Category: News

Open-Air Market on Sept. 13th, 2007

Sept. 13, 2007

Bring Home-Grown Produce, Blues to Ferguson Plaza

Contact: Christopher H. Spencer, 205-348-7374,

Homegrown Alabama will bring an open-air market to the Ferguson Center Plaza on The University of Alabama campus Thursday, September 13, from 3-6:30 p.m.

This is the second on-campus farmers market hosted by Homegrown Alabama in collaboration with the Ferguson Center, the Office of Community Affairs, and the Alabama Farmers Market Authority.

Homegrown Alabama is a student-led group that seeks to educate students about the value of local produce, as well as to foster partnerships between local farmers and the University.

"The market is an excellent opportunity for students to interact with area farmers and support our local economy," said Christopher H. Spencer, associate director for community development in the Center for Community-Based Partnerships, which helped organize the event.

Fourteen farmers and vendors from the Tuscaloosa-Northport area, the Black Belt and elsewhere around the state will participate. Produce for sale includes sweet potatoes, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, grapes, melons, peaches and okra. Jars of home-prepared honey, jams and jellies, fresh pastries and eggs and plants will also be for sale. 

Alabama Blues Project, featuring Debbie Bond and Radiator Rick, will perform during the market. Homegrown Alabama, with help from the Alabama Farmers Market Authority, will sell "Buy Fresh/ Buy Local" t-shirts and tote bags. Bama Dining will provide a drink kiosk.

Partners for the event include the UA Office of Community Affairs, Ferguson Center, Bama Dining and the Alabama Farmers Market Authority.

Homegrown Alabama, formed in 2005, has about a dozen student members from varying academic majors and colleges. Homegrown's advisers are Carl Bacon, director of the Ferguson Center, and Mildred P. Switzer, instructor of human nutrition and hospitality management.

Key student planners are Keri Coumanis, Molly McNutt, Clay Morrison, Sierra Perkins and Andrea Mabry. The students are either members of Homegrown Alabama or currently enrolled in Nutrition and Hospitality Management 490, an independent study course in the College of Human Environmental Sciences.

"These students have worked diligently throughout the summer and the first few weeks of fall semester to ensure that a fall farmers market would take place," Spencer said.

To learn more about Homegrown Alabama's mission, or to become a member, visit

Inaugural Class for UA’s Parent Leadership Academy to Kickoff Sept. 13

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. "“ The inaugural class for The University of Alabama's new Parent Leadership Academy has been selected, said Dr. Samory Pruitt, UA vice-president for community affairs.

Known as PLA, the academy is a year-long certificate program that aids in developing the leadership potential of parents in the West Alabama area. It will kickoff its program Thursday, Sept 13 at 5:30 p.m., with a reception and opening session at the Child Development Research Center on the UA campus.

2007-08 class members are: Amanda Bearden, Cottondale Elementary; Scottie L. Burden, Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary; Jesse Dixon Jr., Woodland Forrest Elementary; Bryan K. Fair, Rock Quarry Elementary; Donnie Grill, Woodland Forrest; Felicia Gross, Arcadia Elementary; Ingrid Holemon, Arcadia; Robin Holmes, Taylorville Primary; Spike Howard Jr., Faucett-Vestavia Elementary; Roderick Johnson, Matthews Elementary; Elizabeth Lucious, Martin Luther King; Stacie Lunsford, Taylorville; Shanon Lyles, Crestmont Elementary; Dwight Monroe, Rock Quarry; Faye Perry, Oakdale Elementary; Tena Phifer, Crestmont; Juandalyn Smith-Swoope, Oakdale; Brandi Sturdivant, Cottondale; Robin Thornburg, Faucett-Vestavia; and Marie Washington, Matthews.

"These are parents who are active in the schools and represent the best of the best," said Pruitt. "Our hope is that they will continue to remain active in schools, will become more aware of the challenges facing other parents and schools, and will inspire and actively recruit other parents to become more involved."

