UAB's cultural strength comes from many shared accomplishments and the determination to achieve even greater things.
Good morning. I want to thank Chancellor Witt and the distinguished members of our Board of Trustees for this opportunity to update you on behalf of UAB faculty.

It is a privilege for me to serve as the Chair of Faculty and representative to this Board, particularly in such exciting and promising times for our university. This has been an outstanding year for UAB faculty, as we continue pushing the envelope in research and scholarship, mentoring talented young minds who are already making their own marks and earning prestigious honors, and helping this university to have a tremendous impact on our local and global community.

Our faculty are securing increasingly competitive research funding and top awards in their fields, as they conduct cutting-edge research across many disciplines…

  • You just heard President Watts speak of Sarah Parcak in the Department of Anthropology who recently won the TED Prize of $1 million awarded to a leading innovator or thought leader.
  • Discover Magazine cited a seminal research paper from the lab of David Sweatt, the Chair of Neurobiology, on epigenetic modulation of DNA as one of the top 100 stories of 2015 in an issue that highlighted the best in science in a range that spanned from space exploration to medicine, technology, paleontology to environment.
  • Gary Warner and other faculty in our one-of-a-kind cyber forensics center continue collaborating with the FBI, Homeland Security and industry partners to develop innovate new technologies for combating global cybercrime.

These and other faculty are carrying on—and building upon—a longtime culture of innovation and collaboration that has earned this university global renown for decades, and that culture continues to grow stronger.

That strength comes from many shared accomplishments and the determination to achieve even greater things, but—as with any university, organization or corporation—strength can come from struggle as well. Last year, my colleague Chad Epps, the then-Chair of Faculty, stood before you and expressed our lack of confidence with President Watts. The no-confidence resolution was a very difficult decision that faculty did not take lightly.

With this, though, I can report that the Senate and faculty remain committed to finding ways to weather the storm. President Watts’ actions over the past year demonstrate a desire to repair the damage and move forward. He has instituted regular meetings with the Faculty Senate Chair, has committed to visiting each of the academic units at least two times per year and has openly encouraged other members of senior administration to work collaboratively with faculty and other UAB constituents.

We are encouraged by the UAB President’s Liaison Committee that Dr. Watts established and are confident that it has open lines of communication with the Board, Faculty and Community at large.

Even with the willingness to change, we have, in the past year, continued to experience rushed decisions that lack the benefit of shared governance. We have brought these to the attention of senior administration and stand cautiously optimistic that the culture will continue to improve in coming months and years. We all want the same thing: for UAB to be the very best, knowing we must do it together.

Through this period, we appreciate members of the Board of Trustees reaching out to faculty leadership to begin a dialogue that helps advance our institution. That gesture was well received and we look forward to ways of continuing that dialogue in 2016.

Now a very promising new day is upon us, and I am proud, positive and hopeful about our working relationship with the UAB administration and, you, the Board of Trustees. UAB faculty are beginning to collaborate more effectively with administration and are working towards a true spirit of shared governance. Effective communication remains the key to our continued progress. By continuing to increase the levels of inclusiveness and transparency, we can be more unified than ever in our mission and excel like never before.

I could not be prouder to be part of this faculty and this university. The term “world-class” is probably over-used but in UAB’s case it applies quite literally. Two recent rankings put UAB among the top 1 percent of world universities. For decades, top faculty from around the globe have come to Birmingham, Alabama, to be part of our intensely collaborative culture.

Our faculty are here to continue that tradition, to be part of something bigger than ourselves. We are here to bring our own passion and expertise to bear on UAB’s leadership in many different fields, and to educate the leaders of tomorrow. In short, we came here to discover and teach knowledge that will change our world, and that is what we strive to do daily.

I offer my sincere gratitude to the Board and UAB administration for your continued efforts in supporting the faculty at UAB and all that we can accomplish together.

Thank you.

Alecia Gross
Chair, UAB Faculty Senate

Faculty News

  • Submit art now for Alabama high school Statewide Student Juried Art Show
    Submit art now for Alabama high school Statewide Student Juried Art Show
    UAB Department of Art and Art History Chair Lauren Lake, MFA, is the juror for this year’s show. The deadline for entry is Feb. 28.

    alabama art 2Young artists in Alabama take heed: The deadline for entries to the 2016 Statewide Student Juried Art Show is midnight Sunday, Feb. 28.

    This year the show will be juried by Lauren Lake, MFA, chair of the University of Alabama at BirminghamCollege of Arts and SciencesDepartment of Art and Art History.

    The department, in partnership with the Shelby County Arts Council and the Alabama State Council on the Arts, will present the show. The exhibition will offer merit awards, and Phillip Forstall of Forstall Art Center will also give gift certificate awards.

    The exhibition provides a great opportunity for student work to be seen by college and university faculty during the Shelby County Arts Council College Preview Day on Sunday, April 10. The preview day will take place at the Shelby County Arts Council, 104 Mildred St., Columbiana.

    The show is open to all Alabama high school students in grades 10-12 for the 2015-2016 academic year. Categories for submission are painting (oil, acrylic and watercolor), drawing, photography, 3-D design and mixed media.

