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 1980s.

January 8, 1980: A groundbreaking ceremony was held for the Hulsey Center for Arts and Humanities.

January 11, 1980: John J. Sparkman Center for International Public Health Education was dedicated.

March 5-7, 1980: The Center for Advanced Medical Studies was dedicated.

March 15, 1980: Dr. Milly Cowles became second dean of the School of Education.

April 9, 1980: The Physical Education Facility was renamed in honor of former Alabama governor George C. Wallace.

April 30, 1980: Twin Towers, a student residence hall, opened.

June 11, 1980: The first meeting of the Tinsley R. Harrison Medical Student Society was held at UAB. Senior medical student J. Patrick Daugherty was the first to present a research paper before the new student organization.

June 15, 1980: Dr. Lee R. Summerlin became interim dean of the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

September 1980: The Army ROTC program was initiated at UAB, one of 41 universities throughout the country to gain an Reserve Officers' Training Corps program. The UAB program began with 12 cadets.

November 7, 1980: Dr. John R. Durant delivered the seventeenth Distinguished Faculty Lecture, "People I Have Known."

1980: The Pediatric Pulmonary Center was established.

1980: The Center for International Programs was established with Robert W. French as director.

1980: William M. Voigt became the first president of the UAB National Alumni Society.

1980: The University of Alabama Board of Trustees dropped the designation University of Alabama System Medical Education Program (UASMEP) for the system’s medical programs in Birmingham, Huntsville, and Tuscaloosa. In its place, the board recognized that the system had one medical school, The University of Alabama School of Medicine, which is located in Birmingham and which has programs at the Huntsville and Tuscaloosa campuses.

1980: The Occupational Health and Safety Educational Resource Center was created.

1980: The former Jefferson County Public Health Building was demolished.

January 21, 1981: Alabama Congenital Heart Disease Diagnosis and Treatment Center was established with Dr. John W. Kirklin as director.

January 21, 1981: The Cystic Fibrosis Research Center was established at UAB with Dr. Roy Curtiss III as first director. In 1986 the center was renamed in honor of Gregory Fleming James, the late son of Governor Fob James.

January 31, 1981: During UAB's homecoming celebrations, David Bolus and Kay Ellis were chosen as the first “Mr. and Ms. UAB.”

May 17, 1981: Joseph H. Woolf Family Practice Center was dedicated.

May 29, 1981: UAB Department of Public Health was designated the School of Public Health by The University of Alabama Board of Trustees. Dr. William F. Bridgers became the new school's first dean.

June 1981: Eight Avenue South was renamed University Boulevard.

September 8, 1981: The first bone marrow transplant at UAB was performed. Dr. Jon Gockerman was medical director of the program.

September 27, 1981: The Baptist Student Center at UAB was dedicated.

October 23, 1981: Dr. James A. Pittman, Jr., delivered the eighteenth Distinguished Faculty Lecture, "Progress."

October 30, 1981: Groundbreaking was held for the University Center.

November 24, 1981: Dr. Robert B. Karp headed the University Hospital team that performed the first heart transplant at UAB.

November 1981: UAB Small Business Development Center was established with Fred Myrick as first director.

December 1, 1981: Dr. Robert Glaze became first vice president for Research and Institutional Advancement after having served as acting vice president since 1980.

December 15, 1981: The Ambulatory Dialysis Home Training Center opened.

1981: The entering class size of the School of Medicine was decreased to 150.

1981: Center for Communications Research was established with Dr. John W. Wittig as director.

1981: The University of Alabama Board of Trustees expanded from eight to fifteen members.

1981: Jim White became head coach of the UAB men's tennis team, becoming the first African American named as a Blazer head coach.

1981: The University College Senate was superseded by the new University College Faculty Senate.

February 2, 1982:UAB Synopsis was first published for the medical and dental staff of University Hospital; Dr. Richard McElvein was first editor.

