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The University of Alabama

UA in the News: November 17-19, 2012

Thanksgiving week one of deadliest on the highway
USA Today – Nov. 17
Millions of Americans are preparing to make their way across the USA for the Thanksgiving feast this week, and the overwhelming majority of them — 90%, according to auto club AAA — will travel by automobile. They’ll be setting out during what’s usually one of the year’s deadliest weeks for traffic crashes. As drivers head home for the turkey and dressing, many will be navigating unfamiliar roads. Many will be driving late at night, when they’re more susceptible to drowsiness, or on riskier two-lane roads. And many will get behind the wheel after having too much to drink. “Whenever traffic volume goes up, crashes generally go up as well,” says Allen Parrish, director of the University of Alabama Center for Advanced Public Safety. “This isn’t really rocket science here: You have a lot of people on the roads over Thanksgiving, so the crashes are naturally going to get worse.”
Detroit Free Press – Nov. 17
Tuscaloosa News – Nov. 17

UA students set up coat drive for Hurricane Sandy victims – Nov. 16
University of Alabama students are asking for warm, gently used coats to send to victims of Hurricane Sandy. Students involved in the UA chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America have set up donation boxes at major buildings across campus including Reese Phifer Hall, the home of the university’s advertising and public relations department, and will accept coats through Dec. 7. Drop-off boxes are also located in the SGA Office in the Ferguson Center, at Alston Hall and in dorms across campus. Through the Tuscaloosa Gives Back campaign, the students have partnered with New York Cares, a volunteer organization that is involved in relief efforts in the New York area. Monetary donations can be submitted to Tracy Sims, an instructor in advertising and public relations, in Room 418-D at Reese Phifer Hall.

Univ. of Alabama celebrates new veterans affairs office
Fox 6 (Birmingham) – Nov. 16
The University of Alabama is helping veterans past and present with the unveiling of a new memorial and the grand opening of a veterans support office. The University of Alabama had a ribbon cutting for its new Office of Veteran and Military Affairs Friday. Among other issues, employees will help veterans navigate campus life and help them understand and make the best use of their VA benefits. The university also unveiled a plaque that salutes 45 veterans from Tuscaloosa County who gave their lives during WWI. That plaque will be placed near Denny Chimes. These are just some of the efforts to show the importance the university places on those who serve and have served in the military. “Today is the grand opening and so all the presentations that I just mentioned, from the WWI memorial, the American Fallen Soldier project, and honoring all our community partners are just part of final ceremony of cutting the ribbon and announcing welcome home all veterans, dependants and service members here at UA,” Alex Karagas of the UA Office of Veterans and Military Affairs said. About 3,000 veterans either attend the university, work there or have children who are students there.
WVUA (Tuscaloosa) – Nov. 16

Engineering professor developing an actively powered ankle prosthesis
O and P –Nov. 16
Xiangrong Shen, PhD, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at The University of Alabama (UA), Tusaloosa, has launched a four-year project with researchers from UA, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, and the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, to produce an alternative transtibial prosthesis which is capable of actively powering the ankle joint in use. He recently received a $564,000 grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to help fund the project, and is currently working on a prototype. According to Shen, there are two key components in the new prosthesis. The first is a liquid fuel called monopropellant, which works as an energy-storing medium and decomposes upon contact with certain catalysts. The use of this fuel allows for a lightweight prosthesis that stores enough energy to operate for daily use. The second component is a sleeve muscle actuator, an artificial muscle that replaces the motor used in some alternative prosthesis as the prosthetic actuator. The sleeve muscle is more powerful, with a lighter weight and more compact profile, and its elastic properties are similar to a biological skeletal muscle.

Luise Ross Gallery Presents Pete Schulte’s PARDON UP HERE Exhibition thru 1/12
Broadway World – Nov. 18
Pete Schulte’s PARDON UP HERE exhibition will be on view at the Luise Ross Gallery through January 12, 2013 (closed December 23-Jan 1). The opening celebration will be held on Thursday, December 6, from 5 to 7 p.m. at 511 West 25 Street #307, New York, NY. Pete Schulte’s nuanced pencil and pigment drawings on paper have a presence that belies their small scale. Ideas and images are explored with the artist’s unique touch, sensitivity of line and unpredictable composition. They hover at the threshold between presence and void, image and object, longing and loss. The resulting work seduces and repels, illuminates even as it obscures and operates in the visual space where language fails. This is Schulte’s first one-man exhibition at Luise Ross Gallery. He is an Assistant Professor in The Department of Art & Art History at The University of Alabama.

