University of Alabama

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University of Alabama

University of Alabama Seal

Established 1831
School type Public University
President Robert Witt
Location Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Enrollment 21,750
Faculty 1,122
Campus Urban (Small City)
Nickname Crimson Tide
Athletics 15 Varsity Sports
16 Club Sports
Conference Southeastern
(NCAA Division I)

The University of Alabama (also known as Alabama, UA, or colloquially as 'Bama) is a public coeducational university located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Founded in 1831, UA is the flagship campus of the University of Alabama System. Within Alabama, it is often called the Capstone.

Predating the admission of Alabama into the Union, UA is the senior doctoral university in the state. Today, it is one of the state's three major research universities, along with academic and athletic rival Auburn University and the much younger University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).

Alabama offers programs of study in 12 academic divisions leading to Bachelor's, Master's, Education Specialist, and doctoral degrees. The only publicly-supported law school in Alabama is at UA. (The Cumberland School of Law at Samford University in Birmingham is the state's only other ABA-accredited law school.) Other academic programs unavailable elsewhere in Alabama include doctoral programs in anthropology, library and information studies, music, Romance languages, and social work.

As of fall 2005, Alabama has an enrollment of more than 21,750 students and its president is Dr. Robert Witt.



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 March 2, 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, and named it "The University of the State of Alabama." It was set up in Tuscaloosa, then-capital of Alabama, in 1827 and opened its doors to students on April 18, 1831.

School president Landon Garland transformed the University into a military school in 1860. As such, the school trained troops for the Confederacy during the Civil War. As a consequence of that role, Union troops burned down the campus in 1865 (though this was unrelated to Sherman's March to the Sea). Only seven buildings survived the burning, one of which was the President's Mansion.

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. 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.

On June 11, 1963, then-Governor George Wallace made his infamous Stand at the Schoolhouse Door when he stood in the front entrance of Foster Auditorium in an attempt to stop the enrollment of two African-American students: Vivian Malone and James Hood. When confronted by federal marshals sent in by Attorney-General Robert F. Kennedy, Wallace stepped aside. Later in life, he apologized for his opposition at that time to racial integration.

In June 2003, the University marked the fortieth anniversary of integration by hosting "Opening Doors," a three-day event to salute the sacrifice and commitment of the courageous individuals who took a stand for racial change at a crucial time in its history.

Academic divisions

Shelby Hall, the home of the Department of Chemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences

The eight divisions of the University granting undergraduate degrees are:

  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration
  • College of Communication and Information Sciences
  • College of Education
  • College of Engineering
  • College of Human Environmental Sciences
  • Capstone College of Nursing
  • School of Social Work

Degrees in those eight divisions at the Master's, Specialist, and doctoral level are awarded through the Graduate School.

The School of Law offers J.D. and LL.M. degree programs. The College of Community Health Sciences provides advanced studies in medicine and related disciplines and operates a family-practice residency program in association with the University of Alabama School of Medicine (though UASOM is in actuality a division of UAB). Finally, 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.


File:UA Denny Chimes.jpg
Denny Chimes on the Quad
File:President's mansion, chimes at dusk.jpg
Denny Chimes on the University of Alabama campus

UA is composed of a singular campus of approximately 1,000 acres (4 km²). The campus is notable for its abundance of buildings built in the Greek Revival style. Landmarks include the President's Mansion, the Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library, and Denny Chimes, a campanile equipped with a 25-bell carillon, all of which are located on or near the Quadrangle (Quad for short), the central green area on campus.

On-campus cultural facilities include the Paul Bryant Museum, the Alabama Museum of Natural History, the Sarah Moody Gallery of Art, and the Frank M. Moody Music Building, which houses the Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra. The university also maintains an arboretum in eastern Tuscaloosa and the Dauphin Island Sea Lab at Dauphin Island.


The university campus is roughly centered around the Quad. To the east lie buildings housing most of the science and math departments, as well as the College of Nursing. Engineering Row, home of the departments of the College of Engineering, is located to the northeast, and the fine arts and humanities departments of the College of Arts and Sciences are oriented to the north and northwest of the Quad. To the west 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.