February 28, 1982: Men's Basketball team won their first Sun Belt Conference title in a championship tournament hosted by UAB and held in Birmingham.

March 13, 1982: Men's Basketball team reached the round of 16 in the NCAA basketball playoffs.

April 30, 1982: The Hulsey Center for Arts and Humanities officially opened. A poetry reading in the theater studio by Alan Perlis, chair of the English department, and several UAB students was the first event held in the new Center.

May 17, 1982: Wanda Hightower Jordan became the first UAB athlete to have a jersey retired. A member of the 1978-1982 Women's Basketball team, she had scored 2,854 career points and had gained 1,091 career rebounds.

June 3, 1982: A groundbreaking was held for the Susan Mott Webb Nutrition Sciences Building.

August 1, 1982: Dr. Thomas A. Bartlett became the second chancellor of the three-campus University of Alabama System.

August 1982: Dr. Joseph F. Volker, recently retired as chancellor of the three-campus University of Alabama System, returned to UAB as a distinguished professor.

November 4, 1982: The Betty LeRoy Davis Outpatient Clinic was dedicated in University Hospital. The clinic was the first patient area in the hospital to be named for a registered nurse. Davis worked at UAB from 1965 until her retirement in 1981.

November 12, 1982: Dr. Max D. Cooper delivered the nineteenth Distinguished Faculty Lecture, "Of Mice, Men, and Chickens."

1982: Laboratory for Special Cancer Research opened at 550 South 11th Street.

February 1983: UAB discontinued its bone marrow transplant program after less than two years.

March 26, 1983: Phyllis Pope, a pre-dentistry major from Olympia Field, Illinois, selected as the first Miss UAB. Twenty-two students participated in the university’s first pageant, an official preliminary to the Miss Alabama pageant.

May 21, 1983: UAB held its first telephone student registration in a pilot program sponsored by the Office of Registration and Academic Records.

June 5, 1983: Linda C. Lucas received a PhD in biomedical engineering, the first doctoral degree awarded by the School of Engineering.

June 1983: The UAB Critical Care Transport Service began.

August 1983: The UAB Conference Center was renamed the Carrie D. and Don V. Marshall Conference Center.

October 13, 1983: Drs. Wayne H. and Sara C. Finley delivered the twentieth Distinguished Faculty Lecture, "From the Roots to the Branches."

October 18, 1983: Susan Mott Webb Nutrition Sciences Building was dedicated.

October 1983: Dr. James Rachels became interim vice president for University College, he served until the end of the year.

October 1983: The University Center opened.

December 10, 1983: Students, staff, and faculty in the arts and humanities held the first Madrigal Feaste in the newly opened University Center.  The annual UAB holiday event would remain on the university calendar for many years.

1983: UAB ranked 24th out of 396 institutions in the amount of funding received for research from the National Institutes of Health.

1983: Tom Seals became the first head coach of the new Rifle team.

1983: Dr. Peter V. O'Neil was named second dean of the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics after having served as interim since 1982.

1983: Center for the Advancement of Developing Industries was established with Dr. James H. Woodward, Jr., as first director.

1983: School of Optometry became the only school of its kind in the nation to require students to pass the National Board Examinations to qualify for graduation.

1983: Don Young was named director of Financial Affairs and University Treasurer.

1983: Tim Richards became the first head coach of the new Men's Volleyball team.

1983: The Rev. James T. Crutcher, formerly pastor of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, became the first African American named as a full-time chaplain at University Hospital. He served in that capacity until 1996.

1983: UAB Honors Program, an inter-disciplinary curriculum for undergraduate students, established with Dr. Ada W. Long as first director.

1983: Dr. Sara Ruiz de Molina was named acting dean of Special Studies.

January 1, 1984: Dr. James H. Woodward, Jr., became third vice president for University College; he served until June 1989 when the office was renamed Academic Affairs.

January 21, 1984: The Business and Engineering Complex was dedicated.