Last step up came quickly for Lockheed Martin’s new CEO
Seattle Times (Washington) – Nov. 18
It took nearly three decades for Marillyn Hewson to rise to the position of chief operating officer at Lockheed Martin — and a day to become chief executive. Hewson said she didn’t see it coming Nov. 9 when the Bethesda, Md.-based defense contractor made her the company’s first female chief. Lockheed had been planning to hand over the reins Jan. 1 to Christopher Kubasik, but he was asked to resign after the board discovered that he had had a personal relationship with a subordinate. “I found out when I was invited into the boardroom,” said Hewson. “My reaction was immediately, ‘I’m ready.’ ” With federal spending set to shrink, Hewson takes over at a challenging time for the contracting giant, but she’s no stranger to managing crises. She was running Lockheed’s business in Owego, N.Y., when that unit’s flagship program — a new presidential helicopter — was canceled in 2009. The cancellation hit with no notice, Hewson said. “We had a lot of challenges to overcome, but what was important was to also recognize that it wasn’t the end of the business,” she said … Hewson was born in Junction City, Kan., in 1953 and earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Alabama. After graduate school, she spent several years as an economist for the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Chattanooga attorney appointed to International Business Advisory board
The Chattanoogan (Tenn.) – Nov. 16
Shelby R. Grubbs has been appointed to the International Business Advisory Board of The University of Alabama Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration.  Founded in 1992, the Board has been comprised of business and campus leaders bound by a commitment to assisting the College of Commerce in furthering its international initiatives.  Culverhouse College is recognized as the premier business school in the state and one of the leading programs in the Southeast and nationally. Mr. Grubbs is a Member with Miller & Martin PLLC and has over 37 years practicing law in the area of civil litigation and dispute resolution.  He has significant experience both as an advocate and as a dispute resolution neutral.

Local jobless rate rises slightly to 7.4%
Tuscaloosa News – Nov. 17
Tuscaloosa County’s unemployment rate rose almost a half of a percentage point in October, registering at 7.4 percent, the same rate recorded in October 2011. The rate was 7 percent in September. The higher unemployment for the county occurred while the state officially posted a drop in its unemployment rate for the second consecutive month. Alabama’s October unemployment rate was 8.1 percent, compared with 8.2 percent in September. The state’s official rate — the one cited for comparisons with the national rate and those in other states — is seasonally adjusted; the county unemployment rates are not. The state’s non-seasonally adjusted rate was 7.8 percent, up 0.2 percent from September. Ahmad Ijaz, an economist at the University of Alabama’s Center for Business and Economic Research, said the state’s seasonally adjusted rate reflects the impact of retailers’ increasing hiring for the holiday shopping season. He said Tuscaloosa County and other West Alabama counties might not have benefited as much from retail hiring, but he said there is some good news for the region in the latest numbers. The size of the region’s work force is increasing as more people seek jobs, he said.

BP to pay $4.5 billion in fines for Gulf oil spill. Is legal saga over?
Minnesota Post – Nov. 16
British oil giant BP is agreeing to pay $4.5 billion in fines related to its role in the 2010 spill that killed 11 people and released five million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The corporate criminal penalty is the largest of its kind in US history.  The settlement includes 14 criminal counts that range from misconduct and negligence to obstruction of Congress. It allows the company to put a significant legal battle behind it, though at no small cost. Moreover, other legal claims remain, including federal civil claims for damages under the Clean Water Actand private civil claims. The company is still vulnerable to federal civil claims under the Clean Water Act, which could reach $21 billion. A federal trial in New Orleans is scheduled to address those claims in February 2013. “On the criminal side we’re done, but in terms of BP paying out more, there’s the civil issue. This could go on for years still to come,” says Montré Carodine, a professor at the University of Alabama School of Law in Tuscaloosa.

