Distance from Montgomery causes funding issue

For over 100 years, UNA has received significantly less state funding than universities with similar credentials. This caused the UNA presidential office to form the Project 208 initiative.

The name Project 208 represents the 208 mile distance between UNA and Montgomery. Of all the universities in Alabama, UNA is the farthest from the capital of the state.

UNA President Kenneth Kitts said location is a major factor in the funding discrepancy.

“The suspicion is that geography alone must have something to do with the development of this issue over the last 100 years,” Kitts said. “We’re way up here in the corner of the state and perhaps that has translated into an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ dynamic that has had some political and financial implications.”

The legislative session in Montgomery began Jan. 9 and will conclude in May. Project 208 aims to influence key state representatives and lawmakers to draw in additional funding for the university.

Another problem the university faces is the lack of representation at the capital. Out of 140 lawmakers, only two are UNA alumni.

Project 208’s achievement strategy consists of three steps: describing the problem, communicating the problem to alumni and lawmakers and maximizing influence in the upcoming legislative session.

“We’ve got to make sure we stay on the radar and in (the representatives) faces for the next five months,” Kitts said.

Anyone interested in helping Project 208’s cause can contact their district’s representatives or the House Ways and Means Education Committee and urge them to vote in favor of a funding increase for UNA.

Stick with The Flor-Ala for updates on Project 208.