University of Alabama

University of Alabama
University of Alabama
Established 1831
Type Flagship
Public university
Endowment US$632 million
President Dr. Robert E. Witt
Academic staff 1,175
Students 31,747
Undergraduates 26,234
Location Tuscaloosa, Alabama, United States
Campus Urban (small city);
1,000 acres (400 ha)
Athletics 19 Varsity sports
25 Club sports
Colors Crimson and White         
Nickname Crimson Tide
Mascot Big Al
Affiliations Southeastern Conference (NCAA Division I)
UA text logo.png

The University of Alabama (commonly referred to as Alabama, UA or, colloquially, Bama) is a public coeducational university located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, United States.

Founded in 1831, it is the flagship university of the University of Alabama System, as well the senior and the largest in terms of enrollment among all of the state's universities. It is known as The Capstone, a nickname that stems from a 1913 speech by then-president George H. Denny, who extolled the university as the "capstone of the public school system in the state." UA offers programs of study in 13 academic divisions leading to bachelor's, master's, Education Specialist, and doctoral degrees. The only publicly-supported law school in Alabama is at UA. Other academic programs unavailable elsewhere in Alabama include doctoral programs in anthropology, library and information studies, metallurgical engineering, music, Romance languages, and social work.

As one of the first public universities established in early 19th century southwestern frontier of the US, UA left a vast cultural imprint on the state, region and nation as a whole for the past two centuries. The school was a center of activity during the American Civil War and the Civil Rights movement. The University of Alabama varsity football program (nicknamed the Crimson Tide), which began in 1892, is one the most successful programs in history.



View of the Quad in 1859. The Rotunda can be seen at center, with the halls visible in the background. All buildings depicted were destroyed on April 4, 1865.

In 1818, Congress authorized the newly created Alabama Territory to set aside a township for the establishment of a "seminary of learning". When Alabama was admitted to the Union on December 14, 1819, a second township was added to the land grant, bringing it to a total of 46,000 acres (186 km²). The General Assembly of Alabama established the seminary on December 18, 1820, named it "The University of the State of Alabama", and created a Board of Trustees to manage the construction and operation of the university.[1] The board chose as the site of the campus a place which was then just outside the city limits of Tuscaloosa, the state capital at the time.[2] The new campus was designed by William Nichols, also the architect of newly completed Alabama State Capitol building and Christ Episcopal Church. Influenced by Thomas Jefferson's plan at the University of Virginia, the Nichols-designed campus featured a 70-foot (21 m) wide, 70-foot (21 m) high domed Rotunda that served as the library and nucleus of the campus.[3] The university's charter was presented to the first university president in the nave of Christ Episcopal Church. Alabama opened its doors to students on April 18, 1831, with the Reverend Alva Woods as President.[4]

A view of either Tuomey Hall or Oliver-Barnard Hall, one the first buildings constructed after the university reopened after the Civil War, in 1907

An academy-style institution during the Antebellum period, the university emphasized the classics and the social and natural sciences. There were around 100 students per year at UA in the 1830s.[1] However, as Alabama was a frontier state and a sizable amount of its territory was still in the hand of various Native American tribes until the 1840s, it lacked the infrastructure to adequately prepare students for the rigors of university education. Consequently, only a fraction of students who enrolled in the early years remained enrolled for long and even fewer graduated.[4] Those who did graduate, however, often had distinguished careers in Alabama and national politics. Early graduates included Benjamin Porter and Alexander Meek.

As the state and university matured, an active literary culture evolved on campus and in Tuscaloosa. UA had one of the largest libraries in the country on the eve of the Civil War with more than 7,000 volumes. There were several thriving literary societies, including the Erosophic and the Phi Beta Kappa societies, which frequently had lectures by such distinguished politicians and literary figures as United States Supreme Court Justice John A. Campbell, novelist William Gilmore Simms, and Professor Frederick Barnard (later president of Columbia University).[4]

Discipline and student behavior was a major issue at the university almost from the day it opened. Early presidents attempted to enforce strict rules regarding conduct.[1] Students were prohibited from drinking, swearing, making unauthorized visits off-campus, or playing musical instruments outside of a one-hour time frame. Yet riots and gunfights were not an uncommon occurrence. To combat the severe discipline problem, president Landon Garland lobbied and received approval from the legislature in 1860 to transform the university into a military school.[4] As such, many of the cadets who graduated from the school went on to serve as officers in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. As a consequence of that role, Union troops burned down the campus on April 4, 1865, which was unrelated to Sherman's March to the Sea several months earlier and farther east, in Georgia. Only four buildings survived the burning: the President's Mansion (1841), Gorgas House (1829), Little Round House (1860), and Old Observatory (1844).[3]

George Wallace's "stand in the schoolhouse door".

