UAH Presidential Search

Institutional Profile and Information about Search Process

UAH logo

The Search

The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), a thriving Carnegie High Research Activity institution in one of the South’s culturally rich and economically robust cities, seeks the institution’s next President. The successful candidate in this highly competitive search will succeed President Dr. Robert Altenkirch, who is retiring after a transformational nine-year tenure.

The 500+ acre campus (, which includes 16 high-tech centers and laboratories responsible for close to $97 million in annual research expenditures, has seen substantial growth over the past decade, including four successive years of record enrollment. With current enrollment of 9,700+, UAH is projecting to surpass the 10,000 mark in Fall 2019.

A hub of innovation and cross-disciplinary collaboration, UAH is admired worldwide for global partnerships with international corporate partners and a robust undergraduate and graduate student environment. The world-class faculty delivers challenging hands-on curricula that ensures UAH graduates are prepared to become tomorrow’s leaders.

UAH is home to nine well established colleges: Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering; Nursing; Professional & Continuing Studies; Science; the Graduate School; and Honors College. Hallmarks of the academic experience include a low faculty-to-student ratio of 17:1 and an average undergraduate class size of 30.

UAH is one of three public doctoral research universities comprising the University of Alabama System ( Led by the System’s Chancellor and governed by a 15-member self-nominating Board of Trustees, the UA System is comprised of three of the most dynamic research universities in the South and a world-class medical center. A $6 billion enterprise, the UA System is a major driver for economic, intellectual and cultural growth, today serving more than 70,000 students and 45,000 employees, and treating 1+ million patients annually in its hospitals and clinics. The overall annual economic impact exceeds $10 billion.

With a population approaching 450,000, the greater Huntsville metro area ( offers a year-round calendar of superb cultural, recreational and family-focused activities as well as restaurants, craft breweries and shopping that draw visitors from near and far. Served by an international airport just five miles from the UAH campus, Huntsville is within a short drive of Atlanta, Nashville, New Orleans, Birmingham and other popular destinations for cultural enrichment.

UAH Student Group

Search Procedure

Nominations and applications for the Presidency of UAH will be reviewed as received until the position is filled. Those received by February 1, 2019 will be given full consideration. Nominations, applications, and inquiries may be sent in confidence. Materials (to include a letter of interest, curriculum vitae, and the full contact information for five references – who will not be contacted without permission) must be electronically submitted to: Assisting the Board of Trustees in this search are Ann Die Hasselmo ( and Chris Butler (, consultants with Academic Search, Inc., Washington, D.C. The University of Alabama in Huntsville is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

Presidential Leadership Profile

The UAH Presidential Search Advisory Committee (link to Advisory Committee) is charged with assisting the Chancellor and the Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama System in identifying and recruiting a President who will continue UAH’s record-setting trajectory as a premier doctoral research university.

The Search Advisory Committee has identified the following attributes of excellence sought in UAH’s next President:
• A confident, energetic leadership style and a talent for setting forth a clear vision successfully implemented through a plan that is ambitious, inspiring, and sustainable.
• A proven ability to build and develop an experienced leadership team in an environment where shared governance is a priority.
• Documented ability to successfully lead a complex and fiscally robust institution.
• Proven commitment to diversity, inclusivity, and equality.
• Proven ability to significantly advance the UAH research profile by applying a keen global perspective to UAH’s unique projects and assets.
• A sense of immediacy in maximizing growth opportunities, meeting the needs of 21st century learners, and forging innovative partnerships in keeping with UAH’s stature as a state, national and international frontrunner.
• An understanding and appreciation of the critical role UAH occupies as a partner with Redstone Arsenal, NASA, and the 300+ global companies located in Cummings Research Park adjacent to the campus.
• Comprehension of campus and community assets in relation to the strategic role and impact they have on industry, workforce, education, healthcare, and the military.
• Proven ability to build, maintain, and advance academic excellence in a comprehensive university that embraces arts, humanities, health care, and professional fields, with a stellar, national reputation in STEM disciplines.
• Mastery of outcomes-focused strategies regarding regional and state-wide admission numbers with a focus on remaining competitive with like-sized education institutions.
• Evidence of the ability to develop sound strategic plans and lead their execution in a consensus-building manner.
• Proven commitment to a diverse, student-centered university for undergraduate and graduate students that embraces the recruitment of national and international students as well as State and local populations.
• Significant presidential or senior administrative accomplishments in teaching, research and/or public service.
• Record of significant involvement in recruiting and retaining students, faculty, and researchers, managing enrollment, and enhancing the quality of life for students, faculty, and staff.
• Record of building and maintaining community partnerships and engaging in local, statewide, national, and international outreach.
• Excellent listening, oral, and written communication skills with an engaging personal style and a clear comprehension and commitment to shared governance.

