University of Alabama at Birmingham

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The University of Alabama at Birmingham (also known as UAB) is a public, coeducational university located in Birmingham, Alabama. UAB is one of three autonomous institutions of the University of Alabama System, which also includes the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa (UA) and the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). UAB, along with the University of Alabama and Auburn University, constitute the state's three major universities. In the Fall of 2020 UAB reported a record enrollment of 22,563 students. The school's president is Ray Watts, who succeeded Carol Garrison in 2013.

UAB offers programs of study leading to bachelor's, master's, doctoral and professional degrees in various fields, including social and behavioral sciences, liberal arts, business, education, engineering, health-related fields (such as medicine, dentistry, optometry and nursing) and public health. The school is highly renowned for its medical research and natural sciences programs. UAB received over $390 million in federal grants during the past fiscal year for research purposes. This places the school as one of the larger research institutions in the Southeast. In fact, UAB is currently 3rd in the Southeast for NIH research funding behind only Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. UAB Hospital also sponsors residency programs in various medical specialties, including internal medicine, surgery, radiology, and anesthesiology. UAB Hospital is the only Level I trauma center in Alabama, as rated by the American College of Surgeons.


50th Anniversary logo

UAB began in 1936 as the Birmingham Extension Center of the University of Alabama. Because of the rapid growth of the Birmingham area, it was decided that an extension program for students who had difficulties which prevented them from studying in Tuscaloosa was needed. In 1945, the University of Alabama School of Medicine moved from Tuscaloosa to Birmingham, and took over management of Jefferson and Hillman Hospitals in Birmingham (now known as UAB Hospital).

In 1966, the Extension Center became the College of General Studies and the School of Medicine were merged as the degree-granting University of Alabama in Birmingham. (The "in" in the name was replaced with an "at" in 1984.) The new university was still a branch of the main campus in Tuscaloosa, headed by "Vice President for Birmingham Affairs" Joseph Volker.

Birmingham's civic leaders lobbied the legislature and Alabama's board of trustees to grant the urban campus more autonomy. The result was the "University of Alabama System", which was formed in 1969 with three autonomous campuses governed by one board of trustees. Governor Albert Brewer announced the change on June 16, 1969 and appointed Volker president of the university. Volker was named the first chancellor of the system in 1976.

In 1971 the College of General Studies became University College and occupied the new University College Building No. 1 with its newly-created Schools of Arts and Sciences, Business, Education and Engineering. The UAB Blazers athletic department began with the creation of a golf team that same year. University College Building No. 2 and University College Building No. 3 were constructed the following year.

In 1972 the UAB Police Department was formally organized with Thomas C. Seals as the first chief of police.

In 1976 Volker secured another 45 blocks of Southside and Titusville for future expansion, purchasing the land for $8.8 million from the Birmingham Housing Authority.

The university's name was officially changed from the University of Alabama in Birmingham to the University of Alabama at Birmingham on November 15, 1984.

See also, List of UAB presidents.


UAB is located on approximately 100 blocks in the Southside community of Birmingham. There are two unofficial, however distinct areas of campus, the medical center district and west campus. The medical center which is located on the east and north sides of campus closest to downtown contains buildings mostly dedicated to healthcare, research, and support of those enterprises. Also located in the medical center district are non-UAB hospitals, such as the VA Medical Center Birmingham, Children's Hospital of Alabama, and Cooper Green Mercy Hospital. The west campus area covers the western area of campus near Interstate 65 and the Glen Iris and Southside neighborhoods. It is mostly dedicated to the non-health related schools, student housing, and athletic facilities. The west side of campus is sometimes referred to the undergraduate side of campus, as most of UAB's postgraduate student population resides in health-related fields.

Since 1969, UAB has undergone extensive growth and is sometimes jokingly referred to as "The University that Ate Birmingham" and construction projects are common across campus. Current projects that are in planning, recently completed, or under construction include:


UAB has seven dormitories on campus:

Academic profile


UAB offers nearly 140 degrees at both the undergraduate and graduate levels in 11 schools and the UAB Graduate School.

Academic Rankings and Accolades

  • UAB students continue to garner prestigious national and international scholarships, fellowships, and other awards. Just since 2000, UAB has produced 7 Fulbright Scholars, 6 Phi Kappa Phi Fellows, 5 Goldwater Scholars, 3 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Fellows, 2 Truman Scholars, 1 Marshall Scholar, 1 Rhodes Scholar
  • In 2007, the Princeton Review listed UAB as one of the "Best College Values" and also as a "Best Southeastern College". UAB is designated as one of the best overall bargains—based on cost and financial aid—among the most academically outstanding colleges in the nation.
  • The average ACT score of entering freshman at UAB was 23.7 in 2006. In 2007, the freshman class had an ACT average of 24, meeting the University's Strategic Plan 2010 goal 3 years early
  • Seven faculty members are members of the National Academy of the United States National Academies.
  • The UAB Model Arab League team is among the best government model teams in the nation with over five years of expansion and award winning achievement including multiple "outstanding delegation" awards.
  • The UAB Mock Trial team is consistently among the nation's best as a perennial Top 25 program. The program has enjoyed so much success that, in 2006, it won the national title in the Silver Division defeating the defending national champions of Harvard University.
  • The schools of Nursing and Medicine at UAB are among the nation’s best, according to the 2005-2006 U.S. News & World Report ranking of graduate schools. The School of Nursing is ranked 19th. The School of Medicine is ranked 23rd. Five medical specialties at UAB are ranked in the top 20 nationally by the magazine: AIDS, 4th; women’s health, 8th; internal medicine 18th; geriatrics, 19th; and pediatrics, 19th. The school’s primary care program was ranked 34th. The Master of Science in Health Administration program has been ranked in the top 10 by U.S. News since the early 1990s. The Master's in Physical Therapy program is ranked 25th.
  • The School of Health Professions #1 in the nation in research funding from the National Institutes of Health and holds the record for 26 consecutive years in either first or second place.
  • The UAB School of Business was ranked 7th in metropolitan state business schools by US News and World Report in 2004 and is accredited by AACSB International.
  • UAB graduates first-time pass rates on the CPA exam that are 30% higher than the national average.
  • During the past six years, a UAB graduate has achieved the highest score in Alabama on the CPA Exam 5 times. (Comparatively, no other university/college in the state has had more than 2 graduates achieve the highest score in the last six years.)
  • UAB School of Business finance graduates pass the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exam at a rate 20% higher than the national average.
  • The Industrial Distribution Program is the only fully integrated business-engineering ID program in the U.S.
  • A UAB engineering student has been named by the ASPE (Alabama Society of Professional Engineers) as Alabama’s Outstanding Undergraduate Student of the Year from 2001-2007 and 9 of the past 12 years (more often than any other university in the state).
  • The School of Engineering’s biomedical engineering program is ranked 40th in the nation. Doctoral programs in the biological sciences are in the top 50.


