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The University of Alabama

UA in the News: November 29, 2012

C-SPAN bus stops at UA
ABC 33/40 (Birmingham) – Nov. 29
Students, including some on the University of Alabama campus, were encouraged to stay informed today. The C-SPAN bus toured campuses around Tuscaloosa. It made a stop at Central High School, University Place and UA. Organizers say the purpose is to show young people the resources that are offered by the C-SPAN cable network, and how it can help them make informed decisions.

UA Engineers developing improved ankle prosthetics
Crimson White – Nov. 29
Most people do not question walking, or how exactly the body functions to accomplish daily movements, but amputees cope with the struggles of walking and the use of prosthetic limbs everyday. Xiangrong Shen, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, is working to develop better ankle technology in prosthetic limbs, as the ankle produces more energy needed for walking that both the knee and hip joints. After receiving a grant of $564,000 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Shen teamed up with fellow researchers at Vanderbilt and the Georgia Institute of Technology to begin working on the ankle. Shen and his team, including John Baker, a mechanical engineering professor, and Samit Roy, the William D. Jordan professor of aerospace engineering, work with graduate as well as some UA undergraduate students in their advanced research. Although there is already a previous device used in above-the-knee limb replacements, no technologies have been created to address ankle problems. “Right now there is a lag in robotic engineering,” Shen said. “I think that the people with limb issues can absolutely benefit from robotic technologies, especially with newly constructed limbs.” The ankle prosthesis Shen is working on mechanically powers the ankle joint without forcing the amputee to use more unnecessary energy. The two key components of this development are the liquid fuel called monopropellant, an energy storing medium that allows the prosthesis to store energy for everyday use.

UA’s ACRE adds three to Advisory Board of Trustees
Equities – Nov. 28
Three new members have been named to the advisory board of trustees of the Alabama Center for Real Estate at The University of Alabama’s Culverhouse College of Commerce. “Our advisory board of trustees is a vital part of ACRE,” said Grayson Glaze, ACRE’s executive director. “The board members represent a vast wealth of knowledge of all facets of the real estate industry, and we are grateful that they are willing to share it with us and all of our constituents.” The three new members are Tom Brander, a prominent real estate publisher; Cindy Lambert, account executive with Land Title Company of Alabama; and Sherri McCollum, a successful Realtor for the past 20 years…ACRE’s core purpose is to advance the profession of real estate in Alabama by providing relevant resources in the areas of research, education and outreach. The center, founded by the Alabama Association of REALTORS, the Alabama Real Estate Commission and the Office of the Dean in 1996, also acts as an industry liaison for the benefit of business school students pursuing a career in real estate.

Using the buddy system to bring comfort
Tuscaloosa News – Nov. 29
Some people never outgrow stuffed animals. Even college students will sometimes bring their furry critters with them as a way to remember their childhood and seem closer to family…Many UA students had an opportunity to relive those childhood memories and help brighten the holidays for some community children with the help of Bama Buddies. In its fourth year, Bama Buddies is a student-run, campuswide service project that allows students and organizations an opportunity to create and customize stuffed animals for distribution to area children. The project serves two purposes: It allows student organizations an opportunity to help the community during the holidays, and it brings those groups together in a collaborative effort.

Social work students to host health fair
Crimson White – Nov. 29
The field of social work thrives on human interaction, a quality The University of Alabama’s social work department seeks to promote in its students through community involvement. This is precisely why a group of graduate students from James and Joanne Terrell’s Social Work Practice with Communities courses teamed up with the Tuscaloosa Police Department to host the East Tuscaloosa Community Health Fair from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1 at the Jaycees Fairground in Alberta City. The fair is open to the eastern side of Tuscaloosa and the Alberta City area and will feature free health screenings and information, interactive games, door prizes, family activities and refreshments. Graduate students played a key role in planning the health fair by establishing a coat drive, securing merchant donations, working with radio and television for public service announcements, and coordinating the general logistics for the event. “Many of our students have not had the opportunity to network with a public agency such as [the] Tuscaloosa Police Department, nor work at a community level asking for donations and securing vendors such as The Maude Whatley clinic, the Red Cross, and the wonderful area merchants that donated the food,” James Terrell said. “This is also a learning opportunity to work and coexist in a group of diverse students with a common goal.”