    Submissions should be sent to along with the completed PDF entry form. For each work, artists may submit up to two digital images (a general view and a detailed view). JPG images must be attached to the application

    email. Digital images should be sent as JPGs, 72dpi, should measure 1,000 pixels on the longest side and must be saved at “high” quality.There is no cost to enter. More information on the 2016 Statewide Student Juried Art Show is available online at and on the Department of Art and Art History’s website at Full entry instructions are included on the entry form.

    Lake received her MFA degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her B.A. degree in art education at the University of Florida. She was the recipient of the 2007 Southeastern College Art Conference Excellence in Teaching Award, the 2008 University of Florida College of Fine Arts International Educator Award and the 2009 College of Fine Arts Teaching Award.

    For questions, contact Jared Ragland, DAAH visual media and outreach coordinator, at

  • New book by UAB professor examines the role of African-American educators during the Birmingham civil rights movement
    New book by UAB professor examines the role of African-American educators during the Birmingham civil rights movement
    After more than 10 years of archival research and interviews with 45 African-American educators, Tondra Loder-Jackson, Ph.D., reveals their experiences and contributions to the movement.

    tondra loder jackson2Birmingham is rich with stories about the civil rights movement and the prominent leaders, local activists and even children who fought for social change, but little is known about the role educators played during that time.

    A new book by University of Alabama at Birmingham professor Tondra Loder-Jackson, Ph.D., examines the role that African-American educators played in the Birmingham civil rights movement from the late 19th century to the present day.

    “This is the first book of its kind that is devoted primarily to the multigenerational perspectives of African-American educators in the South and how they perceived their roles and contributions to the civil rights movement,” said Loder-Jackson. “I wasn’t born in Birmingham, but I grew up here. My early experiences of attending Birmingham schools during the period of desegregation are part of what shaped my interest in this topic.”

    Schoolhouse Activists: African American Educators and the Long Birmingham Civil Rights Movement” revisits the longstanding debate about whether educators were friends or foes of the civil rights movement. The book is the culmination of more than 10 years of archival research and interviews. Loder-Jackson has found that African-American educators in Birmingham were involved in both the front lines of the movement and behind the scenes in ways that are not easily noticeable to most scholars and the general public.

    “Educators spent time teaching students about social justice issues and the perils of Jim Crow,” said Loder-Jackson. “Many of them supported students when they learned of their interest in participating in the movement. An example of this is not reporting students to school administrators when they chose to skip class to participate in the Children’s Crusade. They faced opposition while fighting for benefits such as sick leave. Some even lost their jobs fighting for equal pay.”

    loder jackson book streamThe book is divided into two parts. Part I chronicles the history of Birmingham education in relation to African-American educators between the late 19th century and the mid-20th-century classical phase of the movement, which began in 1954 with the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education. In Part II, Loder-Jackson shares the memories and experiences of 45 African-American educators who came of age before, during and after the classical movement. She hopes the book will serve as a resource for current educators, community activists and students grappling with contemporary struggles for educational justice.

    “I’m not sure if some of our teachers today are aware of the impact they can have to change schools and society,” Loder-Jackson said. “We live in a time now where many teachers feel they are being dictated to by external entities like federal and state governments. I think it’s important for K-12 educators in particular to know that they have a history of activism and advocacy, and in the past they have been empowered to effect change in schools.”

    Loder-Jackson is an associate professor in the UAB School of Education Department of Human Studies. She will conduct her first campus book talk on Thursday, Feb. 18, from 4-6 p.m., at the UAB Hill Student Center, 1400 University Blvd., Room 203. The book talk is sponsored by the UAB Center for Urban Education and the African American Faculty Association

    To learn more about “Schoolhouse Activists: African American Educators and the Long Birmingham Civil Rights Movement,” click here. The first chapter of the book is available to read online.

  • Collat School of Business dean to be honored at A.G. Gaston Conference
    Collat School of Business dean to be honored at A.G. Gaston Conference
    Jack recognized for innovation in business and education in memory of Birmingham’s A.G. Gaston.

    eric jack 2016Eric Jack, Ph.D., dean of UAB’s Collat School of Business, will receive an award during a conference honoring the memory of a revered Birmingham businessman and civil rights activist.

    Each year, the A.G. Gaston Conference recognizes members of the community who embody characteristics of the late Gaston.

    During the 2016 A.G. Gaston Conference, organizers will present awards to Jack and to Perry Ward, Ph.D., president of Lawson State Community College. In honoring two educators, this year’s conference celebrates the memory of Gaston and his passionate support of education and the role it plays in allowing people to advance in business and society.

    Dean Jack will be recognized for his innovative approach to including members from different industries, such as the medical community, into UAB’s business programs.

    Students from the Collat School of Business will also play a role in the conference through the unveiling of their study focused on making Birmingham attractive to millennial entrepreneurs. 

    The awards will be presented during the A.G. Gaston Legacy Luncheon on Wednesday, Feb. 17, at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex. For more information or to register for the conference, visit

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