February 3, 1984: Dr. Joaquin Aldrete led the team that performed the first liver transplant at University Hospital. The patient was a five-year old boy from Alabama.

April 1984: Roy Kirkpatrick became the second Chief of Police.

April 1984: UAB first hosted Greek Week for sororities and fraternities. Events were held on campus the week of April 23-27.

June 3, 1984: Regina M. Benjamin of Daphne, Alabama, graduated from the medical school at UAB. In 2009 Dr. Benjamin would become the third Alabamian appointed as Surgeon-General of the United States.

September 1, 1984: Lung Health Center was established at UAB with Dr. William C. Bailey as director. The center received approval of The University of Alabama Board of Trustees on December 4, 1986.

September 1, 1984: Ken Letson became UAB's second Sports Information director.

September 1, 1984: Dr. Blaine A. Brownell became second dean of the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

September 23, 1984: The Tinsley Harrison Tower was dedicated.

November 9, 1984: Dr. Harriet P. Dustan delivered the twenty-first Distinguished Faculty Lecture, "Alabama and The Golden Age of Medical Research."

November 15, 1984: The University of Alabama Board of Trustees approved the change of UAB's name from the "University of Alabama in Birmingham" to the "University of Alabama at Birmingham."

November 16, 1984: The Basic Health Science Education and Research Building was dedicated.

1984: Dr. Jay Goldman named third dean of the School of Engineering, succeeding Dr. Edmond Miller who had served as interim.

1984: Joann Beddow became the first head coach of the new Women's Golf team.

1984: The Phoenix, a magazine for the university community published by UAB journalism students, debuted in the winter. Brent H. Morgan was the magazine’s first editor.

1984: The first use in the United States of a color doppler echocardiograph for visualizing internal cardiac structures occurred at University Hospital.

1984: Dr. Theodore M. Benditt named fourth dean of the School of Humanities.

1984: Dr. Anthony C. L. Barnard named dean and co-director of the Graduate School.

January 1, 1985: Dr. Jerry W. Stephens became second director of the Mervyn H. Sterne Library.

January 23, 1985: First baby was born as a result of the UAB In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) program. Dr. Kathryn Honea, IVF program director, attended the baby girl’s birth at the mother’s local hospital.

April 15, 1985: UAB's first International Food Festival was held in the Mini Park.

April 18, 1985: UAB's new baseball field was officially dedicated as the Jerry D. Young Memorial Field.

April 25, 1985: The residence hall for nursing students at UAB was rededicated as Florence A. Hixson Hall.

June 1, 1985: Dr. Sara Ruiz de Molina became second dean of Special Studies.

June 2, 1985: Dr. J. Durwood Bradley, Jr., chief of staff at the hospital, became the first recipient of The President's Medal, given for distinguished service to UAB.

June 10, 1985: Angela Tower, a dance student at UAB, was named Miss Alabama. She later went on to become the fourth runner up in the Miss America pageant in September in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

June 27, 1985: Center for Health Risk Assessment and Disease Prevention was established.

July 1, 1985: The university launched the first Capital Campaign with a goal of $25 million.

September 26, 1985: The Center for Telecommunications Education and Research was approved by The University of Alabama Board of Trustees. Drs. Warren T. Jones and David A. Conner were named as center co-directors.

November 13, 1985: Diabetes Research and Education Building was rededicated as the Boshell Diabetes Research and Education Building.

November 15, 1985: Dr. Leonard H. Robinson delivered the twenty-second Distinguished Faculty Lecture, "Excellence Revisited: Prescription for The Future."

November 24, 1985: Birmingham's Visitors and Information Center at UAB was dedicated at 1201 University Boulevard.

December 5, 1985: The Center for Macromolecular Crystallography and the Sleep/Wake Disorders Center were approved by The University of Alabama Board of Trustees. Dr. Charles E. Bugg was named as first director of the crystallography center, and Dr. Virgil Wooten was founding director of the Sleep/Wake center.

