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Former UA President, Chancellor Robert Witt honored as namesake of university fellows program

Dr. Robert Witt, former president of the University of Alabama and chancellor of the University of Alabama System, left a monolithic legacy at the Capstone and throughout the UA System's universities.

Thanks to significant contributions from alumni and a vote of the UA System Board of Governors, one of Capstone's most prestigious academic programs has been named the Witt College Fellows Program.

Students in the selective program earn a minor in social innovation and leadership, develop service projects with partners in the Black Belt and Tuscaloosa communities, and conduct research with UA teaching.

Witt, who still serves as a professor in the school's Honors College, spoke about the importance of the donation.

“As we reflect on this incredibly generous gift and honor, we know we have a foundation to ensure that our fellows remain part of the Honors College in perpetuity,” Witt said. said.

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Dr. Allen Yelding, Chairman of the Honors College Visitors Committee, specifically mentioned this gracious alumnus by name.

“I have been fortunate to work with the students of the Honors College for 20 years,” he said. “So it is an honor and a privilege that Reta Mudd saw the vision and opportunity to help not only our universities and young people, but our community, culture and country.”

Mudd passed away in October 2022 at the age of 94. Mudd, a Tuscaloosa native, was introduced to Honors to his college's leaders and students around 2015. She and her son Bill, who is also a UA graduate, have been supporters of the Honors College. Since then.

Dr. Tiffany Shippiar, dean of the University of California Honors College, said the gift demonstrates Reta and the Mudd family's commitment to academics.

“The Mudd family’s transformative gift is a testament to their unwavering dedication to advancing higher education and fostering intellectual excellence,” Shippiar said. “This extremely generous gift will establish a lasting legacy that will enrich a dynamic community dedicated to fostering critical thinking, innovation, and a lifelong love of learning.”

Dr. Dana Patton, program director, said the Mudd family's gift will support the Witt College Fellows Program in the following ways:

  • Expand professional development services provided to fellows.
  • We provide scholarship support for fellows to experience summer internships and give presentations at academic conferences.
  • Establish seed grants for important blockbuster projects.
  • We create immersive experiences focused on economic development, culture, and ecosystems, and support shadowing opportunities with local experts.
  • Procures and maintains an inventory of critical items that support Whitfellow's activities, such as work tools, software licenses, and audiovisual equipment for the Black Belt Experience.

Dr. Witt served as president of the university from 2003 to 2012 and chancellor of the University of Alabama System from 2012 to 2016.

Austin Shipley is a staff writer at Yellowhammer News.

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