Record Group 13

School of Public Health, 1981-


Predecessor(s): Department of Public Health, 1977-1981


Successors(s): NA


Reporting Hierarchy:

1981-1995:      School of Public Health, Vice President for Health Affairs, President

1995- : School of Public Health, Provost, President



William F. Bridgers, 1981-1989

(Acting) Juan M. Navia, 1989-1990

Juan M. Navia, 1990-1991

O. Dale Williams, 1991-1994

(Acting) Eli Capilouto, 1994-1996

Eli Capilouto, 1996-2001

Max Michael, III, 2001-



The School of Public Health was formed in 1981 from the Department of Public Health, a department jointly administered by the School of Medicine and the School of Public and Allied Health.  The public health department has its origins in the original Dept. of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, established in 1945 when the Medical College of Alabama transferred from the Tuscaloosa campus to the city of Birmingham.


Although it had undergone numerous names changes over the decades, the Dept. of Public Health was accredited in 1978 as the nation's twentieth fully accredited school of Public Health.  Although accredited as a public health school, the department continued to function for a time as a joint department of the medical and the public and allied health schools.  On May 28, 1981, the Board of Trustees of The University of Alabama System approved a change in status of the public health department.  It officially became the University of Alabama in Birmingham School of Public Health.  The following day, Dr. William F. Bridgers, who had served as departmental chair since 1976, was named first dean of the new school.


The new school contained four departments, corresponding to the divisions of the former public health department.  They were the Departments of Environmental Health Sciences, International Programs, Epidemiology, and Health Care Organization and Policy.  Also reporting to the new dean were the directors of the Occupational Health and Safety Training Center and the Sparkman Center for International Public Health Education.  The new school offered programs leading to the MPH, MSPH, and Dr.PH degrees.  In the mid 1980s, a Ph.D. program was also established in the 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 addition to the Sparkman and Occupational Health Centers, the school also contained three other centers, the Community Health Resource Development Center, the Lister Hill Center for Health Policy; and the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.


In 1989 Bridgers assumed full-time responsibility for the Lister Hill Center for Health Policy and Dr. Juan M. 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 fourth dean of the school.  At the time, the school contained seven academic departments and five centers and had over $14 million in extramural funding.


The School of Public Health had always been hampered by lack of space, with its programs and departments scattered throughout the Academic Health Center.  The school's first true home, the Frank and Kathleen Ellis Ryals School of Public Health Building, made possible by the generosity of Dr. Jarvis D. Ryals, a University of Alabama School of Medicine alumnus, was dedicated October 29, 1996 along UAB’s University Boulevard, giving the school a prime location and prime visibility.


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.  Dr. Michael completed a residency at UAB University Hospital in 1974 and had previously served as CEO and Medical Director of Cooper Green Hospital, the county’s indigent-care facility.  He became the fifth dean of the School of Public Health on August 15, 2001.

This page created 2005 and last updated by Tim L. Pennycuff on July 2014.

Copyright:  The University of Alabama Board of Trustees.