1985: W. Grant Shingleton became UAB's third Sports Information director.

January 23, 1986: The University of Alabama Hospitals was renamed as The University of Alabama Hospital; but it remained more commonly known as "University Hospital."

January 23, 1986: The Ben S. Weil Endowed Chair of Industrial Distribution was established in the School of Business. Weil was the first endowed chair at UAB outside of the medical center.

February 28, 1986: The UAB student chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) received its charter. The chapter later went dormant but was reactivated during the fall of 2003.

April 3, 1986: The Geriatric Education Center was approved by The University of Alabama Board of Trustees. Dr. Glenn H. Hughes was named as first director of the center.

April 3, 1986: The University of Alabama Board of Trustees formally approved the UAB Epilepsy Center, which had been initiated in 1981.

April 3, 1986: The Lister Hill Center for Health Policy and the Center for Nuclear Imaging Research were established by The University of Alabama Board of Trustees. Dr. William F. Bridgers was named first director of the Lister Hill Center. Dr. Gerald M. Pohost was named director of the nuclear imaging center.

May 1986: UAB acquired the Mary Lewis Convalescent Home, a 45-bed facility.

May 1986: Upon the retirement of Harry "the Hat" Walker, assistant coach Pete Rancont was named as the second head coach of Men's Baseball

June 3, 1986: Cudworth Hall was renamed the UAB Continuing Education Center.

June 7, 1986: The first five students graduated from the UAB Honors Program.

June 26, 1986: The University of Alabama Board of Trustees approved the UAB Injury Control Research Center with Dr. P. Russ Fine as first director.

July 1, 1986: Dr. Richard R. Ranney became the fourth dean of the School of Dentistry.

August 1, 1986: Dr. Bradford W. Wild became second dean of the School of Optometry.

September 1, 1986: Dr. Charles A. McCallum, Jr., vice president for Health Affairs, became acting president of UAB during the one-year sabbatical of President S. Richardson Hill, Jr.

September 25, 1986: The Comprehensive Head Injury Center, which had been initiated at UAB in 1986, received approval by The University of Alabama Board of Trustees. Dr. Thomas J. Boll was later named as the center's first director.

September 25, 1986: The Center for Reproductive Health and Genetics was approved by The University of Alabama Board of Trustees. Drs. Sara C. Finley and Hugh M. Shingleton were named co-directors of the center.

September 25, 1986: Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Immunological Diseases, created in 1985 with funding from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was formally approved by The University of Alabama Board of Trustees. Dr. J. Claude Bennett was the center's first director.

October 15, 1986: International House was rededicated in honor of Joseph S. and Bertha Pizitz Smolian.

November 14, 1986: Dr. Charles E. Butterworth, Jr., delivered the twenty-third Distinguished Faculty Lecture, "The Function of A University Professor."

1986: Antoinette “Toni” Nordan became curator of the UAB Visual Arts Gallery.

January 22, 1987: Parkinson's Disease Association Information and Referral Center, established in 1986, was approved by The University of Alabama Board of Trustees. Dr. James H. Halsey, Jr., served as the center's first director.

February 18, 1987: The Neurobiology Research Center was established.

April 2, 1987: Dr. Charles A. McCallum, Jr., became third president of UAB.

April 13, 1987: The first International Festival was held at UAB. The event was sponsored by the International Student Association and association president Khalil Jarrar.

April 1987: Mickey Pizitz Memorial Pool opened as an addition to Spain Rehabilitation Center.

June 2, 1987: School of Community and Allied Health was renamed the School of Health Related Professions, Dr. Keith D. Blayney remained as dean.

June 17, 1987: The Center for Research in Oral Biology superseded the Institute of Dental Research. Dr. Henning Birkedal-Hansen was first director of the center.

September 1, 1987: Effective on this date, all “indoor public areas” of the UAB Medical Center became smoke free.

October 30, 1987: Dr. Dan W. Urry delivered the twenty-fourth Distinguished Faculty Lecture, "Of Molecules, Motion, Man, and Machines."

