Dear UAB Community and Friends,
 
Our campus and community are abuzz this week with the excitement of UAB Homecoming events, including our annual Gurney Derby Competition, street parade and the Green and Gold Football game at BBVA Compass Field. I hope everyone is enjoying the festivities as we welcome our alumni back to campus and celebrate UAB’s tradition of excellence in all arenas.

 hoops on green 2016 play
We had a head start on Homecoming last Thursday night with Hoops on the Green, which Coach Ehsan has aptly deemed “one of the most unique preseason events in all of college basketball.” This event grows more spectacular by the year and we had a crowd of over 4,000 fans in attendance to cheer on our basketball teams, coaches and staff, and the newly elected Mayor of Blockingham, whom I was proud to endorse during his campaign. This event set the tone for an exciting season of men’s and women’s hoops, which opens with an exhibition doubleheader in Bartow Arena on Thursday, Nov. 3 at 5 p.m., and I look forward to seeing you courtside.

We are also making spectacular strides in the cyber arena as UAB recently became the first university in Alabama to launch internet speeds of 100 gigabits per second. This boosts available bandwidth on campus by 10 times our previous capability and up to 10,000 times many standard home internet speeds. This breakthrough — along with our recently dedicated supercomputer that is the most advanced in Alabama — is part of our Information Technology strategic plan that is substantially growing our IT infrastructure and research computing capacity, enabling us to have an even greater impact in all areas of our mission, locally and globally.

 
habitat house
The impact of our service to our community is more profound than ever. The Benevolent Fund had a record amount of pledges this past year, totaling over $2 million, and we are nearing completion of our third Habitat for Humanity house, with over 1,500 students, faculty and staff volunteering in the construction. We are sixth among corporate sponsors of United Way of Central Alabama with a pledge of nearly $1.2 million, which impacts some 80 support agencies across metro area/central Alabama. Every UAB school remains deeply committed to service and service-learning, with programs such as the School of Dentistry’s fourth annual UAB Dentistry Cares Community Day, which recently provided more than 500 underserved individuals with teeth cleanings, fillings and extractions at no cost.   

The key role we are playing in improving lives in Birmingham and beyond makes UAB a very special to work and fosters a deep sense of purpose and pride in our collective efforts. We were pleased recently when Forbes ranked UAB among the best 25 midsize employers in the United States. This is a testament to our intensely collaborative culture and unity of purpose as well as the strong support of faculty and staff with needed resources, educational and professional development opportunities, and an array of nationally recognized benefits, including multiple options for health insurance plans (recently expanded with our new consumer-driven Viva Choice plan) and paid parental leave. UAB continues to invest in our people — our greatest asset — as together we continue investing ourselves daily in the growth and success of UAB and Birmingham. 
 
 
2016 Forbes ranking UAB graphic 
 
Our community continues to invest in our efforts as well with overwhelming support for The Campaign for UAB, which is now at more than $745.4 million. This was UAB’s third consecutive year of exceeding $100 million in philanthropic investment — and was our largest year yet, at $113 million — and we are so grateful to the more than 91,350 donors (over half of whom are first-time donors) for your generous support and partnership.

Another way to support UAB is to be aware of Amendment 14 on your Nov. 8 ballot. This amendment is good for UAB, Birmingham, Jefferson County and Alabama because it protects laws passed since 1984 that provide funding for schools, hospitals, first-responders and key community construction projects. Specifically, Amendment 14 safeguards nearly $18 million in current funding for public schools in systems including Birmingham, Homewood, Hoover, Jefferson County, Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills and others. For UAB, Amendment 14 protects the proposed stadium at the BJCC that will be home to UAB Football and other events. This venue will accelerate UAB Football’s ascension to national competitiveness and is — like Regions Field — important to continued downtown revitalization. You can learn more about the importance of Amendment 14 to Birmingham’s and UAB’s continued momentum and economic development at www.14protectsAL.com.

We are making tremendous progress together on all fronts and the future of UAB and Birmingham is even bolder and brighter. I have enjoyed attending over the past several weeks our inaugural Freshman Convocation, inaugural Faculty Convocation and Staff Council Picnic and sharing our outstanding achievements and collaborative planning for the future. Because many faculty, staff and students may have been unable to attend our earlier events, I have extended an invitation — on behalf of the Faculty Senate, National Alumni Society, Staff Council and our collective Student Government Associations — to attend an additional campus-wide State of the University Address on Tuesday, Oct. 25, 4:30 p.m. at the Alys Stephens Center. I look forward to highlighting how UAB is making groundbreaking accomplishments in all areas of our mission, planning strategically and collaboratively for the future, and breaking ground for key new facilities as part of our Campus Master Plan. 

Thank you for all you are doing for our campus and our community and enjoy the rest of Homecoming week.