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 28 January 2019.

View images from the 1960s.

1960: The world's first clinical use of a commercially made fiberoptic endoscope for observing the inside on an organ or cavity was used at University Hospital. The endoscope was developed by Dr. Basil I. Hirschowitz.

February 1960: Frank E. and Margaret Cameron Spain gave $500,000 for the construction of new rehabilitation center.

May 1960: Progress Notes, the student yearbook for the Medical College of Alabama, was first published at the cost of $7.50 per copy. Fourth year student Myron A. Levine was editor of the yearbook.

July 1, 1960: Dr. Joseph F. Volker began a one-year leave-of-absence to direct the Arizona Medical School Study. Dr. Arthur H. Wuehrmann served as acting dean of the dental school during Volker's absence.

September 10, 1960: Birmingham faculty member James F. Hatcher, Jr., director of Town and Gown Theatre, directed the annual Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Miss Michigan Nancy Fleming was selected Miss America for 1961.

September 1960: Three medical-social fraternities, Phi Beta Pi (Sigma chapter), Nu Sigma Nu (Beta Phi chapter), and Phi Chi (Iota chapter), formed the first inter-fraternity council at the Medical Center.

October 2, 1960: Fort Mortimer H. Jordan Alabama National Guard 109th Evacuation Hospital Armory was dedicated at the Medical Center.

October 9, 1960: The Psychiatric Clinic was dedicated.

December 9, 1960: The Health Sciences Research Building was dedicated.

April 1961: A fund-raising goal of $850,000 was met for the expansion of the engineering programs at the Birmingham Extension Center, with a majority of the funds being provided by Birmingham businesses. President Frank A. Rose had kicked off the public portion of the drive in late November of 1960.

April 30, 1961: Children's Hospital was dedicated adjacent to the Medical Center.

October 1961: The Psychiatric Clinic was named in honor of Medical Center benefactors Joseph S. and Bertha Pizitz Smolian.

1961: The Roberts & Son Building was purchased for use as the outpatient clinic of University Hospital.

July 1962: The Medical Center Apartments opened.

July 1962: Spain Rehabilitation groundbreaking ceremony was held.

July 1962: Eye Foundation Hospital groundbreaking ceremony was held.

August 9, 1962: Groundbreaking was held for the Engineering Building.

September 1, 1962: Dr. Joseph F. Volker became second vice president for Health Affairs.

September 1, 1962: Dr. S. Richardson Hill, Jr., became dean of the Medical College of Alabama.

September 1, 1962: Dr. Charles A. McCallum, Jr., became second dean of the School of Dentistry.

1962: Dr. W. Paul Brann was named assistant to the vice president for Health Affairs.

1962: The University Hospital School of Nursing Residence opened.

1962: University Computer Center organized with Homer C. Jemison as director.

1962: The General Clinical Research Center was established at the Medical Center with a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Dr. Clifton K. Meador was named as the center's first director.

1962: Drs. Wayne H. and Sara C. Finley received a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to establish a cytogenetics laboratory at the Medical Center.

January 9, 1963: The Birmingham chapter of the American Association of University Professors was organized in a meeting at the Medical Center. Dr. Leland C. Clark was elected first president.

1962: Dr. Lincoln Roy Manson-Hing became chair of the Department of Oral Roentgenology (later Dental Radiology) and Dr. Gilbert J. Parfitt became chair of the Department of Periodontics, both in the School of Dentistry. Dr. Manson-Hing was a native of British Guiana [Guyana] and Dr. Parfitt was a native of England. They were the first international faculty named as chairs of academic departments at the Medical Center in Birmingham.

June 11, 1963: Vivian J. Malone and James A. Hood became the first African American students of The University of Alabama. Although Malone and Hood enrolled at the main campus in Tuscaloosa, they were the first African American students admitted to the University, its medical center in Birmingham, or its extension division programs throughout the state.

June 21, 1963: The University Hospital and Medical Center Heliport opened when a helicopter operated by the National Guard landed in a field between South 15th and 16th Streets, just a few blocks from the hospital complex.

September 15, 1963: Victims of the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Church were brought to the Hillman Emergency Clinic at University Hospital. Fifteen people received treatment at the hospital and autopsies were done on the bodies of the four young victims of the bombing.

September 1963: Luther Lawler became the first African American to register for classes at the Birmingham Extension Center when he enrolled in the master’s program in education.

