Dr. Charles L. “Chuck” Karr Dean UA Engineering, September 17th, 2013

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Rotarian Jim McLean introduced Dean Chuck Karr of the Engineering College at the University of Alabama:

Dean Karr started off with a statement about the students enrolled in the Engineering Program at UA “These kids are as good as any Engineering students in any other College in the US.” In the last eight years, students in the College have been recognized 11 times as USA Today All-USA College Academic Team members, four received Goldwater scholars, seven received Hollings scholars along with a Portz scholar and a Truman scholar and a Rhodes Scholar.

“So how do we have so many great students?” he asked. “We are recruiting better students.” The College has grown from 1600 to 4100 in 7 years. Freshman enrollment was 300 when he came on board one year later he had 500. This year he has 1300 freshmen! The College has a mean ACT of 28.5, with 38% of students with a 4.0 GPA and many with 30+ on ACT. There have been 97 National Merit Finalists – more than most schools altogether.


The program also offers a wide array of opportunities like Honors College for those with 3.3 or higher GPA. They are in smaller classes and our guaranteed the best instructors and coupled with the best students. In addition, the new dorms are outstanding! The 4th building has just been finished at the Shelby Quad.

100% of the students will participate in an enhanced learning experience such as internships, co-op programs, International programs, National Conferences, and Service organizations. So far 27K students have committed 1.4 million hours to service in the community. Many of the Engineering students are also involved in Art, Theater, Dance and Music. There is actually a Dinner Theater Group within the program!

There is a new foundry that is being used by several in the Art and Engineering programs as a partnership of sorts. The Art student can create something that looks good but does not work well, while the Engineering student can produce something that works great but looks awful. Together they are learning from each other at the foundry.

Young people are held accountable in this program for the gifts they have been given. They will rise to the level they are expected to so we must keep the bar

high. He told the story of “Jennifer” who applied to be a USA Today All USA and was not accepted as a sophomore and then again as a junior. When Dean Karr asked her if she was applying again as a senior, she said she was not because it was too much time and trouble and she wasn’t going to make it anyway. He told her he would not sign her diploma and she would never graduate if she did not try again. He had faith in her – and she applied and made it!

Dean Karr said if we want the brightest and best in Alabama Industry for the future, the key is to recruit them to The University when they are 18. They live here and experience the culture and beauty of the state and buy into the State. It is a LOT easier than trying to recruit a 22 year old who has bought into the stereotype of our State and has a pre-conceived notion about it. Dean Karr said when he can no longer recruit with a clear conscious – he will quit.

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