Dear UAB Community and Friends,
As this outstanding fall semester draws to a close, I want to wish our students well on their final exams and congratulate in advance the more than 800 graduates who will soon be receiving their degrees and participating in our winter commencement and doctoral hooding ceremonies this Saturday. I also want to thank everyone across our campus and community who helped make 2016 such a banner year for UAB, and I invite you to take a look back with this engaging new Annual Report that highlights some of our many shared successes.

 annual report 2016
This fall we have broken ground for several key facilities as part of our Campus Master Plan, including the new School of Nursing Building and our Football Operations Center and Legacy Pavilion, and just last Friday we did so for the new home of our Collat School of Business and Bill L. Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. This state-of-the-art facility will make us even more competitive in recruiting and training the business leaders and entrepreneurs of tomorrow, and all the more effective at identifying and commercializing our most promising research discoveries, creating successful start-up companies and collaborating with our business community.

These efforts will be integral to Innovate Birmingham, an exciting new partnership among UAB, the Birmingham Business Alliance (BBA), City of Birmingham, Jefferson County Commission, Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, corporate partners and a number of other important groups. Together we will capitalize on our longtime strengths in research and innovation to grow a robust technology-based economy for our region. The initiative is off to a strong start with a recent U.S. Department of Labor grant of roughly $6 million to the Innovate Birmingham Regional Workforce Partnership, which will offer new educational opportunities for young adults in our community to equip them with training and expertise for 21st century careers. Innovate Birmingham has the potential to transform the future of our community and state and I am honored to stay on for a second term as chair of BBA as we move forward with this initiative.
uab research funding graphic 2016
Central to the success of Innovate Birmingham is UAB’s research enterprise that is increasingly competitive, nationally and globally. Newly released rankings from the National Science Foundation put UAB 18th nationally among public universities and 34th overall in federally financed research in 2015, with more than $328.5 million in expenditures. This growth in research funding at a time when many universities are seeing declines is a campus- and community-wide win, and a testament to the talent and dedication of our faculty, staff and students.  

Opportunities to engage in such groundbreaking research and scholarship as well as our novel academic programs and service learning experiences helped UAB achieve record-high enrollment and our largest-ever freshman class this fall. It’s been a pleasure as always this semester to meet and get to know so many bright, motivated students from all over campus, such as this group I recently visited at UAB Student Media. 
dr watts with student media 
Our community has continued to provide overwhelming support to UAB in all areas of our mission, as The Campaign for UAB has now topped $756 million from more than 92,600 donors (more than half of whom are first-time donors). We are deeply grateful for the generous support that has put us on the final stretch of this historic campaign and we appreciate your continued partnership in bringing it home.

To all our students, faculty and staff, and our friends throughout the community, I and our senior leadership express our warmest wishes for the Holidays and a promising new year.