For Immediate Release

Chancellor St. John appoints accomplished higher education administrator as next leader of UAH, pending formal approval by UA System Board of Trustees

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – UA System Chancellor Finis St. John today announced that he will recommend Dr. Chuck Karr as interim president of The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) to succeed retiring president Dr. Darren Dawson. Dr. Karr recently retired from The University of Alabama (UA) after 26 years, which included a lengthy and highly successful tenure as the College of Engineering’s dean.

Dr. Chuck Karr
“We are grateful to Dr. Dawson for his service to UAH, and we are deeply appreciative that Dr. Chuck Karr, an energetic and visionary leader, has agreed to serve as interim president,” said Chancellor St. John. “Dr. Karr has a proven track record of transforming The University of Alabama’s College of Engineering into a dynamic research and academic powerhouse. The Board of Trustees and the University of Alabama System have made the success of UAH a top priority, and I am confident that Dr. Karr is well-positioned to help UAH reach its full potential.”

During Karr’s 16-year tenure as dean, UA’s College of Engineering ascended in national rankings and saw significant growth. Undergraduate enrollment more than tripled with the recruitment of high-quality students, raising the College’s freshman class mean ACT score from 24.8 to 30, and the faculty size grew substantially. Research activity flourished under Karr’s leadership, with research awards increasing by more than $45 million, and innovative academic offerings expanded to meet the demand of industry and society. Dr. Karr supported the construction of approximately $250 million in new facilities to bolster research and learning opportunities.

“I am honored and humbled to serve as the interim president of The University of Alabama in Huntsville,” said Dr. Karr. “We will strive for excellence in all that we do, whether that is recruiting additional high-quality students, increasing the size of the faculty, deepening community partnerships, ensuring exceptional educational opportunities, or building new facilities. I look forward to working with the faculty and staff and serving UAH’s students.”

The interim appointment will be for no less than 18 months, beginning December 1, 2021. Dawson will remain employed by UAH through December 31, 2021, to ensure a seamless transition. The University of Alabama System Board of Trustees will vote tomorrow to approve Karr’s appointment and compensation.

“Now Alabama’s largest city, Huntsville continues to grow and innovative powerhouses are racing to the region, making UAH’s unique capabilities and increased visibility even more valuable assets,” said Trustee Ron Gray, chair of the UAH Committee of the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees. “The Board of Trustees looks forward to continued growth and success at UAH under Dr. Karr’s proven leadership.”

A native of Gulf Breeze, Fla., Karr is a three-time UA graduate, earning a B.S. in mechanical engineering and an M.S. and Ph.D. in engineering mechanics. He spent seven years as a research engineer with the U.S. Bureau of Mines before joining UA’s faculty full time. Karr, who has received numerous recognitions for his teaching and leadership achievements, was head of UA’s aerospace engineering and mechanics department before becoming associate dean for research and graduate studies and ultimately dean of the College.

About the UA System

Committed to excellence in teaching, research, and service, the University of Alabama System includes three doctoral research institutions – UA, UAB, and UAH – and the UAB Health System, a world-class academic medical center. The UA System educates more Alabamians than any other university system and provides transformational research in areas ranging from aerospace to biomedicine to transportation. As the largest employer in the state, the overall economic impact of the University of Alabama System exceeds $10 billion a year.