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Chuck Karr will get nod as UAH interim president

Chuck Karr, the former dean of engineering at the University of Alabama, is expected to be named interim president of the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) when the University of Alabama Board of Trustees convene in a special called meeting tomorrow.

University of Alabama System Chancellor Fess St. John is expected to recommend Dr. Karr to the position, and it is anticipated the board will vote to approve Karr’s appointment and compensation at tomorrow’s meeting.

Karr is succeeding Dr. Darren Dawson who announced his plan on Monday to retire as president of the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Dawson joined the university as its ninth president on June 21, 2019. He will remain on payroll through the end of 2021.

Dr. Karr recently retired from the University of Alabama after 26 years, which included a tenure as the College of Engineering’s dean.

“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.”

St. John said the Board of Trustees and the University of Alabama System have made the success of UAH a top priority, and he was 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, according to a news release emailed to the campus Tuesday afternoon. 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.

Dr. Karr said he was honored and humbled to serve as the interim president of UAH. “We will strive for excellence in all that we do,” he said. “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.”

Karr’s interim appointment will be for 18 months, beginning December 1, 2021. Dawson will remain employed by UAH through December 31, 2021, to ensure a seamless transition.

A native of Gulf Breeze, Fla., Karr is a three-time UA graduate, earning a B.S., an M.S., and a Ph.D. in engineering. 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.

Ray Garner is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News.