I encourage all our students to complete a 2020 Alabama census form, which is also available online. The census is vital to determining funding to the state for important health care, education, housing and infrastructure development programs. Congratulations are also in order for UA student Hannah Slater, a Randall Research Scholar studying chemical engineering and chemistry and the 57th UA recipient of the prestigious Goldwater scholarship. The UA campus community is also invited to attend video presentations by the five finalists for the position of UA executive vice president and provost, beginning April 13 and continuing through April 28. The presentations will be recorded and posted on the provost search website, and you can send questions for the candidates in advance to Dr. Russ Mumper, chair of the search committee, at mumper@ua.edu.

Finally, I again want to recognize our esteemed faculty for their ongoing success in providing meaningful and thought-provoking content for their courses and for supporting their students to success. UA’s Center for Instructional Technology, led by Dr. Ivon Foster-McGowan and Dr. Rachel Thompson, is providing essential support to all UA faculty, instructors, staff, graduate students and undergraduate students needing assistance with instructional technology and technology accessibility, and we’re grateful for their expertise.

As the semester continues, I encourage you to remain committed to your goals and to finish with the resolve with which you began. You are our champions, and I am honored to be your president.

Stuart R. Bell

President

Message from The President – Spring Commencement

Dear Spring 2020 Graduating Class,

The recent change to remote learning and the challenges we are all facing during this unprecedented time for our nation and our University have greatly affected us all. I know those planning to graduate this spring were looking forward to our traditional commencement activities.

Commencement is a milestone marking the end of one valuable journey while forging the beginning of a new, promising path.   It is a special time for you, your family and our faculty, and I want you to have the opportunity to walk across the stage in celebration of your success.

Although our plans must be contingent on how our summer health outlook progresses, we are moving forward to include our spring graduates in our summer commencement events scheduled for Friday, July 31 and Saturday, August 1.  Please consider this special invitation to join those ceremonies.  We will be providing more details in the coming weeks on how to register and the date and times for each ceremony.

We will also be recognizing the achievements of our spring 2020 graduating class in May through online and social media outlets to highlight our shared pride in you. No matter where you are as you finish the semester, you are an important and special part of our UA family. As you finish the semester strong, know we are right here cheering you on. I look forward to congratulating you on stage very soon. I am very proud of the many ways you have excelled in your time with us and will continue to excel.

Roll Tide!

Stuart R. Bell

President

A Message from the President 4-6-20

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

Welcome to week two of online instruction, remote work environments and the “new normal” for our UA community. I know for many the changes we have experienced caused some initial apprehension, but I am already hearing positive feedback about the ways in which we are all rallying together. Working and studying remotely takes more time, patience and flexibility, but I am confident we are achieving the same excellent outcomes that are the standard of the Alabama experience. As you continue to settle in to your new routines, please know how proud we are of you and what you are accomplishing in the over 6,600 classes that have now been launched online.

I want to personally thank Dean Jonathan Halbesleben and his incredible team in the College of Continuing Studies for the critical work they are doing to ensure the success of UA’s online learning environment. Helping faculty and students teach and learn online has always been their specialty, but now they have taken an essential leadership role to bridge the gap for those who are new to remote learning.

Students, I know you will finish strong. We are here to help you continue pursuing your education and preparing for your remarkable future. You remain our top priority as we make decisions, and we’ve had to be a little creative to continue some of our important traditions. For the first time in UA history, the 2020 SGA Inauguration Ceremony was broadcast live on Facebook on March 31. Congratulations to SGA President Demarcus Joiner and the members of the Executive Council for the honor of representing and serving our student body.

The commitment and ingenuity of our faculty continue to impress, and I hope you will help me congratulate Dr. Subha Chakraborti, professor of statistics and Morrow Faculty Excellence Fellow, for being selected as UA’s 2020 SEC Faculty Achievement Award winner. After nearly 36 years at The University of Alabama, Dr. Chakraborti’s influence has been widespread, from impactful research to extraordinary teaching accomplishments and scholarly contributions. His success exemplifies the many talents and expertise of our esteemed faculty who continue to transform the lives of their students.

We are also doing everything we can to support health care workers, families and businesses in our local communities. Currently, two groups across three colleges on campus are collaborating with health care professionals to produce 3D-printed face shields for the medical workers on the front lines in our area, and UA students across the nation are taking an active role in relief efforts. Last week, 10 UA Greek houses donated over 2.3 tons of food to the West Alabama Food Bank, and five additional houses plan to contribute. The Alabama Small Business Development Center Network and partners across the state are also helping small businesses prepare to apply for loans to provide them with enough working capital to remain open and to operate effectively. UA’s mission statement prioritizes service, and we will continue to seek opportunities to help those in need.

Friends, The University of Alabama remains steadfast and resilient. Despite the adjustments necessitated by current events, one thing will always remain the same: Our people will continue to rise to the challenges presented, work together and safeguard the success of our faculty, staff and students. Right now, the only thing missing is you. We can’t wait to have our future legends back home. I look forward to seeing you on campus just as soon as possible.

You and your families remain in my thoughts, and I am honored to serve as your president.