September 1963: The Medical College Faculty Council approved a request that all facilities in the Medical and Dental Basic Science Building be available to all students and employees without regard to race.

October 2, 1963: Joseph S. and Bertha Pizitz Smolian gave their home to the Medical Center for use as a cultural center.

October 9, 1963: In a letter to Vice President Joseph F. Volker, African American employees in the university’s Medical and Dental Basic Science Building formally requested desegregation of the building’s cafeteria and facilities.

October 1963: Computer Research Laboratory opened in the former Life of Georgia Insurance Building.

December 31, 1963: The independent Eye Foundation Hospital was opened following dedication ceremonies on December 8, 1963.

1963: Extramural grants and contracts at the Medical Center totaled $3,888,514.

1963: Engineering students were first able to complete all four years of classes at the Birmingham Extension Center.

1963: University Hospital and Hillman Clinic was renamed The University of Alabama Hospitals and Clinics.

1963: The medical school's Division of Continuing Medical Education first offered continuing education courses to Alabama physicians.

February 1, 1964: The separate Hillman Emergency and University Emergency Clinics were merged to form one combined University Hospital Emergency Clinic.

March 3, 1964: Dr. Tinsley R. Harrison delivered the first Distinguished Faculty Lecture, "Witches and Doctors."

April 3, 1964: The Dental Education and Research Building was dedicated.

April 25-26, 1964: The Spain Rehabilitation Center was dedicated. Dr. William C. Fleming was the center's first director.

May 27, 1964: The first Medical Student Research Day was held preceding the Honors Convocation of the Medical College of Alabama. Thomas C. Smitherman won first prize for his paper “Distribution of Sucrose-C14 in Thyroid Tissue.” Dr. James A. Pittman, Jr., was his faculty sponsor.

June 1964: University Hospital Outpatient Services Building opened in the renovated Roberts & Son Building.

July 2, 1964: President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibited segregation in any facilities receiving federal funds from the Hill-Burton Act.

September 8, 1964: The entering class of eight students in the medical technology program at University Hospital included one African American, Wilma Ann Barnes. She was the first African American enrolled in any programs in the Medical Center.

October 24, 1964: Drs. Tinsley R. Harrison and Champ Lyons were named Distinguished Professors by The University of Alabama Board of Trustees, the first such designations given to a member of the Alabama faculty.

October 1964: At the start of the academic year, 44 African American students were enrolled at the Birmingham Extension Center.

1964: First classes were held in the new Engineering Building adjacent to the Birmingham Extension Center.

1964: Dr. James T. Montgomery became the first African American physician to be granted staff privileges at University Hospital and the first African American to receive a faculty appointment in the medical school.

1964: Bachelor of Science degrees in Engineering were first awarded for work completed in the Birmingham Extension Center. Degrees were presented during commencement ceremonies on the university's main campus in Tuscaloosa.

1964: Joseph S. and Bertha Pizitz Smolian donated the Cole House to the Medical Center for use as Friendship House.

1964: The Alabama Journal of Medical Sciences began publication with Dr. Emmett B. Carmichael as editor.

1964: A gift from Fay Fletcher Kerner made possible the first endowed chair at the Medical Center, the Fay Fletcher Kerner Chair of Surgery.

1964: The Medical Rehabilitation Research and Training Center was established with Dr. William C. Fleming as director.

January 3, 1965: Effective on this date, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited segregation in any healthcare facility receiving Federal funds

April 25, 1965: The process of desegregating University Hospital was reported as 100 percent complete.

April 27, 1965: Dr. Champ Lyons delivered the second Distinguished Faculty Lecture, "Some Surgical Aspects of the Stroke Problem."

May 30, 1965: Vivian J. Malone received a B. S. degree in Commerce and Business Administration, becoming the first African American graduate of The University of Alabama system.

May 30, 1965: John L. Duncan became the first student to graduate from the Birmingham-based engineering program. He received a Bachelor of Science degree at graduation ceremonies held on the university campus in Tuscaloosa.

May 1965: The U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare toured University Hospital and found it in compliance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

July 18, 1965: The former University Hospital School of Nursing Residence was rededicated as the Roy R. Kracke Clinical Services Building.

July 30, 1965: VA Hospital Research Annex Wing groundbreaking was held.

