A Chronological History of
the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)
and its Predecessor Institutions and Organizations, 1831-

(Please contact the UAB Archives for additional information.)

Copyright: The University of Alabama Board of Trustees.


The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) traces its roots to the 1859 founding of the Medical College of Alabama and the 1936 opening of the Birmingham Extension Center of the University of Alabama. In 1945 the Medical College of Alabama was moved from Tuscaloosa and the University's Medical Center was founded in Birmingham. In 1954 the Extension Center was moved to a newly constructed facility adjacent to the Medical Center, bringing together for the first time the University's two academic components in Birmingham.  Later, in November of 1966, the Extension Center and the Medical Center were administratively merged to form the "University of Alabama in Birmingham," an organizational component of the University of Alabama (in Tuscaloosa). In 1969 UAB became an independent institution, one of the autonomous universities within the newly created three-campus University of Alabama System.

Today, UAB is a comprehensive urban university with a nationally recognized academic health center. UAB is the only public, four-year degree granting university in the state's largest metropolitan area. UAB is the largest research institution in the state of Alabama and is the largest single employer in the state.

A comprehensive chronology of the history of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and its predecessor entities is found below.  Underlined and bolded items in this list may be selected to see portraits or photographs about the specific person or event.

Chronology last updated 21 March 2019.

View images from the 1950s.

January 25, 1950: The first general meeting of the Jefferson-Hillman Hospital Auxiliary was held. Vera Bruhn was elected first president of the auxiliary.

January 1950: Dr. Champ Lyons became the first full-time chair of the Department of Surgery.

February 1, 1950: Construction began on the Medical and Dental Basic Science Building and Dental Clinic.

April 7, 1950: An installation banquet was held for the Alabama Alpha Chapter of Alpha Omega Alpha, the national honorary medical society.

June 6, 1950: William R. Anderson received a master's degree in pharmacology, the first graduate degree awarded through the Medical Center.

June 27, 1950: Dr. Roy R. Kracke, medical dean, died.

August 1, 1950: Dr. Tinsley R. Harrison became acting dean of the Medical College of Alabama and chair of the Department of Medicine.

September 4, 1950: The entering freshman class of the University Hospital School of Nursing included six male students, the first in the history of the hospital's nursing program. Only one would complete his training and graduate.

December 6, 1950: The first performance of Town and Gown Theater, which had been organized earlier in the year by James F. Hatcher, Jr., was held in the downtown Temple Arena Theatre. "Born Yesterday" starred Tommy Dix, a star of Broadway and Hollywood.

1950: Jefferson-Hillman Hospital School of Nursing, a three-year diploma program, received temporary accreditation from the National League for Nursing.

1950: The University of Alabama School of Nursing was established on the University campus in Tuscaloosa with Dr. Florence A. Hixson as first dean; the nursing school would be moved to Birmingham in 1967.

1950: The director of the Birmingham Extension Center reported that the Center hosted "most of the academic work for five nursing schools operated by Birmingham hospitals” and that over 180 hospital nursing students were enrolled in Center classes in biology, chemistry, sociology, etc.

1950: School of Practical Nursing, a nine-month program, was established at Jefferson-Hillman Hospital.

February 13, 1951: Chi Tau Chapter of Psi Omega dental-social fraternity was established at the Medical Center.

April 2, 1951: The Department of Biochemistry received approval to offer the first doctoral program at the Medical Center.

June 1, 1951: Masie Killingsworth became coordinator and director of the Jefferson-Hillman Hospital Auxiliary, the first person named to the auxiliary’s first paid position.

June 1951: Dr. James J. Durrett became dean of the Medical College of Alabama.

June 1951: Eunice White received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama School of Nursing, becoming the school’s first graduate.

November 22, 1951: The Crippled Children's Clinic and Hospital was officially dedicated adjacent to the Medical Center.

1951: To complete the Medical and Dental Basic Science Building and Dental Clinic, the new basic science building at the Medical Center, Dr. Joseph F. Volker added several hospital beds to qualify for Federal funds under the Hill-Burton Act.

1951: Various Medical Center libraries were consolidated into one Medical Center Library under the direction of Chief Librarian Mildred R. Crowe.

February 2, 1952: Anna Jane Reid became the first woman to receive a graduate degree (in biochemistry) awarded through the Medical Center.

May 31, 1952: The School of Dentistry graduated its first class. Walter C. Andrews, Jr., was the first of the fifty graduates.

