Category: Messages from the 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

A New Year at the Capstone

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

As we begin a new year at the Capstone, I am thrilled to see so many new faces on campus, both students and faculty, and I look forward to all of the opportunities and successes we will celebrate together. It’s also great to welcome back our continuing students as you look toward completing your degrees and our excellent faculty who are returning to engage students in classes and projects throughout the year.

I’m sure many of you have noticed more than a few improvements to our campus. University Boulevard has an inviting new look, complete with landscaped medians and a newly smoothed surface. The new Corner Supe Store on Bryant Drive has an extensive selection of books, school supplies and other merchandise and also includes a friendly coffee shop and welcoming study space. Our new classroom building, North Lawn Hall, as well as a newly renovated Moody Music Building are truly inspiring student learning and performance spaces. These (and more) are fantastic additions to our campus map.

Another update you will hear a great deal about over the coming weeks is our Strategic Plan, which will serve as a roadmap for us to achieve our aspirations over the next five years and beyond. I offer my deepest thanks to the Planning Council and all involved in developing our new plan over the past year – well done! An overarching goal of the Strategic Plan is to reinforce our shared commitment to excel in all we do at The University of Alabama – in our classrooms, in our research laboratories, on our stages and in our galleries, on our athletic and intramural fields, in our organizations and in our service to the community. It is through our primary responsibilities of teaching, research and service we work daily to enhance the lives of all we touch.

One of the first initiatives of this plan will be the search for and appointment of an equity, inclusion and diversity officer responsible for the organizational oversight and assessment of plans, programs and activities that enhance equity and inclusion on our campus. I know we will all look forward to working with this individual and seeing a unified approach across our campus to ensure we offer an inclusive and welcoming environment that encourages all of us to reach our greatest potential.

Another very important search underway is for our provost. I would like to thank the search committee members in advance for their upcoming work and for volunteering to serve our University in this way.

Finally, I hope each of you will take a moment to refresh your memory of the Capstone Creed and consider how you can demonstrate your commitment to the important values we all share. Remember to check out Get On Board Day and other events to find unique ways you can get involved with organizations and clubs that will connect you with other students who share your interests.

I am just as eager as you to see what the new year will bring, but I am confident we have many exciting adventures ahead and that this will be an exceptional year for our University. I am delighted that each of you has joined us on this journey, and I wish you the greatest success this semester.

Roll Tide!

Stuart R. Bell

2015-16 Highlights Video

The University of Alabama has just finished another successful academic year. It began with record-breaking enrollment of 37,100 students, and ended with the presentation of more than 5,300 degrees last week.

Students, faculty and staff have again distinguished themselves academically and professionally, and UA has continued to grow in world-class facilities, and in overall quality and reputation. Our sports teams have excelled at the national level, and we have brought home another national championship. Our students have contributed over a million hours of service that made a difference at home and abroad.

I’m happy to share with you this video, highlighting these and many other successes of the past year, successes the entire UA community made possible.

Stuart R. Bell
President

Strategic Plan Update

In case you were not able to attend today’s Faculty/Staff meeting, I want to share the gist of my remarks. Today, we are pleased to announce the four pillars of the University’s new strategic plan.

These four pillars, or goals, are as follows:

  • To provide a premier undergraduate and graduate education that offers a global perspective and is characterized by outstanding teaching, high-quality scholarship and distinctive curricular and co-curricular programs.
  • To increase the University’s productivity and innovation in research, scholarship and creative activities that impact socio-economic development.
  • To enrich the learning and work environment by providing an accepting, inclusive community that attracts and supports a diverse faculty, staff and student body.
  • To provide opportunities and resources that promote work-life balance and enhance the recruitment and retention of outstanding faculty and staff.

The University’s mission and vision will remain the same, but how we achieve that mission and vision will change as it is captured through the goals of our faculty, students and staff. These goals will move us in the direction of where we aspire to be.

Many voices were heard throughout our strategic planning process. We received input from students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, retirees and community members. This is everyone’s plan. We are all the University, and we are grateful for the valuable ideas and insights that all of these groups and individuals provided to us.

In particular, I want to thank our Strategic Planning Council, which has been led by Interim Provost Kevin Whitaker. They have been working since December.

Milla Boschung Dean Human Environmental Sciences
Jennifer Clark Past-president Professional Staff Assembly
Lynda Gilbert Vice President Financial Affairs and
Treasurer for The University of Alabama
Todd Hester Past-president Office, Clerical, & Technical Staff Assembly
Peter Hlebowitsh Dean College of Education
Burcu Keskin Assoc. Professor Information Systems, Statistics, and Management
Systems (C&BA)
Michael Kreger Professor Civil, Construction, & Environmental Engineering
John Lochman Professor Psychology
Donna Meester President Faculty Senate
Rosalind Moore Director Undergraduate & Graduate Student Involvement
Carl Pinkert Vice President Research and Economic Development
Samory Pruitt Vice President Community Affairs
Marie Robbins Assoc. Athletics Dir. Intercollegiate Athletics
Elliot Spillers Past-president Student Government Association

I hope you’ll join me in thanking them for their dedication and the countless hours they have spent on this important endeavor. Their work will now center on the next phase, which is discussing the objectives for each pillar before we roll out the full plan this fall.

We have much more work to do in the coming months, but we are well on our way. Thank you for your participation, and Roll Tide!

