Happy 50th Birthday UAB! On June 16, 1969, the state of Alabama established the university

Birmingham, Alabama, UAB
Blaze statue at the UAB Collat School of Business building. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now.

According to UAB tradition and history,  on June 16, 1969, Alabama Governor Albert P. Brewer announced the establishment of The University of Alabama System which was comprised of autonomous campuses in Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, and Huntsville.

On that day, University of Alabama in Birmingham (UAB) became one of the three universities in the new three-campus system.

Unofficially…. June 16, 2019 is UAB’s 50th birthday.


A community that inspires all of us here in the Magic City, in celebration of UAB’s big day, below is a list of Bham Now’s favorite UAB stories over the past 3 years.

Happy Birthday Blazers!

Emma, UAB’s new 90-ton cancer-fighting cyclotron, is the coolest thing since sliced bread

Birmingham, Alabama, UAB Proton Therapy Center, cyclotron
Here comes Emma. Photo via UAB University Relations

Bham Now’s Terri Robertson’s March 2019 story about UAB’s Proton Therapy Center, best describes how the university is on the cutting edge of medical science and technology. Bottomline, this new facility, which opens in 2020 will save countless lives.

UAB professor and explorer James McClintock recognized globally for efforts in Antarctica

UAB researchers in Antarctica. Photo via James McClintock’s Facebook page.

When folks say UAB sends its people to the “ends of the earth” to discover vaccines or learn more about our changing planet, they are not kidding.  Dr. James McClintock is just one of the many modern day explorers that reside on campus.

IMG 1478 Happy 50th Birthday UAB! On June 16, 1969, the state of Alabama established the university
Photo by UAB’s Jim McClintock

21st Century Indiana Jones in our midst – UAB’s Sarah Parcak

Sarah Parcak giving TED talk
via TED.com

Talking about explorers – UAB is also home to Sarah Parcak, acclaimed space archeologist, National Geographic Explorer and TED Prize winner. We love her GlobalXplorer program and the fact that this past Spring, she was a Jeopardy question.

Screen Shot 2019 03 19 at 7.19.22 AM Happy 50th Birthday UAB! On June 16, 1969, the state of Alabama established the university
Screenshot of the $400 Jeopardy answer that appeared on the March 18, 2019 show about UAB’s Sarah Parcak.

Playing for the names on their backs. UAB football and Children’s Harbor inspires Birmingham

Screen Shot 2019 06 16 at 7.08.06 AM Happy 50th Birthday UAB! On June 16, 1969, the state of Alabama established the university
Photo from UAB Athletics Facebook page

One of our favorite Bham Now stories over the past two years was about football, and EVERYONE was a winner.

UAB head coach Bill Clark started the Homecoming tradition of swapping  the names of his players on the back of their jerseys with the names of the children at Children’s Harbor. We still get chills, seeing the video of the UAB players blocking the game winning kick at the 2017 Homecoming game and seeing the hugs and smiles from the UAB players and coaches and the children from Children’s Harbor.

UAB named diversity champion by nation’s oldest and largest diversity higher education magazine

UAB student
UAB’s BMen mentorship program. Photo courtesy of UAB

You have got to love, Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion’s guiding principal – UAB Inspiring Equity and Inclusive Excellence, Every Day. UAB is proud to have one of the most diverse campuses in Alabama and the Southeast.

Along with diversity – UAB is highly ranked in numerous categories:

UAB School of Dentistry named one of the top dental schools in the world

UAB ranked one of the top young universities in the U.S. by Times Higher Education

UAB ranks #191 out of 18,000 universities worldwide in the Center for World University Rankings

5 ways UAB Sustainability plans to transform Birmingham and Alabama

arbor 2326 Happy 50th Birthday UAB! On June 16, 1969, the state of Alabama established the university
Group photo of UAB staff, students and faculty after the 2019 Arbor Day celebration. Photo courtesy of UAB Sustainability

Last year, UAB  launched a new sustainability strategic plan that will transform the university’s academic and medical campus by the year 2025.  UAB is going green.   They are building new energy efficient dorms and research facilities, planting and protecting trees and reducing waste everywhere. The campus is transforming – becoming greener – before our eyes.

Recycling at UAB. Photo courtesy of UAB Sustainability

Blaze means business. A sneak peek of the Blaze statue in front of the new UAB Collat School of Business building

UAB Blaze
Blaze statue and Ken Jackson in front of the UAB Collat School of Business. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

If you want to see someone who loves UAB and is passionate about giving back to his alma mater – meet Birmingham’s Ken Jackson. Check out his story about the Blaze statue in front of the new Collat School of Business building – and meaning of “Blaze Means Business.”

Most exciting 35 seconds in sports, the UAB Homecoming Gurney Derby

UAB’s winning Gurney Derby team Public Enema #1. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

And of course UAB is fun.  Who else has a Gurney Derby on campus? No other university can pull that off.

Happy 50th Birthday UAB!

More than just a college campus, UAB is our community’s largest employer, a global leader in medicine and research and most importantly our neighbors and friends.

Thank goodness, 50 years ago, folks had the vision to create a great university here in Birmingham.

Pat Byington
Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.

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