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Charles Collat completes $25 million gift to School of Business, UAB

  • November 10, 2021
UAB’s Collat School of Business continues to blaze the path for future generations.
Written by: Rachel Burchfield
Media contact: Yvonne Taunton

  • Charles Collat presenting the check to President Watts and Dean Eric Jack. 

    Photography: Lexi Coon

  • President Ray Watts, Collat School of Business Dean, Eric Jack, Charles Collat and Vice President for Advancement, Tom Brannan.

    Photography: Lexi Coon 

  • Charles Collat and his children, Nancy and Charlie. 

    Photography: Lexi Coon

  • UAB's Collat School of Business faculty and student scholars with the Collat family. 

    Photography: Lexi Coon

  • Photography: Lexi Coon

  • Photography: Lexi Coon

  • Dean Eric Jack and Charles Collat. 

    Photography: Lexi Coon 

With a check for $15 million in hand, Charles A. Collat Sr. completed his and late wife Patsy’s gift to the University of Alabama at Birmingham last week, standing in front of the school that bears his name alongside UAB President Ray L. Watts, M.D., and Collat School of Business Dean Eric P. Jack, Ph.D.

“We are so grateful for the Collats’ continuing support for our school, and for this transformational gift,” Jack said. “Their generosity will enable us to continue building excellent programs, improving student success, and inspiring us to ‘do good and be better.’ We are extremely proud to be called the Collat School of Business.” 

Charles and Patsy Collat pledged the gift, totaling $25 million, eight years ago in 2013, and the initial funds have already been used to provide vital funding for experiential learning for business students. In particular, the Collat Scholars Program has had substantial impact, awarding 91 full scholarships for high-achieving, underrepresented students and establishing a cohort-style community that participates in service-learning activities, attends special events and interacts with the Collat family. Students like Collat Scholar Jackie Nhu Dang say being a part of the program was a point of pride.

“The generosity from Mr. Collat and his family has given me the chance to focus on my school and put my education first for my future,” she said. “The Collat Scholars Program is a great support system where you can receive extra support and encouragement from other students.” 

Continually fueled by his life motto of “Do good and be better,” Collat said at the event last week it was a pleasure for him to see the work of the Collat School of Business unfold, and remarked he was particularly proud to see its students steadfastly give back to the community.  

“It’s been my pleasure to do the things that we’ve been able to do,” Collat said. “It has been incredible to watch the school use our initial gift to build a scholars program that promotes community service among the student recipients. You can’t ask for anything better than that.”

Collat Scholar Nena Thomas not only gives back to her community now through the Collat Scholars Program, but also has goals of becoming director of a nonprofit organization in the future. 

“Being a member of this program has been very rewarding,” she said. “I have been able to give back to the community, network and learn skills that will better prepare me for life after graduating.” 

“UAB has everything going in the right direction, and I can’t wait to see what more they can do,” Collat said. “Go, Blazers!”


Since the gift was announced in 2013, the Collat School of Business has opened its state-of-the-art facility that houses both the Collat School of Business and the Bill L. Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, designed to enhance students’ learning experience while simultaneously preparing them to work in modern business. This additional $15 million — combined with the original $10 million gift — will be applied toward further excellence for the school, Jack says, specifically in the realm of student success. This will include further contributions to the Collat Scholars Program, an expansion of the Business Honors Program, support to the school’s Industrial Distribution Program, entrepreneurship education, and expanding the school’s student services so all students will have the skills and preparation necessary to succeed in the workplace.

“The Collat Scholars Program allowed me to network with Birmingham professionals and build better relationships with my classmates,” said graduate Alex Clark, who was a Collat Scholar during his time at UAB. “The program gave me financial peace and a few lifelong friends. The scholarship I received from Mr. Charles Collat is something that I will never forget, and I plan to carry on his legacy of generosity.”

Following his service in the United States Air Force in Japan, Collat joined Mayer Electric Supply Company, Inc., in 1953, becoming chief executive officer in 1979 and growing the company to one of Birmingham’s largest privately held corporations. His success in business is only matched by his deep love for his family and his resolute commitment to bettering both UAB and Birmingham, serving the city through numerous community organizations and boards. Collat retired in 2008, passing down the leadership responsibilities of Mayer to his daughter, Nancy Collat Goedecke. 

“UAB is deeply grateful for the Collats’ generosity and vision that has helped propel our Collat School of Business to national and global prominence and helped make the Birmingham region a thriving nexus of entrepreneurialism and innovation,” Watts said. “That remarkable legacy continues as this most recent funding will expand the school’s experiential learning initiatives, bolster recruitment and retention of the most talented students and faculty, and enable us to — more than ever — effectively train the successful entrepreneurs and business leaders of the future.”

Donning a ball cap bearing the Collat School of Business’ name as he presented the $15 million check last week, Collat’s pride in the school — and in UAB — was evident.

“UAB has everything going in the right direction, and I can’t wait to see what more they can do,” Collat said. “Go, Blazers!”