Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 8, 2004

Now UWA must make its mark

As most expected, the University of West Alabama was cleared of its probation status on Tuesday by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

As university President Dr. Richard Holland aptly put it, this announcement signifies the lifting of a "dark cloud" from the university. We agree, and we’re excited for the members of the board. We’re also excited that faculty, staff and students don’t have to worry about whether their institution faces the threat of near non-existence.

Email newsletter signup

Here’s what we would like to see happen now, both from Holland and the board members:

When an organization like SACS writes out, in plain English, the areas that need to be corrected, it’s quite simple to fix those problems. If Auburn University was cleared from its probation &045;&045; even with faculty questions still lingering &045;&045; it must not have taken a revolution to please SACS. That’s not to downgrade the hard work UWA put into this procedure; it simply means SACS wanted to see an effort toward progress and that’s what they got.

In the coming years &045;&045; and decades &045;&045; there will be no hand-written report on how to make the University of West Alabama a leader in this region and across the state. SACS won’t come to your campus and tell you what must be done to bolster your image as the best school for athletic trainers. You won’t receive hand-written messages on the walls of the Bell Conference Center explaining how your university can literally change the scope of this nation’s poorest region.

Instead, that’s going to take imagination and perseverance. Becoming the leader of West Alabama &045;&045; as your name indicates &045;&045; means you must begin to think outside the box. Get young people interested in your athletic programs. Get high schoolers interested in studying at your campus. Continue to push your faculty and staff to make a difference in this region.

West Alabama and the Black Belt have no greater asset than the University of West Alabama. To have a four-year state university located in our region is a lot like having a fresh-water river running through a desert. Now, we want to see the water begin to flow.

The leadership of UWA should take the past year of work and build from it. Board members should resolve to keep their hands out of daily management and, instead, formulate ideas that will help the university become a staple for education in West Alabama.

With added positive publicity directed at the university, and with a state government that cares about the growth of this entire region, we plead with UWA’s leaders: Don’t waste this opportunity.