|The University of Alabama|
|President||Dr. Judy L. Bonner|
|Location||Tuscaloosa, Alabama, United States|
|Campus||Urban (small city);
1,970 acres (800 ha)
|Colors||Crimson and White |
|Athletics||NCAA Division I
19 varsity sports
The University of Alabama (UA) is a public research university located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA, and the flagship of the University of Alabama System. Founded in 1831, UA is one of the oldest and the largest of the universities in Alabama. UA offers programs of study in 13 academic divisions leading to bachelor's, master's, Education Specialist, and doctoral degrees. The only publicly supported law school in the state is at UA. Other academic programs unavailable elsewhere in Alabama include doctoral programs in anthropology, library and information studies, metallurgical engineering, music, Romance languages, and social work. The university is ranked first among public institutions and fourth out of all universities in the 2012–2013 enrollment of National Merit Scholars with 241 enrolled in the fall 2012 freshman class.
As one of the first public universities established in the early 19th century southwestern frontier of the United States, the University of Alabama has left a vast cultural imprint on the state, region and nation over the past two centuries. The school was a center of activity during the American Civil War and the African-American Civil Rights Movement. The University of Alabama varsity football program (nicknamed the Crimson Tide), which was inaugurated in 1892, ranks as one of 10 winningest programs in US history. In a 1913 speech then-president George H. Denny extolled the university as the "capstone of the public school system in the state [of Alabama]," lending the university its current nickname, The Capstone.
- 1 Nomenclature
- 2 History
- 3 Campus
- 4 Organization and administration
- 5 Academics
- 6 Student life
- 7 Athletics and traditions
- 8 Notable alumni
- 9 Notable appearances in popular culture
- 10 References
- 11 External links
The official name of the institution is The University of Alabama, where the "the" is capitalized and officially a part of the name of the institution. The accepted abbreviation of the official name is UA. While it is not uncommon for "Tuscaloosa" to be appended to the university's name to distinguish it from sister UA System institutions UAB and UAH, this name—and accompanying abbreviation, UAT—is unofficial and incorrect.
In 1818, Congress authorized the newly created Alabama Territory to set aside a township for the establishment of a "seminary of learning". When Alabama was admitted to the Union on December 14, 1819, a second township was added to the land grant, bringing it to a total of 46,000 acres (186 km²). The General Assembly of Alabama established the seminary on December 18, 1820, named it "The University of the State of Alabama", and created a Board of Trustees to manage the construction and operation of the university. The board chose as the site of the campus a place which was then just outside the city limits of Tuscaloosa, the state capital at the time. The new campus was designed by William Nichols, also the architect of newly completed Alabama State Capitol building and Christ Episcopal Church. Influenced by Thomas Jefferson's plan at the University of Virginia, the Nichols-designed campus featured a 70-foot (21 m) wide, 70-foot (21 m) high domed Rotunda that served as the library and nucleus of the campus. The university's charter was presented to the first university president in the nave of Christ Episcopal Church. UA opened its doors to students on April 18, 1831, with the Reverend Alva Woods as President.
An academy-style institution during the Antebellum period, the university emphasized the classics and the social and natural sciences. There were around 100 students per year at UA in the 1830s. However, as Alabama was a frontier state and a sizable amount of its territory was still in the hand of various Native American tribes until the 1840s, it lacked the infrastructure to adequately prepare students for the rigors of university education. Consequently, only a fraction of students who enrolled in the early years remained enrolled for long and even fewer graduated. Those who did graduate, however, often had distinguished careers in Alabama and national politics. Early graduates included Benjamin F. Porter and Alexander Meek.
As the state and university matured, an active literary culture evolved on campus and in Tuscaloosa. UA had one of the largest libraries in the country on the eve of the Civil War with more than 7,000 volumes. There were several thriving literary societies, including the Erosophic and the Phi Beta Kappa societies, which frequently had lectures by such distinguished politicians and literary figures as United States Supreme Court Justice John A. Campbell, novelist William Gilmore Simms, and Professor Frederick Barnard (later president of Columbia University). The addresses to those societies reveal a vibrant intellectual culture in Tuscaloosa; they also illustrate the proslavery ideas that were so central to the University and the state.
