Category: Messages from the President

Welcome to the Capstone

Dear Campus Community:

To our new students, faculty and staff, welcome to the Capstone! And to those of you returning, we are glad to have you back on campus. As we celebrate this Week of Welcome, I know you join me in welcoming over 10,000 incoming freshman, graduate and transfer students who are now part of our University family.

I want to share with you a few things that happened while many of you were away this summer.

Our Astrobotics team won the national championship for the third year in a row, competing against 45 other university teams at the NASA Robotic Mining Competition. These young men and women kept their focus on a common goal and pursued champion-level success while also meeting the demands of their rigorous academic schedules. We congratulate them for this great achievement.

Two of our esteemed alumni, Dr. E. Gaylon McCollough and Mrs. Susan N. McCollough, recently made the largest endowed gift to the College of Arts and Sciences in over twenty years. In June, our board of trustees approved the establishment of both the Dr. E. Gaylon McCollough Institute for Pre-Medical Scholars and the Susan N. McCollough Art Biennale, which will advance the academic preparation and success of those studying medicine and art at the University for many years to come.

Just last month, our Capstone College of Nursing received a $1.7 million grant to fund the Bama-Latino Project, which allows us to transform the nursing workforce in Alabama and across the nation so it is more representative of patient populations. As our state’s flagship university, we are grateful for the opportunity to create a lasting impact on our state and our nation through this important funding.

Earlier this month, we welcomed Dr. G. Christine Taylor, our new vice president and associate provost for diversity, equity and inclusion. Dr. Taylor’s background and experience will be an asset to our leadership team, enhancing our ability to deliver a premier higher education experience to all of our students.

Again, I’m glad all of you are back on campus. I know that like last year, we have many tremendous accomplishments ahead of us, and I look forward to celebrating them with you. As you prepare to start the semester, I hope each of you will refresh your understanding of our values, expressed in the Capstone Creed. We share a commitment to inclusion and respect for all, as I mentioned last week.

Best wishes to all of you for a great semester, and Roll Tide.

Sincerely,

Stuart R. Bell
President

Resources to assist those affected by sexual misconduct

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

With the start of a new academic year, I would like to remind everyone of the numerous resources the University has in place to assist those affected by sexual misconduct.

As you know, the University’s Title IX Office oversees our efforts to foster a campus community free of gender discrimination and sexual misconduct. The Title IX Office can be contacted by calling (205) 348-5496 or by visiting their office at 107 Burke Hall West. Additionally, we have recently updated our Title IX and UAct websites. These can be found at http://titleix.ua.edu and https://www.ua.edu/campuslife/uact/. To supplement these websites, we created a web page (www.ua.edu/sams) that compiles the primary resources and support services our campus offers related to sexual assault and misconduct. These resources and services are available to any member of our campus community.

In our ongoing effort to assess and enhance the resources available to support those within our campus community who may be impacted by sexual assault and misconduct, we continue to move forward on a number of fronts. For instance, the University has been working with our community partners to develop a community-based program to respond to the acute emotional, medical and forensic needs of sexual assault victims. These efforts, which began last fall, are showing progress. We will continue working steadfastly toward this goal and expect to make an announcement soon. As previously shared, DCH is providing Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) training to many nurses who will provide this important care to our community.

Recently, I asked our UA School of Law to work with the Alabama Law Institute to draft legislation modifying Alabama’s sexual assault statute. We plan to introduce this proposed legislation in the 2018 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature. This issue is of highest importance, and we have a unique opportunity to lead the state of Alabama forward in making this important change.

We will again be providing training opportunities throughout the academic year to the campus community to assist individuals with preventing and addressing sexual misconduct. In addition, we plan to supplement the training UA professionals and UAPD officers handling sexual misconduct issues already receive with sessions facilitated by Margolis Healy & Associates, a nationally recognized safety and security consulting firm. This training, which will focus on ways to effectively conduct trauma-informed Title IX and sexual assault investigations, is part of our continuing efforts to train and equip our law enforcement and University personnel with the latest information.

The University encourages individuals to report any type of sexual misconduct. You may do so by contacting UAPD at (205) 348-5454 or by visiting the department at 1110 Jackson Avenue. Other reporting options and contact information are available on the UAct website at www.ua.edu/uact.

Please know the University takes the issue of sexual assault and misconduct very seriously. As we begin a new year, I hope you will take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with these important resources and services.

Stuart R. Bell
President

A Message about Charlottesville

I was deeply saddened by the violence that unfolded over the weekend in Charlottesville. The images were shocking. Our hearts are with those impacted by this terrible tragedy.

