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University of Alabama initiatives honor retired Sen. Shelby

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — The University of Alabama on Friday announced two new initiatives honoring the legacy of recently retired U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby.

The Shelby Endowment for Distinguished Faculty will leverage $100 million in congressional funding to establish an endowment to recruit and support exceptional faculty members in science, technology, engineering and math. The Shelby Institute for Policy and Leadership will provide specialized coursework and opportunities for undergraduates interested in policy.

Both programs are named for the longtime senator and his wife, Annette Shelby, a former professor at the university.

The University of Alabama System Board of Trustees approved the initiatives. Officials said they are part of a long list of programs and facilities on the Tuscaloosa campus created or funded as a direct result of Shelby’s support of the university.

“Sen. Shelby has already improved countless lives through his commitment to teaching, research and service, and through these two initiatives, his legacy will forever positively impact our students and our state,” system Chancellor Finis St. John said in a news release.

University Provost James Dalton said the endowment will enhance the ability to attract and keep premier faculty.

“It’s our faculty that drive our educational programs and research programs and that directly translates into benefits for our students,” he said.

Dalton said Shelby helped secure the funding, which the university called the single largest contribution to the endowment in the history of the university system

How many faculty positions will be funded through the endowment will depend on the numbers of full and associate professors, Dalton said.

About 20 undergraduates are expected to be admitted annually, beginning in fall 2024, to the two-year Shelby Scholars Program in the Shelby Institute for Policy and Leadership.

In addition to the policy coursework, the program will offer educational experiences outside the classroom, such as conferences, a speaker series and interactions with political leaders and policy analysts.

“I just can’t imagine something that would be better for our students that are interested in careers in public service,” Dalton said.

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