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  • 2021 Higher Education Update

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    A glance at some of the recent highlights shining forth from our area’s multiple colleges and universities.
    Alabama State University
    Alabama State University is focused on the success of its students, proven by its commitment to offering high-demand degrees, like those housed in its College of Health Sciences (COHS), which was established more than 20 years ago. Since that time, COHS has graduated hundreds of students who have become dynamic professionals who operate under a banner of service to others.
    Two of the advanced degrees offered in COHS are the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree and the Master of Science of Occupational Therapy (MSOT) degree. Both prepare graduates to sit for licensure in the respective profession. The programs are taught by highly trained professionals who practice or have practiced themselves, providing firsthand knowledge as well as excellence in classroom instruction with a goal of advancing physical therapy and occupational therapy as leading professions in promoting health, wellness and the quality of life of individuals and society through the application of therapeutic interventions for each occupation.
    The statistics tell the story best. The MSOT program has a 95-percent passage rate, and the DPT program has a laudable 97-percent passage rate of state licensure exams.
    Additionally, ASU is the only university in the state of Alabama and one of only 13 universities in the nation to offer the Master of Science in Prosthetics and Orthotics.
    Auburn University at Montgomery
    Nationally recognized for innovation, undergraduate teaching, first-year student experiences, and academic excellence, AUM continues to push the envelope in higher education. AUM’s nimble response to student and employee needs in 2020 marked a transformation from a traditional four-year university to a leader in developing innovative online educational experiences, discovering new approaches to building a sense of community, providing safe student environments, and building a campus culture emphasizing inclusiveness.
    U.S. News & World Report recognized AUM among the top regional comprehensive universities in the South in undergraduate, graduate and online education. The accolades include:
    • #15 for Best Undergraduate Teaching
    • #16 among Most Innovative Schools
    • #31 among Top Public Schools
    • #99 among Top Performers for “Social Mobility”
    • Best Colleges - Business Programs
    • Best Public Affairs Programs
    • Best Online Bachelor’s Programs
    • Best Online Master’s in Education Programs
    • Best Online MBA Programs
    AUM has launched a new undergraduate Social Work degree program built on a foundation of professional ethics and values, economic and social justice, and service. AUM also introduced a fully online Master’s in Management Information Systems, combining technical knowledge and management skills with concentrations in Information Systems, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Business and Data Analytics.
    AUM continues to receive recognition for its military friendly culture with the awarding of 2021-2022 Military Friendly Silver Status designation and 2021-2022 Military Spouse Friendly School status. AUM was named to the 2021-2022 Military Spouse Friendly School® list compiled by Viqtory. In 2020, AUM dedicated a new Veteran & Military Resource Center that offers study space and support staff to help meet the needs of military and veteran students, as well as their spouses and dependents. The university also features an active Student Veterans of America chapter and offers the Military and Family Scholarship for military personnel and dependents. Scholarship recipients save 15 percent on undergraduate tuition and 35 percent on graduate school tuition.
    Beyond the classroom, AUM celebrated its first full season as a full-fledged member of NCAA Division II’s Gulf South Conference. The AUM Warhawks softball team captured the university’s first Gulf South Championship title in May 2021. Eleven Warhawk athletic teams represent AUM in the conference in baseball, basketball, softball, volleyball, soccer, tennis and cross country.
    Culverhouse College of Business
    The MBA program at The University of Alabama’s Manderson Graduate School of Business, which is housed within UA’s Culverhouse College of Business, retains its position solidly among the top-50 MBA programs in the country. U.S. News & World Report’s 2022 Best Graduate Schools list ranks Manderson’s fulltime MBA program 44th, and 22nd among all public institutions. This placing comes after large jumps in the rankings over the past several years. The program is now sixth in the Southeastern Conference.
    Further proof of this work came when the The Manderson MBA Case Team came in second place in the 8th SEC MBA Case Competition, conducted virtually for the first time in SEC history and facilitated by the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business at Auburn University. The team, all of whom are second-year students, was composed of Diana Boone, Oliver Robinson, Savanah Hiers and Savannah Middleton. Quoc Hoang, who is director of experiential learning at Culverhouse, served as advisor to the team.
    The event spanned three days in April and began with the four-person SEC teams randomly drawn into four divisions on a Thursday evening. The next morning, a representative from Aflac, the case company, presented a real-world challenge to the students, who then had approximately 24 hours to outline an approach to the challenge while also organizing a related
    Culverhouse is also proving its commitment to assist all students. With support from Protective Life Corporation, the Diversity in Business Bridge Program in the UA Culverhouse College of Business is being launched. It’s recognition of Protective’s shared priority with the University of improving practices oriented around diversity, equity and inclusivity in the workplace and world at-large.

