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Emma Sanders, who studied chemical engineering at The University of Alabama, received the 2021 Capstone Engineering Society Outstanding Senior Award. A student in the Honors College with a premedical concentration…
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Dr. Steven Jones with UA’s Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering was recently named a Fulbright Scholar Alumni Ambassador.
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The Environmental & Water Resources Institute, one of the nine technical institutes a part of the American Society of Civil Engineers, has recognized two trailblazing professors from The University of…
Ron Wilson joined the College of Engineering in April 2021 as the director of development. The development director builds relationships with alumni and corporate partners to support the needs of the College through philanthropic fundraising and strategic planning. Learn more about Ron and his position in this Q&A.
CE: Why is UA’s Capital Campaign important to the College of Engineering?
Wilson: The College of Engineering at The University of Alabama is in a great position to continue its recent growth. According to the American Society for Engineering Education 2019 Edition, the College holds national top 50 rankings in highest number of undergraduate degrees annually awarded, engineering undergraduate degrees awarded to women and undergraduate enrollment. When the focus bears down to the various departments, the College of Engineering holds national top 10 rankings in degrees awarded in chemical engineering, civil engineering and mechanical engineering. The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education rates The University of Alabama as a R1: Doctoral Universities –Very High Research Activity status university. This rating opens the window of opportunity for the College of Engineering to expand the excellence of its academic base to develop a graduate program to match its undergraduate program. The College of Engineering finds itself poised to take the final step to move into the most elite colleges of engineering in the United States. The ultimate goal of the Capital Campaign is for the graduate and undergraduate programs to reach the same high standard with the involvement of alumni and friends of the College.
CE: What are the College’s priorities for the Capital Campaign?
Wilson: Because of the University’s R1 research status, the priorities for the College of Engineering align toward deepening and expanding the research capacity of the College. These efforts translate into establishing more named endowed chairs and professorships in each of the seven engineering departments, recognizing several of our most successful alumni with named endowments and identifying that person or family who may desire to name the College of Engineering. In order for each of the departments to foster its graduate programs, the College must have additional funds to attract and recruit the best engineering students to UA’s College of Engineering. Finally, to enhance the undergraduate students’ experiential learning opportunities, funds will be allocated to give students the space and tools they need to be successful.
CE: What do you do as a development director?
Wilson: As director of development for the College of Engineering, I coordinate the College’s development priorities with the development priorities of the University. Practically, this affords me the daily opportunity to work with some of the best development personnel in the profession. These professionals include the frontline fundraisers and the communication specialists situated throughout the University. In the College of Engineering, I am fortunate to work with Tru Livaudais, assistant director of development, who partners with me to identify, engage and cultivate relationships that result in greater current and endowed funds for the College.
CE: How can alumni and friends make a difference in the College through giving?
Wilson: On Sept. 10, 2021, the public phase of the Capital Campaign launched. In order for the College to reach our goal of raising $55 million during this campaign, the College of Engineering will need all of our alumni and friends to be aware of the opportunity, informed of the priority projects and involved with the process. We hope to see our young alumni, mid-career graduates and quite mature alumni equally give serious consideration to making an appropriate gift to push the College over the top of its goal.
CE: Why is giving back to the UA College of Engineering important?
Wilson: When I am asked what I do for a living, I respond, “I assist in the development of educational opportunities for students at The University of Alabama.” Development is all about involving people as partners in the educational process and producing a new generation of exceptionally educated and trained engineers. The world and its needs have changed over the years, and the educational experience must keep pace to equip new generations of graduates for this ever-evolving world.
CE: How can the College of Engineering’s alumni and friends get involved with the development office?
Wilson: The bedrock analogy I use for my work as a director of development, is that of an ant colony. Ants, by the thousands, go out each day to search for that grain of sand that can be
used to expand and strengthen the ant hill. Before long, the ant colony’s home base has grown and strengthened. Every alumnus and friend of the College of Engineering at The University of Alabama has a story, an experience and a stake in the College. The work of our engineering alumni and friends must be to know what the new initiatives are, who the new faculty are and how the students are progressing. Yes, making a gift is of crucial importance, but knowing what is happening at the College gives meaning to those gifts. Stay aware, stay informed and stay involved!
CE: What are you looking forward to most working in this position?
Wilson: When my father-in-law taught me to play golf, he started with the pitching and putting of the game. He said that more games are won or lost around or on the green. The object in golf is to get the ball in the cup. In developing resources for the College of Engineering, the donor is the cup, the focus of attention and attainment. I experience my greatest satisfaction in development as I get to know our alumni and friends, engage the min conversation about the College of Engineering and assist them to identify what they want to fund. People’s financial resources usually follow where their hearts move them. I look forward most to engaging alumni and friends and assisting them in giving from their hearts to the College of Engineering at The University of Alabama. Roll Tide!