UAB’s Curtis A. Carver Jr., Ph.D., honored as top leader in information technology by AlabamaCIO

COVID-19-related innovations in technology land Curtis A. Carver Jr., Ph.D., among top leaders in Alabama.
Written by: Kerry Bean
Media contact: Alicia Rohan

Headshot of UAB Vice President and Chief Information Officer Curtis A. Carver Jr., Ph.D.Curtis A. Carver Jr., Ph.D.Following a year of technology projects designed to combat COVID and improve student success amid the pandemic, UAB Vice President and Chief Information Officer Curtis A. Carver Jr., Ph.D., received the 2021 Leadership Award today from AlabamaCIO.

The award was presented during the organization’s annual Alabama CIO of the Year ORBIE Awards ceremony June 4, which honors top technology leaders across the state. Carver is one of only two educational CIOs to receive the Leadership Award, as well as one of only two CIOs to win an ORBIE in two different states (Alabama and Georgia) in the 23-year history of the awards. The award comes on the heels of UAB IT’s being named a 2021 CIO 100 winner, putting the university among company including Adobe, Charles Schwab and GE. 

“Curt is an industry leader who has transformed UAB Information Technology to consistently provide more and better services for our students, faculty and staff,” said UAB President Ray L. Watts. “But that isn’t where Curt’s focus on maximizing the positive impact of the knowledge and experience he and his team offer ends. There is no greater example of that than when he rolled up his sleeves to help the city, state and nation get through COVID-19 — work that truly saved lives and livelihoods.” 

Since March 2020, Carver’s team engaged in COVID-related innovations that impacted not only the UAB campus but the state and the nation. UAB Information Technology led the development of the GuideSafe™ COVID exposure notification app using Google and Apple technology, allowing Alabama to be one of the first states to deploy such an app — and the only state to use a patent-pending automated positive test verification tool that streamlined work for the Alabama Department of Public Health.

UAB IT also built the informatics system for COVID reentry testing for college students statewide and was involved in the Healthcheck symptom survey and passport app used across Alabama.

Even as UAB IT focused on technology to help combat COVID, the team also targeted ways to pivot successfully from in-person to hybrid and remote work and classes. Carver credited his team in UAB IT as well as strategic partners across campus for the successes of the past year.

“Our work in 2020 has really advanced us at least five years in terms of technology,” Carver said. “None of this would have been possible without laying the groundwork over the past few years for a strong technology ecosystem at UAB.” 

With a robust technology infrastructure built by Carver’s team over the past five years already in place, UAB used CARES Act funding to invest in improvements including cameras and other technology in the classroom to allow instructors to broadcast and record courses for remote students; Wi-Fi access points in UAB parking lots and a statewide free Wi-Fi map to expand internet access not only to campus students and employees but to students across Alabama; and occupancy sensors to create safe, socially distanced study spaces in campus buildings, along with a dashboard to measure capacity. 

“Student success is crucial to our success,” Carver said. 

In early 2021, UAB IT and Student Affairs also deployed a student mental health app, UAB B Well, that has since been expanded to include employees. The app was the result of a request from students whose mental health has been impacted by the pandemic.

And while students and employees are returning to campus, UAB IT is by no means slowing down. 

“In IT, we’re not just running servers; our charge is to be agents of innovation,” Carver said. “Every year, our goal is to achieve at least 100 technology wins for campus; in 2020, we surpassed 140. We will never stop striving to improve the lives of our customers in a meaningful way.”