Discipline and student behavior was a major issue at the university almost from the day it opened. Early presidents attempted to enforce strict rules regarding conduct. Students were prohibited from drinking, swearing, making unauthorized visits off-campus, or playing musical instruments outside of a one-hour time frame. Yet riots and gunfights were not an uncommon occurrence. To combat the severe discipline problem, president Landon Garland lobbied and received approval from the legislature in 1860 to transform the university into a military school. As such, many of the cadets who graduated from the school went on to serve as officers in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. As a consequence of that role, Union troops burned down the campus on April 4, 1865 (only 5 days before Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House on 9 April), which was unrelated to Sherman's March to the Sea several months earlier and farther east, in Georgia. Despite a call to arms and defense by the student cadet corps, only four buildings survived the burning: the President's Mansion (1841), Gorgas House (1829), Little Round House (1860), and Old Observatory (1844).
The university reopened in 1871 and in 1880, Congress granted the university 40,000 acres (162 km²) of coal land in partial compensation for $250,000 in war damages. The military structure was dropped approximately a decade after the school was officially opened to women in 1892 after much lobbying by Julia Tutwiler to the Board of Trustees.
The first attempt to integrate the university occurred in 1956 when Autherine Lucy successfully enrolled on February 3 as a graduate student in library sciences after having secured a court order preventing the university from rejecting her application on the basis of race. In the face of violent protests against her attendance, Lucy was suspended (and later outright expelled) three days later by the board of trustees on the basis of being unable to provide a safe learning environment for her. The university was not successfully integrated until 1963 when Vivian Malone and James Hood registered for classes on June 11.
Governor George Wallace made his infamous "Stand in the Schoolhouse Door", standing in the front entrance of Foster Auditorium in a symbolic attempt to stop Malone and Hood's enrollment. When confronted by U.S. Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach and federal marshals sent in by Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, Wallace stepped aside. President John F. Kennedy had called for the integration of the University of Alabama, as well. Although Hood dropped out of school after two months, he subsequently returned and, in 1997, received his PhD in philosophy. Malone persisted in her studies and became the first African American to graduate from the university. In 2000, the university granted her a doctorate of humane letters. Autherine Lucy's expulsion was rescinded in 1980, and she successfully re-enrolled and graduated with a master's degree in 1992. Later in his life, Wallace apologized for his opposition at that time to racial integration. In 2010, the university formally honored Lucy, Hood and Malone by rechristening the plaza in front of Foster Auditorium as Malone-Hood Plaza and erecting a clock tower – Autherine Lucy Clock Tower – in the plaza.
On April 27, 2011, Tuscaloosa was hit by a tornado with a rating of at least EF4 on the Enhanced Fujita scale. The tornado left a large path of complete destruction but spared the campus. Six students who lived on off-campus premises were confirmed dead by the university. Due to the infrastructural damage of the city (approx. 12% of the city) and the loss of life, the university cancelled the rest of the spring semester and postponed graduation.
From a small campus of seven buildings in the wilderness on the main road between Tuscaloosa and Huntsville (now University Boulevard) in the 1830s, UA has grown to a massive 1,970-acre (800 ha) campus in the heart of Tuscaloosa today. There are 297 buildings on campus containing some 10,600,000 square feet (980,000 m2) of space. The school recently added 168 acres to its campus after purchasing the Bryce Hospital property in 2010. It also plans to acquire more land to accommodate the continuing growth of the enrollment.
The university also maintains the University of Alabama Arboretum in eastern Tuscaloosa and the Dauphin Island Sea Lab on Dauphin Island, just off the Alabama gulf coast. According to Campus Squeeze's 20 Most Beautiful Colleges in the USA rankings, the University of Alabama's campus was ranked 17th among both public and private colleges. In 2011, the Sustainable Endowments Institute gave the university a College Sustainability Report Card grade of "B+".
The campus is anchored around the 22-acre (8.9 ha) Quad, which sits at the site of the original campus designed by William Nichols. The Quad is about the same size as that original campus and lies roughly at the geographic center of the modern campus (though recent asymmetrical expansion of the campus northward and eastward has shifted the exact geographic center away). It is cut in half by a line connecting the Gorgas Library on the north end and Denny Chimes, a campanile equipped with a 25-bell carillon, on the south. The west side of the Quad is filled by a grove of trees while the east side of the Quad is open field.
