USA Rallies at Higher Education Day in Montgomery
Posted on April 9, 2015 by Bob Lowry
Hundreds of University of South Alabama students, faculty, staff and administrators traveled to Montgomery today to support Higher Education Day, an annual event sponsored by the Higher Education Partnership of Alabama that seeks to raise awareness and appreciation of higher education’s benefits and the need for appropriate funding.
University President Dr. Tony Waldrop joined the USA contingent and hosted a luncheon for the USA supporters and for the Southwest Alabama legislative delegation. “By being here, you are representing 16,000 of your fellow students. Our faculty and staff here today represent some 6,000 employees, and our alumni here today represent 80,000 degrees awarded at USA,” Waldrop said. “We are growing and need increased funding to continue to provide a quality education and make a difference.”
Gov. Robert Bentley also spoke at the luncheon. “We want to push hard to make our state better. We cannot cut education,” he told the USA group. “Thank you for doing your part to support higher education.”
Other guests at the luncheon included Speaker of the House Rep. Mike Hubbard, Speaker Pro Tempore Rep. Victor Gaston of Mobile, who is a USA alumnus, and most other members of the Southwest Alabama delegation.
USA students regularly make up one of the largest groups of students attending Higher Education Day, with several busloads leaving the campus in the morning. Higher Education Day is a way for students across the state to show support and remind Alabama political leaders of higher education’s large and involved voting bloc. USA Student Government Association President Danielle Watson, speaking to legislators at the lunch, said, “We appreciate your hard work. Higher Education Day is an amazing experience.”
The morning rally took place on the front steps of the Alabama State House, where a series of legislators lined up to demonstrate their support of public higher education in Alabama.
"The funding needs must be addressed,” Gordon Stone, executive director of the Higher Education Partnership, said earlier. “Alabama is 43rd in the nation in per capita income. If we can increase the percentage of university graduates, our average incomes will increase because the state will be able to attract higher paying jobs.”
USA has specifically asked for a budget increase that recognizes the University’s rapid growth. Enrollment has increased by 10.5 percent in the past five years; meanwhile, the enrollment growth for all Alabama universities is 5 percent.
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