The University of Alabama in Huntsville
EstablishedJanuary 6, 1950
TypePublic University
Space grant
Endowment$16.9 million[1]
PresidentDr. Robert A. Altenkirch
ProvostVistasp Karbhari
Academic staff445
LocationHuntsville, Alabama, United States
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ColorsRoyal Blue and White         
MascotCharger Blue
AffiliationsUniversity of Alabama System

The University of Alabama in Huntsville (also known as UAHuntsville or UAH) is a state-supported, public, coeducational research university, located in Huntsville, Alabama, United States, is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award baccalaureate, master's and doctoral degrees, and is organized in five colleges: business, engineering, liberal arts, nursing and science.

UAH is one of three members of the University of Alabama System, which includes the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. All three institutions operate independently, with only the president of each university reporting to the Board of Trustees of the system. The university enrollment is approximately 7,500, and has a distributed ratio of 49:51, women to men. Incoming freshmen have an average score of 25 on the ACT, which is one of the best among Alabama's public universities.



The genesis for a publicly funded institution of higher education in Huntsville was many years in the making. Begun in January 1950 as an extension of the University of Alabama and known as the University of Alabama Huntsville Center, classes were first taught at West Huntsville High School. UAH's first undergraduate degrees were awarded in May 1968 as part of the spring commencement ceremony at The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, (although a "cap and gown" ceremony was held in Huntsville).

One year later, the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees voted to make UAH an independent and autonomous campus. Dr. Benjamin Graves, a graduate of the University of Mississippi in 1942, who was president of Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi was tapped as UAH's first president in 1970. He returned to faculty status in 1979 and retired in 1989.The first degree awarded for work completed entirely on the UAH campus was awarded to Julian Palmore in 1964. Mr. Palmore was at the time a United States Navy ensign assigned to NASA's Research Projects Division. The first official on-campus graduation ceremony at UAH was in June 1970. The first woman to earn a PhD from UAH was Virginia Kobler in 1979, in Industrial Engineering.

UAH's second president, Dr. John Wright was Vice Chancellor of the West Virginia University and began his service in 1979. Wright's term ended in 1988 and Dr. Louis Padulo became UAH's third president.

Huntsville leader Joseph Moquin took over the UAH presidency on an interim basis in 1990. Dr. Frank Franz, who was then provost at West Virginia University, was chosen as UAH's fourth president. His wife, Dr. Judy Franz, accompanied him and was granted full professorship in the physics faculty. Her renown in the scientific community was reaffirmed when she was named executive officer of the American Physical Society in 1994. At the beginning of the 2006–2007 academic year, Frank Franz announced his plan to step down as president after that year. [1]. On July 1, 2007, Dr. David B. Williams, formerly a professor of materials science and engineering and the vice provost for research at Lehigh University, began serving as UAH's fifth president. He left in 2011 to join The Ohio State University as dean of engineering. [2]. Robert Altenkirch was hired as the university's sixth president in September 2011. Dr. Altenkirch served as president of the New Jersey Institute of Technology for nine years before joining UAH.

February 2010 shootingEdit


Script error At 3:59 on Friday, February 12, 2010, a shooting at the university's Shelby Center for Science and Technology killed three people and wounded at least three others, one hospitalized for three months.[1][2] Amy Bishop, a Harvard University-trained neuroscientist, was taken into custody. Bishop later pleaded guilty to capital murder and was sentenced to life in prison.[3]


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UAH offers 71 degree-granting programs, including 33 bachelor's degree programs, 23 Masters' degree programs, and 15 PhD programs through its five colleges: Business, Engineering, Liberal Arts, Nursing, and Science. Nursing is UAH's largest single major, although Engineering is the largest college.

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Not surprisingly given Huntsville's technology-based economy, UAH is known for engineering and science programs, including astrophysics, atmospheric science and aerospace engineering. UAH scientists managed the first "commercial," non-government rocket programs (Consort and Joust) in the U.S., the first "high-temperature" superconductor was discovered at UAH and the first U.S. experiment flown aboard the Soviet Mir space station was from UAH. UAH is a Space Grant university, and has a history of cooperation with NASA at the Marshall Space Flight Center, and the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command at Redstone Arsenal. In conjunction with helping NASA reach its goals, UAH makes NASA's research and technology available to all of Alabama's colleges and universities. The National Space Science and Technology Center is on the UAH campus.

The UAH Propulsion Research Center ([PRC]) is a research center that promotes interdisciplinary research opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students. Popular Science cited the PRC as the third "most awesome" college lab in the United States. The PRC was founded by Dr. Clark W. Hawk in 1991 and has since provided support for NASA, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Energy. Research topics explored include air-breathing propulsion, solid, liquid & hybrid propellent combustion, magnetoinertial fusion, electric propulsion, high temperature materials, and space and terrestrial power systems.

Research in nanotechnology and microfabrication is administered by the Nano and Micro Devices Center.

At least eight departments or programs also hold accreditation from professional associations, including the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business, the American Chemical Society, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, the Computing Sciences Accreditation Board, and the National Association of Schools of Music.


U.S. News & World Report ranks UAHuntsville as a Tier I national university. U.S. News & World Reports, for 2013, ranked UAHuntsville as 184th among National Universities.[3] In 2011, the Carnegie Foundation classified UAHuntsville as "very high" in the research category, making it one of an elite group of 73 U.S. public universities. UAH 2011 freshmen class's ACT score averaged 26.2, highest among Alabama's public universities. USA Today and Princeton Review ranked UAH as one of the top 50 educational values in the U.S.[4]

Compared with similar-sized public universities (~7500 students), UAH ranks #1 in research expenditure in the nation (>$65million). UAH usually partners with surrounding government agencies, like NASA, the U.S. Army, other Department of Defense agencies and their associated contractors[5].