The university reopened in 1871 and in 1880, Congress granted the university 40,000 acres (162 km²) of coal land in partial compensation for $250,000 in war damages.[2] The military structure was dropped approximately a decade after the school was officially opened to women in 1892 after much lobbying by Julia Tutwiler to the Board of Trustees.[1]

During World War II, Alabama was one of 131 colleges and universities nationally that took part in the V-12 Navy College Training Program which offered students a path to a Navy commission.[5]

The first attempt to integrate the university occurred in 1956 when Autherine Lucy successfully enrolled on February 3 as a graduate student in library sciences after having secured a court order preventing the university from rejecting her application on the basis of race. In the face of violent protests against her attendance, Lucy was suspended (and later outright expelled) three days later by the board of trustees on the basis of being unable to provide a safe learning environment for her. The university was not successfully integrated until 1963 when Vivian Malone and James Hood registered for classes on June 11.

Foster Auditorium and Malone-Hood Plaza today. Lucy Clock Tower is in the foreground.

Governor George Wallace made his infamous "Stand in the Schoolhouse Door," standing in the front entrance of Foster Auditorium in a symbolic attempt to stop Malone and Hood's enrollment. When confronted by US Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach and federal marshals sent in by Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, Wallace stepped aside. President John F. Kennedy had called for the integration of the University of Alabama as well.[6] Although Hood dropped out of school after two months, he subsequently returned and, in 1997, received his Ph.D. in philosophy. Malone persisted in her studies and became the first African American to graduate from the university. In 2000, the university granted her a doctorate of humane letters. Autherine Lucy's expulsion was rescinded in 1980, and she successfully re-enrolled and graduated with a master's degree in 1992. Later in his life, Wallace apologized for his opposition at that time to racial integration. In 2010, the university formally honored Lucy, Hood and Malone by rechristening the plaza in front of Foster Auditorium as Malone-Hood Plaza and erecting a clock tower - Autherine Lucy Clock Tower - in the plaza.

On April 27, 2011, Tuscaloosa was hit by a tornado with a rating of at least EF4 on the Enhanced Fujita scale. The tornado left a large path of complete destruction but spared the campus. Six students who lived on off-campus premises were confirmed dead by the university.[7] Due to the infrastructural damage of the city (approx. 12% of the city) and the loss of life, the university cancelled the rest of the spring semester and postponed graduation.


Denny Chimes on the Quad
The President's Mansion, opposite Denny Chimes
The Alabama Museum of Natural History at Smith Hall

From a small campus of seven buildings in the wilderness on the main road between Tuscaloosa and Huntsville (now University Boulevard) in the 1830s, UA has grown to a massive 1,800-acre (730 ha) campus in the heart of Tuscaloosa today. There are 297 buildings on campus containing some 10,600,000 square feet (980,000 m2) of space.[8] The university also maintains the University of Alabama Arboretum in eastern Tuscaloosa and the Dauphin Island Sea Lab on Dauphin Island. According to Campus Squeeze's 20 Most Beautiful Colleges in the USA rankings, the University of Alabama's campus was ranked 17th among both public and private colleges.[9]

The University of Alabama recently added 168 acres to its campus after purchasing the Bryce Hospital property in 2010. They also plan to acquire more land to accommodate the continuing growth of the enrollment.[10]


The campus is anchored around the 22-acre (8.9 ha) Quad, which sits is the site of the original campus designed by William Nichols. The Quad is about the same size as that original campus and lies at the rough geographic center of the modern campus (though recent asymmetrical expansion of the campus northward and eastward has shifted the exact geographic center away). It is cut in half by a line connecting the Gorgas Library on the north end and Denny Chimes, a campanile equipped with a 25-bell carillon, on the south. The west side of the Quad is filled by a grove of trees while the east side of the Quad is open field.

Academic buildings are groups in smaller groups and quads surrounding the main Quad itself. Woods Quad, lies immediately north of the main Quad, was the center of the rebuilt post-Civil War campus before the center shift back to the Quad. Woods Quad is home to Clark Hall, the home of the College of Arts & Sciences, and the homes of several of the fine arts and humanities departments. To the east of Quad are buildings housing most of the science and math departments. Engineering Row, the traditional home of the departments of the College of Engineering, is located to the northeast. Northwest of the Quad are buildings housing humanities and social sciences departments. To the west of the Quad lie the buildings of the colleges of Commerce and Education. Finally, the College of Communication and Information Sciences, the College of Human Environmental Sciences, and the School of Social Work flank the Quad to the south from west to east, respectively.

As the university has grown more academic buildings have moved further out from the Quad. The Science and Engineering Complex on the northeast periphery of the campus will house many science and engineering departments. The facilities of the School of Law, the School of Music (a division of the College of Arts and Sciences), the College of Nursing, and the College of Community Health Sciences are located on the far eastern edges of campus. The College of Continuing Education is located in Parham Hall further south of the Quad.

Further out from the Quad are more student support services and research facilities that are not vital to the day to day needs of students. The Ferguson Center, the student center on campus is located north of Woods Quads. One of the three main dining halls is located in "The Ferg". The other two dining halls are located closer to the dorms on the north and south sides of campus (Lakeside Dining Hall on the north and Burke Dining Hall on the south). Most residence halls are located on the north and south sides of campus. Commuter parking decks on located on the periphery of campus, as are student recreational facilities, such as the intramural fields and the Campus Recreation Center.

