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The University of Alabama

UA in the News: February 19, 2013

Clean energy business competition representatives to hold info session at UA Wednesday – Feb. 19
Representatives from a regional renewable energy business competition funded by the U.S. Department of Energy will hold an informational program at the University of Alabama on Wednesday. MegaWatt Ventures, an annual clean energy business competition in its third year, has expanded from Florida to most of the Southeast and Puerto Rico for 2013. Representatives will speak with interested companies and groups from 1-3 p.m. Wednesday in room 110 of UA’s Alabama Innovation and Mentoring of Entrepreneurs Center, said center director Dan Daly. The competition, which will award $10,000 and provide resources including mentoring and entrepreneurship boot camps to 10 finalists, will give a $100,000 grant to one grand prize winner.
Tuscaloosa News – Feb. 19

Conference to focus on reducing obesity
Tuscaloosa News – Feb. 19
The South has one of the highest obesity rates in the nation, at 29.5 percent, with often higher rates in rural areas. To fight the epidemic, the Institute for Rural Health Research has teamed up with rural communities for the 14th annual Rural Health Conference, hosted by the University of Alabama’s College of Community Health Sciences. The conference, which will be Wednesday at UA’s Ferguson Center from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., will focus on partnerships that can reduce obesity in rural communities. “We have the highest rate of preventable diseases, and we have to start to change that,” said Lea G. Yerby, assistant professor of community and rural medicine. “We see that living in a rural area can increase your risk of obesity for a lot of reasons.”

UA program highlights the science behind natural disasters
Tuscaloosa News – Feb. 19
The public is invited to learn about the science behind natural hazards at the Alabama Museum of Natural History’s Science Sunday at Smith Hall on the University of Alabama campus. The event, which will be from 1-4:30 p.m. Sunday, will feature museum experts and guest presenters with hands-on activities about earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, forest fires and meteorites. “We want families to understand the science. What causes natural hazards? Where can we expect natural hazards? What’s the frequency of natural hazards?” said Amanda Espy-Brown, education and outreach coordinator for UA’s Alabama Museum of Natural History. “People are well-educated on tornadoes, but we are also impacted by earthquakes and hurricanes, and most people don’t know a lot about those hazards.” She said that knowing how and when natural hazards occur is the key to learning how to be prepared. “Families need to know the signs, and they need to know what to do when they see those signs,” Espy-Brown said. “We want them to understand how being prepared helps limit injury and damage.”

UA launches off-campus housing site resource
Crimson White – Feb. 19
Assisting students in the often daunting task of finding off-campus housing options, The University of Alabama launched a new off-campus housing website on Feb. 6, “Finding off-campus housing can be overwhelming for students and parents,” Julie Elmore, assistant director of off-campus and greek housing, said. “This site allows students more options than our original site” Elmore said students can now search for off-campus housing using a basic search, but there are filters that can be used such as rent amount, number of bedrooms/bathrooms, pets, building type, lease length as well as an option to do an advanced search that allows users to narrow down the search on the site to specific amenities that are important to the student. Although there was an off-campus housing website in the past, the University chose to pair with Off Campus Partners to create a new site. The site is free to students, parents and members of the Tuscaloosa community, funded by the fees charged to the apartment complexes, real estate companies and individuals with rental property to list their properties on the site.

Mobile officials react to Carnival’s praise in Sunday’s Press-Register over city’s handling of Carnival Triumph situation – Feb. 18
City officials say they are not surprised by a full-page advertisement in Sunday’s Press-Register thanking the city and other agencies for assisting the company during last week’s Carnival Triumph misfortune. If anything, some officials say, the advertisement served as a validation from the Miami-based company that Mobile has the resources to provide to Carnival, which has a somewhat murky past with the Port City … But despite the thanks Carnival expressed in the Sunday advertisement, one advertising and public relations expert doesn’t think it necessarily equates into future business. “I don’t think there was a business development angel,” said Glenn Griffin, associate professor of advertising at the University of Alabama. “While this is an advertisement, it’s primary public relations. It’s something that I would think a corporation of their size would feel obligated to do given the situation they were in.”

Students in South see biggest changes to Pell Grant, study says
Independent Florida Alligator – Feb. 19
Elisa Zeron understands how difficult it is to pay for college. “I couldn’t imagine paying for college without the Pell Grant,” said the 19-year-old Santa Fe College student. “I know it can be done. It would just be hard.” Zeron is just one of about 10 million students who receive the grant. A study conducted last week by the University of Alabama’s Education Policy Center found that community colleges in the South are being hurt the most by changes to the Pell Grant…One of the changes to the grant, which took effect this school year, is the length of time students can use the funding. Instead of a nine-year limit, students are now only allowed six years to use their grant.

The Myth of Martyrdom
Christian Science Monitor – Feb. 19
A week after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, comedian and political commentator Bill Maher said Mohammed Atta and his fellow conspirators were not cowards for their actions. Skip to next paragraph – “We have been the cowards, lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away. That’s cowardly. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, it’s not cowardly,” Mr. Maher said on his show “Politically Incorrect,” then on ABC. It was a highly sensitive time, and the comments were seen as anti-American by many; Maher’s show was suspended and subsequently canceled by ABC. Though he does not address the incident with Maher in his new book, The Myth of Martyrdom: What Really Drives Suicide Bombers, Rampage Shooters, and Other Self-Destructive Killers, Adam Lankford would assuredly disagree with Maher’s contention that Atta – or any suicide bomber – is somehow brave. “[F]ar too many commentators have taken this a step too far, concluding that because suicide terrorists do what we are afraid to do, this makes them brave…. [S]uicide terrorists have a dirty little secret. They’re afraid too – but of life,” writes Lankford, an assistant professor of criminal justice at The University of Alabama and a former adviser to the US State Department’s Anti-Terrorism Assistance program.

