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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