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  • News to Know: Higher Education Update

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    When Dr. Quinton T. Ross, Jr., returned to his alma mater as its 15th President in 2017, he launched an initiative centered on the term, “CommUniversity.” “This is a term that we have embraced at ASU as one of our mantras,” said Ross. “CommUniversity signifies that Alabama State University is focused on being an impactful and committed partner with the local community, as well as those ‘communities’ with which we connect nationally and globally. Our partnerships with Montgomery and the River Region are longstanding, and my goal is to strengthen and advance those relationships.”
    During Ross’s tenure, Alabama State University has launched or expanded several key initiatives that highlight a strong commitment to CommUniversity. One of the university’s first major community partnerships was ASU’s connection to the Montgomery Internet Exchange (MGMix), the first internet exchange point in Alabama and one of only four in the Southeast.
    ASU is also actively involved in Envision Montgomery 2040, the visionary undertaking to develop a new comprehensive plan for the capital city. University faculty and staff are part of the diverse committee that is leading the effort that, according to the Envision Montgomery website, “will enable the community to help shape the vision and make recommendations that will guide decision-making for years to come.” In October 2018, ASU hosted the Community Summit that brought nearly 500 people to the Dunn-Oliver Acadome to share ideas and discuss topics ranging from education to maximizing opportunities and improving the city as a whole.
    In addition, ASU injects thousands of volunteer hours into various projects throughout the city. One of its most prominent volunteer initiatives is the annual Read and Rise program, a partnership with the Montgomery Public School system. Read and Rise 2019 was the most successful campaign in the program’s six-year history.
    ASU connects with the community through events too, including a variety of camps for children and teenagers throughout the year, many of which are STEM-focused. ASU recently partnered with the Chamber to announce that the university will be the site of the BEST Robotics Competition in October, bringing more than 1,000 of the region’s top STEM students to campus for the multiday event. “Events such as the Robotics Competition allow students to showcase their talents and be recognized for their achievements. It is a prime example of the benefit of CommUniversity,” said Ross.
    Finally, ASU has entered an agreement with Montgomery’s Community Action Agency to operate a Head Start Center in the University’s Zelia Stephens Early Childhood Center. The collaboration will allow young scholars to benefit from the wealth of educational resources provided by ASU. “We are excited about the potential of this partnership to impact hundreds of young people in the Montgomery area. Not only will the Head Start students be taught by experienced staff at the Early Childhood Center, they also will have the added benefit of engaging with professors and advanced students in the College of Education,” said Ross.
    Tuskegee University: New President Stresses Leadership & Excellence
    Dr. Lily D. McNair was appointed Tuskegee University’s eighth president in July 2018, and she also has the distinction of being the university’s first female president. A year later, she continues to embrace that moniker and the inspiration it provides for future generations of female leaders.
    According to the American Council of Education’s 2017 American College President Survey, only 30 percent of the nation’s college presidencies at the time were held by women, and women of color represented only 5 percent of sitting presidents. Through her own presidency and example, McNair hopes to pave the way for tomorrow’s female executives in higher education and other sectors. “I know that I am a role model for women — young girls and older — to dream big, to be curious and optimistic, and to think boldly,” McNair said. “I’ve had young women tell me already that I’ve helped them realize that they can aspire to be a college president. I’m really proud about that.”
    McNair outlined her personal aspirations for Tuskegee during her March 15, 2019, inaugural address —through which she introduced her inaugural theme of “A New Era of Leadership and Excellence.” “My commitment to our students, faculty and the entire Tuskegee community is rooted in my belief that Tuskegee offers an unparalleled education with a unique perspective — one connected to our historical value and virtues,” she said.
    Her focus on leadership and excellence included a three-part symposium highlighting the career contributions and accomplishments of fellow female African-American role models in higher education, business and faith. She paid homage to many of her own personal mentors by including them as symposium panelists. Inaugural events also included a fundraising gala held at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel and Spa — a springboard for her $1 million “Campaign for Leadership and Excellence” benefiting student scholarships.
    Although her inauguration centered on ushering in a “new era” at Tuskegee, McNair is mindful of the legacy of leadership of which she is now a part — one that dates back to the appointment of Booker T. Washington as the institution’s founding principal in 1881. It’s on that foundation of leadership that she plans to continue building. “I think about Booker T. Washington a lot. The more I learn about him, the more I appreciate him being such a visionary. He set a standard that I work very hard to uphold,” she said. “I think about what he accomplished with hardly any of the resources that I have now, and I tell myself that I have to keep moving to make Tuskegee even greater and grander than he imagined.”
    The University of Alabama’s Culverhouse College of Business: MBA Program Honored
    The MBA program at The University of Alabama’s Culverhouse College of Business was recently recognized as among the best in the country. The Manderson Graduate School of Business located within Culverhouse manages the MBA program, and U.S. News & World Report’s 2020 Best Graduate Schools list ranks Manderson as 50th in the Best Business Schools category, moving up from 63rd in last year’s rankings. The rank places Manderson at 26th among public institutions and 5th in the Southeastern Conference. “This ranking is the result of our faculty offering a top-notch academic program at Manderson as well as our success in attracting high quality students and in excellent job placements of our graduates,” said Sharif Melouk, Associate Dean of the Manderson Graduate School of Business.