E-Verify: Bad for Both Businesses and Employees
The Daily Kos – Feb. 18
According to a 2012 analysis from the University of Alabama, that state saw its GDP drop by at least $2.3 billion when between 40,000 and 80,000 workers fled the state en masse after elected officials strongly pushed E-Verify and other anti-immigration measures.

Student finds dedication, passion in dance department
Crimson White – Feb. 19
For Ashley Volner, creative movement was her first language. Dance is a way of expressing herself that extended beyond a hobby or extracurricular activity. “Ever since I was a little girl, I knew that [dance] was the only way I was going to live life,” Volner said. “A lot of people, when they feel emotion, they put words to it. For me, when I feel emotion there is a way to move about it. I know that is so corny but that’s how my brain works.” When her parents encouraged her to get a college degree, Volner was hesitant at first, but decided to study dance at The University of Alabama and, looking back, is very grateful…Volner said the dance program at the University had a big impact on her as a dancer. “The dance program at UA is all about being a diverse dancer and that is me in a nutshell,” she said…Volner has been a member of the Alabama Reparatory Dance Theatre (ARDT), the pre-professional dance company of The University of Alabama. She is president of Dance Alabama!, as well as both preforming and choreographing pieces for shows. Volner was also recently selected to show her work, on behalf of the Dance Department at The Alabama Dance Festival this past January.

New campus film festival hopes to resemble Sundance
Crimson White – Feb. 19
Students will have a chance to prove their filming expertise and creativity by submitting their creations to the Black Warrior Film Festival. The event will showcase short films, music videos, commercials and other video submissions of UA students. The newly created festival is a collaboration between the Student Producers Association, Creative Campus, Crimson Cinema Productions and the UA Department of Telecommunication and Film. “[The festival] was conceived from a mutual love and drive to have the passions and talents of UA students really recognized for their sheer excellence and give them an avenue to truly share their voice,” Harrison Defalco, Crimson Cinema’s president and a sophomore majoring in telecommunication and film, said. Films must meet two set criteria: A UA student must have played a key role in the production of the film and have been made within the last five years.

Housing hosts 2nd annual Bama Idol
Fox 6 (Birmingham) – Feb. 18
College students here at the University of Alabama might think they have what it takes to be a super star, but now it’s time they put their vocal cords to the test…everything from pop to more softer genres. “It’s a very wide variety of talent” and all of that talent was on display at the 3rd Annual Bama Idol competition. Monday night was the first round of auditions.

UA Freshman Forum collects school supplies to benefit local kids
Crimson White – Feb. 19
Freshman Forum members have teamed up to better the community through Civic Engagement Projects, which includes a school supplies drive for a local elementary school. “They are broken up into groups and work throughout the course of the year to identify a need in the community, whether it’s on campus or in Tuscaloosa. They think about ways to make a positive, sustainable change,” Mary Alice Porter, coordinator for First Year Experience and Parent Programs, said. Mary Kucera, a member of the Freshman Forum majoring in nursing, participated in a school supplies drive to benefit Oakdale Elementary School. She said she and 11 members recognized that Tuscaloosa’s education system was struggling to support its students.

Michigan professor offers ‘Shakespeare Sex’ lecture today at UA – Feb. 18
Today at the University of Alabama, University of Michigan professor Valerie Traub will present her lecture “Shakespeare Sex” at 5 p.m. in 301 Morgan Hall.  The lecture is sponsored by the Hudson Strode Program in Renaissance Studies in the English department.  Traub will discuss when Shakespeare’s readers started to decide Shakespeare’s sexual orientation and why this was an issue. She’ll also discuss the history of sexual knowledge.  “The contingencies by which we come to know Shakespeare’s sexuality through readings of his sonnets provides one avenue for ascertaining what it means to know sexuality, not only in the past, but in the present,” Traub was quoted on the UA website. “The question of Shakespeare’s sex opens onto questions not only of sexual desire and identity, but of gender, aesthetic form, temporality, historicity, and epistemology.”

Big Al performers say charity work most worthwhile experience
Crimson White – Feb. 19
A little boy, eyes glazed over, embraced the iconic elephant mascot for the first time in his life. “The boy’s last request was to see Big Al before he went completely blind,” Justin Sullivan, a senior who performs as Big Al, said. “As soon as he sat on my lap, tears started rolling down my face. It was a truly memorable experience.” Even though Big Al loves to make appearances at UA sporting events, Sullivan said the mascot’s special appearances such as birthday parties, charity events, school appearances, sporting events and even weddings are what make the experience worthwhile. Macee Thomas, a junior who also performs as Big Al, said her favorite memory was when Big Al visited the RISE Center and met a little boy who had never smiled before. “When the little boy reached out and touched Big Al’s trunk, he smiled for the very first time,” Thomas said. “It’s the community service that really makes the difference. To make someone’s day or to turn a person’s mood around is an incredible gift Big Al has on his fans.” Rachel Coleman, a senior performer for Big Al, said even though each of the National Championships have been unforgettable experiences, her favorite memory as Big Al involves a woman in her early 90s. “This lady wanted to see Big Al so bad that he made a special house visit,” Coleman said. “All she could do was sit and hold his hand, but she was so happy and content right then. It was the most precious thing I have ever been a part of.”

Tuscaloosa pushing for a new emergency alert system
CBS 42 (Birmingham) – Feb. 18
By the two-year anniversary of the April 27th tornadoes, Tuscaloosa leaders want to have a new emergency alert system in place. The city’s public works committee has signed off on a new early warning alert system. It’s identical to the one currently used at the University of Alabama. It allows you to sign up for weather, and other emergency alerts, for your specific neighborhood.


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.