February 11, 2013

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UAB President Ray Watts

On Friday, February 8, the Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama System offered me the opportunity to serve as UAB’s seventh president. This is, of course, an exciting challenge, and it is truly a great honor. After all, UAB is where I earned my undergraduate degree and discovered the possibilities of a career in medicine. It is where I returned in 2003 to lead the Department of Neurology and the place where, as department chairman and recently as senior vice president and dean of medicine, I have found tremendous rewards, both in caring for my patients and working alongside outstanding physicians, scientists, and students in the community I have always called home.

I now look forward to leading an institution that matters so much to our families and communities—and one that offers so much hope for our future.

Shared Successes

It has been a privilege and a pleasure to serve as dean of your School of Medicine for the past 2½ years. I have especially enjoyed meeting so many of you at alumni events throughout the state and region, and I appreciate every note of feedback you have sent me. Together we have achieved important milestones, including the launch of our AMC21 strategic roadmap in research, clinical care, primary care, and education. We have added to our outstanding faculty by recruiting renowned investigators and have accelerated scientific discovery and drug development. We also have created a third regional campus in Montgomery along with new scholarships and educational opportunities for our students.

Though my job title is changing, I can assure you that our strong partnership will continue. My challenge is to help UAB be one of the great universities of the 21st century, and the School of Medicine is key to achieving that goal. I will always be committed to the success of our medical students, the breakthroughs emerging from our labs, and the unique, innovative treatments we offer our patients. Your input and investments are crucial to our future success, as well as to the future growth of our city and state.

Interim Senior Vice President and Dean Anupam Agarwal

In Good Hands

One of my first decisions was to name an interim dean of medicine, who will keep the school moving forward while we search for a new permanent dean. I am delighted that Anupam Agarwal, M.D., director of the Division of Nephrology in our Department of Medicine, has agreed to serve in this key role until the search is complete.

Dr. Agarwal is a distinguished physician-scientist who joined our faculty in 2003. He trained at Kasturba Medical College in Mangalore, India, and completed his residency at the prestigious Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh. After his nephrology fellowship at University of Minnesota, he joined the faculty at the University of Florida, and then was recruited to UAB’s Division of Nephrology.

Dr. Agarwal
served as interim chair of the Department of Medicine during the successful search that brought C. Seth Landefeld, M.D., to UAB in mid-2012. He and his wife, Dr. Lisa Curtis (also on our nephrology faculty), have two young children, Alex and Megan.

I am grateful to Dr. Agarwal for stepping into another interim role so soon. His willingness to serve is a measure of his devotion to UAB and to the School of Medicine. Our school is in good hands, and I look forward to working with him over the coming months.

Fulfilling Our Plans

I encourage you to support Dr. Agarwal as he continues to implement our plans to create the preferred academic medical center of the 21st century. Dr. Agarwal tells me he is eager to meet more of our alumni at upcoming events in Montgomery, New Orleans, and other cities around the state and region, and you can reach him at agarwal@uab.edu. I hope you will join me in wishing Dr. Agarwal and his family well in this important new role, and that you will support him—and ultimately his permanent successor—as you have supported and encouraged Nancy and me.

Thank you again for your friendship and your faith in our school. I am not going far—only down the block on 20th Street South—and I look forward to keeping in touch and continuing to serve you and all Alabamians through excellence in teaching, research, patient care, and outreach.

Best regards,



The University of Alabama at Birmingham