How the University of Alabama Became a National Player
New York Times, November 3, 2016
By Laura Pappano
The University of Alabama is the fastest-growing flagship university in the country. While the University is famous for its football team and Greek life, the school is aggressively recruiting wealthy out-of-state students with high GPAs and SAT/ACT scores by offering competitive merit scholarships. The university spends twelve times as much on merit aid as it did a decade ago, which is more than twice what it currently spends on students with financial need.
State funding of public universities has dropped dramatically in the past thirty years, and, in some states, is on track to reach zero percent of funding in less than twenty years. Laura Pappano, writer-in-residence at the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW), writes in this New York Times article about how schools like the University of Alabama have responded to this phenomenon in a way that is “kind of like running a business,” according to Alabama’s interim provost, Dr. Kevin Whitaker.
While Alabama has invested heavily in getting wealthier students from the east coast and California to turn their heads toward the South, the shift has made the university more financially inaccessible to lower income students from within the state.
Additionally, according to an Alabama recruiter living in Long Island, diversity concerns rarely come up in her recruiting process, claiming that “...to me, the campus is diverse in so many ways.” However, at the University of Alabama, only 11 percent of students are African American, even though the state population is 27 percent Black. The campus has been the source of national outrage due to the exclusion of Black women from campus sororities.