As we prepare for a new academic year, it’s important for you, as a valued member of our campus community, to know that The University of Alabama does not condone the use of hostile or racist language, or any threats of violence. We have and will continue to condemn all statements grounded in bigotry and hate. We strive to have an inclusive learning, living and working environment that encourages open and respectful dialogue, and we value each and every member of our University community.

Stuart R. Bell
President

A Year in Review

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

The University of Alabama has finished another successful academic year. It began with record-breaking enrollment of 37,665 students, and ended with the presentation of more than 5,000 degrees last month.

Students, faculty and staff have once again distinguished themselves academically and professionally, and our sports teams are excelling at the national level. UA has continued to grow in overall quality and reputation, and we have much to look forward to as we head into the fall semester.

I’m pleased to share with you this video, highlighting some of our successes this past year, successes the entire UA community made possible.

Stuart R. Bell
President

Campus Achievements and Updates

Dear Faculty and Staff:

With the end of the semester upon us, I trust all of you have had a productive spring term. I hope you will join us at Commencement as we celebrate with 5,327 graduates and their families in four ceremonies on Friday and Saturday. These will top off a truly wonderful semester.

Just a few weeks ago, we learned all four of our nominees to the highly competitive Goldwater Foundation were selected as Goldwater Scholars. This is the third time in seven years we have had the honor of seeing all of our nominees selected, and this year only three other universities across the country can say the same—Stanford, Princeton and Iowa State. We remain number one in the nation for total Goldwater Scholars with Harvard at number two.

Additionally, 14 of our graduates are Fulbright Award winners. These students will spend the next year teaching, researching and studying in eleven countries around the globe. As we celebrate these accomplishments, I must thank all of you for your committed service to our students, which leads them to reach and exceed their aspirations.

As we head into the summer and fall, we expect to have some new leaders in place. We are currently in the final stages of our search process for the vice president and associate provost for diversity, equity and inclusion. We expect to have someone on board by fall.

We are also searching for a new vice president for financial affairs. Dr. Lynda Gilbert has led the division for more than a decade and has helped this University grow and thrive. We thank Dr. Gilbert for her dedicated service, and we appreciate her commitment to remain involved during the search and transition process.

I want to thank each of you for your continued service to our students and University. Every day, you are engaging our students and doing your part to make the Capstone the special place that it is.

I look forward to welcoming all our Bama Bound students in the weeks ahead, and I know you are equally excited about all that awaits us this fall. Best wishes to all of you for a great summer, and Roll Tide!

Sincerely,

Stuart R. Bell
President

End of the Semester

The end of the semester is racing toward us. I trust you have had a good semester, and I hope you will reflect fondly on your accomplishments and the many friendships you have made this year.

I know you are busy studying, but I hope you will find time to break away and join me Thursday night for a late-night breakfast at Lakeside Dining from 10 p.m. until midnight. Breakfast is on me, and it is something Susan and I look forward to hosting each semester. Come by for a minute or stay for a couple of hours. It will be a nice break from studying, and it will get you fueled for finals.

In about 10 days, more than 5,300 of you will graduate. I look forward to shaking your hand as you cross the stage. This is the most important day of the year as you complete your journey here at the Capstone and begin a new one. It is such a special day for all of us, especially for you and your family.

As we finish the year, I want to congratulate our newest Goldwater Scholars – Sean Devey, Alison Farrar, Melissa Mathews and Melissa Uehling. For the last 10 years, UA has had more Goldwater Scholars than any other university – public or private – in the nation. We continue to outpace Harvard, which remains #2, as well as Stanford and Princeton.

I also want to congratulate our recently announced Fulbright Scholars – Ruth Bishop, Erica Boden, Benjamin Canady, Katie Cater, Kelsey Daugherty, Brittany Groves, Jonathan Joyner, Jackson Knappen, Emily LeViness, Julia Quan, Charlotte Sheridan, Ann Varnedoe, Sarah Walker and Kevin Williams. The two alternates are Frances Isbell and Emily Zapinski.

We are also proud of our five Boren Scholars – Merideth Cazalas, Maria Huryn, Amica Rapadas, Samuel Watson and Matthew Zeliff, and one Gates Cambridge Scholar – Caroline James.

And, to all of you, thank you for making The University of Alabama your home this year. Susan and I wish you the best as you begin your summer, and we hope to see most of you back here in the fall.

Roll Tide!

Stuart R. Bell
President

Campus Announcements and Updates

It is hard to believe the semester is almost over, but we are moving quickly toward the end of another academic year. I appreciate everything you do to make our university the special place it is.