A portion of the UAB Medical Center in 2016

UAB also includes the UAB Health System which is a partnership between the University of Alabama Health Services Foundation and the University of Alabama Board of Trustees. UAHSF is a private, not-for-profit medical practice made up of the faculty of the UAB School of Medicine. The UAB Health System is managed by a board that is made up of members from the UAHSF, the University of Alabama Board of Trustees, and members of the UAB administration. The CEO of the UAB Health System reports to the President of UAB, who acts as the Chairman of the UAB Health System. Organizational units of the UAB Health System include:

Managed by the UAB Health System through management agreements are UAB Medical West Medical Center in Bessemer, and Baptist Health of Montgomery. UAB also has affiliations with the Birmingham VA Medical Center, Children's Hospital of Alabama, and Huntsville Hospital in Huntsville.


Main article: UAB Blazers

The UAB Blazers are the forest green and old gold-swathed athletic teams at UAB. The school was one of the eleven member institutions of Conference USA and participated in Division I: Football Bowl Subdivision of the NCAA for 28 years. On July 1, 2023, UAB officially joined the American Athletic Conference. The school's men's basketball team, coached by Andy Kennedy, plays in 8,508-seat Bartow Arena.

The men's basketball program's first coach was Gene Bartow, who was John Wooden's successor at UCLA. Bartow left UCLA after several exceptional seasons (52-9 over three seasons, including a berth in the Final Four in 1976) to head up the founding of the first UAB men's basketball team. He served as the school's first head basketball coach and athletic director for 18 years. Bartow led UAB to the NIT in the program's second year of existence, and followed that with seven straight NCAA Tournament appearances, including trips to the Sweet 16 in 1981 and the Elite Eight in 1982. Bartow retired from coaching in 1996. On January 25, 1997, UAB renamed its basketball venue, Bartow Arena, in his honor. Bartow continued to support the university as an influential booster and advisor until his death in January 2012. In 39 years UAB has made 14 NCAA tournament appearances (3 Sweet Sixteen appearances; 1 Elite Eight appearance) and 12 NIT appearances (2 NIT Final Four appearances), has had 33 winning seasons, of which 23 of those were 20+ wins seasons.

In addition to men's basketball, UAB also has varsity programs in men's sports for baseball, football, golf, soccer, and tennis. Women's varsity sports programs include; basketball, bowling, cross country, golf, rifle, beach volleyball, soccer, softball, track and field, tennis and volleyball.

On December 2, 2014 UAB announced it was discontinuing its football program immediately along with the women's bowling and rifle teams at the end of their respective seasons. It was also announced that a men's Cross Country team would be created to maintain NCAA Division I requirements. This announcement met much resistance and an unprecedented flood of community support. On June 1, 2015 UAB announced the three programs reinstatement. The women's rifle team resumed in the Fall of 2015. The bowling team recommenced in 2016 and the football team retook the field on September 2, 2017 at Legion Field against Alabama A&M. With the resumption of these programs, the plan to add Men's Cross Country was dropped.

Notable Alumni


Business and Political Figures

Science, Media and the Arts

Notable Faculty

See also: Category:UAB professors.
UAB monogram.png The University of Alabama at Birmingham
Blazers Athletics Baseball · Basketball · Football · Hall of Fame · Mascots · Soccer · Softball
Athletic Venues Bartow Arena · PNC Field · Intramural Field · Legacy Pavilion · Mary Bowers Field · Track and Field Complex · West Campus Field · Young Memorial Field
Campus Alys Stephens Center · Campus Green · Hill Student Center · Lister Hill Library · Mervyn H. Sterne Library
Housing Blazer Hall · Blount Hall · Camp Hall · Denman Hall · Gold Hall · McMahon Hall · Rast Hall
Media BlazeRadio · Digital City Films · Kaleidoscope · UAB Reporter · UAB Magazine  · Vulcan Historical Review
People Administrators · Alumni · Faculty · Miss UAB · Presidents · Professors · Scientists · Staff
Schools Collat School of Business · College of Arts and Sciences · Dentistry · Education · Engineering · Health Professions · Heersink School of Medicine · Nursing · Optometry · Public Health · Graduate School
UAB Medical Center Callahan Eye Foundation Hospital · Kirklin Clinic · UAB Health Centers · UAB Highlands · UAB Hospital


  • Fisher, Virginia E. (1995) Building on a Vision. Birmingham, Alabama: Crane Hill Publishers ISBN 1881548147

External links