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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.


UA OFFERING COURSES ON CORONAVIRUS Three courses offered this summer to all students at The University of Alabama will allow students to understand issues stemming from the coronavirus pandemic while exploring solutions to a shortage of personal protective equipment. For more information, contact Adam Jones, UA Strategic Communications, at

UA NATIONAL ALUMNI ASSOCIATION DONATES $50,000 TO SUPPORT STUDENTS UA’s National Alumni Association donated $50,000 to the Tide Together Student Support Fund to assist UA students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Tide Together Student Support Fund is an assistance program that allows students the opportunity to access short term financial help. Due to the current public health crisis, many students lack the financial cushion needed for housing, technology, travel and other necessities. For more information, contact Bryant Welbourne, UA Strategic Communications, at

MANY PROTECTIVE MASKS INHIBIT COMMUNICATION WITH DEAF COMMUNITY With the use of personal protective masks as a tool to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, those who are deaf have to adjust their normal means of communication. Kent Schafer, a UA doctoral student who works with the Alabama Department of Mental Health’s Office of Deaf Services, has been a longtime advocate for the deaf community. As someone who is deaf, Schafer relates to issues in communicating with those wearing protective masks covering the mouth. “Capturing nonverbal facial expressions, especially those from the mouth region, is critical,” said Schafer. “It can be difficult to determine if someone is happy or sad when the mouth is covered. In addition, it’s equally difficult when the adverb component of language is missing because the facial expression can’t be observed. For more information, contact Bryant Welbourne, UA Strategic Communications, at

UA LAW SCHOOL ANNOUNCES FINALISTS FOR THE 2020 HARPER LEE PRIZE  The University of Alabama School of Law named the finalists for the 2020 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction. The three books chosen to compete for the prize are: “The Satapur Moonstone” by Sujata Massey, “The Hallows” by Victor Methos and “An Equal Justice” by Chad Zunker. For more information, contact Monique Fields, manager of communications, School of Law, 205-348-5195,

TUSCALOOSA COMMUNITY BUSINESS PLAN COMPETITION GOES VIRTUAL The University of Alabama will host the 2020 Tuscaloosa Innovates Business Plan Competition that will distribute $25,000 and in-kind support to the top ideas, pitched in front of a panel of area business leaders. Held virtually as a live event on May 28, the competition is presented by the Alabama Entrepreneurship Institute (AEI) and The EDGE Incubator and Accelerator. For more information, contact Zach Thomas, Culverhouse director of marketing and communications, 205-348-8318,

FOUR PROJECTS RECEIVE FUNDING FROM UA CYBERSEED PROGRAM Four promising research projects received funding from The University of Alabama CyberSeed program, part of the UA Office for Research and Economic Development. For more information, contact Adam Jones, UA Strategic Communications, at


GIANT MURDER HORNETS ARE DEADLY, BUT NOT WIDESPREADA man near Washington was found dead. Honey bee hives were found decimated with the corpses of decapitated bees littered everywhere. Some might think this is the scene of a horror movie or a sick joke, but it’s the work of a deadly new invasive species, Vespa mandarinia, also known as giant Asian “murder hornets.” Dr. John Abbott, chief curator and director of museum research and collections at The University of Alabama, said as deadly as these hornets are, they’re not widespread. Reports of them have only been verified in the Washington area in December and in the Canadian province of British Columbia in the fall. So it is unclear whether they really are established or not. For more information contact Abbott 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

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, UA Strategic Communications, at

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