CANDIDATE RECAP: Hood prioritizes stability, trust at final VPSL forum


CW / Hannah Saad

Jessa Reid Bolling | @jr_bolling, Assistant News Editor

Racism, diversity and trust between students, faculty, staff and the administration were the main topics at the final candidate presentation for the position of vice president of student life at the University of Alabama.

Steven Hood is the last out of five candidates for the position of vice president for student life (VPSL) to present to the public. The position opened up in July of last year, after former VPSL David Grady resigned. Last September, an 11-member committee narrowed down the search to fill the position to five candidates, who have each presented at the Ferguson Center Theatre over the past two weeks. 

Hood has served as associate vice president of student life at the University since 2015 and has worked in various leadership positions at the University since 2011. Before arriving at the University, Hood also served in student life positions at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Samford University over the course of 12 years.

Hood received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of West Alabama, his master’s degree in public administration from Troy University and a doctorate of education in learning and leadership from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. 

In front of an audience of about 100 people, Hood said he wants to focus not just on diversity but also inclusion and spoke of ensuring that the campus serves as a “welcoming” place for all. 

Hood said a moment during a dinner the night before his presentation gave him pause. 

“Last night at dinner while meeting with someone from athletics, a story was shared about some of our student athletes sometimes view themselves as ‘the entertainment’ for campus, and it was phrased in such a way that I hadn’t heard it quite this way,” Hood said. “They would like to be involved and engaged on campus, but they weren’t sure that they were welcome, and I was kind of taken aback by that just a little bit because I don’t know that we… when talking about diversity, equity and inclusion, give thought to student athletes.”

Hood also addressed the need to appeal to different types of students, such as those from within Alabama, those from other states and those who are enrolled in online classes. 

Closures of higher education institutions across the country, increasing tuition costs and declining funding were others issues Hood says he would focus on as VPSL, as this could have an impact on students at the University on issues such as access to higher education and affordability. 

“Times are changing, our students are changing, the needs of those students will likely change as well, and we need to be prepared for that because it’s going to happen,” Hood said.


There was no shortage of questions for Hood once the question and answer portion of the presentation began. 

Most of the questions focused on diversity, addressing racism on campus and establishing a relationship of trust between the students, faculty, staff and administration. 

An audience member asked Hood how he plans to help foster trust on campus from staff and students.

Hood said he plans to maintain a visible presence on campus and to foster a relationship of openness and transparency, should he be selected for the job. 

Tamara Varner from the office of student involvement asked Hood if he had any broad plans to address issues of diversity other than just being visible.

Hood said he would act intentionally to prioritize inclusion on campus and that he would also plan to lean on others who have more experience in this area. To help build a more diverse faculty and staff, Hood said he would ensure that job postings at the University are available where diverse populations can see them. 

An audience member asked Hood how he would help make the University not just more diverse, but an anti-racist campus.

Hood said he does not have a lot of expertise on this topic but that he is willing to lean on others who do address the “complex issue” of racism. He also said that anti-bigotry training is an avenue worth exploring but that administering such training to the over 30,000 on campus is challenging.

Andre Denham, president of the Black Faculty and Staff Association and a professor in the college of education, asked Hood what his biggest weakness would be and what area he needs to grow in professionally.

Hood said his weakness is his desire to get things done and that he should prioritize slowing down in addressing issues that require attention and effort over time to ensure that the proper actions are being taken. 

One audience member asked Hood why he believes he is the best person for the VPSL job.

“I think we’re at a critical time here at UA,” Hood said. “We’ve had a rough fall semester. I think some stability is important in our division moving forward and stability doesn’t mean the same old, same old, but the utilization of the resources and relationships I’ve built over my eight years here I think is really important.”

View a livestream of Hood’s presentation here, and view his CV and submit feedback online at through your MyBama login. Hood’s online candidate profile will close at the end of the day on Friday.