In 2004, The University of Alabama launched a new phase in the growth of its research programs. Setting the goal of creating a campuswide culture of excellence in scholarly activity, the University has embarked on a program to transform UA into one of the top 50 research institutions of higher education in the nation.
The University of Alabama’s new interdisciplinary transportation and science complex, Shelby Hall, was dedicated May 14, 2004, in an afternoon ceremony with special guests U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and his wife, Dr. Annette N. Shelby, in attendance.
The Alabama Black Belt stretches from the Mississippi border through the heart of the state covering 19 counties across west and south Alabama. It is where some of the state’s most significant historical events took place, from de Soto meeting Tuskaloosa to the birth of the Confederacy to the civil rights struggles in the 20th century.
Pick a grim statistic—poverty, infant deaths, poor education, births to single mothers, unemployment, gaps in health care—and you’ll find the counties of Alabama’s Black Belt at the top of each category.
With 70 research labs, five teaching labs, three theater-style lecture halls, 40 offices for faculty and professional staff, and 80 offices for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, the Shelby Interdisciplinary Science Building will be the largest academic building on the UA campus when it is completed this year and one of the Southeast’s largest science education facilities. Construction of the structure has drawn considerable interest based on its size as well as its beauty.
The challenge of dealing with changing economic conditions has never been more a fact of life than today. As markets rise and fall, shift and settle, the effects of change ripple through our lives — in ripples that sometimes look more like tidal waves. Here in Alabama, one of the most significant changes facing our citizens is the shift in the foundations of our economy. Some of our traditional industries, including textile manufacturing, are dwindling, while whole new sectors are burgeoning. The growth in automotive manufacturing that began in 1993 with Mercedes-Benz’s decision to locate its first U.S. manufacturing operation 20 miles from The University of Alabama is accelerating exponentially.