September 13, 1952: The Medical Center Library reopened in its new space in the South Wing of the first and second floors of the New Hillman Building.

1952: The Dentala, a student yearbook for the University of Alabama School of Dentistry, was first published.

1952: Dr. Lawrence Reynolds, an Alabama native practicing radiology in Michigan, agreed to donate his personal library and collection of rare medical texts and manuscripts to the medical school in Birmingham.

1952: Construction began adjacent to the Medical Center on a new four-story “adult education center,” an administrative and classroom building to house the University of Alabama Birmingham Extension Center. Warren, Knight, and Davis was the building’s architectural firm and F. R. Hoar & Son the construction company.

1952: Dr. Josef Peter Lazansky became director of the Division of Dental Medicine and Surgery in the School of Dentistry. A native of what was then Czechoslovakia, Lazansky was the first international named as a divisional director at the Medical Center in Birmingham.

March 22, 1953: The Veterans Administration Hospital was dedicated in the Medical Center.

June 8, 1953: Students from the University of Alabama School of Nursing in Tuscaloosa first came to the Medical Center for clinical training in the hospital complex.

September 1953: Succeeding Interim President Lee Bidgood, Dr. Oliver C. Carmichael became president of The University of Alabama and served until 1957.

1953: Milton Odean Otwell graduated from the University Hospital School of Nursing, becoming the first male graduate of the hospital's nursing program.

May 30, 1954: Claudia Holcombe Heard and Ruth Ehricke became the first female graduates of the School of Dentistry.

June 6, 1954: The new University of Alabama Extension Center Building was completed adjacent to the Medical Center and opened in official ceremonies. It was the first off-campus facility the University had constructed anywhere in the state specifically for extension work.

1954: Dr. Adrienne S. Rayl was given the honor of conducting the first class taught in the new building of the University of Alabama Extension Center. Dr. Rayl, a long-time member of the Birmingham faculty, was a professor of Mathematics.

August 1954: The Report of the Special Survey Committee, called the "Duckett Jones Report" for its chief author, was released.

December 1954: The former Birmingham Little Theater building on South 26th Street was donated to The University of Alabama by the family of General Louis V. Clark. The building became home to Town and Gown Theater and was later officially renamed in honor of General Clark.

1954: Research grants at the Medical Center totaled $240,000.

1954: The School of Dentistry's dental hygiene program, directed by Dr. Marjorie Houston, became the first nationally accredited training program in the Southeast.

1954: The Hill-Burton Act was expanded to include nursing homes, treatment centers, rehabilitation facilities, and chronic disease facilities.

1954: Matthew F. McNulty, Jr., was appointed administrator of Jefferson-Hillman Hospital.

February 14, 1955: "Candles in the Canebrake" was the first Town and Gown production held in its new home on South 26th Street.

May 28, 1955: Jefferson-Hillman Hospital was renamed University Hospital and Hillman Clinic.

May 29, 1955: Ruth Stillman Hare received the first doctoral degree (in pharmacology) conferred through the Medical Center.

May 1955: Dr. Robert C. Berson was appointed first vice president for Health Affairs and dean of the Medical College of Alabama.  Dr. Berson was the first person named as a vice president in the 124-year history of the University of Alabama.

1955: Dr. Joseph F. Volker was appointed director of Research and Graduate Studies and continued as dean of the dental school.

1955: Sarah Cole Brown became third librarian of the Medical Center Library.

1955: Research and training grants at the Medical Center totaled $312,000.

1955: A student government association (SGA) was established at the Birmingham Extension Center. The SGA’s constitution was ratified by a vote of the student body during the fall term.

1955: University Hospital and Hillman Clinic operating costs reached almost $3,500,000.

1955: A Medical Center Advisory Board was established.

January 31, 1956:  The Louis V. Clark Memorial Theatre was officially dedicated as the home to Town and Gown Theatre.  A production of “Best Foot Forward,” with music and lyrics by Ralph Blane and Birmingham native Hugh Martin, featured Tommy Dix.  Dix had appeared in the very first Town and Gown production back in 1950 and had been in the original Broadway and Hollywood versions of “Best Foot Forward."

May 8, 1956: An untitled student newspaper was published at the Birmingham Extension Center, it was later named the Center Scope.

May 27, 1956: Howard C. Elliott, Jr., became the first man to receive a doctoral degree (in biochemistry) conferred through the Medical Center.

