October 21, 2015

Broad success and growing momentum highlight UAB State of the University

Written by
University of Alabama at Birmingham President Ray L. Watts shared details of the institution’s many successes and broad impact at his annual State of the University address Monday afternoon at the UAB Alumni House, and he fielded questions from students, faculty and staff.

Hosted by the UAB Faculty Senate, this year’s address, “Focused Priorities – Boundless Opportunities,” centered on positive momentum across the institution guided by the campus-wide strategic planning process leading UAB into a productive and promising new era.

Watts focused on strategic priorities and successes across each of the five pillars of UAB’s multifaceted mission: the education of students, who are exposed to multidisciplinary learning and a new world of diversity; research, the creation of new knowledge; patient care, the outcome of “bench-to-bedside” translational knowledge; service to the community at home and around the globe, from free clinics in local neighborhoods to the transformational experience of the arts; and the economic development of Birmingham and Alabama.

“We are having great success by focusing our efforts and resources on programs that will have the biggest possible impact across each pillar of our mission,” Watts said. “If we stay focused and continue to invest in and support our talented students, faculty and staff to allow them to reach their potential, UAB will continue to build on decades of growing momentum.”

Highlights of the address included updates on many accomplishments since the last State of the University:

  • UAB enrolled its highest-achieving freshman class, Honors College enrollment increased by 18 percent, and UAB is one of the nation’s most diverse college campuses, with students, faculty and staff representing more than 100 countries
  • New student facilities have opened and will continue to come online, and there are plans for new academic and athletic facilities
  • Federal funds received by UAB to support high-impact research initiatives increased year over year in spite of federal funding’s being at an all-time low in recent years
  • In 2014-2015, UAB produced the most student finalists and winners of competitive national/international honors in university history (51), including: UAB’s third Rhodes Scholar, a Fulbright Scholarship, two William J. Clinton Scholarships and a second national championship in the Bioethics Bowl
  • UAB continues to increase access to higher-education opportunities to underserved populations through highly successful initiatives: GEAR UP has enrolled 9,300 students from 50 schools in 21 school districts across Alabama’s Black Belt; UABTeach doubled its enrollment goal in preparing UAB students to eliminate the shortage of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) teachers; and the community college Joint Admissions program has enrolled nearly 700 students and recently partnered with a fifth institution
  • University rankings placed UAB and its programs and specialties among the best in the nation and world, and UAB is among only 51 universities classified by the Carnegie Foundation for both very high research activity and community engagement
  • UAB’s $5 billion annual economic impact in the state hits home; the institution spent $292.7 million with roughly 1,600 Birmingham suppliers in Fiscal Year 2014
  • An action plan was implemented to enhance campus safety, and new initiatives and resources continue to come online following the UAB Safety Task Force’s comprehensive assessment of facilities, support services and education programs, as well as institutional practices and procedures intended to create and sustain a safe environment
  • UAB had its most successful fundraising year ever, securing more than $107 million and reaching $631.7 million of the $1 billion goal in The Campaign for UAB, and UAB Athletics has received unprecedented financial support
  • Recent leadership team additions include Vice Provost for Enrollment Management Bradley Barnes, Vice President for Student Affairs John Jones, Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Paulette Patterson Dilworth, Director of Athletics Mark Ingram, Graduate School Dean Lori McMahon, Vice President of Information Technology and Chief Information Officer Curt Carver, and Chief Communications Officer Anne Buckley