Alabama folk artist Charlie Lucas to help UA students sculpt from recycled materials – Nov. 29
Alabama folk artist Charlie Lucas will be part of the University of Alabama Creative Campus’ two-day interactive event “Tin Man: The Mechanics of a Heart” on Thursday and Friday. UA students can meet Lucas from 9:30 a.m. until noon Friday in the lobby of Nott Hall. Also on Nov. 30, Lucas will preside over a Blitz Build in the lobby of UA’s AIME Building. Students will create sculptures from a selection of recycled materials. Lucas, known as the “Tin Man,” is a self-taught artist from Birmingham who creates sculptures made from discarded material. His materials include found objects like old tin, bicycle wheels, shovels, car mufflers, tractor seats, metal-bonding, wires and gears. In 2011, Lucas was named one of Alabama’s Living Legends for his contribution to both Alabama and national cultural heritage. UA students are invited to participate in teams of three or more or in a wild card team. Space is limited, and pre-registration is required. To pre-register, visit

Big Al, Santa offer free photos with kids at Sam’s
Tuscaloosa News – Nov. 29
University of Alabama mascot Big Al and Santa Claus will be available for free photos with children Dec. 8 at Sam’s Club…Big Al and Santa Claus will arrive in a fire truck shortly before 10 a.m. and will visit with children until 2 p.m. While the photos are free, donations will be accepted to benefit children treated at Children’s of Alabama.

National Alumni Association puts together travel plans for UA fans to SEC Championship game
NBC 13 (Birmingham) – Nov. 29
SEC Championship game tickets are making their way into the hands of their owners, and travel plans to Atlanta are being booked…Alabama fans are making their plans to travel to see the Tide play in the SEC Championship game. In Tuscaloosa, the University of Alabama National Alumni Association put together travel packages for fans. Their options include a two-night stay at a couple of different hotels with various price tags and a “there and back” bus trip on Saturday.

Chamber talks tourism
Alexander City Outlook – Nov. 28
The Quarterly Luncheon for Alexander City Chamber of Commerce members Tuesday featured speaker Nisa Miranda, who spoke on economic development and other topics. Miranda, director for the University of Alabama Center for Economic Development, explained why she got involved in working with small towns and small rural areas. “Places like the southern part of the United States are very much like developing countries,” Miranda said. “You have your areas that have a lot of wealth, a lot of educated people and a lot of technology, and then you have everywhere else.” In Tallapoosa County, Miranda has been involved with the Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail, developing the Lake Martin Loop, and the East Central Alabama Tourism Initiative, which is a regional tourism effort incorporating Talladega, Chambers, Coosa, Randolph, Cleburne and Clay counties, in addition to Tallapoosa County. Miranda enforced the importance of knowing, as a community or a region, the resources you have to offer and marketing the best of the area, like the Talladega Superspeedway, Lake Martin or the Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail. “If you’re a small community, you have to look at all the components that make up your community, and you need to have a plan of action for each one of those components,” Miranda said. “If you just focus on industrial recruitment, a lot of things are going to fall by the wayside.”

New SGA program accepting used textbooks for student vets
Crimson White – Nov. 29
Every semester some student veterans, dependents and survivors have a hard time buying books for class. Thanks to a new Student Government Association program, “Textbooks for Troops,” students can donate their used books to returning veterans. “I’m hoping that students will gain a sense of pride in knowing that their donations will go to the well-deserving men and women that have served this great country and now have returned to further their education,” 2nd Lt. Dawit Solomon, director of veteran and military affairs for the SGA, said. More than 800 University of Alabama student veterans, dependants and survivors claim funds from the G.I. Bill, which offers free tuition for those who attend an in-state public school. The only complication to the G.I. Bill is that the funds very often do not arrive on time, which forces some to go without books or to pay out of pocket…Until Dec. 15, “Textbooks for Troops” will allow students to donate textbooks they no longer need to help ease the burden on some veterans.