Athletic facilities generally flank the far southern and far eastern edges of campus. Bryant-Denny Stadium is in the southwestern edge of the campus and Coleman Coliseum is in the southeastern edge of campus, near the law school.

The entire campus has been served since 2007 by the CrimsonRide shuttle bus system.[11]

In 2011, the Sustainable Endowments Institute gave the university a College Sustainability Report Card grade of "B+."[12]


UA is home to several museums, cultural facilities and historical landmarks.

The Alabama Museum of Natural History at Smith Hall exhibits Alabama's rich natural history. The oddest artifact there could be the Sylacauga meteorite, the largest known extraterrestrial object to strike a human being who survived. The Paul W. Bryant Museum houses memorabilia and exhibits on the history of Alabama athletic programs, most notably the tenure of football coach Paul "Bear" Bryant. Athletic trophies and awards are displayed at the Mal Moore Athletic Building near the Bryant Museum. The Sarah Moody Gallery of Art at Garland Hall hosts revolving exhibitions of contemporary art, including from the university's own permanent collection. The Ferguson Art Gallery at the Ferguson Center also hosts revolving art exhibitions. The Jones Archaeological Museum at Moundville exhibits the history of Mississippian culture in Alabama.

Numerous historical landmarks dot the campus, including the President's Mansion, Denny Chimes, Foster Auditorium (a National Historical Landmark), the Gorgas–Manly Historic District, and Maxwell Observatory.

Campus culture facilities include the Allen Bales Theater, the Marion Gallaway Theater, Morgan Auditorium, and the Frank M. Moody Music Building,[13] which houses the Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra and the UA Opera Theatre, as well as three resident choirs.

Organization and administration

Academic Divisions of the University of Alabama
College/school Created[1]

College of Arts and Sciences (A&S) 1909
Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration (C&BA) 1929
College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS) 1997
College of Community Health Sciences (CHS) 1971
College of Continuing Studies 1983
College of Education 1928
College of Engineering 1909
Graduate School 1924
Honors College 2003
College of Human Environmental Sciences (HES) 1987
School of Law 1892
Capstone College of Nursing 1975
School of Social Work 1975

The University of Alabama is an autonomous institution within the University of Alabama System, which is governed by the Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama and headed by Chancellor of the University of Alabama. The board was created by the Legislature to govern the operations of the university. It's responsibilities include setting policy for the university, determining the mission and scope of the university, and assuming ultimate responsibility for the university to the public and the Legislature.[14] It is self-nominating and composed of 15 elected members and two ex officio members. The makeup of the Board is dictated by the Constitution of the State of Alabama, and requires that the board be made up of three members from the congressional district that contains the Tuscaloosa campus, and two members from every other congressional district in Alabama. Board members are elected by the Board and are confirmed by the Alabama State Senate. Board members may serve three consecutive six-year terms.[15]

The President of the University of Alabama is the principal executive officer of the university and is appointed by the chancellor with approval of the Board of Trustees. The president reports directly to the chancellor, and is responsible for the daily operations of the university.[14] The president's office is located on the third floor of the Rose Administration Building, and the president has the privilege of living in the President's Mansion on campus. Robert Witt is the 26th and current president of the University of Alabama and has served since 2003.[16] Prior to his arrival in Tuscaloosa, Witt was president of the University of Texas at Arlington.[17]

The university faculty numbers 1,175 and the staff numbers 3,513.[18] 829 held the rank of assistant professor or higher. 922 faculty members were full time. 527 were tenured with 244 on tenure track. 13.8% (114) were minorities and 34.7% (287) were women.[citation needed]

Colleges and academic divisions

Clark Hall is home of the College of Arts and Sciences

There are 13 academic divisions at the University of Alabama (see the table). Eight of those divisions (A&S, C&BA, C&IS, Education, Engineering, HES, Nursing and Social Work) grant undergraduate degrees. Degrees in those eight divisions at the master's, specialist, and doctoral level are awarded through the Graduate School. The law school offers J.D. and LL.M. degree programs. CHS provides advanced studies in medicine and related disciplines and operates a family practice residency program. Medical students are also trained in association with the University of Alabama School of Medicine, from which they receive their degree.

The College of Continuing Studies provides correspondence courses and other types of distance education opportunities for non-traditional students. It operates a distance education facility in Gadsden.

Founded in 1971 and merged into the College of Arts and Sciences in 1996, the New College program allows undergraduate students more flexibility in choosing their curriculum while completing a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Sciences degree. The program allows students to create a "depth study" in a particular field chosen by the student. The student completes approved independent studies alongside their normal coursework. The objective of New College is to inspire interdisciplinary learning at the undergraduate level.

The Honors College is a non-degree granting division that encompasses all the university's honors programs.


