Bonner reviews UA progress

Judy Bonner, University of Alabama president, spoke to faculty and staff on Tuesday about the accomplishments of the 2013-14 school year alongside Faculty Senate President Steve Miller, newly inaugurated SGA President Hamilton Bloom and others.

Bonner opened her remarks with a reference of the 50th anniversary of the integration of the Capstone, marked by the enrollment of Vivian Malone and James Hood, in addition to praising the University’s traditionally-white greek system for continuing this integration 50 years later this fall, when 23 black women accepted bids to sororities in the National Panhellenic Council.

“In the weeks that followed the end of sorority recruitment at the beginning of this academic year, our Greek students have once again provided leadership,” Bonner said. “All sororities participated in the continuous open bidding process and reached out to a diverse group of perspective new members. Now, 15 of the 18 Panhellenic sororities have African-American members.”

Miller’s faculty senate report also touched on the challenges the senate faced in the past year upon allegations of incidences of racism in the Greek system, pointing to the creation of the Senate Task Force for Excellence in Equity, Inclusion & Citizenship, intended to “to continue the momentum engendered by this unique opportunity, but mindful that the next steps will require deliberation, study, concrete proposals and action,” according to the Faculty Senate website.

“The Greek desegregation issue came up, all of which really cuts to the heart of the faculty. You may ask, ‘why? it’s a student thing.’ As I said at our last faculty senate meeting, my students are my kids. We feel that way,” Miller said. “These are our folks, and we want to take care of them. We want every student to have a leg up here at the University of Alabama, everyone to be treated equally. With this, we create the task force.”

(See also "The Final Barrier: 50 years later, segregation still exists")

In his discussion on behalf of SGA, Bloom also pointed to strides his administration is planning on making towards fostering inclusivity and encouraging diversity on campus, introducing the

“In years past, presidents have campaigned on [diversity issues]. However, our administration has concrete policies to make sure SGA is a diverse place,” Bloom said. “That idea is what I call the diversity caucus.”

He briefly outlined the ways in which his administration plans to reach out to each student organization affiliated with the SOURCE and allow them the opportunity to participate in bimonthly meetings to discuss the issues each organization is having on campus.

“Those organizations will then compile their list of concerns, and those concerns will be given to the executive branch of the student government association,” Bloom said. “This way, the Student Government Association will be able to create policy and initiatives to fix the problems that all students are having on this campus.”

Bonner also gave out a series of faculty and staff awards, opening with the presentation the Vergil Parks McKinley Sr. Awards, the E. Roger Sayers Endowed Distinguished Service Award and the Dr. Minnie C. Miles Endowed Excellence Award.

Rhonda Dillard, staff in the department of facilities services, and Sea Talantis, program coordinator in the department of professional development and conference services, were both honored by President Bonner with a Vergil Parks McKinley Sr. Award.

(See also "Task force to promote diversity")

“Sea worked closely with the team planning the national outreach scholarship conference that was held on our campus in September 2012,” Bonner said. “Her leadership and professionalism helped create a positive and memorial experience for the more than 600 participants who came from around the world to participate in this conference. Rhonda is an outstanding ambassador for the facilities department and the University. She volunteers at the Gorgas library on game days in the fall, and she works extra duty hours during study week and examinations, in addition to carrying on her regular responsibilities.”

The remaining two endowed awards were awarded to Marcia Hay-McCutcheon, chair of the department of communicative disorders and Tim Dillard, College of Arts and Science registrar.

Hay-McCutcheon was awarded the E. Roger Sayers Endowed Distinguished Service Award recognizes extraordinary service to the University of Alabama, named for longtime University president Roger Sayers.

“Marcia possesses the perfect mix of personality and professionalism. She consistently displays effective decision making skills, a collaborative approach and unparalleled support for faculty and staff,” Bonner said. “Students in the department love taking her classes, not only for how much they learn, but also for her teaching style, which creates a comfortable atmosphere for students to ask questions and actively participate in lectures.”

Dillard received the Dr. Minnie C. Miles Endowed Excellence Award, which honors non-faculty administrative employees, who have performed “in an exemplary manner, exceeded expectation set for their position and fostered the mission of the University.”

“Over the course of his career, he has taught courses, representing the college on a variety of standing committees, and solved more complex problems for students than you can find in most textbooks,” Bonner said. “The faculty trust him, the advising staff look up to him and the students succeed largely because of him.”

(See also "President Bonner releases video update on sorority integration")

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