    In addition, the teams of Manderson MBA students participating in case competitions, which are high-pressure problem-solving exercises often using real-world business situations, are finding success across the country. A team represented by Everette Dawkins, Samuel Greene, John Clary and Bryonna Rivera Burrows won first place in the 7th annual SEC MBA Case Competition held at the Haslam College of Business at the University of Tennessee in early April. The win came hot off the heels of other recent MBA case team successes. Those include first at IDEAcorps Case Competition in New Orleans, third at Race & Case in Denver, and second at the Katz Invitational Case Competition in Pittsburgh.
    Executives from FedEx Corporation presented SEC teams with a challenge currently facing the company on Friday morning. The four-person teams were randomly drawn into four divisions, had approximately 24 hours to outline an approach to the challenge and to organize a related presentation. A panel of judges from FedEx considered each presentation and the top four teams advanced to the finals. In addition to the team title, Alabama’s Rivera Burrows also received the Best Q&A Award for Division C, as determined by the judges.
    Culverhouse has additional news too. Just recently, The EDGE, a 26,000 square-foot business incubator and innovation space for entrepreneurs, officially opened its doors in a ribbon-cutting ceremony in February. Located in the heart of Tuscaloosa, The EDGE is the result of a partnership between The University of Alabama, via the Culverhouse College of Business’ Alabama Entrepreneurship Institute, the City of Tuscaloosa and the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama.
    The EDGE is both a workspace and a catalyst for business networking that will host regular workshops, forums and informal gatherings. The $11.7 million facility includes 20 offices, 100 workstations and several conference rooms, all offered to entrepreneurs, people seeking to build their businesses and individuals who need working and networking space. Besides providing a place to work and meet for the Tuscaloosa entrepreneur and freelancer community and entrepreneurial-minded students, The EDGE also will host special events that further drive area business and job growth, including pitch events and hackathons.
    Faulkner University:  College of Health Sciences Expands
    More than 30 students signed up in the fall of 2018 to be a part of Faulkner’s new Department of Speech and Language Pathology under the new College of Health Sciences. Their clinical work will take place at the Faulkner SLP Clinic located on Woodmere Boulevard. The fully funded diagnostic and treatment clinic is well equipped and staffed to offer services to all ages, infants through the elderly. 
    In 2017, Faulkner President Mike Williams announced that the university plans to establish an autism center on campus by the end of 2019. The comprehensive, interdisciplinary center will combine resources from the College of Education and the College of Heath Sciences.
    The university has hired three new directors to develop the next three programs; the physician assistant (PA) program is scheduled to begin in 2020, physical therapy (PT) in 2021 and occupational therapy (OT) in 2022, pending accreditation. “Expanding into the health sciences is going to elevate Faulkner’s academic programs and its standings academically,” said Dave Rampersad, Ph.D., the Vice President of Academic Affairs.
    Troy University: New Accounting Accreditation & National Recognition 
    Troy University’s Sorrell College of Business now stands as just one of 189 colleges of business worldwide to hold dual accreditation from AACSB International. In November, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the longest-serving global accrediting body for business schools, accredited the Sorrell College, noting the university’s commitment as a reflection of its dedication to students, network of alumni and the greater business community.
    In January, the Sorrell College received supplemental AACSB accreditation of its School of Accountancy. To realize accounting accreditation, an institution must first earn or maintain AACSB Business Accreditation. Then, in addition to developing and implementing a mission-driven plan to satisfy the business accreditation quality standards, accounting accreditation requires the satisfaction of an additional set of accreditation standards that are specific to the discipline and profession of accounting.
    In addition to a full range of business degree programs offered at the university’s Troy Campus, the Sorrell College also offers undergraduate and graduate programs at the Montgomery Campus for those seeking careers or advancement in career fields such as global business with a concentration in accounting and finance, marketing, management and human resource management.
    “The Sorrell College now holds AACSB accreditation in both business and accounting, which is synonymous with ‘the highest standards of excellence’ for the academic programs we offer our students,” said Dr. Judson Edwards, Dean of the Sorrell College of Business. “We have laid a great foundation for the future through the attainment of dual AACSB accreditation, joining a select group of business schools representing the best universities in the world.”
    TROY’s accolades during the 2018-2019 academic year didn’t stop with the Sorrell College. The Princeton Review recognized TROY as being among the best colleges and universities in the southeastern United States for the 14th consecutive year, and Military Times ranked the university as the top university in Alabama in its 2019 Best for Vets college rankings.
    “Troy University takes very seriously our service to those men and women in uniform, and those who support them,” said Dr. Jack Hawkins Jr., Chancellor. “We know that freedom is not free, and at TROY, we take great pride in serving and supporting those who sacrifice daily to protect our way of life. Since the 1950s, Troy University has set the standard of service, and these external rankings and recognition validate our efforts.”