PLA is a joint initiative of Tuscaloosa city and county public schools, the UA Center for Community-Based Partnerships, and faculty in UA's Colleges of Education and Human Environmental Sciences.

Similar programs, Pruitt said, have begun across the country. The Tuscaloosa program is believed to be the first in Alabama.

"PLA has strong support from local schools and the state board of education," said Pruitt, "as well as from community organizations."

"A child’s first teacher is in the home," said Joe Morton, Alabama superintendent of education. "The Parent Leadership Academy is designed to actively engage parents and educators to become active partners. By working together, family, school and community partnerships will be created and strengthened."

"We see this as a wonderful opportunity to collaborate, educate, and expand the capacity of our school children's parents with support from the University of Alabama, their school system, and community members. Through respect, commitment, creativity, and safety, we see our families totally engaged in the lives of their children, networking with other parents, building a firm foundation for the success of our future…our children," said Dr. Joyce Levey, superintendent of the Tuscaloosa City Schools.

"This Academy will prove to be an excellent resource to build parent leadership as we strive to improve the academic success for all students," said Frank Costanzo, superintendent for the Tuscaloosa County Schools.

For more information, contact Dr. Estelle Ryan Clavelli at 205/348-7367 or

For interviews, contact: Dr. Samory Pruitt, 205-348-8375,; Dr. Estelle Ryan Clavelli, 205-348-7367,

UA Invited to Join Elite Outreach Group

June 19, 2007

TUSCALOOSA "“ The University of Alabama has been invited to join an elite national organization that recognizes the University's achievements in outreach scholarship.

UA becomes the fifth member of the Outreach Scholarship Partnership (OSP). Others are Ohio State University, the University of Georgia, Pennsylvania State University, and the University of Wisconsin Colleges/University of Wisconsin-Extension. All are national leaders in partnerships that unify teaching, research and service.

"This invitation is significant in that it puts the University on par with the nation's best in outreach scholarship. Further, it gives us resources that will make our programs even stronger," said Dr. Samory T. Pruitt, UA vice president for community affairs, in accepting the membership.

Pruitt said UA's Center for Community-Based Partnerships played a major role in the University's invitation. "CCBP focuses University expertise on the most critical social and economic problems identified by community partners," he said.

CCBP and its council "“ made up of 50 faculty, staff, student and community members representing most UA disciplines and many community organizations "“ coordinate engagement scholarship for the campus.

Activities include an annual awards program, research grants, a research journal, a newsletter and a Web site,

"I am pleased to see the teaching and research of our faculty used to enrich communities through partnerships such as these," said Dr. Judy Bonner, UA executive vice president and provost. "And I am especially pleased that our students, working with their faculty mentors, are getting such a wonderful opportunity to reinforce their classroom experience while improving the lives of others."

Among 2007 CCBP projects are The West End Journal, a partnership of UA, Stillman College, The Tuscaloosa News and the Alabama Press Association. With staff composed of students and community residents, WEJ and cover news and information vital to thousands in an underserved section of Tuscaloosa. WEJ was one of nine projects recognized at CCBP's first awards program in April.

UA's Dr. Edward Mullins and Stillman's Amanda Brozana have been invited to present their WEJ research at the Outreach Scholarship Conference in Madison, Wis., Oct. 5-7. Other UA presenters at the conference include Dr. Heather Pleasants, College of Education; Dr. Lisa Shaul, Honors College; Dr. Marsha Adams, Capstone College of Nursing, and Dr. Scott Bridges and Bethany Collins, Creative campus. The conference, one of the main benefits of OSP membership, showcases the nation's top engagement projects.

In his invitation to UA, Ohio State's vice president for university outreach, Dr. Bobby D. Moser, said membership gives UA a position on OSP's steering and implementation committees and puts UA in line to be a future host of the national conference. Membership also affiliates UA with the Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, the top scholarly journal in the field.

Another CCBP-affiliated program is the Rural Health Research Consortium, a National Institutes of Health initiative to improve health care in rural communities. Dr. John Higginbotham and Pamela Payne-Foster, M.D., are UA's principal investigators in this project.

