UAB's new strategic plan is 'Forging the Future'

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vulcan over campusUAB’s strategic plan capitalizes on its unique strengths and momentum and lays the groundwork for the next five years of growth.

In a campuswide town hall meeting, leaders at UAB revealed a new strategic plan, “Forging the Future,” that establishes goals and objectives for each of the university’s four mission pillars: education; research, innovation and economic development; community engagement; and patient care. Read it online at


The goals outlined in Forging the Future share three common themes:

  • increasing access to UAB’s world-class education, patient care and research
  • enhancing alignment of people and programs to reflect the interdisciplinary nature of 21st century curricula, work and scientific and creative investigation and
  • investment in grand ideas to tackle important problems facing society.   

“Throughout our five decades, UAB has been an institution that has dreamed bold dreams — and accomplished them,” said UAB President Ray Watts. “With Forging the Future, we asked stakeholders from across campus to take a close look at the trends and challenges facing higher education and academic medical centers as we move forward in the 21st century. They have developed a plan that capitalizes on UAB’s unique strengths and the momentum that we have experienced in the past few years. This plan lays the groundwork for our next five years of growth at UAB.”

In fall 2017, UAB announced its largest-ever enrollment, with more than 20,900 students. Major investments in faculty recruiting and infrastructure, enabled in part by the success of the Campaign for UAB, have brought the state’s fastest supercomputer and internet service to campus, along with numerous nationally and internationally renowned hires. New construction underway includes a high-profile home for the UAB Collat School of Business and Bill L. Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, a second building for the College of Arts and Sciences on the Campus Green and an expanded School of Nursing.

“These investments in teaching, technology and facilities combine to cement UAB’s place as a national leader,” said Senior Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit, who co-chairs the UAB Strategic Planning Council. “The universities that will succeed in the increasingly competitive environment of higher education are those that are able to remain a first choice for top students, faculty and staff. Forging the Future establishes the goals and strategies that will guide our investments over the coming years.”

Faculty, staff, students and alumni can comment and ask questions online at at

As Forging the Future moves forward, incorporating UAB community input, the Strategic Planning Council will establish metrics to measure progress toward its goals and objectives. These metrics and results will be shared in a publicly accessible dashboard on the website.

One of the first initiatives related to the Forging the Future plan is the UAB Grand Challenge, led by Vice President for Research Chris Brown. The concept will develop a campuswide consensus around one or more significant problems facing society that UAB will take on, using interdisciplinary approaches to develop new technologies, treatments and/or policies.

Hundreds of students, faculty, staff and alumni shared input for the plan online and in a series of town hall meetings and listening sessions, Watts said. “We deeply appreciate their contributions and encourage all members of the UAB community to read and respond to the strategic plan,” Watts said. “This is only the beginning of Forging the Future. It is an organic plan, designed to adapt to the needs and challenges that arise in a responsive manner befitting the innovative spirit of UAB.”