Academic buildings are grouped into smaller clusters and quads surrounding the main Quad itself. Woods Quad, lying immediately north of the main Quad, was the center of the rebuilt post-Civil War campus before the center shifted back to the Quad. Woods Quad is home to Clark Hall, the home of the College of Arts & Sciences, and the homes of several of the fine arts and humanities departments. East of Quad, the buildings historically housed the natural science and math departments, before more modern facilities opened in the northeast of the campus. (Today, only the physics & astronomy, math, and psychology departments called the Quad home.) Engineering Row, the traditional home of the departments of the College of Engineering, is located to the northeast. Northwest of the Quad are buildings housing humanities and social sciences departments. To the west of the Quad lie the buildings of the colleges of commerce and education. Finally, the College of Communication and Information Sciences, the College of Human Environmental Sciences, and the School of Social Work flank the Quad to the south from west to east, respectively.
As the university has grown more academic buildings have moved further out from the Quad. The Science and Engineering Complex on the northeast periphery of the campus will house many science and engineering departments. The facilities of the School of Law, the School of Music (a division of the College of Arts and Sciences), the College of Nursing, and the College of Community Health Sciences are located on the far eastern edges of campus. The College of Continuing Education is located in Parham Hall further south of the Quad.
Further out from the Quad are more student support services and research facilities that are not vital to the day to day needs of students. The Ferguson Center, the student center on campus is located north of Woods Quads. One of the three main dining halls is located in "The Ferg". The other two dining halls are located closer to the dorms on the north and south sides of campus (Lakeside Dining Hall on the north and Burke Dining Hall on the south). Most residence halls are located on the north and south sides of campus. Commuter parking decks on located on the periphery of campus, as are student recreational facilities, such as the intramural fields and the Campus Recreation Center.
Athletic facilities generally flank the far southern and far eastern edges of campus. Bryant-Denny Stadium is in the southwestern edge of the campus and Coleman Coliseum is in the southeastern edge of campus, near the law school.
UA is home to several museums, cultural facilities and historical landmarks.
The Alabama Museum of Natural History at Smith Hall exhibits Alabama's rich natural history. The oddest artifact there could be the Sylacauga meteorite, the largest known extraterrestrial object to strike a human being who survived. The Paul W. Bryant Museum houses memorabilia and exhibits on the history of UA athletic programs, most notably the tenure of football coach Paul "Bear" Bryant. Athletic trophies and awards are displayed at the Mal Moore Athletic Building near the Bryant Museum. The Sarah Moody Gallery of Art at Garland Hall hosts revolving exhibitions of contemporary art, including from the university's own permanent collection. The Ferguson Art Gallery at the Ferguson Center also hosts revolving art exhibitions. The Jones Archaeological Museum at Moundville exhibits the history of Mississippian culture in Alabama.
Numerous historical landmarks dot the campus, including the President's Mansion, Denny Chimes, Foster Auditorium (a National Historical Landmark), the Gorgas–Manly Historic District, and Maxwell Observatory.
A cemetery next to the Biology building includes the graves of two slaves who were owned by faculty members before the Civil War. Both men died in the 1840s, and their graves went unmarked until 2004.
Campus culture facilities include the Bert Man Jrs. Theater, the Marion Gallaway Theater, Morgan Auditorium, and the Frank M. Moody Music Building, which houses the Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra and the UA Opera Theatre, as well as three resident choirs.
Organization and administration
|Academic Divisions of the University of Alabama|
|College of Arts and Sciences||1909|
|Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration||1929|
|College of Communication and Information Sciences||1997|
|College of Community Health Sciences||1971|
|College of Continuing Studies||1983|
|College of Education||1928|
|College of Engineering||1909|
|College of Human Environmental Sciences||1987|
|School of Law||1892|
|Capstone College of Nursing||1975|
|School of Social Work||1975|
The University of Alabama is an autonomous institution within the University of Alabama System, which is governed by the Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama and headed by Chancellor of the University of Alabama. The board was created by the state legislature to govern the operations of the university. Its responsibilities include setting policy for the university, determining the mission and scope of the university, and assuming ultimate responsibility for the university to the public and the legislature. The board is self-perpetuating and currently composed of 15 members and two ex officio members. The makeup of the board is dictated by the Constitution of the State of Alabama, and requires that the board be made up of three members from the congressional district that contains the Tuscaloosa campus, and two members from every other congressional district in Alabama. Board members are elected by the board and are confirmed by the Alabama State Senate. Board members may serve three consecutive six-year terms.
