The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Business now is named for longtime supporters Charles and Patsy Collat in recognition of their $25 million in gifts and pledges to the school. The Charles and Patsy Collat School of Business is the first school at UAB to carry the name of a benefactor. The naming, approved by the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees, was made as the university prepared to publicly launch The Campaign for UAB: Give Something, Change Everything, its most ambitious fund-raising campaign to date, with the Collat donation as the lead gift. Charles Collat, former CEO of Mayer Electric Supply Company Inc., one of Birmingham’s largest privately held companies, and his wife Patsy are longtime UAB supporters and their collective gifts represent the largest philanthropic support from any donor to UAB.
Calling theirs a “transformational gift,” UAB President Ray L. Watts said, “We are so proud that our business school will bear the Collat name. Charles and Patsy have set a tremendous example for others who want to see UAB faculty, staff and students continue to bring recognition to our city and state through outstanding education, patient care, research and service. This is just the beginning.”
Shirley Salloway Kahn, Ph.D., vice president for development, alumni and external affairs, noted that the Collats’ support during the last three decades “has helped UAB grow into the dynamic institution it is today, and their generous gift and confidence in our ambitious plans comes at a crucial time in our growth strategy. The naming of the school in their honor is so fitting, as they have been so faithful to UAB and the School of Business with their service and support throughout the years.”
The Collats’ gift will establish an endowment, the earnings from which are to provide vital funding for scholarships and support for programs throughout the school, such as industrial distribution and entrepreneurship, that will enhance student experiential learning opportunities.
“We are so grateful for the Collats' continuing support for our school, and we will carry our new name with tremendous pride,” said Eric Jack, Ph.D., dean of the business school. “This generous gift will enable us to grow in our targeted areas of strategic excellence, and it will have a transformational impact on the lives of thousands of students. It will also raise our profile as one of the premier business schools in the Southeast, and this will benefit our beloved city and state for years to come.”
The Collats have invested corporate and personal support in UAB for many years. They endowed the first nonmedical academic chair at UAB — the Ben S. Weil Chair of Industrial Distribution, which was named in honor of Mrs. Collat’s father, who founded Mayer Electric. Their support through the Charles and Patsy Collat Industrial Distribution Program enabled UAB to become one of the country’s few degree-granting ID programs in accredited schools of business and engineering.
They established the Charles A. and Patsy W. Collat Endowed Chair in Neurosurgery and the Patsy W. and Charles A. Collat Scholar in Neuroscience at UAB, and their gifts also have benefited UAB Athletics, the UAB Center for Palliative and Supportive Care, AIDS, surgery, ophthalmologic and cancer research and the schools of Education, Engineering and Medicine.
Even with their history of generous giving, the reach of this gift is particularly special. “I am so absolutely excited to be in a position with Patsy to make something like this happen that reaches into every program in the School of Business,” Collat said. “I am also terribly humbled. Being able to support an institution like UAB that plays such an important part in so many lives is something I wouldn’t have imagined in my wildest dreams. What this means to me cannot be measured or described.”
In addition to the Collats’ financial contributions, UAB has benefited from Collat’s service in a number of appointments. He is a past chair of the President’s Council, honorary life member of the National Alumni Society, member of the Executive Committee for the Campaign for UAB, incoming chair of the UAB School of Business Dean’s Council and former member of the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center Supporters Board. In 2009, UAB presented him an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree.