Selwyn Vickers 4 LRFor many people, giving gifts is a treasured part of the holiday season. This year, we are especially grateful for all of the gifts, both large and small, given to the School of Medicine by our alumni and friends. Their support is essential to advancing our missions in medical education, biomedical research, and patient care.

On Dec. 4, UAB announced a remarkable act of philanthropy and investment in the future of health care for our state and region. Birmingham-based O’Neal Industries Inc. and its shareholders have given the largest single gift in UAB’s history—a $30 million donation to the Comprehensive Cancer Center. This gift will allow the center to change the lives of more patients and families through transformational cancer research, patient care, education, and prevention. The center will be known as the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB.

The gift will enhance the profile and impact of the cancer center as a premier national destination for those working to end cancer and those fighting a personal battle with the disease. It will have lifesaving results that can serve as a catalyst for further philanthropic investment, and we are grateful to the O’Neal family and O’Neal Industries and its shareholders for their leadership in the fight to end cancer. The gift and naming will be formally considered for acceptance by the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees at its February meeting.

Since the launch of The Campaign for UAB, thousands of donors have made gifts both large and small to support the people and programs across the School of Medicine and the university that are most meaningful to them. This cumulative generosity has resulted in a remarkable achievement: The Campaign for UAB has not only reached but surpassed its ambitious $1 billion goal. Specifically, as of Nov. 30, the official Campaign total is $1,002,957,673. Highlights of the Campaign include:

  • 103,381 donors
  • 211 new endowed scholarships
  • 248 planned gifts totaling $102 million
  • 106 endowed chairs, professorships, and scholars
  • All units celebrated record-breaking giving

Campaign support for the School of Medicine has been similarly outstanding:

  • $675,550,463 in Campaign gifts
  • 27,545 Campaign donors
  • 29 endowed chairs 
  • 49 endowed professorships 
  • 9 endowed scholars  
  • 37 endowed scholarships 

As we approach UAB’s 50th anniversary next year (and the School of Medicine’s 160th anniversary), this $1 billion milestone lays the foundation for the next 50 years of breakthroughs. In the words of UAB’s first president, Dr. Joseph Volker, “we would do Birmingham a great disservice if we dream too little dreams.” This incredible success is proof that, with the support of our alumni and partners, no goal is out of reach.

Here at UAB we are also celebrating another extraordinary accomplishment this month: On Dec. 1, UAB Football made program history by winning its first Conference USA Championship title. The win earned them an invitation to play Mid-American Conference champion Northern Illinois in the 2018 Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl. UAB Football’s story arc has been one of pride and perseverance—I hope you’ll join me in congratulating this talented group of young men and their coach, Bill Clark, who capped an incredible year by winning the 2018 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award.

On a sad note, we learned this month of the passing of several people who have been instrumental in the School of Medicine’s success. Thomas Smith III, FACHE, director of the Birmingham VA Medical Center, passed away on Dec. 8. Since 2013, his leadership at the BVAMC has played a critical role in further strengthening the relationship between the VA and UAB. He led the way for remarkable growth of the clinical and educational programs, and his passing is a profound loss for Alabama’s health care and veterans communities.

Former School of Medicine Dean Dr. Harold Fallon and his beloved wife, Jo Ann, passed away within minutes of each other on Nov. 17. Dr. Fallon served as dean from 1992-1997, around the time that I joined UAB’s Department of Surgery as an assistant professor. He was one of the architects of the UAB Health System and developed and recruited the team for the UAB Liver Center. He capably led the school through a period of great expansion and success, and I was privileged to spend some of the formative years of my early career serving under him. I extend my deepest condolences to the families and friends of Mr. Smith and Dr. Fallon.

These losses are a reminder to us all to hold those we love close this holiday season. I wish you all a joyful holiday and happiness and good health in the new year. 

Selwyn M. Vickers, M.D., FACS
Senior Vice President for Medicine
Dean, UAB School of Medicine
James C. Lee Jr. Endowed Chair
University of Alabama at Birmingham