The President of the University of Alabama is the principal executive officer of the university and is appointed by the chancellor with approval of the Board of Trustees. The president reports directly to the chancellor, and is responsible for the daily operations of the university. The president's office is located on the third floor of the Rose Administration Building, and the president has the privilege of living in the President's Mansion on campus. Judy L. Bonner became the 28th university president in 2012.
The university faculty numbers 1,175 and the staff numbers 3,513. 829 held the rank of assistant professor or higher. 922 faculty members were full-time. 527 were tenured with 244 on tenure track. 13.8% (114) were minorities and 34.7% (287) were women.
Colleges and academic divisions
There are 13 academic divisions at the University of Alabama (see the table). Eight of those divisions (A&S, C&BA, C&IS, Education, Engineering, HES, Nursing, and Social Work) grant undergraduate degrees. Degrees in those eight divisions at the master's, specialist, and doctoral level are awarded through the Graduate School. The law school offers J.D. and LL.M. degree programs. CHS provides advanced studies in medicine and related disciplines and operates a family practice residency program. Medical students are also trained in association with the University of Alabama School of Medicine, from which they receive their degree.
The College of Continuing Studies provides correspondence courses and other types of distance education opportunities for non-traditional students. It operates a distance education facility in Gadsden.
Founded in 1971 and merged into the College of Arts and Sciences in 1996, the New College program allows undergraduate students more flexibility in choosing their curriculum while completing a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Sciences degree. The program allows students to create a "depth study" in a particular field chosen by the student. The student completes approved independent studies alongside their normal coursework. The objective of New College is to inspire interdisciplinary learning at the undergraduate level.
The Honors College is a non-degree granting division that encompasses all the university's honors programs.
The University of Alabama System's financial endowment was valued at $995 million in the National Association of College and University Business Officers' (NACUBO) 2011 ranking, up 16.5% from its 2010 value. UA's portion of the system's endowment was valued at over $515 million in September 2008.
In 2002, the university embarked on a $500 million capital campaign entitled "Our Students. Our Future." The focus of the campaign was stated to be "student scholarships, faculty support, campus facilities and priority needs" by adding $250 million to university endowment and an additional $250 to the non-endowed funds. The "quiet phase" (which lasted until 2006) of the campaign raised $299 million. In November 2007, the university announced that it had raised $428 million. The $500 million goal was surpassed in May 2008 and when the campaign officially concluded in 2009, it had raised $612 million.
It was recently reported that The University of Alabama's 2010 financial endowment was valued at $631,947,260.
The University of Alabama is a large, four-year primarily residential research university accredited by the South Association of Colleges and Schools. Full-time, four-year undergraduates comprise a large amount of the total university enrollment. The undergraduate instructional program emphasizes professional programs of study as well as the liberal arts, and there a high level of co-existence between the graduate and undergraduate program. The university has a "high level" of research activity (below the highest "very high level" classification) and has a "comprehensive doctoral" graduate instructional program in the liberal arts, humanities, social sciences and STEM fields, though it lacks health and veterinary sciences professional programs.
UA conferred 6,003 degrees in academic year 2009–2010, including 4,284 bachelor's degrees, 1,339 master's degrees, 209 doctorates and 171 professional degrees. Latin honors are conferred on graduates completing a bachelor's degree for the first time (including at other universities) with an overall grade point average of at least 3.5. Cum laude honors are conferred to graduates with a GPA of 3.5 or greater and less than 3.7 (without rounding). Magna cum laude honors are conferred with a GPA of 3.7 or greater and less than 3.9. Summa cum laude honors are conferred with a GPA of 3.9 or higher.
The university follows a standard academic calendar based on the semester system, which divides the academic year, starting in mid-August, into two 15-week semesters (fall and spring) and the summer. The fall semester ends in December and the spring term lasts from January to early May. The summer, which lasts from mid-May to August, is divided into a 3-week "mini-semester" in May and two four-week sessions in June and July, respectively.
