UAB School of Public Health

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The UAB School of Public Health (SOPH) is a graduate school at UAB. The school is housed primarily in the Ryals Public Health Building located at 1665 University Boulevard.

As of the Fall 2014 term, the School had 84 full-time faculty members and a total student enrollment of 481 students. Of these, 127 were undergraduates, 248 were graduate students, and 106 were doctoral students.


The School of Public Health was formed in 1981 from the Department of Public Health, a department jointly administered by the UAB School of Medicine and the School of Public and Allied Health. The public health department has its origins in the original Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, established in 1945 when the Medical College of Alabama transferred from the Tuscaloosa campus to Birmingham. At the time the School was founded, until the Ryals Public Health Building was completed, the former Tidwell Hall building was home for the School.

On May 29, 1981, Dr. William Bridgers, who had served as departmental chair since 1976, was named as the first dean of the new school. During the 1980s, Bridgers made several changes in the school's organization, creating new departments, merging and renaming existing departments, and reorganizing the school's administrative offices. By 1995, the school included seven departments: Biostatistics; Epidemiology; Health Care Organization & Policy; Environmental Health Sciences; Health Behavior; International Health; and Maternal & Child Health.

In 1989 Bridgers assumed full-time responsibility for the Lister Hill Center for Health Policy and Dr. Juan Navia was appointed acting dean of the school. He served as the second dean from 1990 until his retirement in 1991 and was succeeded by Dr. O. Dale Williams. When Williams retired in 1994, Dr. Eli Capilouto was named interim dean effective November 4, 1994, and in 1996 was named the fourth dean of the school. In 2001, Dr. Capilouto announced plans to step down as dean once a successor had been selected. Following a national search, Dr. Max Michael III, of Birmingham was chosen as the next dean. He became the fifth dean of the School of Public Health on August 15, 2001.

In October 2012 the fourth floor of Lister Hill Library was dedicated as the university's Edge of Chaos, an interdisciplinary space created by the School of Public Health. The space provides some office space for the Epidemiology department as well as other office and meeting space that is available to various campus and community groups with the goal to foster collaboration. The vision for the space was based on the work of author Steven Johnston, who wrote that "collaborative solutions to wicked problems occur in an environment that runs a fine line between order and chaos," or as stated by the school, "innovation happens at the edge of chaos."

The Lou Wooster Public Health Hero Award is an annual award presented since 2007 by the Broad Street Committee of the UAB School of Public Health to an "unconventional health hero".

  • In 1968, the Department of Public Health & the Department of Epidemiology were established in the UAB School of Medicine
  • In 1976, Bill Bridgers became chair of the Department of Public Health
  • In 1978, the Department of Public Health earned accreditation as a School of Public Health from the Council on Education for Public Health & became a unit within the UAB School of Medicine
  • In 1981, the Department of Public Health was reorganized into the School of Public Health and separated from the School of Medicine
  • In 1989, Bill Bridgers retired as Dean from the School of Public Health & became director of the Lister Hill Center
  • In 1994, Dr. Eli Capilouto was named interim dean effective November 4, 1994
  • In 1996, the Ryals Public Health Building was completed; however, the individual floors were occupied in 3 phases over a period of 6 years
  • In 2013, the undergraduate bachelor’s degree program in public health was initiated as a complement to the school’s master’s and doctoral degree programs.




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