I hope you will find time this week to meet our four finalists for Vice President/Associate Provost for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. All of them are visiting campus this week. The first session for faulty and staff is at 10 a.m. today in North Lawn Hall, Room 1014. Schedules and information on all four candidates are available at www.ua.edu/diversitysearch.

We recently broke ground on our new Adapted Athletics Facility. This is a huge step forward for more than 100 of our student-athletes who participate in competitive and non-competitive sports that include men’s and women’s wheelchair basketball, adapted golf, wheelchair tennis, para-rowing and adapted track and field. We are one of only 12 universities in the nation that offer adapted athletics programs and the first to have a facility solely for these athletes.

You have probably noticed we are making additional safety improvements to University Boulevard. It is important that we begin this work before the end of the semester to allow enough time to complete it before fall. Two lanes will remain open, but traffic may be a little slower than usual so please be cautious.

Looking ahead, I hope to see you at Honors Week activities April 3-7 when we recognize many of our students for their commitment to academic excellence. We will also present our Premier Awards this Thursday. These are the University’s top individual awards for scholarship, leadership and service. Faculty recipients are Dr. Katrina Ramonell and Dr. Norman Baldwin. This year’s student recipients are Lillian Roth, Charlotte Watters, Chris Lancaster, Caroline Morrison, Faulkner Hereford and Justin McGrath.

On April 5, we will celebrate excellence in research and scholarship at Faculty Research Day. Please join us at 4 p.m. at the Bryant Conference Center as we honor these finalists and award the President’s Faculty Research Award.

Physical and Biological Sciences, Mathematics, and Engineering

  • Senior Investigator:
    Gregory Starr, Biological Sciences
    Jason Bara, Chemical and Biological Engineering
    Brian Jordon, Mechanical Engineering
  • Junior Investigator:
    Kim Genareau, Geological Sciences
    Paul Allison, Mechanical Engineering
    Andrew Lemmon, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Social and Behavioral Sciences

  • Senior Investigator:
    Aaron Kuntz, Educational Research
    Andrew Billings, Telecommunication and Film
  • Junior Investigator:
    Adam Knowlden, Health Sciences
    Jingping Sun, Educational Leadership
    Lesley Jo Weaver, Anthropology

Arts and Humanities

  • Senior Investigator:
    Michael Picone, Modern Languages and Classics
    Paul Horwitz, School of Law
  • Junior Investigator:
    Rebecca Salzer, Theatre and Dance
    Benjamin Kozuch, Philosophy
    Stephen Rushin, School of Law

I know your calendars are crowded, but I hope you plan to attend the Spring Campus Assembly on Thursday, April 13, in the Ferguson Center Ballroom. We will award the E. Roger Sayers Distinguished Service Award and the Minnie C. Miles Endowed Excellence Award. Presidents of the Faculty Senate, PSA, OCTSA and SGA will report on their initiatives, and I will provide a campus update. I hope to see you there.

Thank you for all you do every day.

Stuart R. Bell
President

Start of spring semester update

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

I hope you all enjoyed a safe and happy holiday break with your friends and family. We are thrilled to welcome you back to campus as we enter the new year together.

We ended 2016 with the most successful United Way campaign we’ve ever had. We are grateful for the generous support that has continued to come in over the past several weeks, with over $434,560 pledged from the UA community to support the United Way of West Alabama’s 26 partner service agencies. Many thanks to the College of Continuing Studies and the campus coordinating committee for their leadership throughout the campaign. What a terrific way to begin 2017 — celebrating the remarkable generosity of our campus.

As we begin the semester, I hope you’ll attend Get On Board Day next Wednesday, January 18, from 5-8 p.m. at the Ferguson Center so you can discover new opportunities to connect with other students over shared interests. Considering positive ways to get involved on campus is a wonderful way to start the year.

Any new year is not without its challenges, and already we note the tragedy of a life lost too soon as we send our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the LSU student who passed away here Monday evening. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those left behind to cherish her memory.

Yesterday you may have received emergency alerts about a hostage situation at the Alabama Credit Union on Bryant Drive. I am pleased to report this incident was resolved with no injuries, and the suspect is in police custody. However, in light of these events, perhaps now is a good time to make sure you are signed up for UA Alerts. For more information on how to subscribe to these alerts, please visit the UA Alerts website. We are committed to providing you with timely updates in any event of emergency affecting our campus. Please know we will continue to put your safety and well-being first.