Student body profile
|Hispanic or Latino||2.4%||2.4%||1.3%||2.4%||2.34||16.3%|
In fall 2012, the university had an enrollment of 33,602, consisting of 28,026 undergraduates, 4917 graduate students, and 659 professional degree students from all 67 Alabama counties and all 50 states. 96.8% of all students were US citizens or permanent residents and 3.2% were nonresident aliens. Students from 61 foreign countries comprised 2.6% of the student body.
The five Alabama counties with the highest enrollment of students are Jefferson, Tuscaloosa, Madison, Shelby and Mobile, while the five states (beside Alabama) with the highest enrollment of students are Georgia, Florida, Texas, Tennessee and Virginia.
In fall 2012, the university received 26,409 applications for first-time freshman enrollment, from which 14,019 applications were accepted and 6,371 freshmen enrolled. 22% of the incoming freshman class submitted SAT scores; the middle 50 percent of those who reported their SAT scored between 1490 and 1870 (500-620 Reading, 500–640 Math, 490–610 Writing). 75% submitted ACT sores; the middle 50 percent of those who reported their ACT scored between 22 and 30 (21–28 Math, 22–31 English, 6–8 Writing). 85% of incoming freshman had a high school GPA of 3.00 or higher.
In fall 2012, 32% of undergraduates were enrolled in A&S, 22% in C&BA, 9% in C&IS, 8% in Education, 11% in Engineering, 10% in HES, 6% in Nursing, 1% in Social Work, and 1% in Continuity Education.
The University of Alabama ranked 12th in the nation among public universities in the enrollment of National Merit Scholars in 2007.
UA graduates include 15 Rhodes Scholars, 29 Goldwater Scholars, 12 Truman Scholars, 13 Hollings Scholars, two Javits Fellows, one Gates Scholar, one Portz Scholar, and one Udall Scholar. Numbers of UA graduates have been named to the USA Today All-USA College Academic Team.
|U.S. News & World Report||77|
The University of Alabama has consistently ranked as a top 50 public university in the nation by the U.S. News & World Report and has a selectivity rating of "more selective". In the 2012 USNWR rankings, UA was 77th in the National Universities category (32nd among the public schools in the category, and 1st among universities in Alabama). In 2012, the University of Alabama was ranked #4 by StateUniversity.com, behind Auburn University, Samford University, and University of Alabama at Birmingham. A ranking of colleges and universities by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity in the May 19, 2008 edition of Forbes magazine ranked the UA 42nd in the nation, seventh among public universities, and first in the state.
Several of UA's colleges are ranked individually. In the 2011 USNWR ranking, the business school was ranked 57th (including a ranking of 27 for the accounting program) and the engineering school was ranked 98th. In March 2009, PRWeek magazine recognized the public relations program with an honorable mention in its award for PR Education Program of the Year 2009.
In the 2013 USNWR law school rankings, the UA law school was ranked 21st. In the 2011 USNWR Best Graduate Schools rankings, the business school ranked 63rd, the education school ranked 63rd, and the engineering school ranked 113th.
The University of Alabama has over 3 million volumes, not including uncataloged government documents, in its total collection, of which 2.5 million volumes are held by the University Libraries. Six separate libraries are part the University Libraries system.
The Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library, which sits on the Main Quad, is the oldest and largest of the university libraries. Gorgas Library holds the university's collections in the humanities and social sciences, as well as the university's depository of US government documents. The library opened in 1939 as a four-story Greek Revival structure on the site of the original university Rotunda and was named after the long-time university librarian and wife of eighth university president Josiah Gorgas. A seven-story addition was built behind the library in the 1970s.
The Angelo Bruno Business Library, located in the Business Quad, is named after the co-founder of the Bruno's grocery chain who gave the university $4 million to create a library focusing on commerce and business studies. Opened in 1994, the 64,000-square-foot (5,900 m2), three-story facility holds over 170,000 volumes. Bruno Library also houses the 9,500-square-foot (880 m2) Sloan Y. Bashinsky Sr. Computer Center.
