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The University of Alabama

UA in the News: February 6, 2013

State business executives pessimistic about economy
Tuscaloosa News – Feb. 6
Alabama businesspeople do not expect the state economy to pick up during the first quarter, according to a survey released this week by the University of Alabama’s Center for Business and Economic Research. Almost 300 businesses responded to the online survey during the first two weeks of December. The survey asked business executives for their outlook on sales, profits, hiring and capital expenditures for the first three months of 2013. The survey results were then compiled to come up with the Alabama Business Confidence Index. The index fell 2.9 points to 45.4 for its third consecutive quarterly decline, CBER reported. A level of 50 is considered neutral. A level above 50 indicates a positive outlook while below 50 indicates a negative view.

WVUA-TV, Alabama Public Radio moving into Bryant-Denny Stadium basement – Feb. 5
The WVUA-TV commercial television station, Alabama Public Radio and Crimson Tide Productions will move into a new studio located in Bryant-Denny Stadium at the end of this summer. WVUA 7 news director Lynn Brooks tells The Crimson White that she thinks theirs will be the first commercial broadcasting operation to broadcast from a football stadium. WVUA, operated by the University of Alabama in the College of Communication and Information Sciences, is currently housed in Reese Phifer Hall along with APR. Brooks tells the CW that because WVUA broadcasts to roughly three million homes in the state, the staff has outgrown the current space. The report says that UA’s athletic department offered the space, but the funds for it and the equipment were provided by UA and private donors.

New television show on Alabama business to premiere Sunday – Feb. 5
WVUA-TV and WUOA-TV, stations operated by the College of Communications at the University of Alabama, will premiere a new program on Alabama business on Sunday. Alabama Inc., hosted by National Public Radio veteran Gigi Douban, will air at 4 p.m. Sunday on both stations, and will be rebroadcast at 4:30 p.m. The program will strive to tell the stories behind Alabama businesses, and look inside trends, Douban said today. “Our pilot episode, for example, looks at food trucks as a trend, but also how cities like Birmingham are – even now – still trying to figure out what to do with them,” she said. Other stories may explore whether there’s profit in historic preservation and whether a college degree makes economic sense. “It really runs the gamut,” she said. Douban, who has reported for NPR, American Public Media’s Marketplace and Bloomberg News, also is a former Birmingham News reporter. In Birmingham the program will air on WUOA 23, which is channel 13 in the Brighthouse cable lineup.
Birmingham Business Journal – Feb. 6

UA student awarded, helps him meet Obama
Crimson White – Feb. 6
Last week a UA student was given the golden ticket: an invitation to meet President Obama in Washington DC. Tyler Merriweather, a freshman studying accounting, was recently named the Boys and Girls Club of America’s Southeast Youth of the Year. This distinction is the ticket that landed him in the Oval Office early last week. Merriweather said he began attending the Boys and Girls Club of West Alabama, located in Tuscaloosa, around the age of seven or eight and became a volunteer by age fifteen. “I worked in the computer lab, did some tutoring and worked as an athletic coordinator in the gym,” he said. “I do a lot more hands-on with the kids since becoming staff in January of last year.” After dedicating so much of his time to this chapter of the Boys and Girls Club, Merriweather said the opportunity to compete in a contest to meet President Obama became available to him. “Basically you give a speech no longer than three minutes talking about the significance of your Boys and Girls Club,” he said. “You compete at five different levels including club, local, state, regional and nationals.”

Tuscaloosa officials pleased with ATRIP grants for 10th Avenue work, Hargrove and Hackberry realignment – Feb. 6
City officials said they were happy to learn that two road projects sponsored by the city would receive $8.24 million in Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program grants.  Improvements to the 10th Avenue corridor and the realignment of Hargrove Road and Hackberry Lane were two of 11 road and bridge projects in Tuscaloosa County that will receive funding through the ATRIP initiative using federal Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle bonds … The University of Alabama is listed as the sponsor for a $18.74 million project that would extend Fifth Avenue East on the campus to Hackberry Lane with a connector to Jack Warner Parkway. The ATRIP grant would cover nearly $15 million and would require a $3.75 million local match.
ABC 33/40 (Birmingham) – Feb. 5
Fox 6 (Birmingham) – Feb. 5

Herzog and Niesel: Is herpes the cause of nerve disease?
Abilene Reporter (Texas) – Feb. 4
Pain. No one is a stranger to its physical, emotional and psychological effects. Some people live with it daily, without knowing the cause. This is the life of a patient with fibromyalgia, a condition affecting 2 to 4 percent of Americans.  While physicians have documented this disorder for over 100 years, it wasn’t until 1987 that the American Medical Association recognized fibromyalgia. Recently, doctors realized that fibromyalgia may be due to a malfunction in the central nervous system, which consists of the brain, nerves and chemicals known as neurotransmitters or hormones. Studies show that patients have a dysfunction in the processing of pain.  Now, University of Alabama virologist Carol Duffy and gastrointestinal surgeon/chronic pain specialist William Pridgen think they may have found the cause of this mysterious disease — a virus called herpes simplex type 1, the same one that causes cold sores.  Based on their hypothesis, the doctors started prescribing a drug known to treat herpes simplex type 1 along with another antiviral drug. They claim that 90 percent of patients who took the combination had improved gastrointestinal, fatigue, anxiety, depression and fibromyalgia symptoms. Starting as soon as February 2013, they plan to recruit 140 fibromyalgia patients for a phase II clinical trial of the treatment.

