DSC 1304(L/R) Tee Hiett, Scotty McCallum, Howard Houser, William Ferniany and Bob HernandezWilliam Ferniany, Ph.D., CEO of the UAB Health System and double alumnus of the UAB School of Health Professions, was named the 2016 UAB National Alumni Society’s Distinguished Alumni Award. Ferniany is a graduate of our #2 in the nation Master of Science in Health Administration (1975) program and our Doctor of Philosophy, Administration-Health Services (1984) program.

"First, I'm thankful for great professors like Dr. Howard Houser, Dr. Tee Hiett and Dr. Bob Hernandez - they really taught me more than they know and I thank them so much for all they did for me," said Ferniany in his acceptance comments. "Finally, if I had not come to UAB I would not have met and married my wife Dana and had two wonderful daughters. So I owe UAB a lot and it really should be me recognizing UAB, not the other way around."

Since 2008, as CEO of the state’s largest employer, UAB Health System, Ferniany has guided the hospital to a top 50 national ranking and constant recognition as one of the best in the U.S. He himself has been named one of Birmingham’s Most Influential by the Birmingham Business Journal and a “Hospital and Health System CEO to Know” by the nationally respected Becker’s Hospital Review.

A nomination letter for Ferniany added:

“Dr. Ferniany is more than a list. He is more than a name. He continues to set the standard for the “UAB Way” – excellence in all endeavors. And when we say he leads the UAB Health System we mean he is a caring, compassionate soul out in front with unique and distinctive ideas about the future of all health systems and all health care.”

SEE MORE: NAS event photos on Flickr


In 2013, Ferniany commissioned the Movi – lift chairs that raise patients and minimize fall risk – and today they are used regularly at UAB Hospital, Kirklin Clinic and the Birmingham VA Hospital.

In 2015, Ferniany spoke out against what was called Alabama’s “slash and burn Medicaid” amendment. He pointed out that this cut could lead to layoffs and closure of hospitals across the state placing the needs of nearly 1 million Alabamians at the forefront of his efforts.

The nomination letter went on to say:

“By definition, distinguished means ‘successful, authoritative, and commanding great respect.’ As you can see, by definition that is Dr. Ferniany both within and around UAB, Birmingham and Alabama. I cannot think of anyone more deserving of the UAB Distinguished Alumni Award.”

Ferniany received the award at the UAB National Alumni Society’s 16th annual Alumni Award celebration. Also honored at the event was UAB School of Health Professions Dean Harold P. Jones, Ph.D., who was named the winner of the 2016 UAB Honorary Alumni Award. Jones, who is the longest tenured dean at UAB, received the award given to “a member of the UAB family who has made exceptional contributions to UAB and its programs.”