The University of Alabama System Board of Trustees has unanimously named Dr. Charles L. “Chuck” Karr president of The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). University of Alabama System Chancellor Finis St. John recommended the appointment to the UA System Board of Trustees at its meeting on September 16, 2022.
“Furthering the success of UAH is a top priority for the University of Alabama System and the Board of Trustees,” Chancellor St. John said. “Dr. Karr’s sustained leadership will bring positive momentum and a strategic, unified vision to UAH as it continues its trajectory as a preeminent doctoral research university in one of America’s fastest-growing and most robust regions.”
Chancellor St. John said Dr. Karr earned countless votes of support from faculty and staff, students, community leaders, elected officials and other constituents during his highly successful tenure as interim president. “The enthusiastic support within the institution and throughout the broader community is a proven testament to Dr. Karr and the success he has already achieved at UAH,” said St. John.
One of Karr’s hallmark accomplishments as interim president has been his keen ability to strengthen partnerships with leaders across the Huntsville area. Relationships with Redstone Arsenal, Cummings Research Park, business and the education sector are flourishing under his watch.
“It is my highest honor to lead UAH as we work to fulfill our institutional mission as a premier research-intensive university that is responsive to the needs of the community and beyond,” said President Karr. “I am grateful for this incredible opportunity and look forward to working with all those driving UAH toward unprecedented success, including the Board of Trustees, Chancellor St. John, our faculty and staff, students, and leaders throughout the Huntsville community. There are many exciting things happening on the UAH campus, and I know there is much more to come in our future.”
Earlier this year, UAH achieved the top level “R1 – Very high research activity” rank in Carnegie research classifications, which is the highest research activity designation among doctoral universities. Research at UAH is a vibrant and expanding function and underscores the University’s valuable position in Alabama as a leading engineering and science research institution.
Under Dr. Karr’s leadership, UAH received one of the most significant appropriations in University history for its engineering building project, which will allow UAH to advance its flagship program, foster innovative and impactful research efforts, and address critical STEM workforce needs. With 73% of alums residing in Alabama, UAH supplies a highly educated workforce to the state and fills the community’s workforce pipeline.
“Dr. Chuck Karr is quite possibly the most dynamic leader that I have ever been associated with, in higher education and beyond,” said Trustee Ron Gray, chair of the UAH Committee of the UA System Board of Trustees. “I am certain that under Dr. Karr’s leadership, UAH will not only reach its full potential but far surpass our expectations.”
Other significant accomplishments achieved by Dr. Karr as interim UAH president include recruiting new faculty and strategic leaders as well as securing merit raises for eligible UAH employees in FY 2023. Institutional giving has doubled during his tenure.
Before being appointed interim president of UAH in November 2021, Dr. Karr had recently retired from The University of Alabama after 26 years of service.
“Dr. Chuck Karr has exhibited the highest degree of excellence in every stage of his extensive and impressive academic career,” said UA System Board of Trustees President Pro Tempore W. Stancil Starnes. “The appointment of a campus president is one of the most important actions taken by the Board of Trustees. We have the utmost confidence in Dr. Karr and know he will be an invaluable asset to UAH, the University of Alabama System, and the State of Alabama.”
During his 16-year tenure as dean of the University of Alabama College of Engineering, Karr was credited with transforming the college into a research and academic powerhouse that ascended in national rankings. He more than tripled the College’s undergraduate enrollment with the recruitment of high-quality students, grew the faculty, supported the construction of new facilities to enhance academic programs, and expanded research activity by increasing research awards more than $45 million.
He previously chaired UA’s aerospace engineering and mechanics department and was the College’s associate dean for research and graduate studies. He spent seven years as a research engineer with the U.S. Bureau of Mines before joining the UA faculty full time.
Dr. 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 has received numerous prestigious recognitions for his academic and leadership achievements. A native of Gulf Breeze, Fla., Dr. Karr and his wife, Jodie, live in Huntsville and have two adult children, Nathan and Noah.