UA president: Growing numbers, quality students

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 20, 2011

UA scholarship winners Sydney Jones, Grace Spears and Maggie Jones with UA presdient Dr. Robert Witt (center) and Covington County Alumni Chapter prsident Amy Jones (right). Scholarship recipients not shown are Keri Bess, Haley Moody, Caitlin Pearce and Dylan Cook.

The University of Alabama is working to not only grow its enrollment, but also to make sure that its students emerge as better people.

That’s the message UA president Dr. Robert Witt delivered to the Covington County Alumni Association at its annual scholarship dinner Tuesday night.

“More than seven years ago, we set out to make this the university of choice for the best and brightest students,” he said.

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That year, the University received 7,4000 applications and had a freshman class of 2,600.

Last year, the University received more than 20,000 applications and enrolled more than 5,500. Forty-four percent of those students graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school classes; and 1,395 graduated with a 4.0 or higher.

In that class were 125 National Merit Scholars, making Alabama No. 6 in the country among the more than 600 universities who participate in the program.

“Some of the most able men and women from throughout the country,” he said.

So far, the University has received more than 22,000 applications for the 2011 fall class, and Witt said this year’s class will be even stronger than last year’s.

Witt said administrators have also worked to improve beauty of the campus and to make it a place where students learn ethics and values.

A faculty family lives in every residence hall, he said.

“It’s been a positive influence,” he said, adding that the presence of family improves maintenance and behavior.

“We’ve had students tell us they really do think twice about what they do when they know there are young children around,” he said.

The University also has instituted a policy in which incoming freshmen are invited by campus ministries to find a new church or synagogue home. The result has been growing campus churches.

“We want students to grow morally, ethically, in integrity, and in spirituality,” he said.

In the past eight years, the University has completed 41 new facilities, completing one on average every 90 days.

“We also are systematically renovating our older buildings,” he said.

UA’s financial stability during economically trying times has allowed it to recruit stronger faculty, he said.

“So many universities are not in a position to hire,” he said.

“We are in good shape financially, and we will get steadily stronger,” he said.