March 05, 2014

Huntsville campus celebrates 40 years, new scholarship initiative

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The School of Medicine’s Huntsville Regional Medical Campus announced a new fund raising initiative at its 40th anniversary celebration Feb. 25, 2014. The William B. Deal, M.D., Huntsville Art of Medicine Endowed Scholarship will honor the former associate dean of the Huntsville campus and dean of the School of Medicine.

“Dr. Deal was instrumental in making the Huntsville Regional Medical Campus an official branch campus of the School of Medicine in 1995 and his collaboration with key stakeholders in the Huntsville medical community was integral to the 2003 opening of our current campus facility opposite Huntsville Hospital,” said Robert Centor, M.D., dean of the Huntsville Regional Medical Campus. Deal passed away March 15, 2013.

Centor asked others to join him in making a gift to the scholarship initiative. A minimum of $25,000 is required by the Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama System to establish the endowment. The Valley Foundation, a physician practice plan organized to support the University of Alabama System campuses, is matching up to $50,000, Centor said.

Once established, the scholarship will be distributed to rising fourth-year medical students attending the Huntsville Campus to help pay for tuition and other costs associated with medical school. Awardees must demonstrate integrity, character, professionalism and enthusiasm for medicine in the spirit established by Deal.

The anniversary celebration brought together alumni, retired faculty and staff, current faculty, staff, students, residents, members of the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees and leaders of the Huntsville Hospital and the Valley Foundation. The campus was established in 1971 as part of the University of Alabama in Huntsville and began training residents in family medicine in 1973; third-year medical students began the following year. Gayle Stephens, M.D., who passed away Feb. 20, 2014, was the first dean of the program and served from 1973 until 1977.

UAB-Huntsville-Timeline-as-of-2-27-14Click to enlargeUAB assumed administrative responsibility for the educational and clinical programs in Huntsville in 1995. Deal, who was named associate dean, was instrumental in guiding the program through the transition, Centor said.

Since 1974, 828 students have graduated from the School of Medicine after training at the Huntsville Campus. Today, Huntsville faculty train 70 third- and fourth-year medical students and 60 residents, 36 in family medicine and 24 in internal medicine. The clinical services that support the medical education programs average 85,500 patient encounters each year.

A primary mission of the medical campus is to help meet physician shortages in Northern Alabama, especially in primary care. In 40 years, nearly 400 physicians have completed their training in family medicine; 206 stayed in Alabama and 101 graduates practice in Madison County, where Huntsville is the county seat.

In 2006, the campus created the Huntsville Rural Medicine Program with Auburn University to enhance the growth of physicians in areas where they are needed most. Ten Auburn graduates, from rural areas of Alabama, spend a year of study in Huntsville before being accepted into medical school.

“After 40 years, our commitment to Huntsville and northern Alabama, and to medical education, has never been stronger,” Centor said. “Our goal is to continue fulfilling the needs of our patients and our learners. The endowed scholarship is a marvelous way to honor Dr. Deal, invest in future physicians and continue to give back to the community.”

To make a contribution to the William B. Deal, M.D., Huntsville Art of Medicine Endowed Scholarship Initiative, please give online at, or mail a check made payable to the UAB School of Medicine, to FOT 1225, 1720 2nd Avenue South, Birmingham, Al., 35294-3412. For more information, contact Jessica Brooks Lane, director of development for medical scholarships and alumni, at 205-975-4452 or