Fifty years later, civil rights issues still prevalent
Crimson White – Feb. 6
As the 50th anniversary of the integration of The University of Alabama campus nears, several campus organizations are finding different ways to join this year’s Black History Month celebration. Cassandra Simon, associate professor of social work, said each year her department plans an event as part of the Dr. Ethel H. Hall African-American Heritage Celebration. “Alabama was the center of so much during the Civil Rights Movement, so it’s almost like we have a special debt to society,” Simon said. “I know the University is planning events for the summer since that’s when the integration actually occurred. Here at the school of social work one of our main goals is promoting social justice so we feel a special commitment to commemorate it.” Simon said she hopes to honor Black History Month by enlightening students on current issues. “We’re finding that our students don’t understand the past, so that makes it difficult for them to understand racial tensions,” Simon said.

STUDENT BLOG: Do students need more teaching hours and tests?
The Guardian (UK) – Feb. 6
Ask any student what’s the biggest difference between sixth form and university and they’ll probably answer: the number of contact hours. At school or college, you spend most of your time in class and are regularly tested, graded and given targets. At university, this structure disappears … When I moved from my university in the UK to spend one year at the University of Alabama, I found myself spending far more time in the classroom. The American college system favours teaching small classes on a regular basis, even for subjects like English literature. Grades are calculated through a system of continuous assessment. This means participation in debate, in-class quizzes, mid-term exams and finals – on top of two papers each semester. This may sound a little too rigorous. But, in fact, I have found it to be a more effective means of learning than sitting silently in a lecture hall with 400 other students.  “Regular assessment,” Dr Claire Major, professor of higher education at the University of Alabama told me, “provides students with an opportunity to recall and to reflect on their learning. They communicate their learning and make it tangible, which allows them to own it in their own way.” By choosing to test more often, it means we as students have more control over our learning. This also helps us space out our studies.

Grad School accepting nominations for Last Lecture
Crimson White – Feb. 6
The University of Alabama Graduate School will host its seventh annual Last Lecture Series on April 22, in which students nominate a UA faculty member as the featured lecturer to address the premise of “If this were your last time to address a group of students, what would you say to them?” Nomination forms extend until Wednesday, Feb. 13. The announced winner, selected by a student committee consisting of graduate and undergraduate students representing a range of the UA student population, will receive a cash award from the UA Graduate School in addition to presenting their lecture. Rick Bragg, the 2012 Last Lecture recipient, said he was tickled when the UA Graduate School selected him to give the lecture and first notified his wife of the news. In addition to teaching a magazine writing course in the College of Communication and Information Sciences, Bragg has published several books and articles, and won awards such as the Pulitzer Prize in Feature Writing in 1996, the Harper Lee Award and the Clarence Cason Award for Nonfiction Writing. Bragg was also a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. Bragg said it was a great honor to be chosen for this lecture because the entire process was student run. “How could you not be gratified or find value in the fact that the award was given by the students themselves?” he asked.

Theatre Tuscaloosa presents ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’
Crimson White – Feb. 6
Theatre Tuscaloosa will be paying tribute to the Harlem Renaissance and one of the era’s most famous musicians, Thomas “Fats” Waller, with their new musical production, “Ain’t Misbehavin’” on Feb. 8-17. Theatre Tuscaloosa last performed this play in 1999, and this will be director and executive producer Tina Turley’s first time directing the show. “This show celebrates the joy that music can bring through the eyes of Fats Waller,” Turley said. “Ain’t Misbehavin’” is one of the genre-varying shows in Theatre Tuscaloosa’s 2012-2013 season titled “Rockin’ and Rollin’ in the Aisles.” … Several University of Alabama students are part of this production. Nick Burroughs, a junior majoring in musical theatre, choreographed the show. Two of the five cast members are also UA students: Alyssa Grubbs, a junior majoring in musical theater and restaurant management, and Will Travis, a junior majoring in musical theatre.

Crimson Tide Ballroom Dancers offer lessons, dances
Crimson White – Feb. 6
The Crimson Tide Ballroom Dancers will host a Valentine’s Dance Friday, Feb. 8 in Smith Hall. A dance lesson will be given at 6 p.m. followed by the dance from 7 to 10 p.m. Founded in 2007 by Jimmy Kunz and his wife Jennifer Graham Kunz, the CTBD offer free dance lessons every Sunday at 3 p.m. in the gym of Calvary Baptist Church, Evan Blitzer, president of the CTBD, said. “Anyone, any age, can dance and join the group if they have an interest to dance,” he said. “We have lots of members from high school students to adults.”

Mentors, mentees both grow during experience
Crimson White – Feb. 6
Students will encounter obstacles, career opportunities and life choices during their college career. Some undergraduates choose to experience it alone, while others seek out guidance from mentors on campus and elsewhere. According to USA Today, approximately 50 percent of college graduates report having a mentor in college. Although the definition of a mentor may change with each individual’s perspective, the concept remains the same. Experienced mentors strive to establish a relationship with their less-experienced mentees that will lead to a better life for the mentee. “A lot of people have served as mentors for me, and without those people my career plan would have broken down,” David Bailey, a graduate student in finance, said. “I wouldn’t have known how to make it to the next step.”


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.