Women have played a vital role in the history and the continued success of The University of Alabama at Birmingham. The timeline below highlights many female firsts by recognizing those who blazed a trail while contributing to the foundation and growth of this institution.


The Daughters of the United Charities established a hospital board and soon opened their Hospital of United Charities. In 1896 it was renamed in honor of benefactor Thomas T. Hillman.


Dr. Louise H. Branscomb, a gynecologist, became the first female physician granted staff privileges at the county-operated Hillman Hospital. She would later hold a clinical appointment at the medical school until her retirement in 1975.


Dr. Adrienne S. Ryal became a member of the full-time faculty at the Birmingham Extension Center.


Dr. Adrienne S. Rayl served as interim director of the Birmingham Extension Center.


Dr. Melson Barfield-Carter became chair of Radiology, the first female department head at the University of Alabama’s new four-year medical school in Birmingham.


Virginia D. Hamilton received an MD degree, the first female to receive a four-year degree from the medical school.


Anna Jane Reid became the first female to receive a graduate degree (Biochemistry) awarded through the Medical Center in Birmingham.


Claudia Holcombe Heard and Ruth Ehricke became the first female graduates of the School of Dentistry.


Ruth Stillman Hare received the first doctoral degree (Pharmacology) conferred through the Medical Center in Birmingham.


Dr. Jean McNeil Morgan became the first female selected as Chief Medical Resident.


A gift from Fay Fletcher Kerner established the first endowed chair at the Medical Center, the Fay Fletcher Kerner Chair of Surgery.


Dr. Bronetta L. Scott became the first African American female appointed to the Medical Center faculty.


Dr. Florence A. Hixson became the first female dean at UAB when the School of Nursing was moved from Tuscaloosa to Birmingham.


Imogene L. Baswell received a bachelor’s degree in Engineering, the first female graduate of the engineering program in Birmingham.


Dr. Delois Skipwith Guy became the first African American faculty member in the School of Nursing; she was also the first African American faculty member in a tenure track position at UAB.


Mae Nolden Pickens, an African American actress, appeared in a featured role in the UAB Town and Gown Theatre production of "Member of the Wedding," the first integrated theatrical presentation mounted within the State of Alabama.


At UAB’s first commencement ceremony, Ellen Clyde Cook received the first master’s degree (Microbiology) awarded by the new university.


Dr. Marie L. O'Koren became the dean of the School of Nursing.


Dr. Ellen Shizuko Takahashi received a faculty appointment as an assistant professor of Physiological Optics. Dr. Takahashi was the only female of the first 11 academic faculty named at the new School of Optometry.


Virginia Baxley, long-time registrar of the medical school, became the first female awarded an honorary degree by UAB.


Dr. Elizabeth C. Crosby was selected as the eleventh Distinguished Faculty Lecturer, the first female chosen for the highest honor at the Medical Center.


Catherine Steinmitz Amos became the first female to receive the OD degree from the School of Optometry.


Fran S. Merrell became the inaugural head coach of the women’s basketball team, the first female head coach for a NCAA-level team at UAB.


Joyce S. Madison became the first African American female graduate of the School of Dentistry.


Dr. Marie L. O’Koren was selected as the fifteenth Distinguished Faculty Lecturer.


Dr. Milly Cowles became dean of the School of Education, the first female dean for a non-health science school.


Wanda Hightower, a member of the 1978-1982 Women’s Basketball team, became the first UAB athlete to have a jersey retired.


Phyllis Pope, a pre-dentistry major from Illinois, selected as the first Miss UAB.


Drs. Sara C. and Wayne H. Finley were selected as the twentieth Distinguished Faculty Lecturers.


Dr. Harriet P. Dustan was selected as the twenty-first Distinguished Faculty Lecturer.


Dr. Sara Guthrie Ruiz de Molina became dean of UAB Special Studies.


Dr. Virginia S. Gauld became Vice President for Student Affairs, UAB’s first female vice president.


Dr. Joan F. Lorden received the first Ireland Prize for Scholarly Distinction.


Tara White, a biology major, became the first female student elected president of the Student Government Association.


Dr. Linda Flaherty-Goldsmith became Vice President for Financial Affairs.


UAB first presented its Outstanding Women’s Awards to Dr. Virginia S. Gauld, Betty Jean Duff, and Debra Strother for administrator/staff; Dr. Ada W. Long for faculty; and Janet Cash for students.


Dr. Gail H. Cassell was selected as the thirty-third Distinguished Faculty Lecturer.


Dr. W. Ann Reynolds became the fifth president of UAB, the first female to hold the position at UAB or in the three-campus University of Alabama system.


Dr. Suzanne Oparil was selected as the thirty-fourth Distinguished Faculty Lecturer.


Dr. Linda W. Goodson received UAB's first Odessa Woolfolk Community Service Award.


Andra Scott Hurst became a member of the University of Alabama Board of Trustees, the first female on the three-campus governing board with an undergraduate degree from UAB.


Dr. Linda C. Lucas became the dean of the School of Engineering.


Vonetta Jeffrey Flowers, UAB assistant track coach and a UAB alumna, won a Gold Medal in the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah. She was the first person of African descent to win gold in a winter games.


Dr. Carol Z. Garrison became the sixth president of UAB.


Dr. Mary G. Nash became executive director of University Hospital, the first female to serve as the hospital’s administrative director.


UAB Commission on the Status of Women was established with Dr. Mona N. Fouad as the first chair.


Audra Smith became head coach of the women's basketball team, the first African American female named as a UAB head coach.


Dr. Cynthia G. Brumfield became chief-of-staff of University Hospital, the first female to be named to the position.


Dr. Jean Ann Linney became the dean of the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences.


Dr. Suzanne M. Michalek was selected as the forty-sixth Distinguished Faculty Lecturer.


Dr. Linda C. Lucas became interim UAB Provost. In 2012 she would be named as the fourth Provost, the first female to hold the position.


Dr. Deborah L. Voltz became dean of the School of Education, the first African American female named as dean.


Dr. Shannon L. Blanton became the inaugural dean of the UAB Honors College.


Dr. Lori L. McMahon became dean of the UAB Graduate School.


Dr. Paulette P. Dilworth became Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the first African American female named to a vice presidency at UAB.


It was announced that UAB anthropology professor Sarah Parcak, a space archaeologist, had likely discovered a Viking settlement located on the southern point of Newfoundland, Canada. This find could rewrite the history of the discovery of North America as it would prove that the Vikings had traveled further into the new continent than had previously been known.


UAB's Commission on the Status of Women collected and donated more than two tons of clothing during their annual drive, Suits for Success.


Dr. Karen M. Meneses presented the fifty-third Distinguished Faculty Lecture.


Dr. Pam Benoit became Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. Dr. Benoit came to UAB from Ohio University.


Dr. Michelle Robinson was recognized by Minority Access, Inc. as a 2017 National Role Model for her efforts in advancing the recruitment, retention, and enhancement of underrepresented students, faculty, and staff in the School of Dentistry at UAB.


Dr. Mona N. Fouad was elected as a member of the National Academy of Medicine - one of the highest honors given to a physician or scientist in the United States.


University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital received a 2017 Women's Choice Award for being one of America's Best Breast Cancer Centers in the United States.


Timeline compiled by Tim L. Pennycuff, Associate Professor & University Archivist, UAB Libraries. Visit the Archive's chronological history of UAB.