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Alabama chancellor says IB is a big deal

By Bayne Hughes 340-2432

The chancellor of The University of Alabama System said Decatur and its students should benefit from implementing the International Baccalaureate's Diploma Program.

Chancellor Malcolm Portera, who oversees universities in Tuscaloosa, Birmingham and Hunts-ville, told the Rotary Club of Decatur that the honors program "sets you apart from most places in the South."

He said the program should make the city even more attractive for newcomers involved in the Base Realignment and Closure plan.

In August, Decatur became the only school system north of Birmingham to implement the program for juniors and seniors.

Portera said International Baccalaureate positions Decatur to benefit from the international automobile industries that are boosting Alabama's economy. Japan-based Honda and Toyota, South Korea-based Hyundai and Germany-based Mercedes all have major plants in the state.

"The Germans were particularly interested in the IB program when they brought Mercedes here," Portera said.

Portera said students should know that IB is worth the additional work the program requires. When judging students, he said, universities look at grade point average, American College Test scores and the students' willingness to take a rigorous course load with Advanced Placement and IB.

The competition for high-achieving students is increasing, so IB students will be in high demand. For example, a source of pride for Portera is that The University of Alabama is 13th in the nation in the number of National Merit Scholars, with 85.

"We recruit honors students in the same way we recruit football players," Portera said. "We're aggressive, we're prepared and we pay a great deal of attention."

Portera said each National Merit scholar that visits any of the three universities in the system gets a personal meeting with that school's president. IB students at Austin and Decatur have already had special lunch receptions with the presidents of UAB and Alabama.

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