The Eric and Sarah Rodgers Library for Science and Engineering, located in the Science and Engineering Quad, is named after two popular, long-time professors of engineering and statistics, respectively. It opened in 1990, combining the Science Library collection in Lloyd Hall and the Engineering Library collection in the Mineral Industries Building (now known as HM Comer Hall). Rodgers Library was designed with help from IBM to incorporate the latest in informatics. McLure Education Library was founded in 1954 in a remodeled student union annex (across the street from the old Student Union, now Reese Phifer Hall) and named in 1974 after John Rankin McLure, the longtime Dean of the College of Education. The W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library, which holds the university's collection of rare and historical documents and books, is located in Mary Harmon Bryant Hall. The Library Annex holds seldom-used books and journals, as well as other volume which need special protection, that would otherwise take up valuable space in the libraries.
Other libraries on campus are independent of the University Libraries. The 66,000-square-foot (6,100 m2) Bounds Law Library, located at the Law Center, holds more than 300,000 volumes. Established in 1978, the Health Sciences Library, located at the University Medical Center, serves students at the College of Community Health Sciences. Its 20,000-volume collection include clinical medicine, family practice, primary care, medical education, consumer health, and related health care topics. Located in Farah Hall (home of the Department of Geography) the Map Library and Place Names Research Center holds over 270,000 maps and 75,000 aerial photographs. The William E. Winter Reading Room of the College of Communication and Information Sciences is located in Reese Phifer Hall and holds over 10,000 volumes. The School of Social Work Reading Room is located in Little Hall and just around 200 volumes.
UA is one of the 126 members of the Association of Research Libraries, which yearly compiles internal rankings. In 2011, the University of Alabama ranked 56th among all criteria, a marked improvement over a 2003 ranking of 97th.
In the fall of 2011, the University of Alabama Trustees approved a resolution to expand Gorgas Library by 50,000 square feet (4,600 m2), doubling the seating capacity from 1,139 to 2,278. This expansion will also signal the beginning of the construction of an Academic Honors Plaza, between the library and Clark Hall. The plaza will include green-space, fountains, benches, and decorative lighting.
SECU: SEC Academic Initiative
The University of Alabama is a member of the SEC Academic Consortium. Now renamed the SECU, the initiative was a collaborative endeavor designed to promote research, scholarship and achievement amongst the member universities in the Southeastern conference. The SECU formed its mission to serve as a means to bolster collaborative academic endeavors of Southeastern Conference universities. Its goals include highlighting the endeavors and achievements of SEC faculty, students and its universities and advancing the academic reputation of SEC universities.
In 2013, the University of Alabama participated in the SEC Symposium in Atlanta, Georgia which was organized and led by the University of Georgia and the UGA Bioenergy Systems Research Institute. The topic of the Symposium was titled, the "Impact of the Southeast in the World's Renewable Energy Future."
With more than 30,000 students enrolled, the university has a substantial student life component. With enrollment increasing in the 2000s, faculty have been added to limit increases in student to instructor ratio. Student housing, and other facilities are being added to accommodate the growth.
The board of trustees chose to locate the UA campus in a field a mile away from the center of the town of Tuscaloosa (a considerable distance in the early 19th century Alabama). The board consciously chose to make on-campus residence an integral part of the student experience at UA. Dormitories were among the first buildings erected at Alabama (the remains of one (Franklin Hall) is now the Mound on the Quad), and student residential life has been emphasized at UA ever since. Today nearly 30% of students live on campus, including over 90% of first-year freshmen.
The Office of Housing and Residential Communities manages 18 housing communities for undergraduate students. Housing options range from traditional dormitories with community bathroom to suite-style dorms to full-amenity apartments. Housing is clustered for the most part on the northern and southern sides of campus, with the newest housing on the northern side of campus. Due the rapid increase in enrollment in recent years and freshman residence requirement, most housing on campus is reserved for freshmen, with housing given to upperclassmen where room is available. Most upperclassmen, and all graduate students, married students and students with family live off campus.
The Student Government Association is the primary student advocacy organization at UA. The SGA is governed by the SGA Constitution and consists of a legislative branch, an executive branch and a judicial council. The legislative branch is composed of the Senate and the First Year Council. The Senate is composed of 50 members elected by proportional representation of the total student enrollment from each of the degree-granting colleges (i.e. all but Honors, Community Health Sciences, and Continuing Studies). The Senate is headed by a speaker that is chosen from among the membership of the Senate. The executive branch is composed of the Executive Council and the Executive Cabinet. The Executive Council is composed of the seven constitutional officers who are elected by the entirety of the student body and the appointed Chief of Staff while the Executive Cabinet is composed of non-constitutional appointed executive officers. The Executive Council is also empowered by the constitution to created with the assent of the Senate any number of appointed director positions to assist in the council in the fulfillment of its duties. The Judicial Council is composed of the Chief Justice, who is elected by the whole of the student body, and any number of appointed associate justices and judicial clerks.
