For the latest news, events and announcements about UA, please visit

The new UA News Center features news channels specifically for students, faculty and staff, media and research. The UA News Center uses video, photography and narrative to tell the UA story to our various audiences. It also serves as a hub for finding information on campus resources and calendars. will remain in place temporarily as an archive, but will no longer be updated.

The University of Alabama

UA in the News: October 9, 2012

Former Daimler AG executive becomes University of Alabama professor – Oct. 8
A longtime automotive technology researcher and development engineer for German automaker Daimler AG has joined the faculty at the University of Alabama. Bharat Balasubramanian will be a professor with an appointment in both the mechanical engineering and electrical and computer engineering departments. He also was named executive director of the Center for Advanced Vehicle Technologies, a cross-discipline research center focused on automotive innovation. Balasubramanian said he wants to strengthen relationships between the university and industry, while helping prepare students to work for auto companies in Alabama and the Southeast. He retired earlier this year as vice president of group research and advanced engineering responsible for product innovations and process technologies after nearly 40 years as a research and development engineer at Stuttgart-based Daimler. Daimler is the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, which has an auto plant in Tuscaloosa County. Charles L. Karr, dean of the university’s College of Engineering, said Balasubramanian has been a part of most of the key advances in automotive technology over the past 20 years. “His extensive experience in automotive research and development will be of great benefit to both the university and the state of Alabama,” Karr said in a prepared statement.

UA professor Wright on USADA board
Tuscaloosa News – Oct. 9
Ken Wright, a professor in the University of Alabama College of Human Environmental Sciences, has been appointed to the board of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, the independent entity responsible for testing and results management in the U.S. for Olympic and Paralympic athletes. The board is chaired by two-time Olympic gold medalist Edwin Moses. Wright is director of UA’s sport management program. He served as head athletic trainer at North Carolina-Charlotte from 1981-88 and at Morehead State from 1978-81. He was selected to work at the 2012 Summer Games, the 2010 Winter Games and the 2002 Winter Games. Wright has won numerous awards and has contributed to several publications.

RISE leaders go to Russia for disabled music outreach
Crimson White – Oct. 8
Educators from the University ’s RISE program and the UA School of Music visted the Prospectiva Center in St. Petersburg, Russia last week to work with children with disabilities. The group also worked with the Russian National Orchestra to create a bilingual musical. RISE works with children with disabilities from birth to six years of age by combining practices of both early childhood education and development. Their most celebrated technique is music therapy. “Music touches everybody’s lives no matter how high your functions or how low your functions, no matter what language you speak,” Martha Cook, the director of RISE, said.  Dawn Sandel, who has been a music therapist at RISE for seven years, said music therapy techniques help hone fine and gross motor skills, speech skills, cognitive development, social development and creative expression. “[The kids] have been under the cloak of secrecy for so long,” Cook said. “Just reaching out for help is a huge move.” Children with disabilities in Russia are segregated from society, being placed into orphanages or institutions at a very young age, Sandel said. “It was hard for them to believe that our program is 50 percent children with disabilities and 50 percent without,” Cook said. “You have to learn that everyone is different and how to be tolerant and appreciative of everybody.”

Former ESPN president George Bodenheimer to speak at UA – Oct. 8
Former ESPN president George Bodenheimer will hold a question and answer session in the Ferguson Theater at 4 p.m. on Thursday. Bodenheimer, the longest-tenured president in the network’s history, will appear as a guest of the University of Alabama Program in Sports Communication. The event is free and open to the public. APSC Director Dr. Andrew Billings says Bodenheimer’s talk not only will cover sports communication but also holds overall cultural importance. “If you see ESPN as being just about sports, you’re missing a broader conversation about American culture,” Billings said, according to a UA release. “ESPN is about sports, it’s about media, and it’s about the way the majority of Americans live their lives.” Bodenheimer served as ESPN president for 13 years, from 1998-2012, and assumed the role of executive chairman for ESPN, Inc., in January 2012. The APSC, housed in UA’s College of Communication and Information Sciences, recently launched its website at It currently serves as an umbrella for sport communication-related research taking place on UA’s campus, with a number of faculty fellows providing mentorship for students participating in such research. The APSC plans to hold its first research symposium on campus in spring 2013.
Tuscaloosa News – Oct. 8

