Huntsville’s local colleges and universities are about to finish up their academic year in a few weeks, and are all looking toward the summer, which also means that there is plenty of local college news to report.
The University of Alabama in Huntsville, Alabama A&M University and Drake State Community & Technical College all released some pretty interesting news from their campuses this week. Here’s what’s up this week in local college news:
UAH Engineering Building
In a major local college news story, UAH held a groundbreaking ceremony Friday for a new 80,000-square-foot engineering facility that will be named in memory of Raymond B. Jones, long-time business and community leader and past chairman of the UAH Foundation.
The facility, which received initial approval by The University of Alabama System Board of Trustees in April 2022, will provide cutting-edge resources to support the largest college at UAH, comprising more than 2,850 students, as well as 90 faculty and staff.
“Ensuring the growth and success of UAH is one of our top priorities, and the groundbreaking of this transformative building is a testament to that commitment. The Jones Engineering Building will be integral to UAH’s role in supporting the region’s workforce, research and educational needs, and we are confident it will favorably impact this community for generations to come. The future is bright for UAH.”W. Stancil Starnes, UA System Board of Trustees President Pro Tempore
Phase I of the project is estimated to cost $62.4 million and includes plans for new construction that will replace the Wernher von Braun Research Hall, a building constructed in 1964. The new facility will be located west of the existing Engineering Building, adjacent to the campus lake along John Wright Drive.
“UAH is known for our talented faculty and students who go on to be some of the brightest leaders in the national security, space exploration, healthcare, arts and business sectors. The Huntsville community is known for our remarkable STEM labor force, and the Jones Engineering Building will enhance our students’ experience.”UAH president Dr. Charles Karr
Drake State gets new police department
Drake State Community & Technical College is getting its own police department, and is in the process of interviewing candidates for the department’s first police chief — also some pretty big local college news.
Police officer candidates will undergo an intensive background check, including a review of prior employment records, polygraph examination, and psychological evaluation, according to a statement from the college issued Wednesday.
Police officers on campus will provide more protection and increase confidence for students, faculty, and staff to safely go home at the end of the day, said Mark Bailey, Chief Safety and Security Officer at Alabama Community College System.
“While Drake State has a few reported crimes on its campus, a strong officer presence will hinder anyone considering committing a crime. Campus Police Officers have full powers of arrest and will be responsible for conducting complex misdemeanor and felony investigations on campus property.Mark Bailey, Chief Safety and Security Officer at Alabama Community College System
The Alabama Community College System provides funding to assist with the initial setup cost for establishing the department. During the past two years, the Alabama Community College System has launched seven new departments on its campuses.
Currently, Gadsden State, Snead State, and Chattahoochee Valley Community Colleges are in the process of selecting police chiefs. During the last two years, Trenholm State, Reid State, and Lurleen B. Wallace Community Colleges have established police departments that are now fully functional.
New AAMU initiative focuses on retention and recruitment
In other local college news, a new initiative has been launched at Alabama A&M that focuses on recruitment and retention efforts at the school.
The newly established Teacher Ambassador Program (T.A.P.) is an initiative that allows current teacher education and leadership students to serve as ambassadors and peer mentors for the Department of Teacher Education and Leadership. Students will also work to assist the department in meeting recruitment and retention goals.
Six students from across the various teacher education programs were interviewed and selected from among peers to serve as the department’s first cohort of ambassadors.
The students will work closely with the program founder and lead, Dr. Samantha L. Strachan, and program co-lead, Dr. John Prestridge, to recruit new students to AAMU, assist current students with navigating the teacher education pathway, and support teacher education faculty with student engagement.
“We are extremely grateful to the EducateMe Foundation for providing us with funding to support our recruitment and retention efforts. In addition to supporting our student ambassadors, the foundation has provided us with funding to establish a unique approach to preparing teacher candidates for an external reading examination required by the Alabama State Department of Education. We look forward to seeing how newly implemented initiatives impact retention and completion rates in our programs.”Dr. Samantha L. Strachan