October 1987: Mervyn H. Sterne Library was rededicated after the completion of a major expansion and renovation project.

November 1, 1987: Dr. Rachel Z. Booth became third dean of the School of Nursing.

December 4, 1987: The Center for Economic Education was approved by The University of Alabama Board of Trustees. Dr. Henry N. McCarl was named as the center's first director.

December 1987: UAB South opened in an International Park office building.

1987: World's first genetically engineered mouse-human monoclonal antibody was used at University Hospital in the treatment of cancer.

1987: Dr. Clint Bruess was named third dean of the School of Education.

1987: Jeannie Milling became the head coach of the Women's Basketball team.

1987: The movie, “The Verne Miller Story,” was released. Shot partially in Birmingham the previous year, some scenes had been filmed in UAB’s Woodward House. (This film was also called “Gangland”)

1987: UAB Hospice Program was established in University Hospital.

1987: Center for Reproductive Health and Genetics opened in renovated Byrd Building.

1987: The School of Humanities was renamed the School of Arts and Humanities; Dr. Theodore M. Benditt remained as dean.

1987: The UAB Research Foundation was formed as a non-profit corporation with the mission to identify, assess, and market commercially viable technology developed at UAB.

January 1988: In response to the growing AIDS epidemic, the 1917 Clinic was opened at UAB. The clinic, which took its name from the building’s street address in order to protect the confidentiality of patients, was founded and first directed by Dr. Michael S. Saag.

April 1, 1988: Dr. John R. Durant became vice president for Health Affairs, succeeding Dr. J. Durwood Bradley who had served as interim vice president since the previous July.

April 1988: Dr. Robert Glaze became first vice president for Research Development.

May 6, 1988: The Center for Management Study was established with Dr. M. Gene Newport as first center director.

May 19, 1988: UAB Arena was dedicated.

May 1988: Kellie J. Isbell and David K. Thomas became the second and third UAB students named as Truman Scholars. This was the first time in Alabama history that two students were selected from the same institution.

May 1988: The Center for Neuroimmunology was established.

June 5, 1988: UAB Commencement was held in the new UAB Arena, the first time a UAB graduation ceremony had been held on the university’s campus. UAB awarded degrees to 3,260 students.

June 27, 1988: The first heart-lung transplant in Alabama was performed at University Hospital by a team headed by Drs. James K. Kirklin and George L. Zorn, Jr.

June 1988: Dr. Dick D. Briggs became acting president of The University of Alabama Health Services Foundation.

August 1, 1988: UAB initiated an escort service through the UAB Police Department for any student, employee or visitor between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and midnight.

September 1, 1988: Virginia L. Algermissen became third director of the Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences.

September 9, 1988: The William Gorgas Center for Geographic Medicine was established.

October 14, 1988: The Doctors' Center Building was rededicated as the Paul S. Worrell Building.

November 18, 1988: Dr. Basil I. Hirschowitz selected as the twenty-fifth Distinguished Faculty Lecturer. His lecture was titled "Fiberoptics: Retrospect and Prospect."

November 1988: UAB Travel Center opened in the Burleson Building.

December 3, 1988: In their first home game in the new UAB Arena, the Men's Basketball team defeated Vanderbilt 76-69.

December 6, 1988: In their first home game in the new UAB Arena, the Women's Basketball team defeated Southern University 66-64.

December 9, 1988: The Center for AIDS Research was formally approved by The University of Alabama Board of Trustees. Dr. Eric Hunter was the center's first director.

December 9, 1988:  The University of Alabama Board of Trustees formally accepted a gift from the BellSouth Foundation to help establish the Wallace R. Bunn endowed position in the School of Engineering at UAB.  An endowed professorship was established from this gift in 1991.  Bunn, who had retired in 1984, was the founding chairman and chief executive officer of the BellSouth Corporation.

