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UAB alumni Raymond and Pam Thompson give back to the school that gave them so much.

Raymond and Pam ThompsonRaymond and Pam Thompson

Raymond and Pamela (Pam) Thompson are involved in on-campus activities at UAB more than most—but that wasn’t always the case. As newlyweds and first-generation college students at UAB, they wouldn’t have been able to attend if it weren’t for scholarships. For the Thompsons, life revolved around class, working and schoolwork.

Now, decades after they graduated from UAB, Raymond in 1974 and Pam in 1975, their degrees from UAB have taken them all over the world. The Thompsons have spent years working at UAB, serving on committees and boards and getting to enjoy bustling campus life after all. With gratitude in their hearts for UAB, the Thompsons decided to give back to the school that gave them so much.

“We’ve always wanted to give back when we can,” Raymond said. “We’re UAB people through and through. I’ve got two brothers and two sisters, and we all have UAB degrees. We’re very much a UAB family.” 

Through a $25,000 gift, the Thompsons established the Raymond and Pam Thompson UAB National Alumni Society Endowed Scholarship. The scholarship, administered through the National Alumni Society (NAS), will support students studying engineering, math or other STEM subjects, the disciplines Raymond and Pam studied during their time at the university. 

Both Raymond and Pam graduated from UAB as first-generation college students. When they first arrived on campus, they had little knowledge about engineering and math at the college level. The connections they made through UAB were crucial to their careers.

“When I was coming into UAB, the dean got me a position as the technical assistant for the Alabama state legislature in Montgomery,” Raymond said. “When I was graduating, another professor helped arrange a fellowship for me at Vanderbilt so I could get a Ph.D. The UAB connection is what got our careers started and heading us down a path that has been so good to us.”

After receiving his doctorate from Vanderbilt University, Raymond taught at Clemson University for a few years. In 1981, the Thompsons felt the call to come home. Raymond accepted a professorship at UAB, retiring from UAB in 2000 after a 19-year career.

Though they may not have had the time to do so while undergraduates, today, both Raymond and Pam are very involved at UAB. Raymond served on the NAS board for 15 years. In 2016, he held the office of president of the NAS. Pam remembers that year as a fun and special experience, particularly riding in the homecoming parade.

Pam also stays connected to UAB. She has served on the UAB Women’s Club board for the past two decades. The club focuses on community and philanthropy, and she served as the president for two years.

“We support scholarships for non-traditional female students returning to school,” Pam said. “We meet monthly during the school year, and we have interest groups – like book groups that meet weekly. We try to be a welcome wagon for new people coming to the UAB community.”

Apart from holding various positions at UAB, they also enjoy the vibrant campus life UAB has cultivated since they graduated. When they first started school in the early 1970s, UAB was in its infancy, having just been founded in 1969. Since that time, Birmingham and UAB have seen immense growth.

“We’ve had season tickets for basketball since 1981,” Pam said. “In the last 10 to15 years, we got to experience a lot of campus life that we didn’t get to experience while we were students. It’s been great to still be involved.” 

When the Thompsons decided to make a gift to UAB, they reached out to Jennifer Breland, Assistant Vice President of Alumni Affairs and Executive Director of the UAB National Alumni Society.

“The support of Raymond and Pam Thompson is so important to both the NAS and the students at UAB,” Breland said. “Without their generous contributions, we would not be able to help so many students ease the burden of tuition and can focus on their academics.” 

While supporting UAB is important to the Thompsons, their true motivation to give rests in their faith. They feel called to give and bless others as they have been blessed through the UAB community.

“We have seen the impact that UAB has had in this city.,” Pam said. “We’re so thankful to live in this city and see Birmingham come back through hard times. A lot of good things are happening in Birmingham, and UAB has a lot to do with it.”

Their desire is that their gift makes a positive long-term impact on both the future recipients and Birmingham.

“We really wanted it to be an investment in Birmingham,” Pam said. “Maybe someone who doesn’t have a college background in their family, like us, can go to school, get a good education and have a great life.”


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