Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

President Bell predicts record enrollment, discusses upcoming year

Matthew Wood – Univ of Alabama P
University President Stuart Bell. Courtesy of The University of Alabama

University President Stuart Bell said he believes fall enrollment data will show continued growth during an interview with The Crimson White on Wednesday Aug. 18. 

“We expect that our incoming freshman class will be a little larger than their record last year, and overall enrollments will also be a record number,” Bell said. 

Last year, when the University set enrollment records of 8,037 freshmen and 38,645 total students, applications numbered around 55,000. Bell said that this year, that number is closer to 58,000. 

Bell became the University’s 29th president in 2015. Once a professor of engineering at The University of Alabama, Bell also served as the dean of the School of Engineering at the University of Kansas and the executive vice president and provost at Louisiana State University. 

He said that despite the growing enrollment, the University has made class sizes a priority. 

“Last year, having a record freshman class, we were almost at 50% of our classes being taught with 19 or fewer students in them,” Bell said. “That’s a commitment we’ve made to make sure that … even as we grow, we’ve actually improved the class size … for students.” 

Last year, the University had students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and 92 countries. Bell said he was glad that students come to the University from around the world. 

“When our students come in as freshmen, we want them to be as diverse as they can be,” Bell said. 

On the topic of housing availability amid growing freshman enrollment, the president said the University does housing very well.  

The University has taken important steps in student housing during Bell’s time as president, including opening John England Jr. Hall, renovating Paty Hall, and constructing the new Julia Tutwiler Hall. 

Other steps have included renting out nearby Tuscaloosa apartments to use as excess student housing. 

“We don’t want to be in a situation where students have no place to live as they’re matriculating to our community,” Bell said. “So that that has been a part of our plan for 10 years, that we’ve done that to try to make sure that it’s a safety net that we have out there.” 

He said the University will begin planning in January to accommodate the influx of freshmen for the 2024-25 school year. 

“We’ve worked really hard and, you know, I’m truly proud to say that we’re able to accommodate that demand on our campus,” Bell said. 

Other ongoing construction projects that Bell highlighted include Drummond Lyon Hall, which will serve as a facility for fashion and design, and the new welcome center, which Bell hopes will be completed in early 2024. 

Aside from his responsibilities as UA president, Bell was recently selected to be the President of the SEC Executive Committee. The committee oversees the conference’s financial and fiscal matters, and presidents serve two-year terms. When asked about the dual commitment of this role along with being University president, Bell said that what the committee does benefits the University directly. 

“So my role there, does it take time and effort? Absolutely. … The truth is, it all pretty well maps back to The University of Alabama,” Bell said. “It maps back to our student-athletes and coordinating that effort so that we’re able to meet the needs that we have here at The University of Alabama.” 

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