A Word From Our Dean

by Dr. Carmen Burkhalter, Dean

Dean Burkhalter

An academic team is made up of faculty, staff, students, and administrators.  As in sports, academics can be major winners on the regional, national, and international scene.  Excellence in academics produces an informed, critically thinking citizenry that is also capable of representing democracy at its best through relationship building.  We want free thinkers and ambassadors in all areas of our society.  The quest for this level of critical thinking starts when students are freshmen.  Faculty work closely with students to develop a research or scholarship agenda, a study abroad plan, and/or hands-on experiential learning activities.  All of these academic experiences are essential for students to win national academic awards. 


Recently, student research presentations, which were university and donor-funded,  represented the departments of Psychology; Geography; Engineering Technology; Communications; Music; English; Sociology and Family Studies; Politics, Justice, and Law; Mathematics; History, just to name a few.


No other state, regional institution in Alabama has ever had the success with Fulbright International Award winners that UNA has had in just 3 short years.  We have had 4 winners, 14 applicants, and 9 semi-finalists.  Clearly, the data show our faculty have prepared our students well!


Using another recent example, a team of UNA Engineering Technology students finished ahead of 18 teams at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Chem-E-Car regional competition.   They beat out the University of Alabama, Auburn University, North Carolina State University, University of Tennessee, University of Florida, and Clemson University, among others.  Were it not for the students and the faculty working as an academic team, we could never have finished #1. 


I want to thank everyone, including the alumni who love this institution, for making these successes possible.


Dr. Burkhalter