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Due to the extraordinary need for social distancing, The University of Alabama is operating under limited business operations, which includes essential staffing and remote work assignments. Our goal is to promote social distancing and limit on campus work to the fullest extent possible.

While employees in the department of communications are working remotely, they are available to assist members of the media. Reporters are encouraged to contact the sources below or to use our experts directory to find contact information for other subject matter experts.


ONLINE STUDENT READY TO GET BACK IN THE CLASSROOM…AS THE TEACHER Becca Paholski, a Dallas, Texas native, recently earned a master’s degree from UA in human environmental sciences through an online program. As a distance learner, Paholski got to experience her dream job as an elementary school teacher while still being a full-time student. To set up an interview, email Melissa Parker at

DISTANCE LEARNING STUDENT FINDS INSPIRATION IN 11 CHILDREN Sarah Rickenbacker, a distance learning student from Johnson City, Tennessee, recently earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing through the Capstone College of Nursing’s RN to BSN online program with the support of her 11 children, seven of whom are also in college. To arrange an interview, contact Bryant Welbourne at

DANCING FOR JOY Anne Dillon Loflin, music theatre graduate from Huntsville, began a program teaching dance to students in UA’s CrossingPoints, a post-secondary transition program for individuals with intellectual disabilities. To set up an interview, contact Adam Jones at

FROM CANCER TO CORONAVIRUS, GRADUATE TRIUMPHS THROUGH IT ALL Saville Sullivan, a native of Albany, Georgia, overcame stage 4 brain cancer to earn a degree in child life. To set up an interview, contact Jamon Smith at

UA STUDENTS HELP YOUTH ON A PATH TO GED DIPLOMA   Sumona Gupta, a Tuscaloosa native who co-created a student-run community program that tutors youth coming out of the juvenile justice system, is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in social-legal studies from New College. To set up an interview, contact Jamon Smith at

UMC OFFERS FREE MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES TO HEALTH AND SAFETY WORKERS  In an effort to assist those in Tuscaloosa working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, University Medical Center is offering free mental health services to first responders and health care providers. “First responders and health care providers are often functioning at a high level of stress, which may negatively impact their thinking and emotional responses to situations,” said Dr. Martha Crowther, associate dean for research and health policy at the UA College of Community Health Sciences and a practicing psychologist at UMC. To set up a video or phone interview, contact Shane Dorrill at

UA PARENTING ASSISTANCE LINE OFFERS SUPPORT, ADVICE UA’s Parenting Assistance Line, also called PAL, is a free, confidential and anonymous statewide resource for parents and caregivers seeking advice and help on how to deal with their children. Parents can reach out through telephone, text, online chat or the PAL Facebook page. Currently, the primary topics they are receiving questions about are handling homework, balancing lesson plans between multiple children in different grades and managing the stress of having children at home all day. To set up a video or phone interview, contact Amy Walker at

UA CHILDREN’S PROGRAM, RISE CENTER CARRY ON VIRTUALLY While preschool children from UA’s Children’s Program and RISE Center are home, they continue to connect with teachers, learn, play and receive therapy through inventive and individualized online interactions. Staff decided from the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic to focus on maintaining relationships with children and supporting parents, said Michelle Darabaris, director of the Children’s Program. To set up an interview, contact Bryant Welbourne at


U.S. FOOD SUPPLY CHAIN BROKEN, BUT A NEW NORMAL RISING – Meat manufacturers are warning of a meat supply shortage in the next few weeks as crops and other foods are being dumped due to disruptions in food supply chains because of the coronavirus pandemic. Dr. Alexander Ellinger, a business administration professor specializing in supply chain management strategy, said as people self-isolate at home they’re shirking the traditional means of getting food and ordering what they need online. So while many farmers and food suppliers are dumping milk, eggs, vegetables and even livestock, companies like Amazon and Instacart’s business models are skyrocketing. And because of the new normal that many people have already adapted to, Ellinger suggests that shopping trends may not return to the way they were even when businesses open back up. For more information, contact Ellinger at

HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY DOWN, NOT OUT While a variety of industries have suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic, the hospitality industry has taken a major hit due to social distancing. “People aren’t traveling, hotels are closing, conferences are being canceled, restaurants are having to reinvent the way they serve consumers and everyone has taken a substantial financial hit,” said Dr. Kimberly Severt, director of UA’s hospitality management program. “But the industry is resilient and will eventually rebound. There are many dedicated and innovative people in the hospitality industry who are determined to rebound from this and, together, we will. Severt can be reached at

SOME INDUSTRIES WILL THRIVE DURING THE PANDEMIC Dr. Erik Johnson, assistant professor of economics, finance and legal studies at UA’s Culverhouse College of Business, offers a perspective on the outlook for large and small businesses along with some insight on what small businesses can do during this time to bring in customers. “(Economic) uncertainty also makes it difficult for economists to predict which industries will survive and thrive in the long run,” he said. “However, there is a real possibility of structural changes in the global economy that will affect domestic industries.” Johnson can be reached at

UA EXPERTS AVAILABLE TO DISCUSS ISSUES AMID CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC  – Faculty at UA are available to discuss aspects of the coronavirus pandemic including topics related to health care, education and the economy. This list will be updated, so check back often for new sources. For assistance with reaching any of these sources or for topics not highlighted, contact Shane Dorrill at

NEED A SUBJECT MATTER EXPERT ON TOPICS MAKING NEWS? – See our frequently updated expert directory here.