Local election possible path to future Democrat success
Anniston Star – Nov. 17
State Democrats are still losing power, but one recent local race showed the party can still be competitive if it can find the right candidates. Democrats have not controlled the Legislature for the last two years and lost seats but kept control of offices at the county level during this month’s general election. Despite this supposed weakening of the party, Missy Hall, who had never run for election before, was a little more than 100 votes away from winning the Calhoun County circuit clerk seat from long-time politician Eli Henderson, who ran as a Republican.  The race was close enough that election officials this week will conduct a recount of the ballots in the race … However, to William Stewart, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Alabama, Democrats still have an uphill battle due to a lack of younger, energetic candidates like Hall. “I don’t see young, ambitious men and women who might want a career in politics who want to be Democrats,” Stewart said. “You’ve got to have electable candidates.”

GUEST COLUMN: Hard to understand our nation without understanding history
Tuscaloosa News – Nov. 17
Not too long ago, while plumped down on the couch, just letting “60 Minutes” entertain me for a while, I heard David McCullough bemoaning the historical ignorance of the younger generation. McCullough sighed that on a question about the 13 original colonies, some youngsters seemed to think the colonies occupied much of the continental United States — Massachusetts cheek by jowl with California for example, and others were unaware that they were all on the Atlantic coast. McCullough, a wonderful writer and historian of Americana, continues to be truly shocked by this woeful ignorance. As a somewhat jaded teacher, I’m not, but I should be.  McCullough and others have pails full of stories about plain bone-headed ignorance of American history, not to speak of world or global history. He taught a seminar of 25 students at Dartmouth (Ivy League, so by usual measurement, the gold standard of American higher education) and asked them who knew John Marshall (Larry Clayton is a professor of history at The University of Alabama).

Officials to rewrite state constitution article next year
Tuscaloosa News – Nov. 19
The Alabama Legislature will begin next year to rewrite the state constitution’s education article — a process that almost certainly will involve all three branches of government and powerful lobbying organizations. Republicans who govern the Legislature are embarked on an article-by-article rewrite of the 1901 Alabama Constitution, which has been amended more than 800 times. The latest attempt to rewrite a small part ended in failure Nov. 6 when voters defeated Amendment 4, which would have removed unenforceable poll tax language inserted in the constitution during Jim Crow days. The amendment was opposed by the powerful Alabama Education Association because of fears that a new amendment would not guarantee a right to an education. Gov. Robert Bentley supported the attempt to remove racist language and said he’ll support future attempts. The 2013 work on the education article could be presented to the full Legislature for consideration in the 2014 session … Martha Morgan, a retired University of Alabama law professor, told the New York Times that a vote for the amendment would affirm there is no constitutional right to a public education. That could jeopardize future legal challenges to school financing, she said.

UA undergraduate student works behind the scenes at NASA
Crimson White – Nov. 19
For most students, an internship means getting coffee and running errands. But for one former mechanical engineering undergraduate, it meant watching the National Aeronautics and Space Administration test its rocket engines. Robert Talley, a University of Alabama mechanical engineering graduate student, was given numerous opportunities to witness what he says the public and even some NASA employees don’t get access to when he traveled to Bay St. Louis, Miss., to intern with the Stennis Space Center during summer 2012. “I was a couple hundred feet from the rocket engines as they fired,” Talley said. “It was extremely fun. I looked forward to going to work every day.” During Talley’s 10-week experience, which he applied for in March as a UA mechanical engineering undergraduate, he was given various projects. His main task was to find a non-nuclear alternative for nuclear thermal propulsion. “The most promising device seemed to be a pebble bed heater, which uses hundreds of thousands of very small pebbles or even bricks to super-heat heat whatever fluid is passing through it,” Talley said. “Once I had that down, I had to figure out which pipe materials could handle the super-hot hydrogen coming out of the pebble bed heater and transport it to the engine.” Talley also had to determine the necessary pipe diameter that would provide the appropriate mass flow rate and pressure to the rocket engine interface and to choose which fuel tanks on site would be best-suited for simulating a non-nuclear engine test, along with a number of other responsibilities.

