Selwyn Vickers 4 LRThis month, I couldn’t be more pleased to share that UAB has been named the Best Large Employer in the U.S. by Forbes magazine. The magazine describes UAB as, “no ordinary institute of higher education. Not only are its 23,000 employees responsible for the education and well-being of more than 22,000 students, but many have also been tasked with caring for thousands of pandemic-stricken patients.”

We at the School of Medicine know that we play a critical role in the health and well-being of our city and state, and we take those responsibilities seriously. The people of UAB and UAB Medicine are our greatest resource—we simply could not fulfill our missions to the state without their talent, skill, and commitment. To know that our employees have honored our institution with this recognition is immensely gratifying.  

The past month also has been marked by sadness for our School of Medicine community, as we mourn the passing of monumental figures from UAB’s and the school’s history. On January 16, we received word that Charles “Scotty” McCallum Jr., DMD, M.D., UAB’s third president, had passed away. Dr. McCallum served as president from 1987-1993 and was instrumental in forging UAB as a world-class institution. One of our school’s primary research hubs, the McCallum Basic Health Science Building, is named in his honor and is currently undergoing a major renovation.

Prior to leading UAB as president, Dr. McCallum served as vice president for Health Affairs, dean of the School of Dentistry, and chair of the Department of Oral Surgery. After retiring from UAB, he served two terms as mayor of Vestavia Hills. Dr. McCallum was unwavering in his advocacy for the university’s mission to provide a quality education to all and to build a world-class medical facility to care for the people of our state and beyond. Read more about his career here . Memorials may be sent to UAB Gift Records (AB1230, 1720 Second Avenue South, Birmingham, AL 35294-0112) and directed to either the Charles A. McCallum Endowed Chair of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery or to the UAB School of Nursing.

Samuel Brown, Jr., passed away January 18. Born in Holland, Kentucky, Sam and his wife Libby moved their young family to Birmingham in 1975, where Sam joined the School of Medicine’s Office of Educational Development. In 2005, Sam retired as a full professor and associate dean, after having helped countless faculty secure grants. Among other achievements, he served on the NIH’s National Arthritis Advisory Board and was the first non-clinician to serve as president of the American Association for Cancer Education. Recognizing Sam’s vision for connecting different departments and schools within the university, UAB established the Sam Brown Bridge Builder Endowed Award in 2009. Gifts to the award can be made online.

Arnold Diethelm, M.D., former chair of the Department of Surgery and a groundbreaking leader in transplantation surgery at UAB, died January 28. A Baltimore native, Dr. Diethelm began his career at UAB in 1967, when he joined the Department of Surgery after completing his fellowship at Harvard at the express invitation of Dr. John Kirklin.

Dr. Diethelm led the charge to build a nationally recognized transplantation program from the ground up, in the heart of a part of the country where the need for such services is especially acute. Under his leadership, the first kidney transplant in Alabama took place in 1968; the first heart transplant in the Southeast took place in 1981; and the state’s first liver transplant took place in 1983, the first simultaneous pancreas/kidney transplant in 1988, and the first lung transplant in 1989.

Dr. Diethelm’s legacy intersects with the lives of countless physicians and trainees, including my own. He hired me as the first African American surgeon to be on the full-time faculty of the School of Medicine, and he was an honorary member of the Society of Black Academic Surgeons. When I think of the leaders who played a pivotal role in my life, Dr. Diethelm will remain at the top of the list. You can read more about his estimable career here. Gifts memorializing Dr. Diethelm can be directed to the UAB transplant fund, the UAB Comprehensive Transplant Institute, and the Arnold G. Diethelm, M.D., Medical Scholarship.

Alan Dimick, M.D., a pioneering champion of trauma care, died on January 27. Dr. Dimick built a pillar of our Department of Surgery when he established the UAB Burn Unit in 1970, which he directed until 1997. In 1972, Dr. Dimick became medical director of a federal grant that provided funds for emergency medical training for 33 firefighters in the Birmingham, Homewood, and Vestavia Hills fire departments. These firefighters became the first paramedics in Alabama. UAB later started its own paramedic training program, which Dr. Dimick served as medical director from 1975-1995.

Dr. Dimick’s legacy is inextricably linked to the civil rights movement of the 1960s in Birmingham. In 1963, then-Surgery Chair Dr. Champ Lyons tasked him with integrating University Hospital’s Black and white emergency rooms. On September 15, 1963, when the bombing of Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church killed four young girls and the victims were brought to those now integrated ERs, Dr. Dimick was among the team that had to inform their parents that their daughters had died. Read more about his fascinating career in this profile. Gifts in Dr. Dimick’s memory can be directed to the Alan R. Dimick Burn Care Fund, and the Alan R. Dimick, M.D. Medical Alumni Association Perpetuity Fund.

We are also honoring Black History Month throughout February. This is a time to recognize the extraordinary contributions of Black/African Americans to the fabric of our nation, and to recommit to building a future of justice and equality within our institutions and our communities. I invite you to read this article in which I and other School of Medicine leaders discuss the struggles of the Black/African American community and progress toward building equity in health and health care. If you’d like to honor the contributions of Black/African American pioneers at UAB Medicine, now is an ideal time to make a gift, as my Dean’s Office along with an anonymous donor are matching gifts to any medical scholarship assisting underrepresented in medicine (URiM) students 1:1 through September 30. This is one of several Dean’s Office matching opportunities supporting the school’s medical education mission. Learn more about scholarship giving, or contact Jessica Brooks Lane at 205-834-2581 or

Finally, I invite you to watch the video of my State of the School address, which I delivered on January 27. You can also read our 2020 Annual Report online. Both offer a look back at the remarkable year we experienced at the school. You can also view the inaugural School of Medicine Grand Rounds online. This new series is designed to appeal to a universal audience with an interest in health, health care, disparities, medicine, culture, and more. For the inaugural Grand Rounds, I was joined by Chelsea Harris, M.D., M.S., general surgery resident at the University of Maryland, and Lesly Dossett, M.D., MPH, assistant professor of Surgical Oncology at the University of Michigan. Our discussion, "Cultural Complications," explored how to recognize and combat negative effects of bias in the hospital environment.