Additionally, the facilities of the School of Law, the School of Music (a division of the College of Arts and Sciences), and the College of Community Health Sciences are located in the far eastern edge of campus. The College of Continuing Education is located in Parham Hall further south of the Quad.

Athletic facilities generally flank the far south edge 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.

Click here for a campus map.


As of the Fall 2004 semester, the University had a total enrollment of 20,969 undergraduate, professional, and graduate students. Of which, 74.5% were residents of Alabama, 21% were from elsewhere in the United States and 4.1% were international students representing 79 countries. Women outnumbered men by a 53-47 ratio. 80.9% of students were white, 12.4% were African-American and 1% were Hispanic-American and Asian-American each.

The university employed 1,122 instructional faculty. The student-to-faculty ration was 19:1. 906 faculty members were full time. 540 were tenured with 229 on tenure track. 11.3% (126) were minorities. There were 16 male faculty members for every 10 female faculy members. 96% of faculty head terminal degrees in their field.

Rankings and Accolades

The University of Alabama was named a top 50 public university in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for 2006.

In 2003, five students from the University were named to the 2003 USA Today All-USA College Academic Team. UA students garnered the most awards of any college or university, claiming five of 83 spots on the list. Four students were named to the 2004 team and five students were named to the 2005 team.

UA graduates include 15 Rhodes Scholars, 15 Goldwater Scholars, nine Truman Scholars, and one Portz Scholar.

Published reports have ranked UA among the top four flagship universities in the Southeast and among the nation's top 25 public flagship universities in terms of minority enrollment.

Student life

Greek life

Greek letter organizations first appeared at the University in 1847 when two men visiting from Yale University installed a chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon. When DKE members began holding secret meetings in the old state capitol building that year, the administration strongly voiced its disapproval. Over the next decade, three other fraternies appeared at Alabama: Phi Gamma Delta in 1855, Sigma Alpha Epsilon in 1856, and Kappa Sigma in 1857. Anti-fraternity laws were imposed in that year, but were lifted in 1890s. Eager to have a social organization of their own, women at the University founded the Zeta Chapter of Kappa Delta sorority in 1903. Alpha Delta Pi soon followed.

The University today recognizes 48 social Greek letter organizations. Approximately 20 % of the UA undergraduate student population is a member of a social Greek organization. Fraternities and sororities are more than social clubs, however. A healthy spirit of competition among the different fraternities and sororities encourages members to excel in every aspect of college life. Greek individual and group grade point averages are regularly equal to or higher than those of the general student body, though in recent times the average fraternity grade point average has been lower than that of the average independent male. Additionally, Greek groups often engaged in extensive philanthropy and charitable activities. Three governing boards oversee the operations of the Greek organizations: the Interfraternity Council (IFC), the Panhellenic Association, and the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC).

For the most part, however, Alabama's fraternities and sororities are segregated, with the IFC and Panhellenic Association comprising a so-called "white Greek system" with the NPHC forming the countering "minority Greek system." Whether this segregation is voluntary or forced is a matter of debate. However, integration of the Greek system has recently been slowly occurring. Gamma Phi Beta, a "white sorority," admitted its first black member in fall 2003, although a number of girls in the sorority quit among allegations of improper bidding procedures. The girl, however, did not remain in the sorority beyond that year. In the Spring of 2003, the second largest mulitcultural sorority in the nation, Delta Xi Phi Multicultural Sorority, Inc., founded a chapter at the University. The first pledge class included nine diverse young women. It is now the first and only national multicultural sorority on campus, and has been steadily growing in size. Delta Xi Phi, with its sister chapter at Mississippi, is the only national multicultural sorority in the SEC.

Greek-independent relations and the SGA Template:Mainarticle

Alabama is often described as a place where one can experience an "small college" atmosphere with "big university" amenities. And though the Alabama community is a peaceful and cohesive one for the most part, a thorn in the side of the University's pysche is the sometimes-tense relationship between the Greek community and non-Greek "independent" community.

This divide most often flares up during the school's annual Student Government Association (SGA) elections. Historically, the SGA has been dominated by the so-called "white Greek system." A purported secretive group called the Machine, supposedly the local chapter of the secret society Theta Nu Epsilon, which is similar to the infamous Skull and Bones at Yale University is said to control the SGA elections.

