Spotlight on Shelby County: Higher Education

Two institutions of higher learning provide certificate and degree options for area residents

Stephens Hall, on the University of Montevallo campus, was named in 2021 in honor of Allison and Michael Stephens.

University of Montevallo

Founded in 1896, UM is nestled in the heart of Alabama, approximately 35 miles south of Birmingham. As the only public liberal arts university in Alabama, the University of Montevallo has the charm of a private school experience while providing the value of a state-
supported institution.

Montevallo’s list of national accolades grows each year. U.S. News & World Report has ranked UM as one of the top Public Regional Universities for the past 14 years, as well as a Best Value School and one of the most innovative schools in the nation, and the institution has been named a College of Distinction for 11 consecutive years.

Montevallo offers academic programs in four colleges: arts and sciences, business, education and human development and fine arts. Students choose from more than 30 degree programs and more than 70 majors and concentrations. They participate in an educational environment boasting an average class size of 13 and have unprecedented opportunities for conducting undergraduate research under full-time faculty mentors.

Unique to Montevallo is its homecoming tradition, College Night, a mix of theatre and athletics and more that’s now more than 100 years old.

UM partners with several community colleges for easy transfer arrangements. It also is offering a new school of education and human development scholarship to help increase the number of qualified teachers to serve in targeted rural areas.

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UM’s Stephens College of Business added two management and two finance programs, and the UM family and consumer sciences added hospitality and tourism as a new concentration.

UM regularly adds and improves facilities for its students and faculty, as well as the community at large. One is a new Grainger Community Counseling and Wellness Clinic, providing free mental health counseling services for adults and children in Montevallo and surrounding communities. It was made possible by a generous donation from Michael and Donna Grainger.

In November 2021, the college dedicated its Center for the Arts and renovated Carmichael Library and Harman Hall. And the school honored Dr. Wilson Fallin Jr., director of minority affairs at UM and history professor. The school renamed the University of Montevallo on Main to Dr. Wilson Fallin Jr. Hall.

Jefferson State Community College’s Shelby-Hoover campus.

Jefferson State Community College — Shelby-Hoover Campus

For almost 60 years, Jefferson State Community College has led the way in providing excellence in education and value. Today, Jefferson State has four campuses and serves approximately 13,000 students in Jefferson, Shelby, St. Clair and Chilton counties. The Shelby campus is the largest of the four.

Jefferson State generates a tremendous economic boost for central Alabama. Economists estimate that for every dollar spent on Jefferson State, the community receives approximately $19 in benefit.

Approximately 65% of Jefferson State students transfer to a four-year university. Jefferson State offers more than 116 transfer programs, 39 career and technical education programs, 30 non-credit fast-track programs and more than 60 dual enrollment classes. Jefferson State has numerous articulation agreements with four-year universities to help students transfer with ease.

Seven out of 10 jobs require up to an associate degree. Career program options are varied, ranging from culinary arts and computer information systems to veterinary nursing and manufacturing technology.

About one-fourth of Jefferson State students are enrolled in health programs. With more than 250 nursing graduates each year, Jefferson State is the leading producer of nursing graduates with associate degrees in Alabama.

Jefferson State’s first nursing apprenticeship program gives students a chance to earn while they learn. It is a partnership with Grandview Medical Center.

Jefferson State also has a popular welding technology program at the Shelby-Hoover campus, and the latest students recently signed apprenticeship agreements with several area employers.

The college also delivers non-credit workforce training in career programs that can be completed in as little as six weeks. These “fast-track” programs prepare students for immediate employment for in-demand jobs such as welding, IT, commercial driver’s license, line worker, heavy equipment operation, web development, certified nursing assistant, medical assistant, pharmacy technician and more.

Jefferson State also is a leader in dual enrollment programs with area high schools. Each year, more than 2,700 high school students earn college credit while still in high school with Jefferson State.

Jefferson State offers award-winning student groups, organizations, honor societies, professional organizations and athletics. Jefferson State also holds festive events throughout the year such as student formals, homecoming events, a 5K race and much more.

This article appears in the February 2023 issue of Business Alabama.

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