To connect you with what’s happening at the Capstone, we’ve gathered some recent news that may be of interest to you as alumni and as members of the Board of Advisors.
We plan to publish periodically, not only to keep you informed of what’s happening on campus, but also of what’s happening in the world of the BOA membership.
A famous country music duo once said that love can build a bridge. Elizabeth Naranjo Hayes believes that learning a language can do the same. In fact, the soon-to-be romance linguistics doctoral graduate will set out to prove it.
An experienced leader in the automotive industry and entrepreneur will direct the Alabama Mobility and Power Center at The University of Alabama.
Standing alone on the southwest edge of campus is the new Tutwiler Hall, a 1,284-bed residence hall consisting of double-occupancy units with private bathrooms. Each level includes gathering spaces for residents that will provide a sense of comfort and community.
A new role under the Office for Research and Economic Development is charged with creating transformational partnerships that combine outcomes from impactful research at The University of Alabama with the critical technology and workforce needs of industry.
With nearly $8 million in federal transit funds, The University of Alabama will replace a quarter of its transit system buses with electric buses, reducing emissions and further positioning UA and the region as a hub for the electric vehicle ecosystem.
To enhance the campus culture for undergraduate students involved in research and scholarly endeavors, the Office for Undergraduate Research is moving under the umbrella of the Capstone Center for Student Success.
The University of Alabama has received a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a bridge program for students from three Historically Black Colleges and Universities interested in opportunities in renewable energy.
Researchers at The University of Alabama were part of a national investigation that identified a new candidate therapeutic target for Parkinson’s Disease, according to recently published results.
The University of Alabama has been awarded $3 million from the National Science Foundation to establish a unique hydrologic science research and training program for graduate students.
Working with several state agencies and nonprofit organizations, researchers and social work experts at The University of Alabama gathered all education, information and services related to substance use, mental health and prevention for an easy-to-use app that instantly provides access to the resources people need to take the next step.
The University of Alabama has received an award to implement the first ever Gandhi-King Scholarly Exchange Initiative, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, partnering with Alabama A&M University in the new program.
Eight individuals who made a difference in Alabama through their business contributions will be inducted into the Alabama Business Hall of Fame Class of 2022 during a ceremony at Haven in Birmingham Thursday, Nov. 10.
The University of Alabama hosted a two-week higher education leadership training experience for 25 women from 15 Pakistani universities as part of a five-year, $19 million project by the U.S. Agency for International Development and in collaboration with the University of Utah.
The University of Alabama’s Student Government Association received the SGA of the Year award and its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Certification Program earned the Social Change Initiative recognition at the SEC Exchange held July 15–17 in Columbia, South Carolina.
Approximately 160 children gathered in the Benjamin Barnes YMCA gymnasium to demonstrate what they learned from Swim to the Top during a final showcase on July 1. The program, now in its ninth year, is led by Dr. Daniela Susnara, director of planning and assessment for community engagement.
Twenty-eight high school students from across West Alabama collaborated on a community or school-based need using principles of science, technology, and mathematics (STEM) during this year’s STEM Entrepreneurship Academy (SEA), on Sunday through Friday, July 10–15 at The University Alabama.
Held at the Capstone Hotel in Tuscaloosa on July 21–22, the HomeFirst Greene County Coaches Retreat provided an overview of HomeFirst and opportunities for volunteers to practice their coaching skills and learn how to build rapport with participants.
For many adults, homeownership may seem more like a dream than a possibility, but HomeFirst helps participants take steps to achieve homeownership through financial planning. For HomeFirst participant Kanika Cotton, that dream became a reality when she and her family moved into their new Habitat for Humanity home on Thursday, Aug. 11.
Volunteers participating in The University of Alabama’s HomeFirst Coaches’ Retreat from Aug. 25–26 at Capital Hall learned interpersonal skills are just as important as financial literacy when guiding future homeowners.
Congratulations to Dr. Jackson Harris,
assistant director of the Crossroads Civic Engagement Center, on successfully defending his dissertation, “Modeling the Structural Dynamics of Our Public Spheres.” His research offers a theoretical model for how polarization threatens to disintegrate democratic publics while also highlighting the importance of relationship-building and civic engagement. The theoretical model produced by the dissertation arose directly from the work of UA’s Crossroads Civic Engagement Center, where he serves as assistant director. Situated at the intersection of theory and practice, the theoretical model responds directly to the question, “How should we be developing engaged citizens in an era of toxic polarization?” His hope is that by being able to theorize how our public and communication networks are disintegrating, we can more effectively do the work of reversing toxic polarization and creating strong connections between diverse communities and people.
Dr. Jackson Harris, assistant director of the Crossroads Civic Engagement Center,
presented political communication research and civic education strategies at the International Communication Association conference in Paris May 26–30. He also traveled to Perry and Walker Counties to help facilitate learning for UA students engaged in community-based learning experiences. This includes the Honors College’s University Fellows Experience and New College’s Jean O’Connor-Snyder Internship Program.