August 1965: University of Alabama Medical Center Foundation was created as a non-profit corporation.

September 7, 1965: Barbara Walker became the first African American student in the University Hospital School of Nursing, the hospital-based diploma program.

September 1965: Sarah Louise Fisher became the first African American student in The University of Alabama School of Nursing, then located on the campus in Tuscaloosa.

1965: Extramural grants and awards at the Medical Center totaled $4,445,900.

1965: Dr. Joseph F. Volker assigned responsibility for research and grants administration to Dr. John B. Dunbar and for graduate studies to Dr. Samuel B. Barker.

1965: Dr. Clifton O. Dummett of the Tuskegee Veterans Administration Hospital received a clinical appointment in the School of Dentistry, becoming the first African American member of the school's faculty.

February 1966: Dr. Joseph F. Volker, Arthur Garikes, E. Todd Wheeler, and Dr. George W. Campbell produced the Expansion and Land Utilization Study-UAB.

April 27, 1966: Dr. Joseph F. Volker delivered the third Distinguished Faculty Lecture, "The Way of an Administrator."

July 1966: Dr. John W. Kirklin was appointed chair of the Department of Surgery and surgeon-in-chief of University Hospital.

August 21, 1966: North Wing of University Hospital was dedicated.

September 15, 1966: The Birmingham Extension Center programs were elevated to the four-year College of General Studies, which remained as a branch of The University of Alabama. The College of General Studies was organized similarly to a modified liberal arts college and had seven divisions: allied health sciences, business, education, engineering, humanities, natural sciences and mathematics, and social sciences.  Dr. George W. Campbell was named first dean of the new College.

November 1966: President Frank A. Rose designated all university operations in Birmingham as the "University of Alabama in Birmingham," a degree-granting branch of the University of Alabama campus in Tuscaloosa. Dr. Joseph F. Volker was named vice president for Birmingham Affairs, an office given administrative oversight of the newly combined Medical Center and the College of General Studies. Dr. Volker reported directly to the president in Tuscaloosa.

November 9, 1966: The Health Sciences Research Building was rededicated as the Lyons-Harrison Research Building.

November 13, 1966: Dr. Frank A. Rose announced plans to move the University of Alabama School of Nursing from Tuscaloosa to the UAB Medical Center.

December 1966: Senator Lister Hill announced original grant funding for the Alabama Regional Medical Program.

1966: The University Hospital School of Nursing, a diploma program, admitted its last class. The class graduated in 1969 and the school was eliminated.

1966: The Alabama legislature commissioned the firm of Booz, Allen, and Hamilton to study the expansion of medical education in Alabama.

1966: Robert W. Holters was named interim administrator and later administrator of University Hospital.

1966: The Division of Allied Health Sciences, comprised of University Hospital's paramedical training programs, was established in the College of General Studies.

1966: Laboratory of Medical Genetics was established under the direction of Drs. Wayne H. and Sara C. Finley.

1966: School of Health Services Administration was established with Matthew F. McNulty, Jr., as dean.

1966: Richard Charles Dale and Samuel William Sullivan, Jr., became the first African American students of the Medical College of Alabama.

1966: Center for Hospital Continuing Education was established. It was later renamed the Center for Health Services Continuing Education. Dr. Richard G. Allen served as the first director of the center.

1966: The Medical Center had a budget of $32,000,000 and a payroll of over $15,000,000 for its 3,200 employees.

1966: The catalog for the fall term of the newly established College of General Studies included 47 full-time faculty, 14 of whom are female. At least a dozen of the faculty were “Tuscaloosa Campus Faculty” who regularly traveled to and from Tuscaloosa to teach in Birmingham.

1966: Cardiovascular Research and Training Center established with grant from the National Heart Institute. Dr. T. Joseph Reeves served as the center's first director.

March 18, 1967: Dr. Thomas E. Hunt delivered the fourth Distinguished Faculty Lecture, "The Tricky Business of Teaching."

May 1967: The Appalachian Regional Commission awarded UAB a grant to establish a Regional Technical Institute for Health Occupations.

June 23, 1967: The Committee on Optometry, a joint state legislative committee chaired by Representative Hugh D. Merrill, found there was “a need for a school of optometry to be located in the State of Alabama” and recommended that it be placed “at an existing state university."

July 1967: A groundbreaking was held for the Center for Developmental and Learning Disorders.

