I was delighted last Friday to deliver our annual UAB Institutional Presentation to the Board of Trustees at the Hill Student Center. We have made extraordinary and record-breaking strides in the past year and this was a great opportunity to showcase some of the outstanding accomplishments of our faculty, students and staff. You can watch a video of the presentation here and I will recap a few of the highlights below.

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Our faculty in Engineering and Medicine, working in concert with our Bill L. Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, are at the forefront of developing a next-generation football helmet to address the concussion crisis. UAB recently announced a new partnership with VICIS, Inc. that will take these efforts to the next level. We are combining our expertise and intellectual property to pioneer and market a revolutionary new helmet that will protect players like never before. This caliber of leading-edge research and development is not only improving safety, health and quality of life, it also is key in our Innovate Birmingham partnership to grow a robust technology-based economy for our region. 

Our groundbreaking research is attracting increasing amounts of grant dollars in an ever-more competitive funding environment. From FY 2013 to FY 2016, UAB’s total research awards grew by 17.4 percent, from $386 million to $453 million. We have secured a number of major grants in recent months including an NIH renewal grant for the UAB/Morehouse/Tuskegee partnership to reduce cancer disparities as well as four new grants from the National Science Foundation’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), three for neuroscience and one for nanotechnology — with these and one other, Alabama now has more EPSCoR grants than any other state.

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Faculty all around campus continue to garner national recognition for their research and scholarship in a range of disciplines — from biology to materials science to English and art history. Our students continue to make their marks as well, winning a record number of national and international honors last year (28), such as a Goldwater Scholarship and a Boren Scholarship. And we are attracting more of these talented and motivated students than ever, as we achieved record-high enrollment (19,535) and our largest freshman class ever (2,021) last fall.

UAB continues to provide the highest-quality patient care as the 19th largest hospital — and 3rd largest public hospital — in the nation. In the U.S. News & World Report “Best Hospitals” rankings, we have nine specialties in the national top 50 (up from six last year). UAB and Children’s of Alabama had our most-ever patient visits last year with a combined 1.7 million. Our exceptional, patient-centered care is also reflected in our having earned Nursing Magnet Center designation four consecutive times, among only 12 hospitals in the world to do so.

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UAB’s tremendous impact on all these fronts — education, research and patient care, service and economic development — is driven in large part by our longtime partnership with our community. I want to thank the more than 93,400 donors who have given so generously to The Campaign for UAB, putting us over three-quarters of the way to our goal with $774.8 million in gifts and pledges.

The university’s most comprehensive-ever strategic planning process is underway for our continued success. Last fall, UAB formed the Strategic Planning Council, which is charged with communicating and setting the course for UAB through 2022. I appreciate all of our faculty, staff, students and alumni who have been attending Listening Sessions to share your ideas on the future of our university.

With our continued collaboration, campus- and community-wide, this year will bring even more progress and accomplishments than the last.