The University of Alabama at Huntsville honors Sen. Richard Shelby as “a staunch advocate of research and education” and joined with community and business leaders from Huntsville and North Alabama to announce the establishment of the Sen. Richard Shelby Endowed Chair in Engineering at the UAH at a college for engineers.
“During his decade-long tenure in Congress, Senator Shelby was a staunch advocate for research and education and had an indelible impact on higher education in Alabama,” said Finis St. John, system chancellor for the University of Alabama. “The University of Alabama System is deeply grateful to Senator Shelby for his countless contributions and services to our state.
“This endowment will enable the UAH to recruit exceptional faculty, further prepare tomorrow’s leaders and honor a true public servant.”
Subject to approval by the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees, the Foundation will honor the retiring Senator. An endowed professorship is one of the highest academic honors a scientific expert can receive and promotes the highest excellence.
“Throughout my career, I have worked hard to prioritize higher education in Alabama. Our universities are of paramount importance when it comes to the future of our state,” said Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa), who is leaving office in January. “I am deeply honored that the UAH and community leaders created this engineering chair on my behalf. This endowment will no doubt be of use long after my service in the United States Senate.
“I look forward to the talent that will be sourced through this fund and the impact it will have on UAH students, the Huntsville community and the state at large.”
“This is very special for the UAH,” said UAH President Charles L. Karr. “Certainly, Senator Shelby has been a great advocate of North Alabama, UAH, the University of Alabama system, and higher education throughout his tenure. His support had a tremendous impact on the UAH, our state and the nation.
“We will be honored to have an endowed chair in his name, and it will allow us to bring outstanding faculty members to UAH — the kind of faculty members that Senator Shelby will be proud of. In addition, we are extremely grateful to everyone who helped make this possible.”
Former US Rep. Bud Cramer recognized Shelby for his contributions to the region.
“Today, our community in North Alabama pays a well-deserved tribute to Senator Richard Shelby as we announce an endowed chair in engineering at the University of Alabama in Huntsville in his name,” said Cramer. “This endowment will help the UAH recruit and retain nationally recognized faculty at the College of Engineering that will train the next generation of a highly skilled workforce to serve the Huntsville community and beyond.”
Shelby was first elected to the US Senate in 1986 and is in his sixth term. He is vice chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which he previously chaired.
He is a senior member of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee and the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Development, which is the longest-serving member in the committee’s history.
Shelby is also a member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, and during his tenure he served as chair of the Senate Banking Committee and a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“Born and raised in North Alabama, I was privileged to have served in the US Congress with Senator Shelby,” Cramer said. “I’ve seen firsthand his focused accomplishments for our state and region. His influence on Huntsville and North Alabama was nothing short of remarkable. The population of the Huntsville metro area has more than doubled since 1986, the year Richard Shelby was elected to the US Senate.
“Federal assets at Redstone Arsenal have grown from 20,000 jobs in 1985 to 44,500 today. Huntsville is now the largest city in Alabama. We are not the same fellowship that we were because of his US Senate service. We will miss him as our senator and be forever grateful to him. Thank you, Senator Shelby.”
Shelby’s efforts have helped greatly expand Redstone Arsenal’s units, missions and tenants, including Army Material Command, Army Aviation and Missile Command, Missile Defense Agency, NASA Marshal Space Flight Center, Missile and Space Intelligence Center of DIA and the growing presence of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
He was also a key supporter of Space Command’s move to the region, which will complement the existing command at Redstone Arsenal. He was also instrumental in raising $86 million in funds for a new federal courthouse in Huntsville.
Shelby’s impact on these programs and the companies that support them ranges from $23 billion in NASA SLS funding over the past 10 years to $2.5 billion in support of the
FBI since FY19 and $17 billion in Department of Defense programs to support small and medium defense contractors since FY18.
Shelby has also played a key role in bringing important facilities and infrastructure improvements to UAH. Examples include the Shelby Center for Science and Technology, the Intermodal Facility, the Invention to Innovation Center, and the first phase of the Altenkirch Lawn Greenway.
The Senator has been the primary driver of funding for numerous UAH research projects and programs, including the UAH Propulsion Test Facility, climate research, NOAA Tornado Center, Tornado and Hurricane Hazards Operations Center, drought research, transportation, infrastructure and logistics research, and optical systems research.
(Courtesy University of Alabama at Huntsville)