According to newspaper accounts and a documentary produced by the university shown on public television, the Machine has a long tradition at the University, dating back to the Machine's founding in 1914 by the late U.S. Senator Lister Hill, who also founded the Jasons Men's Senior Honorary and who served as the SGA's first president. Initially, only select fraternities were members; sororities were not offered membership until the 1970s. To this day, not all Greek letter organizations have been offered membership, and it is believed that over the years, some fraternities and sororities that were members have had their memberships revoked. It is believed that 90% of those who are put up for SGA office by the Machine go on to political careers in Alabama, Mississippi, or Louisiana. Alleged members include former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, current U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, former U.S. Senator Lister Hill, former U.S. Sen. John Sparkman, former Lt. Gov. Bill Baxley, and former State Democratic Chairman Bill Blount.

Furthermore, SGA elections have been marred by violent assaults and death threats in the past, resulting in an FBI investigation, and turnout among independents remains low because of apathy. A Machine candidate is guaranteed several thousand votes, thus ensuring victory. Machine-backed candidates have won all but seven races for the SGA presidency since 1914, including wins against former Alabama Gov. George Wallace (a non-Machine candidate).

Student media

The Media Planning Board, sanctioned by the University, oversees the Office of Student Media, which manages student-produced publications. All student publications are editorially independent of the University. The OSM oversees the production of one newspaper, one yearbook, and three scholarly publications.

  • The Crimson White is the student-produced newspaper. Published four times a week during the normal academic term and once-weekly during the summer term, the CW, as the newspaper is known, normally distributes 15,000 copies per publication.
  • First published in 1892, Corolla is the official yearbook of the University. It is produced annually by students.
  • The Black Warrior Review and Marr's Field Journal are literary magazines published by students at the University. Black Warrior Review is published by graduate students in the Creative Writing MFA program, where Marr's Field Journal is published by graduate and undergraduate students. Both carry poetry, prose, art, and literary non-fiction from aspiring and renowned authors alike.
  • The Southern Historian is an 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.



Alabama's athletic teams are known as the Crimson Tide. The school fields varsity teams in the NCAA's Division I and is a member of the competitive Southeastern Conference (Western Division), while club sports compete in their respective leagues. The school's athletic teams compete at the highest level, often contending for conference and NCAA titles. Athletic facilities on campus include the 83,818-seat Bryant-Denny Stadium, named after legendary football coach Paul "Bear" Bryant and former UA President George Denny, and the 15,043-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 game is nicknamed the Iron Bowl and is considered one of the most intense games in all of college football. The Alabama-Auburn basketball games (two each season, not counting possible postseason matchups) are often called "Iron Ball."

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 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), Mississippi State University (men's basketball), and the University of Georgia (women's gymnastics).


File:Bryant-Denny Stadium.jpg
Bryant-Denny Stadium

The University of Alabama football program is the most nationally notable of the University's intercollege athletics programs. The football team, started in 1892, is one of the oldest in the country. The school has won 21 SEC titles, played in 51 bowl games, the most in the nation, (with a 29-19-3 record) and claims a total of 12 national championships, tied for the most in the nation (Notre Dame). Alabama has produced 17 hall-of-famers and 91 All-Americans honored 101 times.

Almost synonymous with Alabama football is legendary coach Paul "Bear" Bryant.

Men's basketball

Alabama's men's basketball program has been overshadowed for most of its history by football. However, in recent years, the men's basketball program has risen in stature nationally, achieving a No. 1 national ranking briefly in 2002. Further, UA has become a regular conference basketball contender, much as it was in the 80's under the direction of Wimp Sanderson.


The women's gymnastics squad at the University of Alabama first completed in 1975. The squad did not have a winning season until the arrival of Sarah Patterson in 1979. In the intervening 26 years under husband and wife team Sarah and David Patterson, the squad five SEC championships, 19 regional titles, and 198 All-American honors. It has placed in the top 5 at the NCAA Championships 19 of the past 21 years and won the championships four times: in 1988, 1991, 1996, and most recently in 2002

Gymnastics meets have an average attendance of 9,000 at Coleman Coliseum. Meets against the team's arch-rival, the University of Georgia Gymdogs, often sell out.

Notable alumni


Articles of interest

External links

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