    Troy University has also demonstrated its commitment to helping agencies throughout Alabama, thanks to the Center for Public Service, located on the Montgomery Campus. The center operates as a hub connecting government agencies and nonprofits throughout Alabama to TROY experts who can help them in areas of need. The center not only provides opportunities for TROY faculty and staff to share their expertise, but also provides students with opportunities to gain valuable experience.
    Auburn University at Montgomery: Working Capital 
    Alabama’s capital city is evolving, and Auburn University at Montgomery is evolving to meet its changing needs. With half a century of growing and developing Montgomery and the River Region’s highly qualified workforce to its credit, AUM continues to strengthen business and government by developing “working capital.”
    Ranked among the South’s top universities by U.S. News and World Report and named one of the best colleges in the Southeast by The Princeton Review, AUM continues to be chosen as a top university in the River Region. Designated as a Military Friendly university, there are 90-plus degree programs and certifications, along with 24 degrees completely online, including the Master of Business Administration.
    Montgomery and the River Region continue to have a robust healthcare industry. In response, AUM recently added a Master of Healthcare Administration and a Doctor of Nursing Practice to its roster of degree programs.
    Montgomery’s emergence as a technology base in the state creates increased demand for talent equipped to lead in a “knowledge economy.” AUM launched its Master of Management Information Systems to leverage the power of world-class computer science and business faculty to attract and develop homegrown technology leaders who are connected to and invested in the community.
    As the business landscape in Montgomery evolves, AUM has strengthened its response. AUM’s Master of Applied Economics provides a stream of professionals with the skills for constant and real-time analysis of economic data from their integrated roles in business and government. The city and region also require, now more than ever, nimble but thoughtful decision-making: AUM’s master’s and doctoral programs in Public Policy and Public Administration prepare graduates to navigate the inevitable change that accompanies growth.
    A cutting-edge learning experience was also introduced. The Virtual Avatar Laboratory, the first facility of its kind in the state, combines human and artificial intelligence for a simulation experience that is unparalleled in training leaders to manage workplace challenges and engage in critical conversations.
    While AUM continues to grow and evolve in the students it attracts and the programs it offers, it continues to be a partner, steward and champion for Montgomery and the River Region.
    Trenholm State Community College: Grant Gives Access to Jobs Training
    Beginning in the fall of 2019, Trenholm State Community College will help 120 people gain occupational skills training in high-demand fields including welding, certified nursing assistant, emergency medical technology, machine tool and commercial truck driving. The Alabama Department of Commerce awarded the college a grant of nearly $420,000 to create the training program, which will serve adults and dislocated workers in Autauga, Elmore, Lowndes, Macon and Montgomery counties. The grant money will pay for tuition, fees and supplies.
    Each field has its own specific requirements, but in general, participants will spend 26 weeks in training at both the Trenholm campus and the college’s Patterson site in addition to other facilities, and they should be prepared to dedicate up to 30 hours each week to the program. The participants will be taught marketable skills and training that when complete, will lead to industry-recognized credentials, national certifications and in some instances, credits toward a degree. The program offers other benefits too; its participants will have access to tutoring, academic advising and soft skills training.
    Strayer University Montgomery: New University Brings New Opportunities to MGM
    In 2018, Strayer University opened the doors to its Montgomery campus, where students can choose from a range of academic programs – from IT to business and beyond – and pursue associate’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees and even master’s degrees.
    In addition to its multiple offerings, Strayer’s flexibility and affordability help students succeed. It offers scholarships and participates in select federal financial aid programs, plus the Strayer Graduation Fund helps bachelor’s degree students stay within their budget and increase rates of completion.
    Other tools include helping students stay engaged by incorporating attention-grabbing, binge-worthy academic video content into its curriculum produced by Strayer Studios; designing the Montgomery campus to offer more space for students to collaborate with their peers and faculty, network, study and unwind; and providing its Foundations of Success course on-site at the Montgomery campus. This class is considered a steppingstone for those undergraduates who are coming back to college after a prolonged absence. It prepares undergraduate students to successfully go back to school by teaching time management, critical reading and thinking skills, research strategies and more.
    Strayer is proud to help support the growth and development of downtown Montgomery and hopes to serve the business community as a trusted partner and friend. University leaders welcome anyone interested to stop in and see what Strayer is all about.
    South University: Celebrating A Milestone
    South University is celebrating its 120-year anniversary this year. Established in 1899, the private, nonprofit institution is celebrating its long history of driving student success. On its Montgomery campus, students receive a sound academic education that is personal and practical. South University is regionally accredited to award associate degrees in physical therapist assisting and medical assisting; bachelor degrees in criminal justice, business administration, healthcare management, information technology, psychology, public health, nursing, and RN to BSN; master’s degrees in criminal justice, business administration, healthcare administration, information systems, leadership, family nurse practitioner and a doctorate in ministry.
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