The University of Alabama System's financial endowment was valued at $796.49 million in the National Association of College and University Business Officers' (NACUBO) 2009 ranking, down 20.2% from its 2008 value.[19] UA's portion of the system's endowment was valued at over $515 million in September 2008.[20]

In 2002, the university embarked on a $500 million capital campaign entitled "Our Students. Our Future."[21] The focus of the campaign was stated to be "student scholarships, faculty support, campus facilities and priority needs" by adding $250 million to university endowment and an additional $250 to the non-endowed funds.[22] The "quiet phase" (which lasted until 2006) of the campaign raised $299 million. In November 2007, the university announced that it had raised $428 million.[23] The $500 million goal was surpassed in May 2008 and when the campaign officially concluded in 2009, it had raised $612 million.[24]

It was recently reported that The University of Alabama's 2010 financial endowment was valued at $631,947,260.[25]


Shelby Hall is the center of the Science and Engineering Complex, a 1,000,000 sq.ft teaching and research facility that is scheduled to be completed in 2013.

The University of Alabama is a large, four-year primarily residential research university accredited by the South Association of Colleges and Schools.[26][27] Full-time, four-year undergraduates comprise a large amount of the total university enrollment. The undergraduate instructional program emphasizes professional programs of study as well as the liberal arts, and there a high level of co-existence between the graduate and undergraduate program. The university has a "high level" of research activity (below the highest "very high level" classification) and has a "comprehensive doctoral" graduate instructional program in the liberal arts, humanities, social sciences and STEM fields, though it lacks health and veterinary sciences professional programs.

UA conferred 6,003 degrees in academic year 2009-2010, including 4,284 bachelor's degrees, 1,339 master's degrees, 209 doctorates and 171 professional degrees.[18] Latin honors are conferred on graduates completing a bachelor's degree for the first time (including at other universities) with a overall grade point average of at least 3.5. Cum laude honors are conferred to graduates with a GPA of 3.5 or greater and less than 3.7 (without rounding). Magna cum laude honors are conferred with a GPA of 3.7 or greater and less than 3.9. Summa cum laude honors are conferred with a GPA of 3.9 or higher.[28]

The university follows a standard academic calendar based on the semester system, which divides the academic year, starting in mid-August, into two 15-week semesters (fall and spring) and the summer. The fall semester ends in December and the spring term lasts from January to early May. The summer, which lasts from mid-May to August, is divided into a 3-week "mini-semester" in May and two four-week sessions in June and July, respectively.[29]

Student body profile

Demographics of student body[30][31]
Undergraduate Graduate Professional Total Alabama U.S. Census
White 82.5% 73.0% 83.8% 81.0% 72.14% 63.7%
Black 12.4% 13.2% 9.7% 12.4% 26.70% 12.6%
Hispanic or Latino 2.4% 2.4% 1.3% 2.4% 2.34 16.3%
Asian 1.2% 1.9% 3.5% 1.4% 1.02% 4.8%
Native American/
Alaska Native
0.9% 1.2% 0.6% 0.9% 0.98% 0.9%
Native Hawaiian/
Pacific Islander
0.1% 0.2% 0.0% 0.1% 0.07% 0.2%
Undeclared 0.2% 0.4% 0.6% 0.3% 2.0% 6.2%
International student 1.9% 10.0% 0.5% 3.2 N/A N/A

In fall 2010, the university had an enrollment of 30,322, consisting of 24,884 undergraduates; 4,726 graduate students, and 622 professional degree students from all 67 Alabama counties and all 50 states.[32][33] 96.8% of all students were citizens or permanent residents and 3.2% were nonresident aliens. Students from 61 foreign countries comprised 2.6% of the student body.[30]

The five Alabama counties with the highest enrollment of students are Jefferson, Tuscaloosa, Madison, Shelby and Mobile, while the five states (beside Alabama) with the highest enrollment of students are Georgia, Florida, Texas, Tennessee and Virginia.[32][33]

In fall 2010, the university received 20,112 applications for first-time freshman enrollment, of which 10,790 application were accepted and 5,519 freshman enrolled. 19.2% of the incoming freshman class submitted SAT scores; the middle 50 percent of those who report their SAT scored between 1470 and 1840 (490-620 Reading, 500-620 Math, 480-600 Writing). 77.6% submitted ACT sores; the middle 50 percent of those those who reported their ACT scored between 22 and 29 (20-27 Math, 22-27 English, 6-8 Writing). 82% of incoming freshman had a high school GPA of 3.00 or higher.[34]

In fall 2010, 32% of undergraduates were enrolled in A&S, 22% in C&BA, 9% in C&IS, 8% in Education, 11% in Engineering, 10% in HES, 6% in Nursing, 1% in Social Work, and 1% in Continuity Education.[30]

The University of Alabama ranked 12th in the nation among public universities in the enrollment of National Merit Scholars in 2007.[35]

UA graduates include 15 Rhodes Scholars,[36] 29 Goldwater Scholars,[37] 12 Truman Scholars,[38] 13 Hollings Scholars, two Javits Fellows, one Gates Scholar, one Portz Scholar, and one Udall Scholar.[citation needed] Numbers of UA graduates have been named to the USA Today All-USA College Academic Team.[39][40]


