Spotlight on Tuscaloosa County: Higher Education

Students gather on the quad at the University of Alabama.

University of Alabama
With 37,842 students, the University of Alabama saw a 2% increase in the number of in-state undergraduate students and record-setting graduate school enrollment in the fall 2020 total student headcount.

Highlights of the 2020 freshman class include 42% with a 4.0 GPA in high school, 40% scoring 30 or higher on the ACT and an average high school GPA of 3.83. UA enrolled 221 new National Merit Scholars, bringing the number of enrolled National Merit Scholars to 796.

UA awarded 9,668 degrees during the 2019-2020 academic year, continuing to educate and graduate more students than any other institution in the state.

The university is involved in several partnerships for development, research and more. For example, through an agreement with Techstars Alabama EnergyTech Accelerator, UA students have opportunities to engage with startups to broaden their own skillsets and help improve Alabama’s economy.

UA has continued to transform and enhance the academic, social and research experience through innovative construction and renovation projects. Since 2015, 20 new buildings have been constructed on the 1,377-acre campus.

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The newest include:

  • The Capstone College of Nursing opened a new wing in January 2021 to expand student learning and collaboration space and give faculty space for research and other responsibilities.
  • The Math and Science Education Building, formerly the Biology Building, and adjacent auditorium underwent extensive renovations including a complete interior demolition to make space for a more contemporary, open and collaborative learning spaces.
  • The 2nd Avenue Overpass, scheduled to open in August 2021, will connect 15th Street to Paul W. Bryant Drive near the east side of Coleman Coliseum, creating a new campus corridor that won’t be hampered by train tracks.
  • Also scheduled for completion in August 2021 is Hewson Hall. The new academic building serving the Culverhouse College of Business will be centered around a three-story atrium, with 22 classrooms, team collaboration rooms, a student success center, conference rooms and other amenities.
  • A new Tutwiler Hall is scheduled to open in August 2022 adjacent to the current Tutwiler Hall, offering housing for first-year female students.

Recent honors and awards include:

  • The Carnegie Foundation lists UA among the top doctoral research
    universities in the U.S.
  • UA saw the highest fundraising year to-date during fiscal 2019–2020, which included charitable gifts and pledges in excess of $222 million from nearly 60,000 donors. Highlighting the success was reaching the $15 million fundraising goal to support construction of the new Performing Arts Academic Center.
  • Fifty-nine students have been named Goldwater Scholars, including two
    in 2021.
  • Five UA students won Fulbright awards for 2021-2022. In February 2021, UA was recognized as a Top Producing Institution for Fulbright U.S. students for the fifth time in six years.
  • UA’s Advertising and Public Relations Program was named a top-five finalist for Outstanding Education Program during the PRWeek Awards — the tenth time the program has been awarded this honor.
  • UA’s School of Law ranks No. 25 overall and No. 9 among public universities on U.S. News & World Report’s list of 2022 Best Law Schools.
  • The Capstone College of Nursing’s online master’s program ranks No. 13 among public universities and No. 17 overall by U.S. News & World Report. The college also made The Princeton Review’s 2021 Top Online Nursing Programs list.
  • The Culverhouse College of Business ranks No. 28 among public business schools and No. 44 overall by U.S. News & World Report.
Stillman College, one of Alabama’s historically black liberal arts colleges.

Stillman College

Stillman College is a private, four-year, coeducational, historically black liberal arts college in Tuscaloosa. Founded in 1876 as an institute to prepare African American ministers for the Presbyterian Church, its mission has expanded to offering 17 major programs of study across 10 academic departments.

Stillman offers several pre-professional programs, and has fully online degree options in criminal justice, psychology, religion and theology, and others. The college has a small student/teacher ratio at 16:1, allowing nurtured learning. Stillman College has actively sought and established partnerships with larger universities and graduate schools that provide pathways for students to move from the undergraduate program directly into graduate work in their chosen field.

The new cybersecurity concentration and soon-to-be-launched data analytics concentration will help students in any major earn certifications that will amplify their employment opportunities. Students participate in internships and apprenticeships as part of their courses of study in order to enhance their professional skills to make them job-ready upon graduation.

The Stillman College Undergraduate Biomedical Academy (SCUBA) provides enhanced preparation for students who want to excel in the biomedical sciences. Joining intensive study with professional experiences and skills gives Stillman students a jump start on their medical careers.

Stillman’s recent partnership with the local agency Arts ’n Autism’s LIFE program provides college life and classroom experiences for students living with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Stillman’s small campus and classroom environment provides a unique opportunity for young adults to explore possibilities for independent futures.

The college also competes in intercollegiate athletics and extracurricular activities, such as marching and concert band, and the renowned Stillman College Choir.

Stillman is a partner in Elevate Tuscaloosa, a city initiative, as well as state opportunity zones for development.

Stillman recently used a portion of its federal coronavirus relief funds to help students pay off student debt. The school put about $750,000 toward the effort, and dispersed money to about 290 enrolled students with balances to pay off tuition and housing debt.

Shelton State Community College’s campus in the spring.

Shelton State Community College

Shelton State Community College is providing seamless transitions from pre-K to employment in order to meet the needs of west Alabama.

Shelton State is a fixture in west Alabama’s community and beyond. There are more than 400 employees, and enrollment is just under 3,750 students. Since 2016, students have earned more than 3,800 degrees and certificates in 27 various programs. In the last year alone, the college has witnessed significant accomplishments despite the challenges of a global pandemic. Those include:

  • Awarding 700 degrees.
  • Credentialing more than 2,100 students through Ready to Work (RTW) and Workplace Success participants, Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE) remediation, WorkKeys preparation and career credentialing programs.
  • Apprenticeship opportunities for 192 students through partnerships with local business and industry.
  • A combined award total approaching $1.5 million in institutional and foundation scholarships.

Offering support and an early glimpse of college life, the college’s dual enrollment program doubled in 2021. This exciting level of dual enrollment growth is expected to continue through Shelton State’s partnership with K-12 system initiatives and Region 3 manufacturing initiatives. Consistent with its new vision, the college anticipates a 75% increase in all career technical dual enrollment approved programs not already at capacity.

For students interested in its career
technical area, welding technology expanded its program opportunities to include students in all school systems in Tuscaloosa County and at the Tuscaloosa Career and Technology Academy.

As the needs of local health care increased, Shelton State Health Services responded to meet them. Most recently, the college added Medical Laboratory Technician as a program at the associate degree level and will begin instruction this fall. Nursing and health informatics programs also have been added.

A recent classroom learning technology overhaul saw almost 80 classrooms undergo complete technological upgrade.

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