Moundville’s Native American Festival features storytelling, music, dancing beginning Wednesday – Oct. 8
The 2012 Moundville Native American Festival will feature storytelling, music, dancing and other activities beginning on Wednesday and running through Saturday. The festival will also have reenactments, arts and crafts, artisan demonstrations, games, a target range and food. Attendees will be able to explore the park’s mounds and nature trails. Oklahoma storyteller and author Gayle Ross will tell Cherokee stories throughout the week. Ross, a frequent performer at storytelling and folk festivals across the country, is the direct descendant of John Ross, chief of the Cherokee Nation during and after the Trail of Tears. Injunuity, a Native American Music Award-winning flue-guitar duo from Oklahoma, will return to the festival with its mix of traditional and modern styles. Other performers include singer-songwriter Michael Jacobs and flutists Billy Whitefox, Sydney Mitchell, Jimmy Yellowhorse and Charlie Mato-Toyela. The Chickasaw Nation Dance Troupe, the Bogue Houma Choctaw Dancers, the Mystic Wind Choctaw Dancers and Lyndon Alec will demonstrate traditional dances. On Saturday, the Mystic Wind Stickball Players of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians will demonstrate the sport of stickball with a match at 2 p.m. on the main plaza.
Tuscaloosa  News – Oct. 8

‘Discovering Alabama’ host Doug Phillips guest Thursday at Sierra Club meeting
Gadsden Times – Oct. 8
Doug Phillips, host of “Discovering Alabama,” the Alabama Public Television series featuring the state’s natural wonders, is the guest speaker for the October meeting of the Coosa Valley Sierra Club…“Discovering Alabama” is celebrating its 27th anniversary this year. For two consecutive years, the series has won Emmy awards, for “Discovering Alabama: Oil Spill” in 2010 and for “Discovering Alabama: Alabama in Space” in 2011. The series documents the natural and cultural heritage of the residents, communities and schools of the state. In addition to creating and producing this acclaimed series, Phillips has pioneered many other initiatives for education and conservation, including the K-12 environmental curriculum “Discovering Our Heritage,” and Alabama’s nationally recognized land conservation program, Forever Wild. Phillips is coordinator for environmental information and education with the Alabama Museum of Natural History at the University of Alabama, where he has written numerous publications, including the award-winning books, “Discovering Alabama Wetlands” and “Discovering Alabama Forests.”

Rick Bragg to speak at Shelton State on Oct. 18 – Oct. 19
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Rick Bragg will present a lecture at Shelton State Community College on Oct. 18 as a part of the school’s “Quality Month” campaign…Bragg, currently a professor of writing in the University of Alabama’s journalism department, is the author of “All Over But the Shoutin’,” “Ava’s Man,” “The Prince of Frogtown,” “I Am a Soldier Too: The Jessica Lynch Story,” and “The Most They Ever Had.”  While writing for the New York Times, Bragg received the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing in 1996. He has also worked for newspapers including the Anniston Star, the Birmingham News and the St. Petersburg Times.  Bragg has also received the American Society of Newspaper Editors Distinguished Writing Award twice and and was named the Harper Lee Award for Alabama’s Distinguished Writer of the Year in 2009.

Runoffs today may not see many voters
Anniston Star – Oct. 8
The runoffs for Calhoun County’s municipal elections are today, but past voter turnout suggests many will not make it to the polls. Political scientists and experts said that voter turnout is almost always lower in runoff elections. Theories about why range from the smaller number of names on the ballot to the notion that there might simply be too many elections … Bill Stewart, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Alabama, agreed with Browder, saying that people lose interest as fewer names are on the ballot. But Stewart also said that voter fatigue plays a big part in the low turnout… “The more times you ask people to go to the polls, the less people are going to go,” said Stewart. “In places where there are fewer elections like Great Britain and Italy, there are much higher turnouts.” Stewart said holding election after election is not necessarily a good thing.  “We are called upon to fill too many positions. You have positions that the average person is not really qualified to decide,” he said. “Just because we are a democracy, doesn’t mean we have to elect as many people as we do.”