    The program will recruit and prepare about 25 high school juniors annually from underrepresented populations in Alabama for academic success across all business disciplines at UA via a summer residential experience and a robust college prep protocol. Students who decide to attend UA will be invited back for a second summer that will focus on easing the transition to college and getting off to a strong start. Furthermore, scholarships, financial assistance and ongoing development support and opportunities will be available for participants who choose to study business at UA.
    Faulkner University
    Crews with Marshall Design-Building LLC began working in October 2020 to transform the former Burlington Coat Factory into a space for Faulkner’s new College of Health Sciences, and the first phase of renovations has been completed. “When we have classes in that facility in the fall, it will certainly be a positive new asset to the institution to help propel our center for health sciences,” said Faulkner President Mike Williams.
    Phase one included the lobby, computer lab, teaching lab, classrooms, offices, anatomy lab, physical therapy research lab, other lab areas, clinical practice area, physician assistant exam area, and community clinic. Later renovations will include all-new frontage and signage. Subsequent renovations will be completed in phases to include a therapy gym, speech-language pathology research lab, sensory and pediatric gym, occupational therapy lab, a learning resource center, skills lab, more offices, a daily living suite and student and faculty lounge areas.
    The new, updated spaces are needed, as the University’s College of Health Sciences continues to expand. It recently added its third program, Physical Therapy (PT), after being granted Candidate for Accreditation status by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). The PT program, which will allow students to earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy, will begin August 23 and is approved for a maximum entering class size of 50 students.
    The College of Health Sciences work is also garnering funding. In April, the Alabama Power Foundation awarded Faulkner University a generous grant toward the College’s future Autism Clinical Center. The grant funds will be used to build, equip and furnish Faulkner’s pro bono Clinical Center, including the Clinic Simulation Lab, in order to increase the quantity and quality of the free therapy services provided.
    Jones School of Law
    Despite all that this year has brought with it, Faulkner University’s Thomas Goode Jones School of Law has kept the bar high for outstanding academics and was recently named to The Princeton Review’s 2021 Best Law Schools list. The Princeton Review’s rankings are widely considered the national gold standard for colleges and universities.
    Faulkner Law was also ranked 4th on The Princeton Review’s Most Competitive Students list as well as the Most Conservative Students ranking. In addition, Faulkner Law placed 6th on the Greatest Resources for Minority Students ranking.
    The Jones School of Law is a small, Christian law school, giving its students a unique advantage thanks to the combination of a rigorous curriculum and hands-on experience provided. Faulkner Law students leave with academic success but also, a desire to use their legal degrees to seek justice and serve their communities – wherever that may be.
    One such graduate, Faulkner Law alumna, Judge Terri Bozeman Lovell, recently made history. She was the first woman selected to serve as Executive Director of the Alabama State Bar since the organization’s founding in 1879. Graduating from the Jones School of Law in 1995 with her Juris Doctor, Lovell was admitted to the Alabama State Bar a few months later. She is the current Presiding Circuit Judge in the Second Judicial Circuit. Prior to that, she served as the District Judge of Lowndes County from 1998 to 2011. She began her tenure with the Alabama State Bar in June.
    South University
    South University, Montgomery is serving as a local partner and leader in training students for the future by offering programs that make a college education attainable and convenient, benefitting the community and local businesses. The school is committed to providing students with the education they need to pursue employment and dedicated to supporting local businesses as they cultivate talent from within their own teams.
    South University, Montgomery’s approach includes three programs that prepare and train students: College Prep 101 for teens who need a little extra help getting ready for higher ed; a dual-enrollment program for high schoolers who want to take college-level classes; and business partnerships that open up specialized coursework to train employees. (This course is non-credit bearing and will not transfer into our academic program offerings or the offerings of any other institution.)
    Its College Prep 101, designed for recent high school graduates, juniors and seniors who want to enhance their English, math and study skills, is delivered via courses taught by college professors. The program is open to any student, regardless of where he or she plans to attend college.
    South University, Montgomery has also added a Dual Enrollment for Dual Credit program that allows current high school students to earn transferrable college credits at a reduced tuition rate of $100 per credit hour. For students interested in business, nursing, healthcare or technology, this program offers a head start. Participating students can take classes in person on campus, online or in the school’s live, interactive virtual classroom modality known as SouthVR (South Virtual Remote).
    In addition, South University, Montgomery works with companies to provide continuing education to employees, offering courses and skills that help individuals and businesses to grow. It currently has business partnerships with local companies including DaVita Healthcare, Baptist Health, Montgomery Public Schools and American Family Care. As partners, the organizations’ employees are eligible for an education at South University, Montgomery at a discounted tuition rate. Business partners often find they gain an advantage in recruitment and staff retention, while helping their employees to work toward a more productive future for Montgomery.