June 10, 1956: University of Alabama Extension Center building was rededicated as Tidwell Hall in honor of Dr. Robert E. Tidwell, dean of the university's extension division from 1930 until 1954.

1956: Research grants at the Medical Center totaled $459,000.

1956: The Women's Club of the University of Alabama School of Dentistry was organized with Mrs. E. E. Evans as first president.

January 1957: The Medical Center Bulletin was first published as the University of Alabama Medical Center News Bulletin.

February 1957: University Hospital's Beacon was first published.

February 17, 1957: President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed Dr. Champ Lyons to the Board of Regents of the National Library of Medicine.

April 4, 1957: Groundbreaking ceremonies were held for the Lawrence Reynolds Library.

May 17, 1957: The Medical Center's chapter of Sigma Xi was installed in ceremonies held in the University Hospital Auditorium. Dr. Arthur J. Tomisek was elected first president.

May 1957: Bertha Smith selected as the first “Miss University Center” during the second annual spring dance sponsored by the Student Government Association of the Birmingham Extension Center.

July 12, 1957: University Hospital School of Nursing received full accreditation from the National Nursing Accreditation Service.

September 1, 1957: Dr. Walter B. Frommeyer, Jr., became physician-in-chief and chair of the Department of Medicine.

October 1957: Birmingham native Patricia "Pat" Neal (later renamed as Fannie Flagg) volunteered her services as the spotlight operator for the Town and Gown production of "Pal Joey." This was Flagg's first experience working in a theatrical production.

November 4, 1957: The statue of Dr. W. E. B. Davis was relocated to the Medical Center from Woodrow Wilson Park in downtown Birmingham.

December 17, 1957: Amendment No. 4 was passed by state voters, making possible federal matching money for the purchase of ten and one-half blocks of urban renewal lands.

1957: For the fall term, total enrollment at the Birmingham Extension Center was 1,856 students.

January 1, 1958: Succeeding Interim President James H. Newman, Dr. Frank A. Rose became the 20th president of The University of Alabama. He served until 1969.

February 2, 1958: The Lawrence Reynolds Library was dedicated.

June 1, 1958: James P. Bryan graduated from the baccalaureate nursing program -- then located on the campus in Tuscaloosa -- becoming the first male graduate of the School of Nursing.

June 9, 1958: The deed to the ten and one-half block expansion area was transferred to The University of Alabama Board of Trustees.

October 15, 1958: Dr. Richard T. Eastwood became executive director of University Affairs in Birmingham, reporting directly to President Frank A. Rose.

October 1958: Maria N. Rada of Columbia received a diploma from the University Hospital School of Nursing, the first international student to graduate from the hospital nursing school.

November 25, 1958: The first Tinsley Randolph Harrison Lecture, "Medical Investigators from Harvey to Harrison," was delivered by Dr. William Dock of the State University of New York.

November 26, 1958: University Hospital School of Nursing held an open house in its new quarters on South 18th Street in the renovated Dr. Gus' Drive-In Restaurant.

1958: Dr. George W. Campbell was named director of the Birmingham Extension Center.

1958: The Faculty Wives Club of the Medical College of Alabama was organized with Mrs. Robert Berson as first president.

1958: Dr. Arthur H. Dohlstrom received a full-time appointment as professor of Mental Health in the School of Nursing. Dr. Dohlstrom was the first male appointed to the Tuscaloosa nursing school faculty.

August 1, 1959: Groundbreaking was held for a psychiatric clinic made possible by a gift from Joseph S. and Bertha Pizitz Smolian.

September 1959: A groundbreaking ceremony was held for Fort Mortimer H. Jordan Alabama National Guard 109th Evacuation Hospital Armory.

October 18, 1959: Luther Leonidas Hill Heart Center was dedicated.

November 1959: Groundbreaking ceremonies for Children's Hospital were held.

December 1959: Birmingham native Patricia "Pat" Neal (later renamed as Fannie Flagg) appeared in a Town and Gown Theatre production of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof." She had one line of dialogue in her speaking debut. This production also starred Leonard Nimoy.

1959: Research grants, training grants, and fellowships at the Medical Center exceeded $1,000,000.

1959: Dr. Basil I. Hirschowitz became the first director of the Division of Gastroenterology. A native of South Africa, Dr. Hirschowitz was the first international named as divisional director at the Birmingham medical school.