UA students help build homes with Habitat for Humanity
WVUA (Tuscaloosa) – Oct. 8
Habitat for Humanity Tuscaloosa and Lowe’s are teaming up to build five homes in areas struck by the April 2011 tornado. Today, the walls were raised on the three of the five homes. A number of groups are helping out, including University of Alabama students, churches, schools, and businesses across the state.

UA to hold employee health fair
WVUA (Tuscaloosa) – Oct. 8
On your Health Watch, electing to be healthy! The University of Alabama is getting ready to host the 17th annual employee health fair. Employees can get free health screening tests, there will also be free flu shots including for spouses and retirees. Vendors will be on hand to talk about diet, exercise, and nutrition, the University Medical Center’s health fair is set for Wednesday, Oct. 10 at Coleman Coliseum. The event kicks off at 7:30 a.m. and will last ‘til 1 p.m. You must bring your UA action card or other photo ID to get in.

UA kicks off Beat Auburn Beat Hunger Food Drive
ABC 33/40 (Birmingham) – Oct. 8
The University of Alabama community service center is kicking off the “Beat Auburn Beat Hunger” food drive. A fundraiser will also be held at TCBY tonight from 6-9 p.m. The Tide and Tigers have faced off in this annual canned food drive since 1994. Last year, ‘Bama won, collecting 237,000 pounds of food.

UA professor connects health habits to childhood
Crimson White – Oct. 9
Dr. Alan Blum, a professor of family medicine at The University of Alabama, believes sugar and salt-laden snack machines mixed with a lack of physical education in grade schools deserve a heaping portion of blame for the nation’s high obesity rates. During his medical training in Miami, Fla., in the 1970s, Blum witnessed the local school board buying into the soda companies’ claims that the school system’s profits from these machines would pay for their athletic programs. He unsuccessfully testified against the practice. “Now we’re all paying the price,” he said. Blum said schools’ roles deepened when many boards instituted the Channel One television system. The company paid to put TV sets in every classroom but required every student to watch a daily news program full of commercials for fast food chains, soda and candy. “Even that 15 minutes a day would have been so much better spent on the ball field or in the gym,” he said. Schools can’t shoulder all of the blame, however. Blum said the eating and lifestyle choices families make every day contribute to the issue, such as excessive hours spent inside in front of the TV or computer screen in lieu of outdoor physical activity. Blum said lower income areas often contain “food deserts” in which people often have no choice but to shop for food at convenience stores, which usually do not offer healthy items. If nutritious alternatives to junk food are available, they are often significantly more expensive than their convenient, processed counterparts. Though obesity rates for college students are a bit lower than the national and state averages, young adults are by no means exempt from the trend. According to 2010 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index data, 18.2 percent of adults aged 18 to 29 are obese. Alabama is the fourth fattest state in the nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

UA walk works to combat stigma of mental illness on campus
Crimson White – Oct. 9
Despite its prevalence among the collegiate age group, mental illness remains a hushed topic on college campuses, as many are wary to speak out about their condition, afraid of the stigma associated with the illness. According to a survey by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, adolescents and young adults are particularly vulnerable to mental illness, as 75 percent of all lifetime mental disorders occur by age 24…The added stress and anxiety that come along with a college workload seem to factor into the rate of mental illness among young people, said Wanda Laird, executive director of the Alabama chapter of NAMI… In 2009, the Alabama chapter of NAMI established its NAMI On Campus program at The University of Alabama, subsequently followed by Auburn University, Alabama State University and Troy University-Dothan… “Bringing mental illness out of the shadows is helpful,” said Kenneth Lichstein, a UA psychology professor and faculty advisor for NAMI-UA. “The more people are willing to talk about their shortcomings and participate in discourse about it, the more the stigma will gradually fade away.” If You Go…What: Out of the Darkness Suicide Prevention Walk, sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention…When: Sunday, Oct. 14, 2-4 p.m….Where: Ferg plaza and Quad



The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.