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The UAB School of Nursing takes pride in the achievements of its alumni, those who have gone on to distinguish themselves in their personal and professional lives, representing the best that the School has to offer.  The Distinguished Alumni Award, established in 1989, recognizes an outstanding graduate who has demonstrated leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship to significantly enhance the image of nursing. The recipient is honored at the annual Alumni Night Dinner and Awards Ceremony.

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The 2013 recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award is Dr. Carol Z. Garrison, President Emerita of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Dr. Garrison served for 10 years as President of the University and is a 1976 MSN graduate of the UAB School of Nursing. Previously, Dr. Garrison served as provost and interim president at the University of Louisville, Kentucky and was a faculty member, department chair, dean of the graduate school, and associate provost for institutional planning at the University of South Carolina.

As president of UAB, Dr. Garrison chaired the board of the UAB Health System, which includes UAB Hospital, The Kirklin Clinic, and other entities of UAB's nationally-ranked patient care facilities, and the board of Southern Research Institute. During Dr. Garrison's tenure, UAB achieved consecutive years of record enrollments, with a diverse and accomplished student body, and received national recognition for excellence in research when it received the largest grant in its history – a $66.8 million grant to the School of Dentistry. The increase in sponsored research, expansion of the physical campus, improved national rankings, growth in overall enrollment, and historic success in fundraising have set new benchmarks of excellence for the university.

The campus enjoyed remarkable growth with the burgeoning Campus Green along University Boulevard, home to a campus recreation center, dining commons, residence halls, and Heritage Hall. Recent years brought the opening of state-of-the-art facilities such as the North Pavilion of UAB Hospital, the Shelby Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research Building, the UAB Women and Infants Center, and the Hazelrig-Salter Radiation-Oncology Facility. A new Alumni House now hosts many campus and community events and the Abroms-Engel Visual Arts Institute is underway.

The growth of the physical campus and academic programs was guided by UAB's Strategic Plan. Developed with campus-wide participation, the Strategic Plan led to the recruitment of internationally known faculty and physicians, and the creation of innovative new curricula and honors programs for undergraduates. The Princeton Review has ranked UAB among the top quarter of all U.S. universities and, for three consecutive years, among the top 10 for student diversity. Under Dr. Garrison’s leadership, the University was also named among the Top 5 Best Places to Work in Academia by The Scientist in 2008.

Dr. Garrison’s relationship with UAB is unique because she is a former President, former student, and former UAB nurse. She took her first full-time job in UAB Hospital, during the university’s formative years in the 1970s, then earned her master’s degree from the UAB School of Nursing. When she returned to campus is Fall 2002 as UAB's sixth president, the young, dynamic institution had evolved into a world-renowned research university and medical center. 

A Montclair, New Jersey native, Dr. Garrison earned her bachelor’s in nursing (1974) and PhD in epidemiology (1982) from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. She then joined the University of South Carolina as a faculty member and soon became dean of the graduate school and associate provost for institutional planning and research. In 1997, she joined the University of Louisville as Provost and was appointed Interim President there in early 2002.

During her tenure as president, Dr. Garrison was named to the Alabama Academy of Honor; served as president of Operation New Birmingham and the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce. She was an active member of the Birmingham Business Alliance Executive Committee, the Conference USA Board of Directors, the Rotary Club of Birmingham Board of Directors, and on numerous other civic organizations.


Previous Recipients:

2012 Marcia K. Stanhope, DSN, RN, FAAN
2011 Sandra B. Dunbar, DSN, RN, FAAN, FAHA
2009 Karen H. Morin, DSN, RN, ANEF
2008 Patricia E. Thompson, RN, EdD, FAAN
2007 Constance Smith Hendricks, PhD, RN, FAAN
2004 Nancy McCain, DSN, RN, FAAN
2002 Susan Gennaro, DSN, FAAN, FACCE
2000 Marguerite R. Kinney, DNSc, RN, FAAN
1998 Rear Admiral Joan M. Engel, MSN, RN, FAAN, USN
1996 Joan Vitello-Cicciu, PhD, RN, FAAN
1994 Jo Anne Disch, PhD, RN, FAAN
1993 Brigadier General (Ret.) Sue Ellen Turner, RN, MSN, UASF, NC
1992 Jean A. Kelley, EdD, RN, FAAN
1991 Kathleen Gainor Andreoli, DSN, RN, FAAN
1990 Marie L. O’Koren, EdD, RN, FAAN
1989 Joyce Clifford, PhD, RN, FAAN


  • Has demonstrated service and/or leadership on a state, national, and/or international level that has impacted the growth and development of the nursing profession 
  • Has demonstrated outstanding accomplishment and/or innovation/leadership in nursing related to clinical or administrative practice
  • Displays strong leadership image among peers to affect positive change
  • Must be present at Alumni Weekend October 19-20, 2012 to accept award at Alumni Night on Friday evening and also give a 45 minute presentation on his/her topic of choice to students and alumni during the weekend festivities.


Nomination Process:

  • Completed nomination form
  • Nominee’s current curriculum vitae or resume
  • Two letters of recommendation describing how nominee meets criteria listed above (supporting letters are accepted, but not required)

Nominations for the 2013 Distinguished Alumni will be accepted in the Spring. Please check back for more details or call (205) 975-8936.