Bell will promote research, balance

Bell will promote research, balance

Current Louisiana State University executive vice president and provost, Stuart R. Bell, has been recommended for the next president of the University of Alabama.  Photo courtesy of LSU University Relations

Normally, taking anything from LSU other than a win leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. However, with the hiring of Dr. Stuart Bell this month, I believe that we as students at Alabama have something worth celebrating on more than just a week-to-week basis.

Long before Dr. Bell was serving as executive vice president and provost at LSU, he was leaving his mark in the field of engineering, ultimately becoming the head of the Engineering Department at the University of Kansas. Dr. Bell’s scientific background is great for The University 
of Alabama.

In Dr. Bell’s tenure at LSU, he oversaw all research – a job that I’m sure was enriched by his engineering background. His career highlights boast new and improved engineering and chemistry buildings. His involvement seemed to help take LSU off the ground, and I’m intrigued to learn more about his specific visions for our programs. The future is bright because, as in the case of so many, Dr. Bell also did some of his best work at the Capstone, establishing our Center for Advanced Vehicle Technologies and toting a hefty suitcase of awards with him on his way to Lawrence, Kansas.

With our increased commitment to research and increased recruiting of high quality students, the University has added credibility to its self-description as “the South’s premier student-centered, research university.” We have managed to achieve an increasing research-award-to-research-expenditure ratio, to lead the country in incoming National Merit Finalists, and we boast one of the elite STEM programs in the country. There is certainly a lot to be proud of, and I think that the best is yet to come. Granted, I’m even more excited because of my science course load and research involvement.

On the non-research side of things, I am interested to see how Dr. Bell maintains balance at The University of Alabama – in state versus out of state, Greek versus non-Greek, as well as tuition costs and student enrollment. I love the idea of the University internally expanding the breadth of programs and career planning options that it offers. Ultimately, Dr. Bell will see to it what happens with the other half of Tuscaloosa that we practically own. We’re 10,000 students richer now, and further growth might make traffic even worse, but I won’t ask him to do anything about that because I’ve already given up hope of a short ride off of campus.

In all seriousness, Dr. Bell faces the task of maintaining and improving the quality of education at Alabama, while our state is handing out smaller and smaller budget appropriations for public education, a problem whose solution Dr. Bonner mentioned as integral to the future of the Capstone.

Although this will be our fourth president in the last decade, I feel that the others have laid a welcoming foundation for Dr. Bell. With our resources, both academic and not, we have the ability to become a premier student-centered, research university of the nation, not just of the South.

Eric Roddy is a senior majoring in philosophy. His column runs biweekly.

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