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

Maddox discusses city, UA growth


Every week, Tuscaloosa City Hall staff and University of Alabama administrators meet to discuss the growth of the community, evidence of an increasingly close relationship between the University and the city.

The nature of that relationship was the focus of the Honors College Town Hall series meeting in the Ferguson Center Forum Monday night, titled “The University and Tuscaloosa: Always Moving Forward.”

Shane Sharpe, dean of the Honors College, moderated the forum that hosted Mayor Walt Maddox as the feature speaker. UA President Judy Bonner was scheduled as the other panelist but had to cancel due to a family crisis, event coordinators said.

“The University and city of Tuscaloosa are indelibly intertwined,” Sharpe said. “They play together; they grow together … and that is the focus of this Town Hall.”

After a slideshow highlighting the changes to campus architecture and local population over the years, as well as a statement from Maddox, questions were presented by the audience. Topics of discussion were diverse, ranging from the difficulties surrounding the April 27, 2011, tornadoes to Tuscaloosa’s $5 million education budget.

“We’re looking to expand our K-12 programs,” Maddox said of the city’s education goals. “A lot of people think that money could be better spent on police cars or something else like more firetrucks, but I’m glad the City Council has traditionally made this commitment.”

Asked about the city’s recent “Noah’s Ark” program, implemented to reduce flooding and strengthen sewage systems in impoverished areas, Maddox said the coming years will focus on improving the city’s sanitation infrastructure, particularly downtown.

“When I was growing up in Tuscaloosa, there were two places you never went: downtown and the riverfront,” Maddox said. “That is no longer the case.”

The event was planned and sponsored by an independent study class offered by the Honors College, which holds three on-campus Town Hall events per semester and takes two to sister colleges UAH and UAB. It is currently in its third semester at the University.

“We hold these events to get people excited about topics like this, be they local, like state constitution reform, or national, like the obesity one we did last fall,” Town Hall event coordinator Eric Alsobrook said.

Both Maddox and Sharpe said they were glad to see so many students involved in local politics. Maddox also said students help provide the city’s “intellectual capital” and contribute to economic growth in town.

“It’s interesting to see how the University and the city can move forward progressively together,” event coordinator Edward Woodall said. “In 2003, we had a 20,000 student population; now we are nearing 40,000. That’s got to affect Tuscaloosa.”

To get involved in future town hall meetings or to submit your own ideas, contact Robert McCurley Jr. at 205-799-9092.

“We were very excited and anxious for this opportunity,” Maddox said. “Students make up 25 percent of this community. It’s important to understand what is on their minds.”


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