Thanks a billion: The Campaign for UAB surpasses $1 billion

More than 103,000 donors have contributed to the university’s largest-ever fundraising initiative to bolster the campaign’s priorities — programmatic support, facilities, faculty, research and innovation, athletics, and student support.

The future of the University of Alabama at Birmingham is, officially, 1 billion times brighter.

Ten years after it kicked off a silent, $1 billion fundraising effort and five years after publicly announcing The Campaign for UAB: Give Something, Change Everything — UAB can now celebrate accomplishing the ambitious fundraising goal. The university surpassed $1 billion this month, reaching its stated goal of achieving the milestone by the end of 2018.

The overwhelming support for the Campaign resulted in substantial funds for each of the campaign’s priorities — programmatic support, facilities, faculty, research and innovation, athletics, and student support — adding up to a total of $1,002,957,673 to date.

“Five years ago, we began the public phase of The Campaign for UAB — the largest and most comprehensive fundraising effort in UAB history — with the very ambitious goal of raising $1 billion,” said Ray L. Watts, president of UAB. “In the five years that have followed, we have received overwhelming support and advocacy from donors, alumni and friends. The profound impact of their support and generosity is seen in every pillar of UAB’s mission and in every corner of our campus, as well as across our community and state, and indeed around the world. We can’t say ‘thank you’ enough to our friends — old and new — for their philanthropy.”

More than 103,000 donors and alumni contributed to the campaign, says Tom Brannan, vice president of Advancement. All five years of the public phase of The Campaign for UAB set records for philanthropic donations, with more than $100 million given each year since 2014.

“This is a reflection of the sustained and substantial support of so many donors and alumni, and I want to express my deepest gratitude and thanks to each of our more than 103,000 donors and alumni who contributed,” Brannan said. “Their generosity has resulted in new achievements and opportunities throughout our university so we can continue our mission to serve students, patients, the community, and the global need for discovery, knowledge dissemination, education, creativity and the application of groundbreaking solutions.”

Campaign co-chairs Mike Warren, president and CEO of Children’s of Alabama and former chair/CEO of Energen, and Johnny Johns, executive chairman of Protective Life, played a key role in sharing UAB’s story and impact with potential donors. Both Warren and Johns say they are thankful for donors and partners throughout Alabama and beyond who have generously supported the campaign for the past five years.

“Reaching this goal was possible because UAB is doing work about which people are passionate,” Johns said. “I have been privileged to personally meet and talk with many donors who wanted to make a gift that would really make a difference and change lives — and that’s exactly what has happened, many times over.”

“As part of this Campaign, UAB asked supporters what was important to them, what they wanted to change in the world, and the university was able to connect those individuals to the people and initiatives at UAB who could make that change happen,” Warren said. “All of these gifts collectively translate into an incredibly bright future for UAB and Birmingham — one that will be felt around the world.”

Campaign milestones

The Campaign for UAB has helped fuel recognition and achievements that mark some of the most significant in the university’s soon-to-be 50th year of existence.

A few of the milestones include:

  • The first named school — the Collat School of Business — thanks to the longtime generosity of Charles Collat and his late wife, Patsy; the new home of that school opened in August
  • With the support of many donors, the new Bill L. Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship also opened in the new Collat School of Business this past summer
  • Record contributions to UAB athletics, with more than $50 million in support since 2015
  • Three consecutive years of record enrollment
  • The creation of novel academic programs to train tomorrow’s leaders in new and emerging fields
  • 211 new endowed scholarships to attract and support talented and deserving students
  • 33 new endowed chairs and 59 new endowed professorships to recruit and retain world leaders in many disciplines who continue to make important breakthroughs in academics, the sciences, medicine and health care
  • Recognition as the Top Young University in the nation — and 10th globally — in The Times Higher Education World University Rankings
  • Record research funding, which has led to the development of new technologies, treatments and therapies and more effective commercialization of discoveries
  • Patient care that is at the vanguard of precision medicine
  • Construction of key new facilities and continued growth as one of the most vibrant, state-of-the-art and sustainable campuses in the nation

“Just driving down University Boulevard, you can see the dramatic transformation of this campus,” Warren said. “And inside these new state-of-the-art facilities, there are top faculty who are making major breakthroughs, and there are talented students in classrooms and labs who are future leaders in their fields.”

UAB’s previous philanthropic campaign took place between 1999 and 2003 and well exceeded its goal of $350 million, which at the time was the largest ever undertaken by an Alabama university. UAB raised $388.7 million.

A recent study concluded that UAB provides an economic impact of $7.15 billion in Alabama and supports more than 64,000 jobs in the state. With more than 23,000 employees, UAB is the state of Alabama’s largest single employer.

“We are a national leader among comprehensive public urban research universities with academic medical centers because of the people who work and learn here every day, and because of our donors who have demonstrated their belief in the efforts of our students, faculty and staff by giving so generously throughout this campaign,” Watts said.

To learn more about The Campaign for UAB, follow its progress or give, visit