Dean Eric JackHere, current dean, Eric Jack talks about his tenure so far and how former deans have helped guide him. 

What has been your vision for the school while you served as dean?

In Fall 2012 when I became interim dean, I introduced a 2020 vision for our school to be known for “Leadership, Innovation and Entrepreneurship.” While this vision did not explicitly embrace all our programs, we proceeded successfully to leverage this vision during the 2013-2019 UAB $1 billion capital campaign where we became the first named school on campus and raised $15 million for our new building. However, as we developed a new vision for 2025, we consciously embraced a balanced mission for teaching, research and service and adopted a vision to be known for “Innovative Programs, Impactful Scholarship and Transformative Service.” This approach has empowered and challenged us all to build innovative and sustainable programs that, as our mission says, “prepare students for success as leaders and professionals in Birmingham and beyond, using a balanced approach to teaching, research and service.”

 What’s your fondest memory about your time at UAB?

My fondest memory is about how we successfully shared our vision and engaged our alumni, supporters, and friends to help us target more than $50 million during UAB’s $1 billion capital campaign. Here, the most memorable events were with Mr. and Mrs. Collat naming our school ($25 million) and during our $15M building campaign, we were fortunate to have Medical Properties Trust, which incrementally increased its donations, from $1 million to $5 million as both the lead donor for our building and along with Ed Aldag, CEO, and his wife Melinda, the lead donors for our Entrepreneurship program.

What challenges did you face during your tenure as dean?

Significant challenges included making the case for a new building and taking on the task to raise $15 million (as part of $38 million project). Then, we navigated the new building design process that successfully resulted in a multiple award-winning building for design and construction (which effectively supports our mission). Another significant challenge was the decision to leverage our efficient online partnership with Pearson to help grow our enrollment to more than 3,500 students, and after 10 years of successful growth, we decided to incrementally transition away from Pearson in order to develop and utilize our organic UAB infrastructure for online delivery.

What accomplishment are your most proud of?

I am most proud of our CSOB collective efforts during the capital campaign in which we challenged each of our faculty and staff members to personally commit and we contributed more than $225,000 with 99% participation.

Do you have a message for current students? Faculty and staff?

For the students, I would humbly say thanks to each of you for choosing us to help you transition successfully to your next destination. Please know how much we care and how hard we work to prepare each of you for success (through degree completion and career placement) in this highly competitive environment. I also want to thank our faculty and staff for fully embracing our mission and for your dedication to achieve excellence in all that we do.   

What are you looking forward to Collat accomplishing in the next 50 years?

Here in Collat, if we engage our community and remain focused on delivering innovative academic programs that provide competitive opportunities for student success, our cumulative impact over the next 50 years will be tremendous.

Sue and Gene NewportThe late Mr. and Mrs. Gene Newport at the School's 40th Anniversary Celebration.

Is there anything else you want to say? 

Yes. I must give credit to the several former deans for their mentoring and support during my early years here at UAB. In 2001, Dean Robert Holmes played a significant role in recruiting me to UAB. Once at UAB, Dr. Duncan (who served as interim dean before Dean Holmes), worked closely with me to improve our MBA students’ understanding of operations and supply chain management strategies. Then, in 2008, Dean David Klock selected me and Dr. Karen Kennedy to serve as associate deans. These experiences prepared me to be selected as interim dean in 2012 and as permanent dean in 2013. Now, having served as dean for the past 10 years, I have tremendous respect for our second dean, Gene Newport, who led our school for more than 22 years. What a legacy . . .