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 15 July 2020

January 6, 2020: Dr. Barry P. Sleckman of the Weill Cornell Medicine assumed duties as new director of the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Sleckman had been selected the previous October.

January 13, 2020: Proton International at UAB, the state’s first proton therapy center, was opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony. The three-story facility is located on 20th Street South.

February 10, 2020: Jeffrey D. Graveline, a long-time member of the library faculty, became interim dean of UAB Libraries.

February 11, 2020: Dr. Gregg H. Gilbert presented the fifth-sixth annual Distinguished Faculty Lecture.

March 12, 2020: Due to the effects of the growing global pandemic of coronavirus (COVID-19), the University of Alabama System announced that classes on all three system campuses, UA, UAH, and UAB, would transition completely to an online or alternative instruction model for the remainder of March. UAB’s Spring Break – which was due to begin on March 16 – was extended until March 24 and students were instructed to not return to campus until further notice. All non-essential university events and activities, including all Blazer athletic competition, and all non-essential university-related travel were also cancelled for the time being.

March 15, 2020: Due to the growing global pandemic of COVID-19, UAB announced a Limited Business Model for all campus operations except for essential services through the end of the month of March.

March 20, 2020: UAB alumnus Andy Kennedy became the seventh head coach of the men's basketball team. Kennedy, a former Blazer star player and former assistant coach at UAB, had previously served as head coach at the University of Mississippi.

March 26, 2020: UAB announced the indefinite extension to its Limited Business Model due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

April 1, 2020: Kasia Gonnerman, previously of Vanderbilt University, became the second dean of UAB Libraries.

May 1-2, 2020: Due to the university's Limited Business Model implemented because of the COVID-19 pandemic, UAB provided virtual only commencement ceremonies for graduating students.  Graduate degrees were awarded during an online-only ceremony on Friday the first, undergraduate degrees were awarded during an online-only ceremony on Saturday the second.

June 29, 2020: Governor Kay Ivey announced programs to provide COVID-19 testing and symptom monitoring for the state's public higher education institutions.  The programs were developed by and are being led by UAB and the Alabama Department of Public Health and are being supported by funding obtained through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).  The Testing for Alabama initiative will provide testing for every college student attending a public four-year or two-year college prior to the student's reentry to campus.

July 1, 2020: The University of Alabama Board of Trustees approved the creation of the UAB Health System Authority.  Dr. William Ferniany became the first Chief Executive Officer of the new authority.  He was also named as the CEO of the new UAB Health System/Ascension St. Vincent's alliance.

July 2020: Dr. Jeffrey W. Holmes became the seventh dean of the School of Engineering. Dr. Holmes came to UAB from the University of Virginia.

July 2020: Reid F. Jones became the new Chief Executive Officer of UAB Medicine.  Jones, a long-time UAB employee and UAB alumnus, retained his position as CEO of UAB Hospital.

August 1, 2020: Dr. Kecia Thomas became the third dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.  Dr. Thomas came to UAB from the University of Georgia.

Chronology maintained by Tim L. Pennycuff and last updated 3 August 2020