Board of Advisors Announces Progress on Initiatives, Receives Praise and Advice From Former Athletics Director Bill Battle

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By Kirsten J. Barnes
CCBP Graduate Assistant

The Division of Community Affairs’ two-day Board of Advisors meeting culminated in a dinner April 3 at Bryant-Denny Stadium, with an inspirational endorsement of their work by former UA Director of Athletics Bill Battle.

The 52 members of the board all earned UA degrees since 2000 and have worked for the past year on a three-pronged mission of increasing student success and retention, promoting student involvement in entrepreneurship and innovative initiatives, and supporting the development of effective leaders in the United States and abroad.

“This group represents our best and brightest younger alumni and I appreciate their work and commitment to this effort,” said Dr. Samory T. Pruitt, vice president for Community Affairs. “All of the group’s members are very busy, but they each made time and agreed to participate. I also appreciate how the leadership on our campus has embraced and supported their efforts.”

The group came together around the theme “Coming Back, Giving Back,” which epitomizes the purpose of their work.

“I think every one of us is here because Dr. Pruitt made an impact on our life,” said Katie Boyd Britt, who graduated from UA in 2004 and 2013. “We saw his vision for the campus and his vision to move the campus and community forward and there is not one of us that didn’t want to be a part of that again.”

Britt said that after they formed the group, there was so much interest that they had to turn away some prospective members. Summarizing commitments, Britt said some $25,000 had been contributed or pledged by the group toward fulfilling its mission.

“At this point in our lives, there are not a lot of opportunities to reconnect with campus and to meet other alumni,” said Britt, who serves as president of the BOA executive committee. “This has allowed us to have the opportunity to continue to move things forward and effect change and create a more positive atmosphere on the campus, while at the same time taking and sharing what we have learned with current students.”

Battle, now a special assistant to UA President Stuart R. Bell, walked away from retirement to return to UA in 2013 as director of athletics after experiencing huge success in the licensing of school athletic items popular with university fan bases. He told the assembly: “Leadership is getting someone else to do what you want them to do, as long as it is good for them as well.” He cautioned that success can be a moving target and how you define success depends on where you are in life.

“The American dream to me,” he said, “is to be successful in whatever you do, while leaving the world a better place than you found it. Any organization that you touch, if you can leave it a better place than you found it, then that is the hallmark of success.”

Battle talked about his lengthy sports career as a player, coach and president of an athletic licensing company, before returning to his alma mater. “I’m proud that I hold two records in SEC sports today. I was the youngest head football coach ever named and the oldest athletic director,” said Battle, who was 28 years old when named head football coach at the University of Tennessee and returned to UA as director of athletics after he had retired to succeed Mal Moore.

Battle thanked the group for their contributions to the UA community and challenged them to stay involved. “Thank you for your leadership and what you’re doing,” Battle said. “Give back with your presence … with your prayers. Pray for the University leaders. Ultimately, if you have the means and feel like you can give back financially, it is a great thing to do. Be here with your presence and help us keep our young people in school and help us keep them engaged when they leave.”

“Most of the money that has been raised came from their pockets,” Pruitt said of the group. “I am very proud of these young people and their commitment to helping make UA an even better place.”

Formed in early 2016, the UA Community Affairs Board of Advisors is comprised of young alumni who were campus leaders during their time as students at The University of Alabama. The board members possess a commitment to community engagement and student success, as well as a common desire to serve and a clear understanding of the importance of giving back.