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Action Figures

Turning Scholarships Into Success Stories

By Matt Windsor • Illustrations by Ernie Eldredge

There doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day,but somehow Alicja Foksinka gets everything done. The UAB junior is working toward a double major in business management—with a concentration in business administration—and information systems. She has a part-time job and an internship in the Office for Youth of the Diocese of Birmingham, the third internship she has held in her three years at UAB.

She also is helping Keri Larson, Ph.D., assistant professor of marketing, investigate how nursing units respond to new technology. Although she is interested in a career in academia, Foksinka also wants to help nonprofits streamline their business practices to save time and money, and she dreams of starting a foundation to help parents of children with special needs. She sums up her career goal in six words: “I want to change the world.”

Foksinka is exactly the kind of talented, passionate student that schools dream of recruiting. “I did a lot of research on colleges,” she says. She came to UAB largely because of the business school’s close connections to the Birmingham business community. “There are so many opportunities to do co-ops, internships, and volunteering here,” she says. Another advantage: an Opportunities in Business Scholarship, “which gave me an opportunity to learn without the worry in the back of my head that I would be in debt.”

Foksinka’s scholarship, like the School of Business, has a new name. In recognition of a $25 million gift from longtime supporters, the school is now the Charles and Patsy Collat School of Business, UAB’s first named school. Charles Collat, former CEO of Birmingham’s Mayer Electric Supply Company, “wants to create a legacy based on helping others succeed,” says Dean Eric Jack, Ph.D. “He believes that investing $25 million in the School of Business is the highest return he can get on his money.” The first tangible result of that investment, Jack explains, is the expansion of the Opportunities in Business Scholarship, which aims to recruit high-achieving, under-represented students to the school. It has been renamed the Collat Scholars Program.

“I like to support institutions that cater to the whole community, and UAB does that,” Collat says. “My family and I have worked extremely hard to be in a position to help others, and very few entities are in a position to make as broad a positive impact as UAB.”

It would be difficult to find a portion of campus that hasn’t been touched by Charles and Patsy Collat. They contributed to the Business-Engineering Complex, which houses two of UAB’s schools. Their gift launched UAB’s industrial distribution program in the 1980s. The Collats have also founded two successful preschool education initiatives at the School of Education, endowed a chair in the Department of Neurosurgery, contributed to UAB Athletics and the Center for Palliative and Supportive Care, and supported research and patient care efforts in AIDS, surgery, ophthalmology, and cancer.

Collat says he is particularly gratified with the success of the industrial distribution program at the School of Business, the only program in the Southeast preparing students for the booming career field. “Every student who has graduated from that program has gotten a good job,” Collat says. He is also excited about the school’s prominent role in campuswide initiatives such as the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which aims to commercialize UAB-developed technologies and prepare a new generation of business leaders.

Whether it is starting unique academic programs or launching new businesses, “UAB is defining success not just in terms of what’s good for the campus, but what’s good for the city,” Jack says. “We’re focused on moving this community forward.”

0214 collatStudents at the UAB Collat School of Business (including Alicja Foksinka, second from right) greet Charles Collat (left) at a ceremony celebrating the school's new name.


Dollars for Scholars

In 2012, 3,909 undergraduate and graduate students at UAB received academic scholarships worth more than $21 million; 11,174 students received financial aid.

Endowed scholarships
Undergraduate: 2,094 ($4,204,366 awarded)
Graduate: 832 ($4,410,131 awarded)

Institutional merit scholarships
Undergraduate: 2,601 ($12,368,542 awarded)
Graduate: 19 ($40,500 awarded)








Creative Investments

The Power of Planned Giving


Joe Gordon saw the value of UAB’s Palliative Care Program during the passing of a close friend with cancer. “Immediately I recognized this program as a way to meet the many important needs of the patient and the family at that very important time of life,” says Gordon, a Birmingham businessman.

Gordon decided to meet those needs in his own way by establishing a charitable remainder trust through his will. “Providing this type of care now and securing its place in the future during times of immense change is especially powerful,” says Rodney Tucker, M.D., director of the Center for Palliative and Supportive Care. “Our staff and our future patients and families are the true beneficiaries.”

“Many people would like to fund a life-changing investment in UAB, but are unaware of all the possibilities available through planned gifts,” says Elizabeth Ponder, director of planned giving. In addition to outright gifts of cash, stock, or real estate, a donor can leverage insurance policies, real estate, and other assets to provide an immediate impact or ensure a continued legacy after their lifetime.

Charles and Patsy Collat, longtime UAB donors, recently made a $25-million commitment to name the School of Business using a combination of cash, stock, life insurance policies, and more. “It has come from several directions,” Charles Collat says. “I had some good financial advisors, and I listened to them.” To learn more about planned giving at UAB, call (205) 996-7533 or send an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


Track Record

In the past decade, UAB has nearly doubled the number of endowed chairs (100) and faculty (57) across campus.

Get Involved


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