UAH Robotics Team

UAH: A Dynamic and Well Rounded 21st Century University

UAH male student in laser lab

With a thriving on-campus student population, UAH is the essence of a 21st century university. Priority programs range from music and the arts to atmospheric science, business management, nursing, and optics. Rrograms are supported by a variety of administrative services and state-of-the art facilities, the newest of which is the Dorothy S. Davidson Invention to Innovation Center (I²C), a regional initiative that fosters, promotes and accelerates commercialization of technology-based ventures through incubation, co-working, mentorship, funding and strategic support. For 2015, UAH ranked in the top 20 in five NSF Federal R&D areas, 14th in NASA-funded expenditures and 25th in DoD funding.

Representing a geographically and culturally diverse international student body, this year’s record-setting enrollment of 9,700+ includes a 2018-2019 freshman class with the highest average ACT score (28.5) in school history and an average GPA of 3.88. UAH graduates typically go on to earn starting and mid-career salaries that surpass those of peers in Alabama and beyond.

The campus is strategically located near major interstate arteries and is adjacent to Cummings Research Park, the second largest R&D park in the United States and fourth largest in the world with nearly 300 companies and 25,000 employees. The campus is just minutes from Redstone Arsenal, where approximately 35,000 people work for 22 Federal agencies located on the 38,000-acre base, including NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, the U.S. Army Materiel Command, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center, the U.S. Department of Defense Missile Defense Agency, the Missile and Space Intelligence Center, the U.S. Army Aviation & Missile Command, and the U.S. Army Aviation & Missile Research Development & Engineering Center.

Since 2008, the University has invested more than $211 million in new campus construction. In FY 2017 revenues were approximately $223 million with state appropriations accounting for approximately 21%, Federal grants and contracts 34%, tuition and fees 27%, and 18% from auxiliaries, gifts, grants/contracts, and other sources. Strategic and campus master plans reflect a well-managed and forward-focused approach by the Board of Trustees and campus leadership:;

A Modern University with a Distinguished History

The history of UAH coincides with the developmental years of the U.S. Space program. Huntsville attorney Patrick Richardson approached University of Alabama leaders in the late 1940’s about opening an extension center. His efforts were successful and classes in Huntsville began in January 1950. In the early 1950’s, the U.S. Army moved rocket pioneer Dr. Wernher von Braun and his team of engineers and scientists from El Paso, Texas, to Redstone Arsenal to manage the U.S. Army’s fledgling missile program under auspices of the newly created National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). UAH served the growing community primarily with upper division and graduate courses.

The campus took on new momentum in 1961 when President John F. Kennedy announced the nation’s goal to land a man on the moon and bring him back safely to Earth before the end of the decade. Dr. von Braun, sensing a need to provide advanced engineering and science curricula to his workforce, convinced the Alabama Legislature to appropriate money for a research institute. The institute was created in direct support of the aeronautical and astronautical engineering needs of the U.S. Army and the U.S. space program.

In 1969, UAH was made an autonomous university by The Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama System. Over the last 50 years UAH has built on its sturdy roots and grown strategically into a fiscally sound and highly respected institution.

Continuity of Excellent Leadership

UAH Morton Hall with fall leaves

Dr. Robert Altenkirch was unanimously selected as the sixth president of UAH by the Board of Trustees in September 2011. Prior to his arrival, Dr. Altenkirch served as president of the New Jersey Institute of Technology for nine years. During his tenure at NJIT, research expenditures doubled and Fall 2011 enrollment was the largest in the school’s history.

Prior to his appointment as president of NJIT, Dr. Altenkirch was vice president for research at Mississippi State University (1998-2002). He is credited with creation of the foundation for unparalleled growth in MSU’s research program. Before he arrived at MSU, science and engineering expenditures, as reported to the National Science Foundation (NSF), totaled $84 million. For 2010, MSU’s NSF-reported expenditures reached $215 million.

Broad Range of High Quality Academic Programs

UAH offers 100+ areas of study, including 44 bachelor’s degree programs, 30 master’s degree programs, and 15 Ph.D. programs.

