Schoars packingDuring the COVID-19 pandemic, many pre-school children have lost access to educational resources, such as books to read at home, to prepare them for kindergarten success.

This year, in partnership with the United Way of Central Alabama, the Collat School of Business Scholars volunteered to prepare learning material for children across Alabama.

Collat graduate students Aldric Gardiner and Audra Gottier Weber have been honored as recipients of the 2021 UAB Samuel B. Barker Award for Excellence in Graduate Studies.

The Barker Award, named for UAB’s first graduate dean, is given each spring to five doctoral and five master’s students who represent the highest level of student achievement in a UAB graduate program.

All recipients are expected to receive their degrees within the calendar year and are nominated by their graduate program directors for the honor.

Aldric Gardiner, Master of Science in Management Information Systems – Spring 2021

AGardinerGardiner was nominated by Julio Rivera, Ph.D., for an outstanding academic record and contributions to the UAB Master of Science in Management Information Systems (MSMIS) program as a working professional.

“[Gardiner’s] contributions not only have enhanced classes but also have been of great benefit to his fellow students,” Rivera wrote in Gardiner’s nomination letter. “In our opinion, it is a rare and extraordinary student who excels academically while being so engaged and willing to give back.”

Gardiner currently serves as an IT business analyst and project lead for 3M Company in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He credits the MSMIS faculty for his success within the program.

“I knew that UAB's MS MIS program was highly regarded. And once I was enrolled, my high expectations were quickly exceeded,” Gardiner said. “The knowledge, guidance, and encouragement of my professors have been so valuable in my studies and work role. I applaud the exceptional efforts of the faculty, staff, and IS Advisory Council for sustaining a top-notch program.

“It has been a truly enriching experience collaborating with many talented and supportive individuals,” he said. “If my fellow participants benefit from my contributions to the extent that I have from theirs, that would be a happy accomplishment for me.”

Audra Gottier Weber, Master of Business Administration – Spring 2021

Audra WeberWeber was nominated by Kenneth Miller, Ed.D., for her impeccable academic record – sustaining a 4.0 GPA throughout the duration of the UAB Master of Business Administration (MBA) program – and for her excellent leadership in and out of the classroom.

“[Weber’s] excellent performance in the MBA program speaks to her time management skills, strong intellect, and commitment to learning,” Miller wrote in Weber’s nomination letter. “Her strong communication skills, stemming from 32 years working in human resources, made her an asset to group projects and discussions.”

Weber, who serves as senior vice president/chief operating officer of America’s First Federal Credit Union, is active in the Birmingham Society for Human Resource Management, serving various roles including chairperson of the board, advisory council member, vice president and president.

“It has been a trying year for everyone, so I thank [the MBA program] for recognizing our efforts to stay positive and continue to reach for excellence during COVID,” Weber said. “Being able to quickly pivot our organization to keep our employees safe while still providing service to our members, all while balancing my MBA studies and my family has certainly been an accomplishment that I am quite proud of.

“I hope by receiving this award, I can be a positive influence on not only my fellow classmates but also for my children as they have their own journeys in front of them.”

Gardiner and Weber will receive the award during the UAB Honors Convocation on April 27.


Jessica WilsonWhen Jessica Wilson applied for the brand new UAB Human Resource Management Endowed Scholarship in 2020, she wasn’t sure she had a shot. She wasn’t a traditional student, and she was the first in her family to go to college, attending classes while also working full-time at a local bank.

Dipal PatelCollat finance student Dipal PatelCollat finance student Dipal Patel has been accepted to the 2021 National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) annual conference for her research on the correlation between female and minority representation and top-level executive positions in American business firms.

2021 US News Collat ResultsU.S. News & World Report has ranked the UAB graduate Management Information Systems (MSMIS) degree No. 12 in the nation. It recently released its latest rankings in the 2021 edition of U.S. News’s Best Graduate Schools guidebook.

Real Estate for saleThe Collat School of Business has launched new opportunities for business students to excel in real estate.

clavell2Collat instructor Alicia Clavell McCall was recently awarded the UAB Disability Support Services (DSS)’s Outstanding Recognition Award for the fall 2020 semester.

expoTwenty-five students in the Collat School of Business Honors Program recently joined other UAB students to present the results of independent projects at UAB’s fall Undergraduate Research Expo held virtually November 30 - December 4. The disciplines represented at the Expo included not only the business disciplines but also arts and humanities; biological and life sciences; health professions; international studies; physical and applied sciences; and service learning.

Matt GrabenMatt Graben. Photo courtesy of Randy MartinFive years ago, Matt Graben dropped out of college. At the time he was a junior at UAB studying finance, but he was more interested in actively launching a nonprofit than he was in his business courses, so he dropped out. During the next five years he worked with other local self-starters to create more than 10 businesses in the Magic City, businesses that focused on everything from housing development to coffee sourcing and production.