Others include water sanitation in Hale County by the College of Engineering, a language lab for Hispanics new to the community, entrepreneurial outreach for businesses and schools in rural Alabama by the Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration, and a mentoring program for future UA college students from the Black Belt by the School of Social Work.

Dr. Estelle Ryan Clavelli, CCBP associate director of community education, who is in charge of the English Language Lab, says it has been one of the most popular offerings of the new center.

"The number of Hispanics in Alabama has been growing dramatically," Clavelli said, "and they have found a much-needed resource in our lab, which has been drawing as many as 50 visitors a week."

Pruitt said getting a new home for the campus' engagement activities (the Cannon House, 824 4th Avenue, near the Sheraton Hotel on campus) has helped greatly. "However, we are already about to outgrow it. But that's what you would like to see in a new program."

Pruitt, who holds bachelor's, master's and Ph.D. degrees from UA, was named vice president for community affairs in 2004. In addition to serving as CCBP executive director, he oversees the University's Equal Opportunity Programs, Crossroads Community Center, the Martin Luther King Realizing the Dream committee, and other campus and external community activities.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is in the midst of planned, steady enrollment growth with a goal of reaching 28,000 students by 2010. 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.

For 24th Year, High School Students Will Immerse Themselves

June 2007

Eighteen high school journalism students from Alabama and Georgia will live on campus and learn from advanced journalism students, top educators and seasoned journalists during the 24th annual Multicultural Journalism Workshop, July 8-18.

And this year, says Dr. Edward Mullins, who has been on the workshop staff since its beginning, they will become staff members of a regularly published newspaper and related website.

"We have another great group of kids coming in," Mullins said, "and we have an established newspaper and website ready when they are."

The newspaper is The West End Journal, a project of Stillman College and UA's Center for Community-Based Partnerships, where Mullins works as a volunteer.

"From the first day on campus, students will write, shoot, edit, post and stream content," said Amanda Brozana, a Stillman College faculty member who also serves as publisher of West End Journal and WestEndJournal.Com.

Many of the students bring experience in scholastic journalism, but some will be writing for publication for the first time, she said.

In the fall, the workshop students will be entering grades 9, 10, 11, 12 and first year of college.

Under the direction of faculty, visiting professionals and experienced college students, the students will also produce a news broadcast using the modern labs and studios of the UA College of Communication and Information Sciences, a national leader in the discipline.

UA alumni, high school media advisers, newspaper editors and broadcasters nominated the students who made the final cut.

"The long-term success of this program has led us to organize a 25th reunion of past students and faculty of the workshop," Mullins said.

Jannell McGrew, a former daily newspaper state legislative reporter who as a student was president of the Capstone Association of Black Journalists, is working with Assistant Dean Caryl Cooper, adviser of CABJ and chair of the MJW Advisory Committee, and Marie Parsons, MJW co-founder and Advisory Committee member, to organize the 2008 event.

The reunion will be in spring 2008 and the 25th workshop July 13-23, Mullins said.

In addition to studying all forms of journalism, students take field trips to area newspapers and historic sites such as the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

The workshop is free. Students share a UA dorm room, eat in UA dining halls and use other facilities of the 23,000-student campus.

"With hundreds of students from past workshops choosing to attend UA over other colleges, MJW has proven to be a good recruiting tool," said Mullins, "but our main purpose is to get more people of color and more Americans from all walks of life into the journalism profession, which is so important to democracy."

"Since its inception in 1984, more than 1,800 students have benefited from various parts of our comprehensive multicultural program," said Cooper. "The workshop is one way we recognize our responsibility to build a strong student body and mass media."

"Every year we make special preparations to ensure that our participants get a true taste of what it's like to be a college student and a journalist," said Mullins. "We hope that after 10 days in the workshop, many of these students will be motivated to pursue journalism as a profession. We are very proud of our program, which has become a national leader in introducing students to journalism."