University rankings (overall)
Forbes[41] 119
U.S. News & World Report[42] 75
Washington Monthly[43] 131
QS[45] 401-450
Times[46] NR
Capstone College of Nursing

The University of Alabama has consistently ranked as a top 50 public university in the nation by the U.S. News & World Report and has a selectivity rating of "more selective".[47] In the 2011 USNWR rankings, UA was 79th in the National Universities category (34th among the public schools in the category).[48] UA had the highest ranking of any university in the state of Alabama.[49] Several of UA's college are ranked individually. In the 2011 USNWR ranking, the business school was ranked 57th (including a ranking of 27 for the accounting program) and the engineering school was ranked 98th.[48]

A ranking of colleges and universities published by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity in the May 19, 2008, edition of Forbes magazine ranked the UA seventh in the nation among public universities (42nd overall)[50]

In the 2011 USNWR Best Graduate Schools ranking, the law school ranked 35th, the business school ranked 63rd, the education school ranked 63rd, and the engineering school ranked 113th.[48] The College of Communication and Information Sciences’ doctoral program in mass communication is ranked seventh nationally by the National Communication Association.[citation needed] The most recent U.S. News rankings for communication graduate programs placed UA’s advertising program 12th and telecommunication 14th in the nation.[citation needed] Additionally, in March 2009, PRWeek magazine recognized the public relations program with an honorable mention in its award for PR Education Program of the Year 2009.[51]

The doctoral program in health education, a joint program of the University of Alabama and the University of Alabama at Birmingham, ranks seventh in the nation according to a recent study published in the Journal of Health Education.[citation needed]


Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library on the Quad

The University of Alabama has just under 3 million volumes, not including uncataloged government documents, in its total collection,[52] of which 2.5 million volumes are held by the University Libraries. Six separate libraries are part the University Libraries system.

The Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library, which sits on the Main Quad, is the oldest and largest of the university libraries. Gorgas Library holds the university's collections in the humanities and social sciences, as well as the university's depository of US government documents. The library opened in 1939 as a four-story Greek Revival structure on the site of the original university Rotunda and was named after the long-time university librarian and wife of eighth university president Josiah Gorgas. An seven-story addition was built behind the library in the 1970s.[53][54]

The Angelo Bruno Business Library, located in the Business Quad, is named after the co-founder of the Bruno's grocery chain who gave the university $4 million to create a library focusing on commerce and business studies.[55] Opened in 1994, the 64,000-square-foot (5,900 m2), three-story facility holds over 170,000 volumes. Bruno Library also houses the 9,500-square-foot (880 m2) Sloan Y. Bashinsky Sr. Computer Center.[56][57]

The Eric and Sarah Rodgers Library for Science and Engineering, located in the Science and Engineering Quad, is named after two popular, long-time professors of engineering and statistics, respectively. It opened in 1990 combining the Science Library collection in Lloyd Hall and the Engineering Library collection in the Mineral Industries Building (now known as HM Comer Hall). Rodgers Library was designed with help from IBM to incorporate the latest in informatics.[58] McLure Education Library was founded in 1954 in a remodeled student union annex (across the street from the old Student Union, now Reese Phifer Hall) and named in 1974 after John Rankin McLure, the longtime Dean of the College of Education.[59] The W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library, which holds the university's collection of rare and historical documents and books, is located in Mary Harmon Bryant Hall. The Library Annex holds seldom-used books and journals, as well as other volume which need special protection, that would otherwise take up valuable space in the libraries.

Other libraries on campus are independent of the University Libraries. The 66,000-square-foot (6,100 m2) Bounds Law Library, located at the Law Center, holds more than 300,000 volumes.[60] Established in 1978, the Health Sciences Library, located at the University Medical Center, serves students at the College of Community Health Sciences. Its 20,000-volume collection include clinical medicine, family practice, primary care, medical education, consumer health, and related healthcare topics. Located in Farah Hall (home of the Department of Geography) the Map Library and Place Names Research Center holds over 270,000 maps and 75,000 aerial photographs.[61] The William E. Winter Reading Room of the College of Communication and Information Sciences is located in Reese Phifer Hall and holds over 10,000 volumes.[62] The School of Social Work Reading Room is located in Little Hall and just around 200 volumes.[63]

UA is one of the 126 members of the Association of Research Libraries, which yearly compiles internal rankings. In 2011, the University of Alabama ranked 56th among all criteria, a marked improvement over a 2003 ranking of 97th.[64]

In the fall of 2011, the University of Alabama Trustees approve a resolution to expand Gorgas Library by 50,000 sqft, doubling the seating capacity from 1,139 to 2,278. This expansion will also signal the beginning of the construction of an Academic Honors Plaza, between the library and Clark Hall. The plaza will include green-space, fountains, benches, and decorative lighting.[65][66]


In FY 2010, UA received $68.6 million in government research contracts and grants.[18] The Alabama International Trade Center and the Center for Advanced Public Safety are two research centers at UA.

