Named after one of the founding faculty and first assistant dean of academic affairs of the UAB School of Public Health, the Dr. Herman F. Lehman Classroom is the largest in the Ryals Public Health Building.

The classroom is a tribute to one of the most colorful and beloved figures in the School’s history, and is a focal point for School activities, hosting everything from student presentations to lectures from visiting speakers.

In his time at UAB, Dr. Herman F. Lehman Jr., DDS, MPH played an unforgettable role in educating and equipping a generation of students who went on to accomplish remarkable feats in public health. Dr. Lehman’s impact on students was immense and widespread. Originally trained as a dentist, Dr. Lehman transitioned into a second career of academia and quickly distinguished himself as a tireless advocate for both his students and the field of epidemiology. A believer in the Socratic method, he mentored hundreds of students through probing questions and riddles, and in the 1970s, went on to help save UAB’s academic program in epidemiology and is credited for creating the first cancer registry in Alabama history. In the late 1980s, Dr. Lehman directed the UAB School of Public Health’s Gulf Shores satellite weekend MPH program, and it was not uncommon for classes in Gulf Shores to be paired with walks along the beach, allowing students to continue their lively discussions. He was passionate about teaching epidemiology and biostatistics to students from lower Alabama who were eager to delve into the public health field but were unable to travel to Birmingham to take courses.

Dr. Lehman is also remembered for his artistic impact that went beyond the classroom. He took great pride in creating and leading the South 20th Street Skiffle Society, a band composed entirely of UAB School of Public Health faculty and staff, who often performed at popular Birmingham venues. In his free time, Dr. Lehman expounded upon his encyclopedic knowledge of baseball trivia, college football lore, and jazz history. He often regaled students with private concerts from the comfort of the piano in his office, and even taught a night course on the history of jazz.

Sixteen years after dedicating the classroom in Dr. Lehman’s memory, renovating and updating the classroom became one of the School of Public Health’s top priorities. The renovation involved upgrading the classroom lighting to LED, and improving the flooring, walls, ceiling, and window treatments. The latest classroom technology and projection surfaces were installed to enhance the delivery of on-campus and remote learning instruction formats. The former fold-up desk top surfaces have been converted to larger, stationary desktops with the addition of ADA-compliant seating, all while maintaining the Lehman’s room capacity for 120 guests. The classroom’s renovation was led by the UAB School of Public Health’s Director of Administration & Fiscal Affairs, Leigh Anne Robertson.

“On behalf of the UAB School of Public Health, we are delighted to honor Dr. Lehman’s legacy through this state-of-the-art renovation to the RPHB 407 classroom,” said Paul Erwin, M.D., DrPH, dean of the UAB School of Public Health. “I want to thank the many generous donors to this project, whose names are included in a wall-mounted plaque in the room. The thoughtful decisions made to upgrade the technology and learning spaces in this classroom will allow for an enhanced educational experience for both our public health students and guests of visiting speakers. We are proud of the Dr. Herman F. Lehman Classroom and I look forward to witnessing the exchanges of ideas and knowledge that will unfold within it.”

With the help of dedicated partners in the community, the UAB School of Public Health has been able to ensure not only that the classroom provides a world-class environment for our students, but also that it lives up to Dr. Lehman’s extraordinary legacy. In addition to funding provided by the UAB School of Public Health, a fundraising campaign led by the School of Public Health’s Alumni Affairs team raised nearly $25,000 towards the total cost. The school held a ribbon cutting ceremony on October 15th, 2021, and activities in the classroom have officially resumed.

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