Major donors to the program over the years have included the Dow Jones Newspaper Fund, Gannett Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Freedom Forum, Alabama Press Association Journalism Foundation, Alabama Broadcasters Association, The Tuscaloosa News, The Press-Register (Mobile), Cox Radio of Birmingham, and Mercedes-Benz U.S. International.

UA Engineering Students Without Borders Repairs Plumbing, Ballfield in Hale County, Conducts Environmental Project in Peru

June 2007

How many times have you used water today? Water is, of course, an integral aspect of life and is necessary to complete many daily tasks like bathing, brushing your teeth and washing your hands. Now, imagine being billed hundreds of dollars for water you never received because of faulty pipes or leaks in your home.

Some Hale County residents have faced this nightmare, which is why UA's Engineering Students Without Borders has put its expertise to use by restoring the residents' plumbing

Engineers Students Without Borders has partnered with HERO Housing Resource Center, an organization aimed at reducing substandard housing conditions in Hale County, to improve residential plumbing in the area.

It is estimated that 40 percent of water sent to customers from the Hale County Water Department is lost because of bad piping and a decrease in water pressure. The water department asked HERO, who, in turn, asked Engineering Students Without Borders for its help.

Josh Hamilton, a sophomore majoring in electrical engineering and the student project leader for ESWB, said some residents of Hale County are paying for water they do not receive because of problems in the piping. He explained that when some residents' pipes leak, they cannot afford to pay someone to repair the pipe, causing the problem to worsen.

"We are working with HERO and the Hale County Water Department to make it so that these families, whether they are elderly, single parents or simply on a fixed income, can receive water that is affordable," said Hamilton. "One of the residents we worked with was billed $800 for water, and was unable to pay the bill. That's where we come in."

"Not only are we helping the community," said Hamilton, "but the students who participate in these projects are getting hands-on engineering experience, which is something you cannot learn in a classroom or from a textbook."

Bonita Benner, project coordinator for HERO, said ESWB has fixed plumbing at seven homes.

ESWB also has partnered with the Black Belt Action Commission to restore Curtis Smith Field, a run-down baseball field in Greensboro, restoring the baseball field in an effort to increase interest in the sport in the Black Belt community. Members of the Black Belt Action Commission sought ESWB's assistance after recognizing the need for improved recreational areas for their youth.

"Baseball used to be a big deal in the Black Belt," said Dr. Philip Johnson, adviser for ESWB. "Kids used to play the game, but it has died out, and there is no longer a little league team in Hale County, which is why we are sending students there to help."

Drs. Philip and Pauline Johnson received an award from CCBP in April, the Outstanding Faculty/Staff-Initiated Engagement Effort Award for their ESWB work. Both are associate professors of civil, construction and environmental engineering.

Also, UA's Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility presented Dr. Pauline Johnson with an Innovative Service Learning Faculty Award, and the Community Service Center recognized ESWB's work by giving the organization its Caritas Award.

Engineers Students Without Borders traveled to Peru in May as part of UA's interim class. Students in ESWB spent two weeks in Iquitos, Peru, working on community water and ecotourism projects.

UA Students Bring Farmers Market to Campus

May 3, 2006

Homegrown Alabama, a student-led group that educates the community about the value and importance of local produce, sponsored an open-air market at Ferguson Center Plaza on The University of Alabama campus Thursday, May 3.

Farmers from Tuscaloosa, Northport, Duncanville, Coker, Fayette, Thorsby, Clanton and elsewhere displayed racks of fresh tomatoes, turnips, onions, new potatoes, English peas and collards, as well as eggs, cheese, pastries and jars of home-prepared honey, jams and jellies.

"This event promotes home-grown as best for nutrition, best for the local economy, and best for personal health," said chief organizer of the event Max Young, a senior food and nutrition major from New Orleans.

Young and other students are enrolled in Nutrition and Hospitality Management 490, an independent study course. About a dozen students worked for several months to bring the event to the campus, giving many local farmers a chance to showcase their products.