Student life

With more than 30,000 students enrolled, the university has a substantial student life component. With the increasing enrollment, faculty have been added to limit increases in student to instructor ratio.[67] Student housing,[67] and other facilities are being added to accommodate the growth.

Residential life

When the board of trustees chose for the location of the UA campus a field a mile away from the center of the town of Tuscaloosa (a considerable distance in the early 19th century Alabama), they consciously chose to make on-campus residence an integral part of the student experience at UA. Dormitories were among the first buildings erected at Alabama (the remains of one (Franklin Hall) is now the Mound on the Quad), and student residential life has been emphasized at UA ever since. Today nearly 30% of students live on campus, including over 90% of first-year freshmen.[34]

The Office of Housing and Residential Communities manages 18 housing communities for undergraduate students. Housing options range from traditional dormitories with community bathroom to suite-style dorms to full-amenity apartments. Housing is clustered for the most part on the northern and southern sides of campus, with the newest housing on the northern side of campus. Due the rapid increase in enrollment in recent years and freshman residence requirement, most housing on campus is reserved for freshmen, with housing given to upperclassmen where room is available. Most upperclassmen, and all graduate students, married students and students with family live off campus. A variety of apartment complexes, converted family homes and condos are available off-campus.

Student government

The Student Government Association is the primary student advocacy organization at UA. The SGA is governed by the SGA Constitution[68] and consists of a legislative branch, an executive branch and a judicial council. The legislative branch is composed of the Senate and the First Year Council. The Senate is composed of 50 members elected by proportional representation of the total student enrollment from each of the degree-granting colleges (i.e. all but Honors, Community Health Sciences, and Continuing Studies). The Senate is headed by a speaker that is chosen from among the membership of the Senate. The executive branch is composed of the Executive Council and the Executive Cabinet. The Executive Council is composed of the seven constitutional officers who are elected by the entirety of the student body and the appointed Chief of Staff while the Executive Cabinet is composed of non-constitutional appointed executive officers. The Executive Council is also empowered by the constitution to created with the assent of the Senate any number of appointed director positions to assist in the council in the fulfillment of its duties. The Judicial Council is composed of the Chief Justice, who is elected by the whole of the student body, and any number of appointed associate justices and judicial clerks.

Other important student advocacy organizations include the Graduate Student Association, the Student Bar Association, and the Honors College Assembly.

Greek life

Fraternity Row, circa 1943
Pi Kappa Phi, Omicron Chapter

Greek letter organizations (GLOs) first appeared at the university in 1847 when two men visiting from Yale University installed a chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon.[69] When DKE members began holding secret meetings in the old state capitol building that year, the administration strongly voiced its disapproval.[4] Over a few more decades, five other fraternities appeared at Alabama: Phi Gamma Delta in 1855, Sigma Alpha Epsilon in 1856 (this was the founding chapter), Kappa Sigma in 1870, Sigma Nu in 1874, and Phi Delta Theta in 1877.[70] Anti-fraternity laws were imposed in that year, but were lifted in 1890s.[4] Women at the university founded the Zeta Chapter of Kappa Delta sorority in 1903. Alpha Delta Pi soon followed.[70]

In fall 2009, the university sanctioned 29 men's and 23 women's GLOs.[70] Additionally, an unknown number of non-sanctioned GLOs also existed. Four governing boards oversee the operations of the university-sanctioned GLOs: the Interfraternity Council (IFC), the Panhellenic Association, the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) and the Unified Greek Council (UGC).

In 2010, 29% of male undergraduates were in university-sanctioned fraternities, including 32% of male freshman. 38% of women undergraduates, including 43% of female freshman were in university-sanctioned sororities.[34]

The number of men in GLOs more than doubled from 2002 to 2009, with fifteen fraternities reporting active memberships of more than one hundred (where as recently as 2001 none reported memberships greater than 100). Following 2008 fall recruitment, almost all Panhellenic sororities participating through all rounds had potential new member class sizes of 80 or more; nearly all Panhellenic sororities also now have more than 200 total members. To accommodate growth in the student population since 2005, the university has sanctioned three new fraternities and two new sororities.[70] Additionally, four new sorority houses will be added built behind the President's Mansion.[71]

SGA controversy

Since its founding in 1914, a secretive coalition of fraternities and sororities, commonly known as "The Machine", has wielded enormous influence over the Student Government Association. Occurrences of harassment, intimidation, and even criminal activities aimed at opposition candidates have been reported. Many figures in local, state, and national politics have come out of the SGA at the University of Alabama. (Esquire magazine devoted its April 1992 cover story to an exposé of the Machine.)

Honor societies

Several honors societies are present at the University of Alabama. Some honor societies are national organizations with local chapter while other are local organizations.