December 1988: Dr. Dick D. Briggs became the third president of The University of Alabama Health Services Foundation.

December 1988: Upon the resignation of Dr. Thomas A. Bartlett, Samuel E. G. Hobbs was named interim chancellor of the three-campus University of Alabama System. Hobbs had previously served as a member of the Board of Trustees from 1964 until 1987.

1988: Regional Ectodermal Dysplasia Diagnosis and Treatment Center was established with Dr. J. Timothy Wright as director.

1988: Dr. Max D. Cooper was elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences, the first UAB faculty member to be so honored.

1988: Dr. Terry L. Hickey named dean and co-director of the Graduate School.

1988: The UAB Office of Minority Business Development was established with George Perdue, Jr., as first director.

January 28, 1989: ESPN televised the men’s home basketball game against UNC-Charlotte, the first national athletics broadcast from the UAB campus. UNC-Charlotte defeated the Blazers 86-72.

February 4, 1989: UAB celebrated homecoming with the university's first homecoming parade. "Catch the Spirit" was the theme for the week's festivities.

March 8, 1989: Dr. Juan M. Navia became acting dean of the School of Public Health.

March 15, 1989: Dr. Kenneth J. Roozen became first vice president for University Affairs.

March 15, 1989: Linda Flaherty-Goldsmith became University Treasurer.

March 15, 1989: Dr. John M. Lyons became first vice president for Planning and Information Management.

April 23, 1989: The first artificial heart used in Alabama was implanted at University Hospital as a temporary measure while the patient awaited a heart transplant. Dr. William L. Holman implanted the ventricular-assist device.

April 27, 1989: UAB celebrated $100 million in active grants and contracts.

June 4, 1989: The UAB Mace, designed by local artist Cordray Parker, was first used during the university’s commencement. Dr. Virginia D. Horns-Marsh carried the mace into the ceremony. It was commissioned by Dr. and Mrs. Samuel B. Barker.

July 1, 1989: Dr. L. Clark Taylor, Jr., became administrator of University Hospital.

July 1, 1989: UAB's Dr. J. Dudley Pewitt, vice president for Administration, became the president of the Sun Belt Conference; he served until the end of June 1990.

September 1, 1989: Dr. Philip E. Austin became third chancellor of the three-campus University of Alabama System. His appointment had been announced in May.

September 22, 1989: The Civitan International Research Center approved as an official UAB center by The University of Alabama Board of Trustees.

September 27, 1989: A groundbreaking ceremony was held for the Center for Psychiatric Medicine.

October 1, 1989: The designation University College was replaced by the designation Academic Affairs, and Dr. Tennant S. McWilliams became interim vice president for Academic Affairs.

October 5, 1989: Dr. George L. Zorn, Jr., headed the team that performed the state’s first lung transplant at University Hospital. The patient was from Arab, Alabama.

October 13, 1989: The groundbreaking ceremony was held for the Civitan International Research Center.

October 1989: Denise Picard, a junior business major, became the first female at UAB to be named as cadet battalion commander, the highest ranking cadet in the Army ROTC Program.

November 16, 1989: Dr. Victor J. Matukas was named interim dean of the School of Dentistry.

December 8, 1989: Center for Community Health Resources Development was approved by The University of Alabama Board of Trustees.

1989: The UAB National Alumni Society celebrated its 10th anniversary with a sold-out Homecoming Gala featuring music by the Tams, a group that had played the first ever Student Government Association-sponsored dance in 1967.

1989: Virginia G. Wadley became the fourth UAB student named as a Truman Scholar.

1989: Alabama's first skin grafting procedure using laboratory-cultured skin for treatment of severe burns occurred at University Hospital.

1989: The Smolian House and the Friendship House were sold by UAB.

1989: Dr. Harold M. Fullmer delivered the twenty-sixth Distinguished Faculty Lecture, "Dental Research from Antiquity to the Present."

1989: Active extramural grants and contracts at UAB totaled $105,571,876.