UA president: Many academic accomplishments to celebrate, too

Published 1:08 am Tuesday, April 23, 2019

The University of Alabama’s football team played in the national championship this past year; its men’s and women’s wheelchair basketball teams won national championships; its women’s softball team was ranked fifth in the nation as of Monday morning; and its track and field teams also are nationally ranked.

But the university’s academic achievements are no less stunning, UA President Dr. Stuart Bell told members of the Covington County Alumni Association at its scholarship reception Monday night.

For instance:

• UA has 53 Goldwater Scholars, the second highest in the nation, just behind Stanford and ahead of Harvard.

• The Carnegie Foundation has recognized UA with its “Very High Research Activity” status, also known as the R1 category, in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. Dr. Bell said the designation “demonstrates The University of Alabama’s increased emphasis on research and scholarship productivity and innovation that impacts economic and societal development.”

• Its Moot Court team, comprised of second year law school students, won first place in a national competition with teams from 150 law schools.

• UA is NO. 1 in the SEC for linking students with internships, and No. 10 in the nation.

• The Capstone College of Nursing is one of 16 in the nation designated as a National League of Nursing Center of Excellence.

“We pour ourselves into our students,” Bell said. “Our faculty cares. I cannot tell you how many times I am approached by students, alumni and families who say how much the appreciate what they received here.”

Bell said many alumni would not recognize the campus because it has changed so much.

“People tell me they can’t find their way around any more,” he said. “But it is still named one of the nation’s most beautiful campuses.”

UA just reopened a renovated H.M. Comer Hall, he said.

“Lakeside Dining is not the cafeteria food I remember,” he said. “When it opened last year, I went over, and jokingly said to the chef, ‘I should have brought a steak.’ He told me I was in luck because it was steak day.

“They make homemade popsicles, homemade taco shells, and have a gluten free section.”

The Bryant Museum also has been renovated, he said, and there is a new radio station. A new parking deck will add 1,000 parking spaces.

Turning to the University’s acquisition of the adjacent Bryce Hospital property, Bell said that in 1945, the hospital had 16 wings.

“It was the largest building in the United States until the Pentagon was built,” he said. “Now we have the main building and two arms, and are adding a performance center in the back.”

UA is in the midst of a $105 million fundraising campaign for the facility, and is approximately $5 million away from being ready to break ground, he said.

“In 10 days, we will graduate 6,000 students, and I will shake every one of their hands,” Bell said. “Each had a dream to change the world or t heir small part of it.

“Some of them will come back to Andalusia or go to Atlanta or L.A. They will carry the values we have with them, and I could not be more proud.

“But we cannot wait to get you on campus and help you move to that goal, too,” he told the scholarship winners.