August 18, 1967: Jeremiah E. Abbott received the first master’s degree from the engineering program in the College of General Studies.  Like all other Birmingham students, Abbott received his degree during commencement ceremonies on the campus in Tuscaloosa.

August 1967: The University of Alabama School of Nursing was moved from the Tuscaloosa campus to the Medical Center in Birmingham. Dr. Florence A. Hixson, founding dean, remained in that position following the move.

September 1967: UAB Advisory Board was established.

September 22, 1967: The Veterans Administration Research Wing was dedicated.

October 26, 1967: The student newspaper, Kaleidoscope, was first published. Patrick Cather was the first editor and Melinda Hidle, who gave the paper its name, served as co-editor.

1967: The Myocardial Infarction Research Unit, later renamed the Specialized Center for Research in Ischemic Heart Disease, was established. Dr. Harold T. Dodge was the first director.

1967: Dr. Margarita P. Medina received a faculty appointment as associate professor of Mathematics, the first female international appointed to the full-time faculty of the College of General Studies. Dr. Medina was from Cuba.

1967: The Alabama legislature granted its first direct appropriation ($1.1 million) to the College of General Studies.

1967: A Faculty Women's Club of UAB was organized as a campus-wide organization that combined other such campus clubs (medical, dental, etc.). Mrs. K. Lemone Yeilding elected as the club's first president.

March 6, 1968: Rust Research Center groundbreaking was held.

March 29, 1968: Dr. Samuel B. Barker delivered the fifth Distinguished Faculty Lecture, "Perspectives."

May 8, 1968: Dr. Arnold G. Diethelm successfully performed the Medical Center's first kidney transplant.

June 23, 1968: The first public exhibit of work by art students in the College of General Studies opened in the Central Bank Building [currently the UAB Administration Building]. Martha Johnson and Barbara Tapla were the art class instructors.

June 1968: Barbara Walker Mitchell became the first African American graduate of the University Hospital School of Nursing.

June 1968: The Medical Center and the VA Hospital were authorized to share programs and facilities under Public Law 89-785.

July 30, 1968: Symbolic groundbreaking was held for Medical Center Library, School of Nursing, and Basic Health Sciences buildings.

July 1968: Dr. Herschell Lee Hamilton received a clinical appointment in the Department of Surgery and became the first African American board-certified general surgeon at University Hospital.

October 1968: Enrollment in the College of General Studies totaled 3,378 students, including business administration (591), allied health sciences (104), education (574), engineering (408), humanities (215), natural sciences & mathematics (341), and social sciences (316).

October 1968: For the fall term, history faculty member Dr. Jack D. L. Holmes offered a course in African American history.

November 1, 1968: Dr. S. Richardson Hill, Jr., became vice president for Health Affairs.

November 1968: Dr. Clifton K. Meador became dean of the Medical College of Alabama.

1968: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced final approval of a 45-block expansion program for UAB and grants totaling over $11.4 million for the project.

1968: Dr. Joseph F. Volker was named executive vice president of UAB.

1968: The entering class size of the Medical College of Alabama was increased to 85.

1968: Dr. W. Paul Brann was named first vice president for Fiscal Affairs.

1968: The Regional Maxillofacial Prosthetics Treatment and Training Center was established with Dr. Dwight J. Castleberry as first director.

1968: The Alabama Ballet, formerly known as the Alabama State Ballet, became an affiliate of UAB. James F. Hatcher, Jr., was appointed as the administrator for the ballet program in addition to his duties as director of Town and Gown Theatre.

1968: Alabama Transplant Center was created in the Medical Center and served as the clinical center for all transplant activities at UAB.

January 28, 1969: Dr. Frank A. Rose announced his resignation as president of The University of Alabama.

February 1969: Sarah Louise Fisher became the first African American graduate of the School of Nursing.

March 27, 1969: Dr. Howard L. Holley delivered the sixth Distinguished Faculty Lecture, "...And Gladly Teach."

March 1969: Delois Skipwith became the first African American faculty member in the School of Nursing and the first tenure-track African American faculty member at UAB.

March 1969: The Center for Urban Affairs was established with Dr. John B. Dunbar as the first director.

April 1, 1969: Dr. Keith D. Blayney became director of the School of Health Services Administration.

April 1969: Alabama Act 91, passed by the state legislature during a special session on education, appropriated funding for a new School of Optometry at UAB.

