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.

1888
 

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.

1932
 

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

1939
 

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

1943
 

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.

1945
 

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

1946
 

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

1952
 

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

1954
 

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

1955
 

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

1959
 

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

1964
 

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

1966
 

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

1967
 

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

1969
 

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.

1969
 

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.

1969
 

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

1970
 

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

1970
 

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.

1970
 

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

1972
 

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

1974
 

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

1974
 

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.

1977
 

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

1977
 

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

1978
 

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

1980
 

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

1982
 

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

1983
 

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

1983
 

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

1984
 

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

1985
 

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

1990
 

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

1991
 

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

1992
 

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

1993
 

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.

1993
 

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

1996
 

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.

1997
 

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

1997
 

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

1998
 

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.

2001
 

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

2001
 

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.

2002
 

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

2002
 

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

2002
 

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

2004
 

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

2004
 

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

2006
 

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

2007
 

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

2009
 

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.

2011
 

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

2011
 

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

2014
 

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

2015
 

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

2016
 

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.

2016
 

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

2016
 

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

2017
 

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

2017
 

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.

2017
 

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.

2017
 

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.

2017

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