The event featured Tres Jackson, chef and owner of Tuscaloosa's Epiphany Restaurant. Guests sampled Jackson's dishes made from the produce at the market.

Partners were the UA Office of Community Affairs, Ferguson Center, Bama Dining and the Alabama Farmers Market Authority (

Homegrown Alabama, formed in 2005, has student members from varying academic majors in the UA College of Human Environmental Sciences. The faculty adviser is Mildred Switzer, UA instructor of human nutrition and hospitality management.

CCBP Honors Campus and Community Partners

April 27, 2007

The Center for Community-Based Partnerships honored nine of its most successful projects and their leaders at its first awards program Friday, April 27, at the Sheraton Four Points Hotel in Tuscaloosa. More than 250 university and community leaders attended the ceremony.

The keynote speaker for the event was Dr. Arthur N. Dunning, vice president for public service and outreach and associate provost at the University of Georgia and a three-time graduate and former faculty member at The University of Alabama. Dunning also received the first award of the day, a Distinguished Achievement Award for his national leadership in community-partnered research and service.

Dunning urged academic scholars to convert their research and instruction in ways that can be used by ordinary people. The people of Alabama's Black Belt may not ever be interested in your basic research, he said, "but if you can translate that research into something that makes an impact, it will be recognized.”

Receiving awards for projects initiated by students were:

"¢ Amanda Brozana, for The West End Journal and WestEndJournal.Com, a newspaper and website that cover western Tuscaloosa around Stillman College, where Brozana, a UA doctoral student, is an instructor.

"¢ Stephany Collins, a senior photojournalism major, for her work with Creative Campus to integrate the arts into local school curricula.

"¢ Students in the School of Social Work for P.A.S.S. (Preparing Alabama Students for Success) "“ Jacauel Lakesha Lee, Stephanie Workman, Jacquelyn Johnson, Kathleen McNamara, Paulette Martin, R. Taylor Putnam, Rita Smith, William Thompson, Krista VanDerwood, Debra Watkins. They mentor and instruct Black Belt area students on college-bound goals, helping them to see themselves as future college students

For projects by faculty and staff:

"¢ Dr. Carmen Taylor, assistant dean, College of Arts and Sciences, for SMILE (Science and Math Involved Learning Experience), which engages students in learning and enjoying math and science.

"¢ Dr. Pauline Johnson and Dr. Phillip Johnson, associate professors in the College of Engineering, for community projects at home and abroad through Engineering Students Without Borders.

"¢ Dr. Heather Pleasants, assistant professor, College of Education, for Our Voices, which enables black middle school students to tell their stories in new forms of media.

For projects by community partners:

"¢ Carol Eichelberger and Jean Mills, for Tuscaloosa Community-Supported Agriculture through New 226 Organic Farming, a course open to community and campus members through New College.

"¢ Dr. Alesa Judd of Centreville, for Bibb County Child Caring Project through Bibb County Public Schools.

"¢ Mayor Walt Maddox, Shelly Jones, Earnestine Tucker, Stephen Black, for Tuscaloosa Pre-K Initiative. the city's pre-kindergarten initiative.

Distinguished Achievement Awards, for sustained, distinguished and superb achievement in public service and outreach went to:

"¢ Dr. Jim Hall, director, New College, campus

"¢ Felecia Jones, executive director, Black Belt Community Foundation in Selma. Ms. Jones' was recognized for her leadership in an organization that since 2003 has raised funds to sustain an operation that now includes a full-time staff of five and has distributed more than $300,000 in small grants in support of health, education, the economy and the arts to nonprofit organizations throughout the Black Belt.

Dunning, who has advised Dr. Samory Pruitt, vice president for community affairs, in his efforts to establish the University's engagement programs, explained how engagement based on the university's teaching and research strength can put a university at the center of the public's concerns.