April 21, 1969: The Center for Developmental and Learning Disorders was dedicated.

May 18, 1969: The Occupational Rehabilitation Center was dedicated at 1616 6th Avenue South.

May 1969: Gloria S. Goldstein (later Gloria Goldstein Howton) was named as the first director of Public Affairs with oversight into the university's public relations efforts.

June 1, 1969: Imogene L. Baswell received a bachelor's degree in engineering, the first female graduate of the engineering program in Birmingham.

June 5, 1969: The University of Alabama Board of Trustees approved a plan “to provide for a system in which a separate President will be elected for each of the three campuses of the University with each President reporting to the Board of Trustees.” The new three-campus system, a plan which was to be effective September 5, 1969, was announced publicly eleven days later.

June 16, 1969: Governor Albert P. Brewer announced the establishment of The University of Alabama System comprised of autonomous campuses in Tuscaloosa (UA), Birmingham (UAB), and Huntsville (UAH). The University of Alabama in Birmingham (UAB) became one of the three universities in the new three-campus system.

June 16, 1969: Dr. Joseph F. Volker was named first president of UAB.

June 25, 1969: Governor Albert P. Brewer announced $5 million in bond funds for College of General Studies construction.

July 1969: MIST (Medical Information Service via Telephone) was created at the UAB Medical Center.

August 29, 1969: Governor Albert P. Brewer signed an act appropriating $50,000 for the development of a School of Community and Allied Health Resources at UAB.

August 1969: Dr. Henry B. Peters was named the first dean of the School of Optometry, the first optometry school in the nation to be integrated into an academic medical center.

August 1969: Medical Center Annex, formerly the Cullom Apartments, was demolished to build the Kahler Plaza Hotel.

September 1, 1969: Dr. Henry B. Peters arrived on campus as the first dean of the new School of Optometry.

September 1, 1969: The Division of Engineering became solely responsible to the UAB College of General Studies and ceased being a jointly administered program with the University of Alabama.

September 5, 1969: Dr. Joseph F. Volker assumed the office as the first president of the newly autonomous University of Alabama in Birmingham (UAB).

September 12, 1969: Alabama Act 1054, the Skidmore Bill, officially changed the name of the Medical College of Alabama to The University of Alabama School of Medicine.

September 27, 1969: The first eight students began classes in the new School of Optometry.

September 1969: Intramural athletic teams were organized by Dr. James Sharman.

October 15, 1969: A student protest in support of the Vietnam Moratorium was held in front of Tidwell Hall, the College of General Studies Building.

1969: For the first academic term of the newly independent UAB, the College of General Studies had eight full-time faculty members with international backgrounds. Three were natives of Cuba, the others were natives of Canada, England, Poland, South Africa, and Wales. There were also three international faculty with part-time appointments, one was from Spain and two were from India.

1969: For the first academic term of the newly independent UAB, the medical school at UAB had at least forty-one full-time faculty members with international backgrounds and thirteen part-time or clinical faculty members with international backgrounds. The full-time faculty hailed from twenty-six countries, the part-time from nine.

1969: For the first academic term of the newly independent UAB, the dental school at UAB had at least twenty-three clinical or basic science faculty with international backgrounds. These faculty members hailed from nineteen countries.

1969: Rev. Abraham L. Woods, Jr., a pioneer in the Civil Rights movement, became an adjunct (part-time) instructor in the UAB history department.

1969: Regional Technical Institute for Health Occupations was established.

1969: Dr. Keith D. Blayney was named administrator of University Hospital.

1969: Ellen Gregg Ingalls Award was established for excellence in classroom teaching. Dr. Hubert H. Harper, associate professor of English, was the first Ingalls recipient.

1969: Dr. T. Joseph Reeves was named chair of the Department of Medicine.

1969: University Hospital General Services Building opened at 1809 5th Avenue South.

1969: UAB’s first yearbook, the Annual Report, was published with Kay Haslam serving as editor. The Annual Report was focused more toward the College of General Studies since the dental, medical and nursing schools already had their own discrete yearbooks.

1969: The Woodward House atop Red Mountain was acquired by the university as the official residence for the UAB president.

1969: Rust Research Center, which housed the university's computer center, opened.

1969: Active extramural grants and contracts for the newly independent UAB totaled $18,190,620.