  • Alpha Epsilon Delta, a national association for academic achievement by health preprofessional students; invitations awarded under various criteria
  • Alpha Lambda Delta, a national association for academic achievement for students who have maintained a minimum grade-point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale and are in the top-twenty percent of their class during their first year or term of higher education
  • Alpha Psi Omega, a national association for collegiate theatre students; invitations awarded under various programs
  • Alpha Sigma Mu
  • Anderson Society
  • Arnold Air Society, a national service organization advocating the support of aerospace power; open to officer candidates, based on academic and physical achievement, in Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps and at the United States Air Force Academy; invitations awarded under various criteria
  • Blue Key
  • Cardinal Key
  • Delta Phi Alpha
  • Druids
  • Elliot Society
  • Gamma Beta Phi
  • Golden Key International Honour Society, an international organization for academic achievement among college and university students in all disciplines; invitations to join awarded to top-fifteen percent of college or university sophomores, juniors and seniors, second- and third-year students and top-performing U.S. graduate students, based solely on the criteria of their academic achievements
  • HPSA
  • Jasons Men's Senior Honorary
  • Lambda Pi Eta, a national organization for academic achievement by communication-studies students
  • Lambda Sigma, a national organization for academic achievement; invitations to join awarded to eligible sophomores based on freshman-year academic achievement
  • Mallet Assembly, an honors program of the university (Tuscaloosa only)
  • Mortar Board
  • National Society of Collegiate Scholars, a national organization for academic achievement; invitations awarded to first- and second-year college students who rank in the top-twenty percent of their class and have a minimum grade-point average of 3.4 on a 4.0 scale
  • Nu Delta Alpha
  • Order of Omega
  • Omicron Delta Kappa, a national organization for overall achievement; invitations awarded to top-one-quarter-of-one percent of students on their respective campuses
  • Phi Eta Sigma, a national organization for academic achievement; invitations awarded to first-year student with a minimum grade-point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale at the end of a full curricular period
  • Pi Mu Epsilon, a national organization for academic achievement by mathematics students; invitations awarded under various criteria
  • Pi Sigma Phi
  • Rho Alpha Tau
  • Sigma Alpha Lambda
  • Sigma Tau Delta, an international organization for academic achievement by English-literature students; invitations awarded under various criteria
  • The Somerville Assembly is an organization for overall achievement; invitations awarded under various criteria
  • Who's Who
  • XXXI Women's Senior Honorary

Student media

Numerous media outlets are operated by or in conjunction with the university. Student-produced media outlets are all managed by the Office of Student Media, itself controlled by the university-sanctioned Media Planning Board. However, all student publications are editorially independent of the university. The OSM oversees the production of one newspaper, one yearbook, three scholarly publications, and the student-run radio station.

The Crimson White is the student-produced newspaper. Published four times a week during the academic year and weekly during the summer, the CW normally distributes 15,000 copies per publication. The CW received a 2010 Mark of Excellence Award for "Best All-Around Daily Student Newspaper at a Four-Year College or University" in the Southeast region by the Society of Professional Journalists.[72][73]

First published in 1892, Corolla is the official yearbook of the university. It is produced annually by students and is the oldest student-run publication on campus.

The Black Warrior Review is the university's widely distributed and influential literary journal managed and published by graduate students (primarily from the English and Creative Writing departments). Founded in 1974, BWR publishes local, regional, and nationally known writers, poets, and visual artists. Since 1990, UA has also published the Marr's Field Journal, an undergraduate literary journal published by, and composed of material from, Alabama's undergraduates. Like its "big brother," MFJ publishes fiction, poetry, and graphic art. The Southern Historian is a journal of Southern history written, edited, and produced entirely by graduate students in the Department of History. Southern Historian features articles on all aspects of Southern history, culture and book reviews in all fields of U.S. History.

WVUA-FM, "90.7 The Capstone", formerly known as "New Rock 90.7", is one of the older college radio stations in the nation, tracing its roots back to 1940. It carries a variety of music programming and broadcasts the games of several of the university's sports teams. WVUA-CA, also owned by the university and employing numerous students, is a commercial television station run by a professional staff.

Athletics and traditions


The University of Alabama's intercollegiate athletic teams are known as the Crimson Tide. The nickname originates from a football game versus Auburn University in 1907 in Birmingham where, after a hard-fought game in torrential rain in which Auburn had been heavily favored to win, Alabama forced a tie. Writing about the game, one sportswriter described the offensive line as a "Crimson Tide", in reference to their jerseys, stained red from the wet dirt.

Alabama competes in the Southeastern Conference (Western Division) of the NCAA's Division I. Alabama fields men's varsity teams in football, basketball, baseball, golf, cross country, swimming and diving, tennis, and track and field. Women's varsity teams are fielded in basketball, golf, cross country, gymnastics, rowing, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, and volleyball. The Athletic facilities on campus include the Bryant-Denny Stadium, named after legendary football coach Paul "Bear" Bryant and former UA President George Denny, and the 14,619-seat Coleman Coliseum.