Other important student advocacy organizations include the Graduate Student Association, the Student Bar Association, and the Honors College Assembly.
Since its founding in 1914, a secretive coalition of fraternities and sororities, commonly known as "The Machine", has wielded enormous influence over the Student Government Association. Occurrences of harassment, intimidation, and even criminal activities aimed at opposition candidates have been reported. Many figures in local, state, and national politics have come out of the SGA at the University of Alabama. Esquire devoted its April 1992 cover story to an exposé of The Machine. The controversy led to the university disbanding the SGA in 1993, which wasn't undone until 1996. "Machine" fraternities and sororities have traditionally accepted only white pledges, with only one documented case of an African American student bring offered entry, in 2003.
Controversy surrounding The Machine reemerged in August 2013, when sororities and fraternities were mobilized to elect two former SGA presidents, Cason Kirby and Lee Garrison, in closely contested municipal school board races. Before election day, questions about illegal voter registration were raised when evidence emerged that indicated eleven fraternity members fraudulently claimed to be living in a single house in one district. And on election day, leaked emails suggested that sorority/fraternity members may have been provided incentives to vote--including free drinks at local bars. As a result of possible voter fraud, Kirby's opponent has filed a lawsuit challenging the election results and University of Alabama faculty have questioned whether The Machine has corrupted the democratic process in the City of Tuscaloosa.
Greek letter organizations (GLOs) first appeared at the university in 1847 when two men visiting from Yale University installed a chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon. When DKE members began holding secret meetings in the old state capitol building that year, the administration strongly voiced its disapproval. Over a few more decades, 7 other fraternities appeared at UA: Alpha Delta Phi in 1850, Phi Gamma Delta in 1855, Sigma Alpha Epsilon in 1856 (this was the founding chapter), Kappa Sigma in 1870, Sigma Nu in 1874, Sigma Chi in 1876, and Phi Delta Theta in 1877. Anti-fraternity laws were imposed that year, but were lifted in 1890s. Women at the university founded the Zeta Chapter of Kappa Delta sorority in 1903. Alpha Delta Pi soon followed.
In fall 2009, the university sanctioned 29 men's and 23 women's GLOs. Additionally, an unknown number of non-sanctioned GLOs also existed. Four governing boards oversee the operations of the university-sanctioned GLOs: the Interfraternity Council (IFC), the Panhellenic Association, the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) and the Unified Greek Council (UGC).
In 2012, 23% of male undergraduates were in university-sanctioned fraternities, including 28% of male freshman. 33% of women undergraduates, including 43% of female freshman were in university-sanctioned sororities.
The number of men in GLOs more than doubled from 2002 to 2009, with fifteen fraternities reporting active memberships of more than one hundred (where as recently as 2001 none reported memberships greater than 100). Following 2008 fall recruitment, almost all Panhellenic sororities participating through all rounds had potential new member class sizes of 80 or more; nearly all Panhellenic sororities also now have more than 200 total members. To accommodate growth in the student population since 2005, the university has sanctioned three new fraternities and two new sororities. Additionally, four new sorority houses will be added built behind the President's Mansion.
De facto voluntary segregation on the part of Alabama's Greek system has been considered problematic for many years. John P. Hermann, a now-retired English professor, tried in the 1990s and 2000s to end what he referred to as "taxpayer-supported segregation". Controversy erupted again in September 2013, when a story in the campus paper, The Crimson White, revealed that that alumnae of Greek organizations had prevented a black student from being accepted in an all-white sorority. As a result, the university suspended fraternity pledgeships to "give us an opportunity for additional communication and education with fraternity leadership to ensure that there is no misunderstanding of the rules and goals of pledgeship", according to Dean of Students Tim Hebson. According to TIME, a deal that would allow black women to join white sororities was announced by the university as "the first step toward ending more than a century of systematic segregation in the school's sorority system".
Several honors societies are present at the University of Alabama. Some honor societies are national organizations with local chapter while other are local organizations.