Dr. Lane McLelland and Dr. Jackson Harris presented
several lines of research at the Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement conference in Minneapolis June 21–24. McLelland served on the national steering committee for this conference.
Crossroads hosted summer workshops,
delivering CIVshop modules to a wide range of partners including the College of Continuing Studies, Student Government Association, Bryant Conference Center staff and undergraduate research program in engineering.
Carol Agomo, director of Community and Administrative Affairs, was co-chair of the Outreach and Engagement Practitioner Network ESC pre-conference session.
The OEPN pre-conference session took place at the Engagement Scholarship Consortium on Sept. 19–20. The theme was, “The Boundary Spanners Journey: From Roots to Wings.”
New Opportunity for Carol Agomo.
Carol Agomo has accepted a new opportunity in the University's Division of Finance and Operations, beginning Oct. 17. She was instrumental in paving the course for the Division, as well as establishing the BOA. We thank and applaud Carol for her leadership and efforts to support the Division, and we wish her all the best in her new role.
Join us in welcoming...
Marie Butler as the program coordinator for HomeFirst (Greene County). She assists UA’s HomeFirst program through the Housing Authority of Greene County.
Ella Magerl as a program coordinator for Community Education. She will support the Vision Days program, Swim to the Top, and BLAST Academy, as well as other efforts overseen by Dr. Daniela Susnara.
James Renshaw as the program coordinator for Programs and Partnerships for Community Engagement. He assists with various Partnerships for Community Engagement programs, including HomeFirst and the Neighborhood Partnership Committee.
Congratulations to BOA member Will Clayton,
who has accepted a position teaching middle school, eighth grade world history at Oak Mountain Middle School in Shelby County, Ala.
BOA member Terri Brewer presented
on behalf of the Tuscaloosa County School System at the Rotary Club of Tuscaloosa on September 6.
BOA member LaTasha Thomas was the keynote speaker
at the second annual Black Alumni Association freshmen pinning ceremony at the UA Bryant Conference Center on August 27.
BOA member Justin Zimmerman served on a roundtable discussion
at the 2022 American Political Science Association (APSA) Annual Meeting and Exhibition, which took place September 15-18 in Montréal, Québec, Canada. The discussion theme was Mental Health in Political Science, and this session focused on the severe mental health crisis among graduate students in political science while beginning a broader conversation in political science about mental health struggles among scholars in the discipline.
BOA member and Blackburn Fellow Reginald Miller recently served
as moderator for a Blackburn Institute 2022 Annual Symposium Zoom session titled Transformation through Community Collaboration. He was joined by BOA member and Blackburn Fellow Alex Flachsbart and others for this session that focused on how innovation and collaboration can create exponential growth in communities.
Congratulations to BOA member Laura Kate Whitney,
who recently relocated back to Charleston, S.C., to work with Charleston Wine + Food as Director of Experience. She has been involved with this organization in various roles since its inception in 2006.
Congratulations to BOA member Sevanne Steiner,
who recently accepted a position as Assistant Director of Planning for the City of Miami (Florida)! She previously served as Senior Planner in the Preservation and Design Division for the city of Fort Worth.
who has been selected to participate in the 49th Leadership Greenville class. Participants of this 10-month leadership intensive, the flagship program of the Greenville (South Carolina) Chamber, work in teams on a volunteer project designed to make them more informed, committed and equipped to be leaders for Greenville County.
who has been named the executive director of the Tuscaloosa County Economic Development Authority, effective Aug. 15. In this new role, Smyth presented to UA's Council on Community-Based Partnerships meeting Sept. 29. Smyth previously served as interim director of the Alabama Mobility and Power Center and director of strategic partnerships for the Alabama Transportation Institute.
Congratulations to BOA member Jordan Carpenter,
who was appointed as a director of the Memphis Union Mission in July 2022. The Memphis Union Mission ministers to the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs of men, women and families who are homeless, addicted and in crisis.
Congratulations to BOA member Rashmee Sharif,
who was promoted in June to senior project manager for Cigna's Medicare line of business.
Congratulations to BOA member Will Suclupe,
who was appointed to serve on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) Regents Advisory Council (RAC). He was selected from among 116 VA leaders who were nominated for the RAC.
Congratulations to Dr. Michael and Dr. Holly Luther,
who moved to Perry County in August of 2021 to serve in the areas of medicine and education in the Black Belt. Michael serves as a physician for Cahaba Medical Care at the Marion clinic and is the assistant program director for Cahaba’s frontier residency program, which trains family medicine doctors in Perry and Wilcox counties. Cahaba is building a multiplex that will house both residents and the Luthers, who desire to serve as house parents. Holly homeschools their four children and serves in community service roles, specifically in the areas of education and ministry. Holly works to connect business leaders across the state to those working to implement programming to improve quality of life within the Black Belt. She has enjoyed working with the Division of Community Affairs and community partners on projects like the New Faculty Engagement Tour and Vision Days. Michael and Holly enjoy engaging their children in their work. Their children, ages 4 to 11, have been especially integral in the prayer team and service team the two created to meet needs within the town of Marion.
If you have not already done so, please consider participating in your local alumni chapter.
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