Pruitt praised the projects recognized at the luncheon, saying, "These outstanding projects and individuals connect the outreach mission of the University to its teaching and research functions while serving the needs of our local community, the state of Alabama, the region, the nation and the world. They operationalize our motto: Engaging Communities and Changing Lives."

Winning projects will receive funds to be used in future projects or to extend current ones, Pruitt said. All of the nominated projects involve the community, faculty, staff, students, curriculum and formal research, Pruitt said.

Following the luncheon, many attendees attended an open house at the Cannon House, 824 4th Avenue, the home of CCBP.

CCBP began in 2006 as an initiative of the Office of Community Affairs. It mobilizes the resources of the University to address problems identified jointly by community and academic partners. Its purpose is to engage communities, expand the classroom and laboratory, and promote better education, health, economic and cultural opportunities for all Alabamians.

UA Program Leading State Observance of Entrepreneurial Opportunities

February 2007

The University of Alabama's Entrepreneurship Program served as the State Leadership Team for observance of Entrepreneurship Week U.S.A. Feb. 24-March 3.

Ranked 20th in the nation by Entrepreneur Magazine, the program used Entrepreneurship Week U.S.A. "to tell Alabamians more about entrepreneurship and to highlight opportunities available to entrepreneurs in Alabama," said David M. Ford, clinical professor and the Sam Walton Fellow in the department of management and marketing at UA's Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration.

The State Leadership Team encourages educational institutions, community organizations, and government agencies throughout Alabama to host events associated with entrepreneurship."

The week was capped off by a reception and award dinner celebrating UA's 20th ranking and other recognitions.

Among the award were the K-12 Entrepreneurship Educator of the Year Award to Earnestine Giles; the Higher Education Entrepreneurship Educator Award to Lisa McKinney; the African American Business Plan Competition Award, Grand Prize to Terrance Meade, who received $2,500 provided by the African American Graduate Student Association; the Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award to Carol Ann Gray

Entrepreneurship is a driving force of the U.S. economy. During the past 15 years, businesses less than five years old have accounted for about 70 percent of the net job creation in the United States. However, while America presently maintains the edge as an entrepreneurial society, there are clear signs of massive economic competition from abroad. More Americans in the future will need to generate more ideas and better innovations if the United States is to stay ahead of the large populations of educated citizens in emerging and globally savvy economies.

Alabama was ranked No. 4 on a Hot States for Entrepreneurs list last year, and several state cities are highly ranked. Mobile is No. 1 among midsize cities, with Birmingham coming in at No. 3.

Auburn-Opelika was No. 1 among small cities followed by Huntsville, No. 19; Montgomery, No. 25; Decatur, No. 39; and Florence, No. 63. ranks Alabama No. 4 in Best States for Small Business, and the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council ranks Alabama No. 4 as having the best tax and regulatory climate for entrepreneurs.

UA Course Assists Low-Income Families With Income Tax Filing

  • July 6th, 2010
  • in News

January 2007

More than 80 IRS-certified undergraduate, graduate and law students from the University are providing free income tax services and teaching financial literacy to low-income families in Tuscaloosa and Birmingham.

Most of the students are enrolled in a UA service learning course that focuses on understanding poverty and requires students to commit to the tax return service.

The initiative is co-sponsored by SaveFirst: A Tax Preparation and Financial Literacy Initiative and the UA Center for Ethics & Social Responsibility, both directed by UA faculty member Stephen Black. SaveFirst is an initiative of Impact: An Alabama Student Service Initiative, a nonprofit dedicated to service learning by students from several cooperating colleges and universities.

Joining UA in SaveFirst are students from Birmingham-Southern College, Samford University and UAB. Students staffed five community-based sites in Tuscaloosa and Birmingham for five weeks during the tax season, targeting families who qualify for Earned Income Tax Credit.

The project provides alternatives to practices that exploit low-income individuals, like payday loan schemes, check-cashing operations and high-interest lending.

The UA Center for Ethics & Social Responsibility teaches students to take responsibility for the well-being of the larger community, especially through innovative, curriculum-based service learning