    Trenholm State Community College
    Choosing what to do after graduation can be a daunting task for many high school students and their families, so Trenholm State recently partnered with Hi.Ed., MPACT, the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce and the Montgomery Public School System to host a virtual career exploration event. The event attracted 300 10th-12th graders from Montgomery Public Schools Career Technologies Center MPACT.
    Students explored eight career clusters, Automotive Service, Electrical Technology, Fire Science/Public Safety, HVAC, Industrial Systems, IT/CIS, Medical Sciences and Welding. Both Trenholm State instructors and MPACT teachers presented informative presentations exploring various career pathway possibilities within the career clusters. Information was provided on average starting salaries, job descriptions, skills, training, education and certifications required for various career opportunities.
    Whatever choice students make, they are assured they’ll get the best instruction and training available at Trenholm State. The Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) reaffirmed the college’s Dental Assisting Program’s accreditation status of “approval without reporting requirements” after the Program’s recent site visit. “We are proud of the long and successful track record of the Dental Assisting program at Trenholm State. Each year I am determined to continue the more than 50-year legacy of excellence of the program at the college,” said Dental Assisting Program Director and instructor Kimberly White.
    The college also just saw its first students graduate from its new Medication Assistant program last December. The 10 grads were quickly employed by area nursing homes. The Medication Assistant program is new to Alabama’s community colleges and started at Trenholm State on November 16, 2020. The program is a four-week, 100-hour program that trains students to work under licensed nurses to distribute medications within nursing facilities, assisted living environments, correctional institutions, and other medical facilities. The students undergo an extensive amount of classroom training and clinical training to ensure their preparation for the Alabama Board of Nursing.
    Troy University
    Troy University is staking its claim as the innovator in student leadership development with the launch of the new Lead Change campaign, further solidifying the University’s world-renowned reputation.
    “There is a dire shortage of leaders in America -- leaders with integrity, ability and vision. One of the most important things a university can do is prepare its students to become leaders,” said Dr. Jack Hawkins Jr., Chancellor of Troy University. “The Lead Change campaign aligns with TROY’s primary mission to prepare leaders who will take action to effect change in the world through servant leadership. We want our students to become leaders who have a sense of service and willingness to give back.”
    The University offers leadership education at every level, including a minor, a Ph.D. in global leadership, campus organization activities and real-world leadership opportunities for interns by partnering with major corporations. TROY’s course content is designed to equip students with the skills they need to thrive in a post-pandemic world. The University’s outreach to surrounding communities also has provided opportunities for students to have hands-on experience in giving back.
    “Just last year, the College of Education partnered with the City of Troy to launch ‘Catalyst Troy,’” said Dr. Kerry Palmer, Dean of the College of Education, which houses the Department of Leadership Development and Professional Studies. “This leadership initiative was geared towards Troy residents who normally wouldn’t participate in formal programs. It was designed to empower citizen engagement at the local level to learn how their city government operates.”
    TROY also offers leadership coursework to adult learners at its Dothan, Montgomery and Phenix City campuses. Leadership courses and experiential opportunities are available to online students as well.
    TROY’s focus on leadership extends beyond the classroom. Students can serve as leaders in the community through outreach programs organized by the Office of Civic Engagement. These programs include Campus Kitchens, Community Gardens, the Real Talk on Race Mentoring Project and the Democracy Project. These types of hands-on leadership opportunities pay off in dividends when students graduate from TROY, because they are ready to step into leadership roles in their professional lives.
    The University of Alabama
    Since its founding in 1831, UA has educated more students from the state of Alabama than any other college or university in the world.
    Students like Marillyn Hewson from Tuscaloosa, Former Chairman, President and CEO of Lockheed Martin, and Sonequa Martin-Green from Russellville who landed the lead role in “Star Trek: Discovery.” The first to establish public higher education in Alabama, UA continues to define it. Each year, The University of Alabama is a leader in the enrollment of National Merit\ Scholars, including 221 in the most recent freshman class. For the fifth time in six years, UA was recognized as a Top Producing Institution for Fulbright U.S. Student Awards, with 17 students receiving Fulbright Award offers in the 2020-2021 cohort.
    The depth and breadth of its academic offerings is impressive: With more than 200 programs of study in 12 different colleges and schools, students have a wide choice of majors. If none of these is quite right, New College allows highly motivated students to customize their own course of study. Through the Accelerated Master’s Program and the STEM and CREATE Paths to the MBA, high-achieving UA students can work toward an undergraduate degree while pursuing a graduate degree at the same time.
    And its delivery of higher education continues to be innovative. Through its Emerging Scholars Program, UA undergraduates can participate in important research as early as freshman year, working closely with members of the award-winning faculty in nearly every department on campus.
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