Stuart R. Bell

President

A Message From The President

Dear UA students, faculty and staff,

Welcome back — well, virtually back. I would like to start by expressing my pride in the resiliency and dedication that have been shown by each of you over the past weeks. We have all learned and embraced new guidelines of social distancing and how we can do our part, helping ourselves and those around us remain safe and healthy. The UA community has faced and overcome challenges throughout our history and this challenge will be no exception.

We are beginning the last quarter of our spring semester in a different way, but that should not diminish our quest for excellence in all that we do. Students, I want to encourage you to remain dedicated to your studies during this challenging time. Faculty and staff, thank you for continuing your unwavering commitment to our University and our students. Especially over the last few weeks, I have witnessed again the dedication of Dr. Kathleen Cramer and our Student Life staff. Their determination to protect the student experience and student-focus of this campus are unmatched.

Our faculty and Provost’s office, with the support of our specialized IT team and UA’s Center for Instructional Technology, have been busy over the extended break, working to ensure that the best academic resources are available to each of you. The unexpected may occur — so be prepared and remain flexible during the transition in the delivery of your classes.

Our lives have been significantly altered by these unforeseen circumstances, but remember, we will face this challenge together as a community. I was reminded this week of the heart and ingenuity of our students through a story from the Today Show. Wherever you go, whatever you do, your Alabama spirit shines through to the communities and nation around us. We will all emerge from this even stronger than we were before.

My thoughts and well wishes are with each of you, and I look forward to seeing everyone on campus once it is determined that we can resume full operations as normal. In the meantime, I ask that all of us remember — and live — the Capstone Creed:

As a member of The University of Alabama community, I will pursue knowledge; act with fairness, integrity and respect; promote equity and inclusion; foster individual and civic responsibility; and strive for excellence in all I do.

As we move into the final weeks of this semester please continue to monitor campus updates concerning COVID-19 on our website healthinfo.ua.edu.

Thank you and Roll Tide!

Stuart R. Bell

President

A Message from the President – COVID-19

COVID-19 presents serious public health concerns. The University of Alabama is committed to slowing the spread of the coronavirus, while maintaining our mission of teaching, research, and service.

Social distancing is a key barrier to the spread of the virus. To assist with this national task of social distancing, and in keeping with UA system policies, the following actions are in effect until further notice.

As you consider these measures, I call upon each of you – faculty, staff, students, parents, alumni and supporters – to model the creativity and strength of the campus community we have come to expect.

Remote Teaching and Learning

After tomorrow, classes will be canceled until March 30 to allow additional time for UA to transition – to the maximum extent possible – to alternative and remote learning. Faculty will determine how to best use existing technology, such as Blackboard and Zoom, to support students as they work to complete their educational requirements for the semester. Teaching will resume March 30 via these new methods.

Student Accommodations

Students should not return to campus when classes resume, and will continue their course work via distance learning subject to the following limited exceptions: (a) international or other students who do not have alternative accommodations; (b) students from areas without high-speed internet or other means of receiving remote instruction; and (c) students with exceptional hardships, or academic, employment, clinical or research requirements that should be reviewed by the respective campuses on a case-by-case basis. Arrangements will be made to ensure any students who must remain on campus have access to essential services. A move out plan will be communicated at a later date.

 

Domestic and International Travel

In addition to previously announced travel limitations, all university-funded travel, both foreign and domestic, is suspended. Travel sponsors can apply for exceptions to this restriction by completing a form that will be posted at healthinfo.ua.edu.

 

University Events

All non-essential University meetings, gatherings and events are canceled until March 30. Any exceptions must be specifically requested and approved via a form that will be posted on healthinfo.ua.edu

Other University Business

Due to these changes, a number of essential personnel will be required to work over spring break. Supervisors will be in contact about those schedules. Other University operations will continue as originally planned, with employees returning from spring break March 23. Thereafter, there is a potential for flexible work arrangements in alignment with our focus on social distancing. Supervisors should work directly with employees to make any necessary changes.

Education Abroad

Education Abroad has created a list of FAQs on the coronavirus, international.ua.edu/educationabroad/prepare/health-safety/coronavirus-faqs/.

Exposed or Sick Individuals

Do not return to campus if you meet the following criteria:

  • If you have traveled to a CDC COVID-19 Level 2 or 3 country (on personal or University business) or come in close contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19, you are required to contact the Alabama Department of Public Health
  • If you have the symptoms of fever, cough or shortness of breath, contact your healthcare provider. You may also call the Student Health Centerprior to visiting at (205) 348-3854 or after hours at (205) 348-0386. If you are an employee and have concerning symptoms, please call the University Medical Center at (205) 348-4696 or (205) 348-1770 before visiting.

Assistance with Remote Teaching and Learning Technology

We will examine how to best support employees and students who have special health or other needs impacted by these decisions. Faculty may call upon a specialized IT team to assist with online teaching. More information on IT assistance will be posted on healthinfo.ua.edu, as it becomes available.

I know this is not how we expected to begin spring break. Please take preventive measures to protect yourself and those around you. Exercise extra caution when traveling and interacting. This includes washing your hands frequently with soap and water and avoiding shaking hands and other physical contact.

Together we will overcome this challenge. Please monitor healthinfo.ua.edu for updates and additional information, in this rapidly evolving situation.