Last semester was one full of excitement and much celebration, as we celebrated many academic and athletic accomplishments from all of you — and congratulated over 2,000 new graduates at Winter Commencement! Although we didn’t win another National Championship Monday night, we are proud of the success of our football team and the many accomplishments of all our student-athletes. With such a tremendously talented family of faculty, staff and students, I am eagerly anticipating even more achievement and celebration in 2017.

Best wishes to all of you, and of course, Roll Tide!

Stuart R. Bell

President

Campus Achievements and Updates

Dear Faculty, Staff and Students:

It has been a wonderful semester for the Capstone, and I’m excited to share with you a few highlights of our student and faculty achievements as well as updates for our campus.

Two student groups recently received national recognition for their hard work. The staff of Alice magazine was presented a 2016 Magazine Pacemaker Award from the Associated Collegiate Press in late October—it is considered the college equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize for student writers and publishers. Another top honor went to the College of Communication and Information Sciences’ Capstone Agency when they were recognized by the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) as the Society’s top-run student agency. I am very proud of these accomplishments, and if you know any of the outstanding students involved with these organizations, be sure to tell them congratulations.

On the heels of the World Series, I’d like to point out one of our exceptional students who designed a sports app. You may have seen any number of news stories about engineering student Matt Bowen who started his own company after creating an app called Pitch Analyzer, which provides professional-level technology to recreational baseball players to help them monitor and improve their performance. Matt worked alongside Dr. Jeff Gray through UA’s Emerging Scholars program and is now in business with two other UA students (Jacob Zarobsky and Andrew White) as well as his brother Will, an alumnus of the University. There is no limit to what you can accomplish when you team up with other members of the Capstone family.

We celebrate with our remarkable faculty as well. Two of our professors are members of the prestigious 2016 Fulbright Scholar Program. Dr. Randall Schumacker of educational research is a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Macau where he will teach a course and assist faculty and graduate students in their research. Dr. Pamela Payne-Foster of the College of Community Health Sciences’ Institute for Rural Health Research is the recipient of a Fulbright Specialist Project grant and will work at the Cadi Ayyad University in Morocco. These significant awards are but a glimpse of our esteemed faculty’s achievements.

Our campus will continue to progress and improve to meet the needs of our faculty, staff and students. Last week the Board of Trustees approved two items about which we are particularly thrilled. With the support of loyal alumni, we will begin construction in early 2017 of the previously announced Adapted Athletics Facility that will allow our student athletes and other students with disabilities to enjoy sports and recreation in a custom facility. We’re also excited to announce a Performing Arts Academic Center to be located on the historic Bryce property. This facility will be an amazing addition to an already beautiful campus, and our world-class theatre and dance department will now have a space more deserving of their performances.

It has been a great semester so far, and I look forward to celebrating many more successes with all of you. Have a great week and Roll Tide!

Sincerely,

Stuart R. Bell
President

Fall semester update

As we enter the second half of the fall semester, it’s a good time to remind ourselves who we are as a university and what we value.

First, the scholarship and achievement of our students has been exceptional and is reflected in so many ways through awards and recognitions. This year more than 40 percent of our freshman class had a 30 or higher ACT score, placing them in the top five percent in the country. Our students have become engaged in service projects and given back to our community, and to one another. Our students excel at the highest levels when they arrive, while they are here, and after they graduate.

We also know campus life involves more than attending class and studying. The college years are a time of great maturation and learning life lessons we carry forward throughout our personal and professional lives.

Some of you are aware of last week’s social media conversations that involved several of our students. What began as a freedom of speech discussion about our students’ rights to either sit or stand during the national anthem turned into something so hostile that one student threatened another’s life. The student who made that threat was removed from campus and is no longer enrolled. We have heard from several students who felt threatened, and we have reassured them of our commitment to their safety and success.

For us to reach the aspirations we have penned through our Vision, Mission, and Capstone Creed – and for each of our students to achieve their own personal missions – we must continue to strive forward and be accepting and inclusive of all people. We must treat one another with the same dignity and respect we expect for ourselves, and be free of the hostility and egregious racial comments we witnessed last week.

We will not always agree with the opinions of other members of the UA community or invited speakers, but we can all pledge to seek common ground and shared understanding so we can live, study and work on a campus where diverse opinions are not only welcomed, but sought. And when we don’t agree with other’s opinions, we should express our disagreement with respectful and thoughtful speech.

We have such a great community, and I appreciate all of our efforts to support one another. I am committed to working toward ensuring this campus continues to be a welcoming and safe place for all, and I hope you will resolve to as well.

Roll Tide,

Stuart R. Bell
President