Foundation to help sick kids honors Jon King
Arab Tribune – Nov. 29
Jon King has been gone for more than 11 years now, but he’s still bringing joy to others. Alabama football player Austin Shepherd wants to make sure that legacy continues. A red-shirt sophomore offensive tackle for the Crimson Tide, Austin has started a foundation in King’s honor. The Austin Shepherd Foundation was formally launched on Oct. 18, the date of King’s death in 2001. The two men never met. They are connected by Jon’s sister, Arab native Jenna King, an aspiring model who will graduate from The University of Alabama next month. Jenna and Austin struck up a friendship during his freshman year at Alabama three seasons ago. About a year later, they bumped into each other on campus and renewed their friendship. Last October, they began dating. It wasn’t long before Austin, a native of Buford, Ga., learned the courageous story of Jenna’s brother from Arab. “As we got closer, I learned that her older brother, Jon, had passed away after a 14-year fight against bone cancer,” Austin writes on the foundation’s website. “He was 24 when he passed, and Jenna was 9.

UA Safe Zone offers support, awareness for LGBTQA community
Crimson White – Nov. 29
UA Safe Zone, an on-campus organization, strives to educate University of Alabama students about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer needs, as well as providing these individuals with support and increased awareness to other students of their presence on the University’s campus. The program, founded at the University in 2002, also focuses on assisting with LGBTQ needs, fostering a university climate where all individuals have the right to be treated with dignity, respect, and self-worth, and advocacy for safe environments. “Safe Zone is a program that strives to create safe spaces on UA’s campus with regards to sexual and gender identity and expression,” said Noah Cannon, president of Spectrum and coordinator of UA Safe Zone. Safe Zone partners with Spectrum and Capstone Alliance, two other LGBTQ student and faculty support groups, to host events to educate the student body.

Students who struggle with isolation in college are not alone
Crimson White – Nov. 29
If you have ever watched a classic college movie, like “Animal House” or even “Revenge of the Nerds,” you are familiar with the norms that college is a place of constant partying, relationships, and friendships that last a lifetime. But for some students, the reality of college is a far cry from the party on the silver screen and can be a place of isolation and loneliness, despite the prevalence of student organizations, greek life and parties…Forming new relationships can be daunting for students who have had the same group of friends for much of their lives, but college years also provide an opportunity to develop relationships that are based on shared interests rather than simply proximity. Mary Meares, an associate professor of communications, suggests students be proactive in forming relationships by joining clubs and making connections with people with similar interests. Though social networking sites like Facebook have, at times, been vilified for weakening social skills and connections, Meares said it can be used to supplement social interaction, but not substitute for it, by allowing students to learn more about others and giving them more topics about which to talk.

Gameday RVers form culture all their own
Crimson White – Nov. 29
To many students, RVs are just another burden on Gameday, forcing them off their own parking lots to make way for gargantuan tailgating contraptions. But, for this special breed of tailgaters, Alabama football is more than a team to root for. Nick Frenz, assistant director of event management and transportation, said on any given gameday there are 390, usually full, RV parking spots spread over campus. That does not include the 100 free RV parking spots located off campus on McFarland Boulevard. Sheila and Mike Huddleston, Huntsville, Ala., natives and parents to two Alabama alumnae, have been tailgating by way of their RV for nine years. They got their RV specifically for Alabama football games so their oldest daughter, a former member of Crimson Cabaret, could easily join them in their tailgating activities. They have even gone so far as storing their RV in the Tuscaloosa area to make the trip a little less daunting…The Huddlestons attend all home games when possible and try to attend every Tennessee and Auburn game. During home Iron Bowls, the Huddlestons come the Wednesday before the game and have Thanksgiving in their RV, complete with smoked turkey and side dishes. “We look forward to it every year and it’s a tradition now,” Sheila Huddleston said. “We bring the smokers and all the sides and decorate for Thanksgiving. No football talk until after we begin the Iron Bowl stuff.”

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.