Bama Buddies looks for ‘Bonanza’ participants
Crimson White – Nov. 19
Bama Buddies, a UA inter-group service project that creates and customizes stuffed animals for local children, is asking interested organizations or individuals to sign up by Nov. 23 if they want to participate in an upcoming “Bonanza” event. Bama Buddies is one of the many events put on by the SOURCE, and gives students the opportunity to stuff a small animal toy, complete with a heart, to give to local Tuscaloosa children. David Phelps, the director of organizational leadership for the SOURCE, said one of the main goals of the Bonanza is to provide a way for student organizations to connect with each other. “We really want to see collaboration among diverse groups on campus,” Phelps said. “We think stuffing a little animal could be a great ice breaker for starting conversations with people who you might not usually talk to.” The Bonanzas offer a discounted price of $8 per buddy, which usually costs $10, along with games and socializing among students. Tyler Morgan, vice president of programs for Sigma Tau Gamma, recently attended a Bonanza with a group of 25 people. He said Bama Buddies is a good way to give back to Tuscaloosa, especially during the holiday season. “Most people think of the tornado and cleanup, and we thought, ‘There is a lot of focus on that, why not help out others,’” Morgan said. “Instead of focusing on town rehabilitation, why not focus on rehabilitation of childhood? That tends to get overlooked, and is especially important during Christmas.”

New Learning Community to teach problem-solving
Crimson White – Nov. 19
Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime. This is the philosophy behind the new Freshman Learning Community that teaches students to identify a problem and implement a sustainable solution in their local communities. The FLC “Real Problems, Real Solutions: Serving the Community and Making a Difference with $100” consists of two groups of nine students, each working with the Tuscaloosa Housing Authority to create a lasting solution to a problem using only $100. The idea behind this comes from the $100 Solution, a nonprofit organization that encourages students to learn leadership and social responsibility while bettering their communities. The program is built on five pillars: reflection, capacity building, partnership, sustainability and reciprocity. Sara Hartley, director of First Year Experience, learned about the $100 Solution this summer while participating in Semester at Sea, a study abroad program sponsored by the University of Virginia. While on board, she assisted Bernie Strenecky, the founder of the $100 Solution, in teaching a class based on the model. Hartley said the FLC benefits the participants as well as the community. “It’s kind of cool for freshmen in their first semester of college to get involved in the community and see a whole project from start to finish and facilitate it themselves,” she said. The two groups of students have researched the possible issues, met with the Tuscaloosa Housing Authority and are now in the stage of finding a possible solution to one of the issues that the public housing residents face. The students will make the presentation of their proposed solution during finals week.

Students can find stress relief through yoga practice
Crimson White – Nov. 19
For many students, college can be a time of great stress and anxiety provoked by an increased pressure to do well in both the realms of school and social life. Many local yoga instructors encourage stressed students to give yoga a try after seeing the positive changes in their own life as a result of continued yoga practice. Metka Zupancic, a UA French professor and yoga instructor at The Yoga Center on Hargrove Road, has been practicing yoga since her impromptu discovery of its healing powers while in college in France in the 1970s. After a stressful night of studying, Zupancic felt the need to roll on her back, which she later discovered was a yoga pose known to alleviate stress. “As I came to understand throughout the years, yoga is not stretching,” Zupancic said. “It is not showing your biceps and triceps, it’s about the energy that is being heightened in your body. It helps with focus even when multitasking. It helps the flexibility in my mind and in my body.” Zupancic practices Iyengar yoga, focusing on the body-mind-spirit conjunction. Her constant immersion in yoga practice has brought her to a number of yoga workshops all over the country as well as in France. “Sometimes yoga can be more beneficial than a couple hours of sleep,” Zupancic said. “It cleans the energy in the body and opens the channels in your body so the body can take out the toxins that emphasize anxiety.” Lynda Kees, also a yoga instructor at The Yoga Center, believes students can greatly benefit from the constant practice of yoga. Kees took her first yoga class at 17 and has been practicing in some way or another ever since. “It [yoga] helps you to stay centered in your day-to-day life, that means that you’re not swept around by things that happen to you,” Kees said. “There is an observer part of your mind that allows you to step back so that you’re not always reacting but choosing to act in response to things that come up and things that throw you off guard.”

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.