Stuart R. Bell
President

Middle of spring semester update

I hope you are having a great spring semester at the Capstone. I’ve just returned from a visit to the White House with our national championship football team, and it reminded me of all the recent successes on our campus.

Congratulations to the newly elected SGA officers, who will be led by Lillian Roth, a political science major from Montgomery. Lillian’s executive team includes students not only from Alabama, but also from Illinois, New Jersey, Missouri and Wisconsin. I know we all look forward to working with them in the coming year.

Just two weeks ago, the UA Adapted Athletics Program was the recipient of a generous contribution pledged from alumni Michael and Kathy Mouron. The Mouron’s $3 million gift will help build a world-class training facility and competition venue for the more than 100 students who participate in competitive and noncompetitive sports each year. As part of this celebration, I was honored to present the women’s wheelchair basketball team with their national championship rings.

On Feb. 19, the new Sewell-Thomas Stadium, one of the premier college baseball facilities in the nation, opened to a sell-out crowd. I hope you’ll find time to come out and enjoy a ballgame this spring.

Also last month, The University of Alabama was recognized by the Chronicle of Higher Education as a top producing institution for student Fulbright awards with 11 of 30 UA applicants having received the award during 2015–2016. This highly competitive program gives grants to just 1,500 students each year for independent study, research projects and English teaching assistantships overseas. Please join me in congratulating all of them.

Dr. Angelica Almeyda Zambrano and Dr. Eben Broadbent, both in the UA Geography Department, co-authored research that was published recently in an online edition of Nature, the world’s most highly cited interdisciplinary scientific journal. Nature publishes only 8 percent of research papers submitted due to rigorous selection criteria.

Looking ahead, we will recognize many on our campus during Honors Week, April 4-8. I commend them for their commitment to excellence, and I look forward to speaking with them at various events that week. Among the honors to be publicly presented that week are the Premier Awards, the University’s top individual honors for scholarship, leadership and service. Honored at the recent Premier Awards dinner were students Mackenzie Ross, Mary Lieb, Rachel Ramey, Shuwen Yue, Derek Carter and Katie Plott, and faculty Dr. Marilyn Whitman and Dr. A.J. (Lonnie) Strickland.

Also, our strategic plan continues to take shape, and I appreciate those of you who gave voice to your thoughts at listening sessions, via email and through the online survey. Our Strategic Planning Council and its subcommittees have been working diligently to produce a plan, which will guide our university in the coming years.

Finally, as you head to various destinations or remain in Tuscaloosa for the upcoming holiday break, please remember to get some rest and relaxation, enjoy yourselves and be safe.

Stuart R. Bell
President

Start of spring semester update

Welcome back to campus! I hope you had a wonderful holiday break and enjoyed spending time with your family and friends. The beginning of the Spring semester is always a good time to build on all the positive things that began in the Fall.

We closed 2015 with a successful United Way campaign. The University of Alabama pledged nearly $398,000. Many thanks to the School of Social Work and the campus coordinating committee for leading our efforts to support United Way of West Alabama’s 26 partner service agencies. These agencies provide a variety of education, income-related, health and emergency response programs to citizens throughout West Alabama.

I know you join me in congratulating the football team for winning its 16th national championship earlier this week. Their victory serves as a great reminder of what teamwork, focus, determination and hard work can accomplish. We’ll be announcing the details of a campus celebration very soon. And, since fan support is a big part of every team’s success, please take some time to support all our athletic teams who are playing this Spring.

As we look toward events and activities in February, the 2016 Alabama legislative session will kick off in early February. Alabama Unites is one of the critical ways that all Alabamians can work together to create future success through new jobs and sustained economic growth. Sign up today and find out how you can get involved in making sure Alabama provides a first-class education system for all students. Please visit www.ALUnites.org to let our elected officials know the importance of adequate funding for education at all levels in our state.

UA has been a founding member of the Realizing the Dream initiative since it began in 1989, and this year’s event promises to be spectacular. Activities include the Legacy Banquet on Friday, Jan. 15, and a concert by award-winning South African artist Jonathan Butler on Sunday, Jan. 17. Tickets for both events are on sale through the Moody Music Building box office. Activities on Unity Day begin with breakfast at 7 a.m., followed by the march at noon and conclude with a rally at 5 p.m. at the First African Baptist Church.  For more information about Realizing the Dream activities, visit http://uanews.ua.edu/2015/12/south-african-artist-headlines-2016-realizing-the-dream-events-at-ua/

I hope you will remember to participate in UA’s strategic planning process by providing your feedback and input.

We have much to celebrate and much to look forward to this Spring!

Roll Tide!

Stuart R. Bell
President

End of fall semester update

Dear UA Students, Faculty and Staff:

As the fall semester comes to a close and we prepare to celebrate the joys and blessings of the holiday season with family and friends, I want to tell you how much I appreciate your hard work and dedication. Your tireless efforts allow our students, and the University, to succeed.

In August, we welcomed a record-setting, academically talented freshman class. Throughout the semester, we have also read about the remarkable accomplishments of our faculty and students, all of which add tremendous value to our University.

Next week, we will celebrate commencement, which marks the culmination of years of hard work for our students and the beginning of the rest of their journey. I hope you’ll welcome our visitors, and join me in offering heartfelt congratulations to our graduates as they go into the world prepared to assume leadership roles and successfully compete in a global economy.

To our students, good luck during exam week. And, I wish all of you a happy and safe holiday break.

We’re looking forward to a great 2016!

Stuart R. Bell