UAB President Carol Garrison has approved 11 campuswide proposals that could make significant contributions to fulfilling goals identified in the university’s strategic plan for improving education, research and service.

The proposals support goals for faculty development, stipends and program enhancements in the Graduate School, enhancing honors programs, development of library collections, Study Abroad scholarships and expansion of the research investment pool. Also included are funds to build and/or renovate facilities and to provide undergraduate scholarships.

Provost Eli Capilouto says he is confident that thoughtful review and discussion in the competitive process used in evaluating these proposals during the past seven months has identified priorities that will well serve UAB.

Capilouto credits those who have “done an excellent job in shaping a range of exciting ideas into plans on which we can take action.”

“It is the mark of a vibrant university that we have more great ideas than we have resources to fully support,” he says.

But, as is often the case, Capilouto notes, “We must choose the investments that will provide us the greatest return in meeting our institutional and unit goals.”

Proposals selected

A brief overview of those proposals and their funding amount is included here:

• Faculty development and faculty enrichment, $150,000
This initiative would support and expand programs that are being implemented such as master teacher workshops and development of teaching portfolios and could make available a selection of certificate programs for teaching/learning, service/leadership and scholarship/research that range in length from two to five years. Success will be measured by qualitative and quantitative assessments used in the university’s metrics. An end result is a focused, coherent approach to faculty development that is expected to create committed, passionate communities of scholars.

• Stipends and program enhancements for The Graduate School, $650,000    
This proposal would provide competitive support packages for as many graduate students as possible in a move to expand recruitment and retention of the most qualified students for teaching research and professional services. This is advocated as a necessary move toward parity with competitor institutions. These and other initiatives will help attract a highly qualified and diverse group of graduate students to UAB and strengthen its programs.

• Enhancement of honors programs, $100,000
This plan would enhance honors studies throughout UAB with a goal of attracting and mentoring high-achieving students seeking advanced undergraduate studies and coordinating curricula across the disciplines. This correlates with a specific UAB Scorecard goal of expanding honors studies opportunities and student enrollment in the Honors Program.

• Improving library resources, $500,000
Increased library funding would be provided to maintain and increase the level of acquisitions, both print and electronic, to support existing and new programs. Access to scholarly materials is fundamental to meeting the UAB goal of providing a highly effective undergraduate, graduate and professional education at UAB, promoting research and scholarship, plus continuing service to the community and state.

• Research investment, $2 million
Significant investments are proposed to maintain and improve research infrastructure and recruitment and retention of researchers, with favor for multidisciplinary programs. Funds are likely to be distributed through both an established application process and a more flexible funding mechanism to respond to opportunities or contingencies that arise.

• Study Abroad scholarships, $100,000
This proposal would provide undergraduate scholarship awards to help increase the number and diversity of students participating in Study Abroad, promote longer-term study opportunities and expand the variety of programs and partnerships around the world. This supports the university goal for Study Abroad in the Undergraduate Scorecard.

Funding also was approved for these other initiatives:

• Classroom renovations, $500,000
This will address initial costs to comprehensively update classrooms on the west side of campus.

• Infrastructure needs, $2.6 million
This includes such projects as library renovations and money for property acquisitions.

• New academic building, $1.8 million
This will cover additional costs associated with this project.

• SEBLAB, $1 million
This will cover additional costs associated with the Southeast Biosafety Laboratory Alabama Birmingham, an NIH-supported joint initiative with Southern Research Institute to build a regional biosafety laboratory for the study of organisms important in biodefense and organisms causing emerging infectious diseases worldwide.

• Undergraduate scholarships enhancement, $500,000

Approval process
In May, after APC meetings in which these proposals  were presented and discussed, they were evaluated and recommended by the Academic Programs Council (APC), which comprises UAB’s deans, library directors, Faculty Senate representatives and other academic and administrative leaders.

The final decisions were made during September, within the context of other priorities and commitments such as salaries, utilities, capital improvements and retiree health benefits that had to be considered in the fiscal budget, says Capilouto.

Funding for these proposals was made possible by an exceptional and better than expected state allocation for 2006-07; it is expected that funds to continue these programs will be available in future budgets.