In 2009 National Science Foundation federal research fundings rankings, UAH had four programs ranked in the top 10 in the nation, and 14 programs ranked in the top 20. The top 10 programs include: #2 — NASA-funded R&D in computer sciences; #4 — DOD-funded R&D in social sciences; #8 — DOD-funded R&D in computer sciences and #9 — federally-funded R&D in aeronautical/astronautical engineering.


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UAH sponsors seven men's and seven women's varsity athletics programs. UAH is a member of the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA), competing in Division II in 13 sports and Division I in men's ice hockey. UAH is a member of the Gulf South Conference in all sports except hockey, which will join the Western Collegiate Hockey Association in the fall of 2013.

Student life and activitiesEdit

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Student governmentEdit

The UAH Student Government Association is the primary recipient of student activity funding. With the exceptions of ACE and the campus newspaper The Charger Times, all student organizations must be chartered with the SGA. The SGA hosts a number of events including Frosh Mosh, an annual event that welcomes incoming freshman the weekend they arrive on campus. Events have included a hypnotist, live music, and the highly anticipated foam party. The SGA also charters two buses to allow approximately 80 UAH students to make an annual trip to Niagara, New York to cheer for the UAH Ice Hockey team as they compete against Niagara University.

Residence hallsEdit

UAH has five residence halls: Central Campus Residence Hall (CCRH), Frank Franz Hall, North Campus Residence Hall, Southeast Campus Housing, and Charger Village. CCRH is reserved for first-time freshman students. Frank Franz Hall is reserved for first time students as well as Honor Program students whereas upper class students have option of living at the other residence halls.

Campus Housing originated with the construction of South East Housing. These suites were originally built by the late Dr. Benjamin Graves, the first President of UAH, with the assistance of the late Alabama Senator John Sparkman.

Greek lifeEdit

UAH is home to the following fraternities and sororities. Each Greek organization rents a fraternity or sorority house from the University. Each of these houses were constructed in 2006, made possible by donations from Mark and Linda Smith and Jim and Susie Hudson.




The Association for Campus Entertainment (ACE) is a student run and operated organization that plans weekly events throughout the school year. Events include, but not limited to, comedians, musicians, movie nights. Seasonal events include a trip to The MAiZE on Halloween and Springfest, when nightly events are scheduled during the first week of spring. Notable guests include Daniel Tosh and Recycled Percussion.

Clubs and organizationsEdit

Team UAH is internationally renowned for its award-winning concrete canoe construction competition team, and is the current record holder with five national titles in 1993, 1994, 1996, 1998, and 2001. The National Concrete Canoe Competition is sponsored annually by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

The UAH ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) also competes in the annual NASA Great Moonbuggy Race. The UAH ASME chapter currently holds two championship titles.

Student Success CenterEdit

The Student Success Center (SSC) (formerly known as the Academic Resource Center (ARC)) offers tutoring for nearly all freshman and sophomore level courses offered at UAH. Additional tutoring is available for math courses online and in person.

The SSC recruits university students for its PASS (Peer Assisted Study Sessions) program, in which students sit in on courses that they have already succeeded in, and offer class-specific study sessions outside of class, usually 3 hours per week. Historically difficult freshman courses are targeted for PASS, including Calculus, Chemistry and Economics.

Recently, the SSC has absorbed the Cooperative Education program.

Cooperative educationEdit

UAH offers numerous cooperative education opportunities for its students, many of which lead to post-graduation employment.

The Charger TimesEdit

The Charger Times[1] is the name of UAH's newspaper, which is printed weekly and is available at locations around campus free of charge.

Notable alumni and FacultyEdit

Name Class year Notability References
Jan Davis 1983, 1985 Astronaut (STS-47, STS-60, STS-85) [2]
John Hendricks 1974 Founder and chairman of Discovery Communications [3]
Steve Hettinger 1974 Alabama State Representative (1982–1988), Mayor of Huntsville (1988–1996) [4]
Jim Hudson Founder of Research Genetics, Hudson-Alpha Institute for Biotechnology
Scott Munroe 2006 Professional ice hockey player (New York Islanders system) [5]
Toyin Odutola 2008 Artist [6]
James Record Former chairman Madison County Commission and Alabama State Senator [7]
Jared Ross 2005 Professional ice hockey player (Atlanta Thrashers) [8]
Patricia A. Stephens PhD Biomedical Editor/Writer, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Travis S. Taylor Researcher & science fiction author [9]
Stephen Zelnak Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Martin Marietta Materials [10]

The current Prime Minister of Libya Dr. Mustafa Abushagur is a former professor at UAHuntsville.


  1. "The Exponent". University of Alabama in Huntsville. Retrieved August 1, 2010.
  2. "Astronaut Biography: Nancy Davis". Retrieved August 1, 2010.
  3. "John Hendricks: An Oral History," The Cable Center, September 2, 2003.
  4. Clines, Keith (July 16, 1995). "Hettinger city's mayor since '88". The Huntsville Times: pp. S11, S59.
  5. "Scott Munroe hockey statistics & profile". Hockey DB. Retrieved August 1, 2010.
  6. The artist’s website
  7. "Alabama Authors and Their Works: 20th century and Beyond". Retrieved August 1, 2010.
  8. "Thrashers Sign Unrestricted Free Agents Jared Ross and Jaime Sifers". Atlanta Thrashers. July 7, 2010. Retrieved July 7, 2010.
  9. "About Doc Travis". Retrieved August 1, 2010.
  10. "Martin Marietta Materials – Corporate Officers". Retrieved August 1, 2010.

External linksEdit

Template:North Alabama Landmarks

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