From SACS Principles of Accreditation:

From SACS Principles of Accreditation: 3.2.11 The institution’s chief executive officer has ultimate responsibility for, and exercises appropriate administrative and fiscal control over, the institution’s intercollegiate athletics program. (Control of intercollegiate athletics)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Understanding UAB Part 4: What UAB Is

By Ralph Harbison

Hopefully, you have started to understand the particulars of the UAB situation. We have a story to tell that runs against the common belief system and has no ties to it, other than location.

After the second and third parts, you should understand why the UAB Family has a hard time getting others, especially the highly indoctrinated Alabama fan, to understand the UAB Brand.

Basically, UAB is not the University of Alabama in any way, shape, or form and does not ever wish to be. It is in our differences that we find our greatest strength as an institution and a family.

Now, it is time to see exactly what UAB is, to read the brand as it is written by members of the UAB Family. While I am the one putting these thoughts on paper, please understand that I have not created them from whole cloth, as much as I would like to claim it. No, I have compiled this message from countless conversations with UAB students, alumni, faculty, staff, patients, and fans.

This is our story. This is our brand.

UAB is a place of learning, from the undergraduate part of the university, through the medical side of campus, in every sense of the word, UAB is about learning. We learn from each other, lessons about life, love, academics, and everything else. We learn from the finest faculty, trained in both the best university settings and in the real life experiences of the world.

UAB is a place of teaching, in every way. We educate each other, both inside and outside of the classroom. We are invested in each other, and we show that by helping others learn, from students looking for knowledge to patients looking for answers. And we teach life beyond the classroom.

UAB is a place of dreams, from the incoming freshman with ambitions, to the researcher seeking for the next promising drug, to the parents of a newborn thinking about tomorrow as the child sleeps in their arms, to the patient closing his or her eyes for the last night on earth, UAB is the place that ties them all together.

UAB is a place of reality, from the class work to the research and in the hospital, we stay grounded in our thoughts, focusing on the here and now and how we can do more.

UAB is a place of the future of the world, from students who will change the lives of others to the newborns in the hospital, UAB is working towards and focused on tomorrow.

UAB is a place of life in all of its phases, from the vibrant student to the physically ill, from those just starting life to those reaching its end, all aspects of life are present and part of the UAB experience.

UAB is more than a commuter school or medical center. UAB has student life for those who want to be involved. UAB has well respected faculty in all majors, from accounting to zoology. To ignore that is to deny reality.

UAB’s College of Arts and Sciences, often forgotten amid the medical end, is a confluence of 19 departments, 300 faculty and 40 different degree programs, including some of the best in journalism, English, history, art, music and many others. Our faculty and students are among the best anywhere. And have the accolades to prove it.

UAB is a place of inclusion, where people from all parts of the world, all aspects of life, find what they need, from education to healthcare. UAB sees no class, race, creed, or color, only humanity.

UAB is a part of Birmingham, from the slopes of Red Mountain where the campus sits to the suburbs where so many of the faculty and staff live, UAB is this metro area.

UAB is the engine of the state in economics as a major employer to education as one of the top 150 schools in the world, to healthcare, where it treats the state’s citizens to research where it makes the world better. UAB powers Alabama.

UAB is part of the world as it contributes educated citizens and life changing research. UAB is more than a local or regional school.

UAB is a place of magic for those who look. It is a place that can and should be all things to all people, and it is when we control its fate.

UAB is part of me, forever, and I cannot express that part only through words. Those who share that part understand. Those who do not share it, we only ask that we be left to have what is ours in peace.

Ralph Harbison is a business consultant and personal, business, and wellness coach based in Birmingham. Ralph is also a co-founder and chairman of Dragon PAC, a state political action committee dedicated to education transformation in Alabama. For more about Ralph, visit and to help Dragon PAC, visit

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