Collat campus map locationStage one planning for a new building that will house the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Collat School of Business and B.L. Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship has been approved by the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees.

The facility is being supported by two major gifts from the Joy and Bill Harbert Foundation, Inc., and Medical Properties Trust, Inc.

The new building seeks to provide adequate space for growth of the Collat School of Business and Harbert IIE through creating multidimensional learning and collaborative spaces that include breakout rooms for team projects, engaging space for entrepreneurial projects, a financial literacy training room, labs for behavioral research and sales presentations, career services space, and study rooms for students.

The lead gifts given by the Joy and Bill Harbert Foundation and MPT exemplify the support of the community in furthering this project, which will be the cornerstone for a new innovation and entrepreneurship district in Birmingham focused on expanding technology commercialization efforts to attain positive impacts on economic development for the community, state and beyond.

“We are grateful for these gifts that will support our strategic plan and advance several pillars of our mission,” said UAB President Ray L. Watts, M.D. “This building will be home to key initiatives in education, research and economic development. It is inspiring to see that business leaders in Alabama believe in our plan and share our priorities.”

The building will be located at the corner of University Boulevard and 13th Street South, enhancing the exposure and presence of the Collat School of Business and Harbert IIE, and will consist of approximately 114,000 gross square feet of new classroom and lecture spaces, new faculty and administrative support offices, a large auditorium, a storm shelter, and other associated support rooms.

“We’re thrilled that the Board has approved the planning stage for the new building,” said Eric Jack, Ph.D., dean of the Collat School of Business. “This cutting-edge facility will provide a new home for our school and also for UAB-wide collaborations in leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship. We are eager to share this great news with our supporters and potential donors who want to help us build this facility that will serve this community for years to come.”

The building will be designed to attract and support the next generation of college and graduate students with the goal of facilitating a sense of community, affiliation and connection to UAB through a student commons area and courtyard plaza where common space is optimal for social interactions and leadership activities. It will also allow the university to recruit topnotch students and faculty, as well as further innovation and entrepreneurship opportunities.

“A new building will reflect the quality and commitment to the Collat School of Business by members of the community along with the university to develop visionary and transformational leaders who will determine the future of our city and state,” said Charles Collat.

“This new building would not be possible without the help of our generous donors. These gifts are great examples of how local businesses are playing an integral role in helping UAB continue to advance and grow for the betterment of our city, region and beyond,” said UAB Senior Vice President Shirley Salloway Kahn, Ph.D. “They will each have a meaningful impact.”

Gift from Joy and Bill Harbert Foundation, Inc.

The Joy and Bill Harbert Foundation, Inc., has pledged $5 million to name UAB’s Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship as the B.L. Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

“We are proud that the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship will bear the Harbert name,” said Kathy Nugent, director of Harbert IIE. “The Harberts have played a tremendous role in advancing the image of Birmingham, and that’s exactly what we plan to do with IIE. Our vision is to leverage the knowledge across campus, from business expertise and entrepreneurship to world-class medicine, dentistry, engineering, optometry and health care leadership, to move UAB and Birmingham forward.”

B.L. Harbert International, LLC, has grown to be a well-diversified construction company working in a wide range of construction markets both in the U.S. and abroad, and the company is one of Alabama’s most influential contractors, a leader in sustainable construction and a top design-builder. The Joy and Bill Harbert Foundation continues the Harberts’ tradition of giving, and is now overseen by their son, Billy Harbert.

“My parents’ advice was simple and heartfelt: Give back. This gift reflects their philanthropic and community-minded spirit,” said Harbert. “UAB is the best vehicle to facilitate positive change in Birmingham, and I feel that this new institute will attract additional resources and faculty to UAB by seeding a first-class center for entrepreneurial students.”

This gift will help support Harbert IIE’s goal to harness the creative minds and world-class research to create an internationally recognized university institute that educates and creates successful entrepreneurial ventures and companies, new products, and licenses.

“Naming the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Harberts’ honor is a fitting tribute to their activities as business and civic leaders and volunteers, their outstanding history of philanthropic support, and their incredible legacy of service to both UAB and the community,” said Nugent.

Gift from Medical Properties Trust, Inc.

Medical Properties Trust has donated $1 million to fund the new facility’s auditorium, an anchor of the new building. Birmingham-based Medical Properties Trust is a real estate investment trust specializing in hospitals. Over the past 12 years, the company has built a diverse portfolio of acute care and post acute care facilities across the United States and Western Europe representing an investment approaching $4.5 billion.

“Giving back to the community is extremely important, and we cannot imagine a better place to do that than in Birmingham and at UAB,” said Edward K. Aldag, Jr., founder and CEO of Medical Properties Trust. “When deciding where to establish our corporate headquarters as we launched the company in 2003, we chose Birmingham because we believed in its future.”

The Medical Properties Trust Auditorium will serve as a space that gives UAB students, staff and faculty additional resources to support the Collat School of Business and Birmingham’s ever-growing business opportunity environment.

“This gift from Medical Properties Trust is a wonderful example of the tangible fruits born from mutually supportive relationships developed over many years with our business community,” said Jack. “The MPT Auditorium will provide a state-of-the-art learning environment and the technology infrastructure that will enable us to competitively recruit top faculty and staff dedicated to preparing the next generation of business leaders.”

Medical Properties Trust is a longtime supporter of UAB and the Collat School of Business, including the contribution of an endowed scholarship in honor of retired professor Robert Holmes, Ph.D., and his wife, Diane Holmes. Aldag also serves as a member of UAB’s President’s Campaign Leadership Cabinet.

For more information about how to support the Collat School of Business and the B.L. Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, visit or contact David I. Allen, senior director of Development, at 205-996-5399 or

by Katherine Shonesy