Senator and Dr. Shelby, President Bell and group of people cuts a ribbon outside Tuomey Hall, the new home of the Shelby Institute

Shelby Institute Opens Doors and Completes Leadership Team

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama cut the ribbon on the Shelby Institute for Policy and Leadership, a student-focused academic and service program concentrating on educating and training students interested in policy.

The Shelby Institute for Policy and Leadership, housed in newly renovated Tuomey Hall, will provide a premier, immersive learning community for students committed to shaping public policy and focus on nurturing and equipping the next generation of leaders through the Shelby Scholars program.

The inaugural cohort of the Shelby Scholars program will begin in fall 2024. Through this transformative program, these students will pursue a minor in public policy through a comprehensive curriculum designed to nurture intellectual curiosity and foster exploration through teaching and mentorship in research and service endeavors.

The nonpartisan institute will also house the official Senate papers, records and materials donated by U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby at the conclusion of his public service, offering unparalleled opportunities for undergraduate research.


University of Alabama System Chancellor Emeritus Finis E. St. John IV serves as the inaugural executive director of the Shelby Institute. 

“Senator and Dr. Shelby, the University, and the Board of Trustees have shown great vision in creating the Shelby Institute for Policy and Leadership,” St. John said. “Through our mission to educate and train the next generation of leaders, the Institute will impact the future of the University, the state and the nation.”

Former UA School of Law Dean Mark Brandon has been appointed as academic director, fortifying the Shelby Institute’s commitment to academic excellence and leadership development.

Brandon brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the Shelby Institute. He is the Thomas E. McMillan Professor of Law, having previously served as dean from 2014 to 2023. Brandon has taught in both law and political science and has published across a range of subjects in constitutional law and history. He holds degrees from the University of Montevallo, The University of Alabama, the University of Michigan and Princeton University. His experience makes him an excellent fit to lead academic programming and instruction at the Shelby Institute.

“The vision for the Shelby Institute — offering students training in policy and governance, preparation for effective leadership and models for civic engagement across ideological lines — has the potential to make meaningful contributions to our state and nation,” Brandon said. “I am honored to play a part in building this program and I look forward to serving alongside the excellent leader we have in Fess St. John.”

His appointment, alongside Dr. Daniela Susnara as program director and Caroline Carpenter as director of operations, marks a pivotal moment in the Institute’s journey toward transformative impact.

The University of Alabama, part of The University of Alabama System, is the state’s flagship university. UA shapes a better world through its teaching, research and service. With a global reputation for excellence, UA provides an inclusive, forward-thinking environment and nearly 200 degree programs on a beautiful, student-centered campus. A leader in cutting-edge research, UA advances discovery, creative inquiry and knowledge through more than 30 research centers. As the state’s largest higher education institution, UA drives economic growth in Alabama and beyond.


Alex House, UA Strategic Communications,