Alabama maintains athletic rivalries with Auburn University and the University of Tennessee. The rivalry with Auburn is especially heated as it encompasses all sports. The annual Alabama-Auburn football game is nicknamed the Iron Bowl. While the rivalry with Tennessee is centered around football for the most part, there is no shortage of acrimony here, especially given the recent history between then-UT Coach Phillip Fulmer and his relationship to the Tide's most recent NCAA probation. There are also rivalries with Louisiana State University (football and baseball), University of Mississippi (football and men's basketball), Mississippi State University (football, men's basketball), University of Georgia (women's gymnastics), and the University of Florida (football, softball).


The University of Alabama football program, started in 1892, has won 22 SEC titles and 13 national championships in polls (including 7 awarded by the Associated Press and 5 by the Coaches Poll).[74] The program has compiled 30 10-win seasons and 57 bowl appearances, winning 31 of them – all NCAA records. Alabama has produced 18 hall-of-famers, 97 All-Americans honored 105 times, and 1 Heisman trophy winner (Mark Ingram, Jr.).

The Crimson Tide's current home venue, Bryant-Denny Stadium, opened in 1929 with a capacity of around 12,000. The most recent addition of the stadium was completed in 2010. An upper deck was added in the south end zone, completing the upper deck around the stadium. The current official capacity of the stadium is 101,821. The previous addition was the north end zone expansion, completed 2006. The Tide has also played many games, including the Iron Bowl against rival Auburn University, at Legion Field in Birmingham.

Bryant-Denny Stadium in 2010

Nearly synonymous with Alabama football is legendary coach Paul "Bear" Bryant whose record at the University of Alabama was 232-46-9. He led the Crimson Tide to a national title in 1961, 1964, 1965, 1973, 1978, and 1979, which is tied with Notre Dame's legendary coach Knute Rockne. Additionally, the 1966 team was the only one in the country to finish undefeated and untied, but poll voters denied the 12-0 Alabama team the three-peat as Michigan State and Notre Dame tied each other 10-10 in what was considered the "Game of the Century" and subsequently split the national championship.

On December 12, 2009, sophomore running back Mark Ingram was awarded the Heisman Trophy as college football's best player. In so being named, Ingram became the first Heisman Trophy winner for the University of Alabama. Alabama defeated Texas 37-21 in the BCS Championship game on January 7, 2010, capping a perfect season, an SEC Championship, and winning its first national championship in the BCS era.

School songs

The school's fight song is "Yea Alabama", written in 1926 by Lundy Sykes, then editor of the campus newspaper.[75] Sykes composed the song in response to a contest by the Rammer Jammer to create a fight song following Alabama's first Rose Bowl victory. The song as it currently played by the Million Dollar Band during games (the form known to most people) is simply the chorus of the larger song. While the opening line of song is taken to be Yea Alabama, Crimson Tide!,[76] the correct opening line is Yea, Alabama! Drown 'em Tide![77] The Alabama Alma Mater is set to the tune of Annie Lisle, a ballad written in the 1850s. The lyrics are usually credited as, "Helen Vickers, 1908", although it is not clear whether that was when it was written or if that was her graduating class.

Notable alumni

In popular culture

The University of Alabama has had a strong cultural and historical impact not only in Alabama but in the United States as a whole. This can be attributed to a number of factors, including the role the university played in the volatile civil rights era south and the popularity of the Alabama Crimson Tide football program (especially during the era of Bear Bryant).

In film, probably the most famous reference to the university is in the 1994 film Forrest Gump (adapted from a novel of the same name by alumnus Winston Groom), in which the title character, portrayed by actor Tom Hanks, attends the University of Alabama and plays football there under Bear Bryant. The highlight of those scenes in the film are when Gump inadvertently becomes a part of George Wallace's Stand at the Schoolhouse Door. The 1995 film Crimson Tide, starring Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman, makes multiple references to the UA football program (as evident by the title). Before the crew boards the submarine USS Alabama they chant "Roll Tide Roll". "Bear" is the name of the Hackman's character's dog.[78] In the film, Sweet Home Alabama, the two dogs in the movie are named "Bear" and "Bryant"[79]

Numerous alumni have made references to their alma mater. Alumnus Joe Scarborough has broadcast his MSNBC morning show, The Morning Joe live from campus.[80] Alumna Sela Ward's character on the show CSI:New York makes mention of her desire for "Alabama to win another BCS championship" in an episode.[81] Though not an alumnus, prior to the 2010 BCS National Championship, Alabama native Courteney Cox did a promo which aired at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, promoting both her latest TV show Cougar Town and the Alabama Crimson Tide by wearing a Crimson Tide jersey and a Houndstooth hat.[82]

In music, multiple songs make reference to the university or the Crimson Tide, such as Steely Dan's song "Deacon Blues",[83] Yung Chris' remix of "Racks on Racks",[84] Buddy Jewell's song "Sweet Southern Comfort",[85] Bama Boyz's remix of "Sweet Home Alabama",[86] Trace Adkins' song "Ala-Freaking-Bama"[87] and Tim McGraw's 2009 song, "Southern Voice".[88]


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External links

Coordinates: 33°12′34″N 87°32′29″W / 33.209438°N 87.541493°W / 33.209438; -87.541493

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