Hundreds of UAH students pursue internships and other experiential learning opportunities on Redstone Arsenal and numerous degree programs offer a curriculum that is complementary to the Arsenal’s research and technological objectives.

The most recent decennial SACSCOC review was completed in 2016 with accreditation reaffirmed with no additional report requested. Numerous departments or programs hold accreditation or certification from professional associations, including the American Chemical Society, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, the Computing Sciences Accreditation Board, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, the National Association of Schools of Music, and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

An Acclaimed Hub of Interdisciplinary Research and Workforce Development

Fueled by Redstone Arsenal, an economic engine generating more than $100 billion per year, the research enterprise at UAH is thriving, equipping the region with a workforce that is growing exponentially. Faculty, staff, and students conduct research side by side with world-class experts from numerous Federal agencies and create a pipeline of talent and innovation.

The city, state and university are an accelerant for enviable economic development by fueling the region with advanced research and a top-tier workforce. Huntsville’s economic engine has created consistent surges of population growth, and is now on a trajectory to become the largest city in Alabama. UAH regularly ranks among the top 25 universities in research funded by NASA and by the Department of Defense, also performing cutting-edge research for the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of Energy, and the National Institutes of Health.

UAH collaborates with nearly 285 high-technology companies serving the U.S. aerospace and defense sectors, telecommunications enterprises, network solutions areas, health care, engineering and manufacturing sectors, as well as scientists and entrepreneurs at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology.

UAH female and male nursing students in simulation lab

A Robust Quality of Student Life

UAH has made strategic investments in facilities, programs and enrichment opportunities for both undergraduates and graduate students. The picturesque campus has six residence halls and a beautifully landscaped greenspace anchored by the high-tech Charger Union Building, a 100,000 square foot, state-of-the-art hub for dining, entertainment and student collaboration. Adjacent to Charger Union is the gleaming new Student Services Building, a venue for resources and programming that is also home to the President’s Office and senior administrators.

With more than 200 student organizations, UAH boasts a robust fraternity-sorority community including residential Greek housing. Overall, there are more than 2,000 bedrooms on campus with modern amenities. The experience as a UAH Charger is enhanced by campus recreational programs, community service opportunities, and 16 intercollegiate athletic programs including men’s and women’s lacrosse, basketball, cross country, track and field, soccer, tennis, softball, baseball, volleyball and the only Division I men’s ice hockey team in the region.

The student-centered campus offers a variety of resources to foster success in and outside the classroom. The Student Success Center provides academic coaching, peer study sessions, online tutoring, and dozens of other support programs. Health and wellness are critical to student life and are supported by a Student Health Center, Counseling Center, Fitness Center, and Title IX resources.

A Rich and Diverse Urban Environment

Located in the Tennessee Valley amid the rolling foothills of the Appalachians, the culturally diverse, welcoming Huntsville community is recognized nationally for a strong economy and high levels of educational attainment. Residents have one of the highest per capita incomes and standards of living in the Southeast. Public, private and parochial K-12 schools are among the best in the region.

Huntsville has been named among the nation’s “New Silicon Cities” (Wall Street Journal), is the #7 most-educated city in the South (ValuePenguin) and is among the Best College Towns in the South (Southern Living). MintLife lists Huntsville as one of the top 17 most affordable U.S. cities. Huntsville is also #1 on the list of Best Affordable Places to Live ( and #3 on list of Best Mid-Size Cities to Make a Living in the U.S. (Money Geek).

The second-largest metropolitan area in Alabama, Huntsville, greater Madison County and its surrounding communities are a testament to the Southern traditions of hospitality, curiosity and fun. From the down-home comfort of nearby Madison to the history and high-tech bustle of Huntsville, there is never a dull moment in this quickly developing region.

Rich in cultural and recreational activities, the area boasts a thriving music and arts scene including a professional symphony orchestra and ballet company, the acclaimed Huntsville Museum of Art, the Broadway Theatre League series, Lowe Mills ARTS & Entertainment (the nation’s largest privately owned arts center), Huntsville Botanical Garden and organizations that provide superb year-round programming for people of all ages. The iconic U.S. Space & Rocket Center, which is the Earth’s largest space museum, draws visitors from around the world and provides unique enrichment opportunities for children and adults alike.

UAH female student hugging another student in cap and gown