Opening Doors: A Lasting Gift Helps Fund Graduate Education

This year, Dr. Mark Hickson celebrates 50 years in teaching, nearly 30 of which have been in the Department of Communication Studies.
by Kayla Jenkins

This year, Dr. Mark Hickson celebrates 50 years in teaching, nearly 30 of which have been in the Department of Communication Studies. Over the course of almost three decades, he has taught over 10,000 students—many of whom he still remembers and who certainly haven’t forgotten him.

Mark Hickson and Marilyn Padgett-GreelyDr. Hickson is one of those professors with a witty sense of humor and way of making class concepts relatable and interesting. Communication Studies alumna and former employee Marilyn-Padgett Greely fondly remembers Dr. Hickson. 

“He is an outstanding person as well as a wonderful leader and teacher,” says Padgett-Greely. “He is a true scholar.”

Padgett-Greely’s observation about Dr. Hickson’s scholarship is accurate. He received his B.S. and M.A. from Auburn University, then a second master’s degree from Mississippi State University. He received his Ph.D. from Southern Illinois University and went on to complete his J.D. at the Birmingham School of Law. An expert in non-verbal communication, Dr. Hickson received the Gerald M. Phillips Award for Distinguished Applied Communication Scholarship from the National Communication Association in 2014. In addition, Dr. Hickson has written numerous, well-regarded books, including “Talking Sports,” published in 2015.

Dr. Hickson has also been recognized for the quality of his teaching. He received the UAB President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1994.

THE POWER OF LEGACY GIVING

Through careful gift planning, donors can help to secure and influence UAB’s future today. Legacy giving comes in many forms, from charitable trusts and retirement plan gifts to gifts in a will such as that given by Marilyn Padgett-Greely that will establish a scholarship for graduate students in Communication Studies. Regardless of the type of gift chosen, our legacy giving donors will all leave a lasting legacy at UAB. We invite you to consider what your UAB legacy will be.

To learn more about legacy giving, visit uab.edu/legacygiving
After several years as a professor at UAB, Dr. Hickson had a vision to expand opportunities for students and top-notch faculty by creating a Master of Arts in Communication Management graduate program in 2003. It was his hope to make graduate study more accessible not only as a way to recruit students to UAB, but also to give them the ability to complete their graduate degree here rather than relocating to other universities. But most of all, Dr. Hickson hoped students wouldn’t have to work three jobs to go to graduate school, understanding the vital role scholarship support would play in the success of the program. 

As an alumna and colleague, Padgett-Greely remembers Dr. Hickson’s commitment to making this dream a reality. “During the time I worked there, he was working on getting the graduate program approved through the state. I saw him diligently work on that and balance teaching and the success of that program,” she says.

Long after their time working together, Padgett-Greely has not forgotten the impact Dr. Hickson has made on her as a student, colleague and friend. She has designated a significant gift from her estate to support the graduate program in his honor, and will provide financial support to deserving graduate students pursuing training and a career in Communication Management.

Padgett-Greely says the scholarship is in keeping with Dr. Hickson’s support of students. “He has an ability to see what people are capable of doing and opening doors for them,” she says. “With this scholarship, someone who would otherwise hit a wall after completing their undergraduate [degree] would have the opportunity to pursue their passions in graduate study.”
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