Institution History

UAB is the newest and largest in terms of faculty, staff, and budget of Alabama's major universities. UAB began in 1936 as the Birmingham Extension Center of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Because of the rapid growth of the Birmingham area, it was decided that a program for students in the Birmingham area 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.

In 1966, the Extension Center and the School of Medicine were merged into the University of Alabama in Birmingham. In 1969, UAB became one of three autonomous institutions of the University of Alabama System, which includes the University of Alabama (UA) in Tuscaloosa and the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAHuntsville). The university's name was changed to the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1984.

UAB is a component of the University of Alabama System and is governed by the Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama. The President of UAB is appointed by the Chancellor of the University of Alabama System with approval of the Board of Trustees. The President reports directly to the Chancellor, and is responsible for hiring and promotion of faculty and staff on the UAB campus.


UAB Presidents





Dr. Joseph F. Volker


Dr. S. Richardson Hill Jr.


Dr. Charles A. McCallum


Dr. J. Claude Bennett


Mr. Paul Hardin


Dr. W. Ann Reynolds


Dr. Malcom Portera


Dr. Carol Z. Garrison



UAB Milestones (1936–2010)

  • 1936 – The University of Alabama opened its Birmingham Extension Center in an old house at 2131 6th Avenue North. For the first term, 116 students enrolled.
  • 1943 – Governor Chauncey Sparks created the four-year Medical College of Alabama with the passage of the Jones Bill (Alabama Act 89).
  • 1944 – Dr. Roy R. Kracke was named dean of the Medical College of Alabama and began assembling teaching staff.
  • 1949 – The Class of 1949, the first class to spend all four years of medical school in Birmingham, graduated with 24 male and 7 female students.
  • 1955 – Research and training grants at the Medical Center totaled $312,000.
  • 1957 – For the fall term, total enrollment at the Birmingham Extension Center was 1,856 students. University Hospital School of Nursing received full accreditation from the National Nursing Accreditation Service.
  • 1959 – Groundbreaking ceremonies for Children's Hospital were held. Research grants, training grants, and fellowships at the Medical Center exceeded $1,000,000.
  • 1962 – Groundbreaking was held for the Engineering Building. The General Clinical Research Center was established at the Medical Center with a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
  • 1967 – UAB Advisory Board was established.
  • 1969 – Governor Albert P. Brewer announced the establishment of The University of Alabama System comprising autonomous campuses in Tuscaloosa (UA), Birmingham (UAB), and Huntsville (UAH). The University of Alabama in Birmingham (UAB) became one of the three universities in the new three-campus system. Active grants and contracts for the newly independent UAB totaled $18,190,620. Dr. Joseph F. Volker was named first president of UAB.
  • 1970 – UAB received acceptance as a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) school. Golf, the first NCAA intercollegiate sports team at UAB, opened its initial season in a match with Tulane University. Total student enrollment for the fall term in all schools for the second year of classes of the new UAB was 6,629, with 2,724 females.
  • 1971 – The Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences was dedicated and named in honor of Alabama's long-time former Senator.
  • 1973 – The UAB School of Business became the youngest business school in the nation to be accredited by the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business.
  • 1977 – The UAB Mini Park was dedicated.
  • 1978 – Before a crowd of over 14,800 at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center, the UAB men's basketball team competed in its first game, losing to Nebraska by a score of 55 to 64. A pink dragon served as the first official mascot for the UAB Blazers.
  • 1979 – UAB National Alumni Society was chartered.
  • 1984 – The University of Alabama Board of Trustees approved the change of UAB's name from the "University of Alabama in Birmingham" to the "University of Alabama at Birmingham."
  • 1986 – The first five students graduated from the UAB Honors Program.
  • 1989 – UAB celebrated $100 million in active grants and contracts.
  • 1990 – UAB awarded its 50,000th degree.
  • 1992 – U.S. News and World Report named UAB as the #1 up-and-coming university in the United States.
  • 1993 – UAB's economic impact on the Birmingham region was estimated at more than $1.5 billion per year.
  • 1994 – UAB became the first Alabama university to achieve Research University I status in the Carnegie Foundation classification.
  • 1995 – The UAB football team had its first win over an NCAA Division I-A opponent, beating North Texas 19–14. Blaze the dragon was unveiled as the new UAB mascot.
  • 1997 – HealthSouth CEO and UAB alumnus Richard M. Scrushy agreed to donate $2 million for construction of a new building for the School of Health Related Professions.
  • 1998 – UAB's economic impact on the Birmingham region was estimated at more than $2 billion per year.
  • 1999 – The university launched a Capital Campaign with a goal of $250 million.
  • 2001 – Classes began at UAB on a semester basis for the first time, the last university in the state of Alabama to convert from a quarter to a semester system.
  • 2002 – Ground was broken for UAB’s long-awaited Student Recreation Center.
  • 2003 – The UAB Capital Campaign officially ended with over $388.7 million raised, the largest fundraising effort by any university in Alabama. The campaign’s original goal had been $250 million.
  • 2003 – The Campus Recreation Center opened.
  • 2006 – The School of Medicine increased the incoming first-year class to 176 students.
  • 2008 – A smoke breathing statue of the UAB dragon mascot was unveiled on the concourse in front of Bartow Arena. Created by T. J. Neil of Homosassa, Fla., the three-ton statue is nine feet tall and sixteen feet long.
  • 2009 – UAB celebrated its 40th Anniversary as an independent institution of higher learning. When classes began, UAB had the largest enrollment in the school’s 40-year history. Freshman enrollment was up 19% and graduate student enrollment hit its largest number ever. A record 18,047 students enrolled in courses at UAB.
  • 2010 – The Schools of Natural Science and Mathematics, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Arts and Humanities, and Education are combined to form the College of Arts and Sciences. The first three schools cease to exist as independent units, while the School of Education retains its identity as a distinct School.