Ken Jackson colorKen Jackson, MBA alumnus As one of the first two graduates of UAB Collat School of Business’ MBA program, Ken Jackson has seen it all.

“I remember when Gene Bartow brought basketball to UAB,” he said. “I remember selecting green and gold as our school colors. To have that kind of memory, I have developed a great deal of loyalty to UAB.”

Jackson came to UAB in 1969 by way of Jefferson State College after a stint at Auburn. He worked at Sears at the time and continuing his post-grad education at UAB allowed him to keep his sales job. He graduated with his MBA in 1972.

His first classes were in Tidwell Hall, a building he makes sure to point out had no air conditioning and the scent of formaldehyde wafting in from a neighboring anatomy lab.

Fast forward 50 years and now hundreds of students graduate each year from the program— now offered on campus in Collat’s state-of-the-art business building and online. 

That flexibility is one of the things that attracted Brian Cornett to the program.

Brian CornettBrian Cornett, MBA studentCornett took both in-person and online classes during his time in the program. He said that while he preferred in-person classes, having the option to seamlessly switch to online classes was appreciated, especially during the pandemic.

“That helped a lot,” he said. “Just having the ability to switch…what was great was that the transition was smooth because the curriculum was already there. They didn’t have to invent it.”

He graduated in December 2021.

Current student Sooryanarayana Varambally said he also appreciated the availability of a hybrid educational experience.

Varambally decided on UAB’s MBA program as a way to get a business perspective on the healthcare boom. He said UAB was the perfect fit for him as a cancer researcher.

Another thing he said he appreciates about the program is the different points of view from other students from different walks of life and different parts of the world.

“That’s the best part," he said. "We interact with so many different types of people with different backgrounds, cultures and talents, I would say. Globalization brings good points from many cultures, nations and educational systems together. It’s a blend of global and local talents.”

Different perspectives have been a part of the program from the beginning, according to Jackson.

He took classes with students from different employment backgrounds and experience levels, which made for a more fulfilling experience.

“There were a lot of students who had full-time jobs who were getting their degree,” he said. “Half of the students were professionals—engineers with Ph.Ds.— and they were in our class going after the same degree that I was after. You not only had the guidance from professors but, if you engaged your classmates, the interaction was a great opportunity to be exposed to successful people who were trying to get more successful.”

Jackson said that the value of his degree has appreciated over the years as the MBA program progressed.  “To see the quality of students we’re producing, it makes my degree more valuable today than when I got it because of the recognition of UAB,” he said.