UAB President Ray Watts, MD Delivers Institutional Presentation to Board of Trustees (Feb 7, 2014)

November 9, 2019 0 By Kody Olson


good morning it’s an honor for me to
have the great pleasure privilege to represent the fine
people that make up UAB which is really what makes this a great institution. I want to say a deep thank you to Chancellor Witt and our
trustees for your support in all that we do to strive to fulfill our mission every day. You’ll hear today in my comments, I think, a lot about partnership and UAB certainly could not be the
institution it is today without the partnership with many people
across the community and state and well beyond. So I’d like to share with
you where we are and where we’re going. Well,
this past year has been a year of accomplishments. We’re
proud of the growth of our student body. It’s been
grown around strengths and opportunities that are unique or special to UAB, and you can
see that the quality of our students and the size of the entering class continues to grow. We’re also very excited
about our partnership with Birmingham and surrounding City
Schools. We are here in the city of Birmingham in
Jefferson County, and we want to make sure that we give all
the students who grow up here an opportunity to
receive a world-class college education that
will prepare them for success in their careers to come. We also have strived to work better with our regional community colleges and we have
put a plan together with them that students admitted to their schools
who successfully complete their two years and graduate are
automatically admitted to UAB. Moreover, we want to make sure that there’s continuity, so we have our counselors on those campuses every week working
with those students to make sure that their early coursework will indeed prepare them to come to UAB
if that’s in the best interest their career goals. Of course, we are in research oriented
university and a world-class academic medical
center. We want to continue to reach new heights of achievement and excellence because it
allows us to develop newer and better treatments for all
patients who come to us with life-threatening and serious
diseases. This year we opened the newly renovated
Wallace Tumor Institute, which has been revolutionized with new
architectural design and with the creation of a world-class
Advanced Imaging Center in the basement that contains the most
powerful cyclotron, which basically bombards particles so
that you can tag a molecule and look deep into the brain or detect
cancer before any other method can detect it. There are new tests that are still research oriented that will allow us to diagnose
Alzheimer’s Disease in somebody who might have a mild memory
problem before they actually express the full
clinical disease. That’s very important as we develop disease-modifying therapies that
can slow down the process or stop the process. We want to diagnosis it as early as possible. We also are proud of a new nuclear
magnetic resonance facility which is a research facility for biological sciences and for drug
development. It’s been a great partnership between the NIH
and other organizations and many parts of UAB–the School of Medicine, the Health Services Foundation and others.
Not only is this available to UAB but it’s available to investigators throughout the state, other universities,
and from industry. We are very excited about our strategic plan. It is truly the
most comprehensive campus-wide strategic plan that we’ve ever developed, and it’s focused on our top strategic priorities that are built around our strengths. Today
in science and medicine, academia and scholarship, you need a great team, not
just individuals, so we want to continue to build a
critical mass of excellence in the areas that we focus on. We are investing our
resources in those priorities and, as you know, we
have just launched a Campaign for UAB that has a goal of
raising a billion dollars and what we’re doing is offering others
the opportunity to invest in the many exciting initiatives across
UAB, across all of our mission pillars, and we want them to
invest alongside with us. And certainly we have always been an innovative organization. We want to
continue to strive, even though we’re large, to be
entrepreneurial, to take advantage of great new ideas, and to turn those into commercializable products where appropriate. And of course we are all about
collaboration. We know that partnership is what’s helped
UAB be the institution it is. Without our
community leaders and our state leaders and our
civic and business leaders and those who’ve donated to invest in the
work being done here, we could not be the institution that we are. We want to
partner with our sister campuses in the system so that we
use a collective intellectual strength and brainpower and person power across all three of our
campuses where we have very complimentary strengths. We had an
excellent meeting yesterday of the presidents and the Chancellor and
others looking for where we can align our activities and align our resources for bigger impact. And as a research leader we
will continue to partner with Southern Research Institute, our close partner here just across the
street from UAB, and HudsonAlpha around genomics. Our
campaign is organized to really support our priorities and
you’ll see that ninety percent of the resources
that we intend to raise will be invested in people and programs. We will invest in facilities but we
really want to give people an opportunity to partner to help create excellence, and that comes from great
faculty and staff and students and leadership. And you see the priorities are focused
on our student experience faculty excellence, service (both locally and nationally, and globally). And we want to continue to strive to be one of the great research
universities in America and beyond. And we have made
economic development a fifth pillar in our mission statement
on purpose because we have such an important role in Birmingham and because we have such a great
opportunity in this state to work with others to
create a knowledge-based economy. For our students, we want to continue to strive to provide increased scholarship support. We don’t want the cost or debt related
to getting a college education or graduate or professional degree to hold our young people back. So a major goal is to raise funds for scholarships. And we are investing significantly with
your approval and help and support in new facilities for our students. And
currently the projects underway are over a hundred million
dollars worth of projects, in our Hill University Student Center
and in our residence hall and other facilities. We have over the last year undertaken a
strategic plan around our Honors College and we have expanded this and we
continue to expand our Honors College so that we can offer the best and
brightest a great opportunity here that goes beyond just the classroom. And
you see there the curriculum in the learning outcomes
that we strive for, as well as the outstanding academic
achievement of these young scholars. We know that diversity and meeting
people from different backgrounds, from different places in the world, and from different cultures helps all of us
grow, and we want our students, while they’re young,
understand that, and to realize as they interact with
cultures across globe that, in the end, we’re all more alike than different. And this
global experience is such a wonderful way for them to
learn many important life lessons. We continue to strive to have exciting undergraduate opportunities here at UAB, and you see here some other new majors, the undergraduate
majors, that we’ve developed just over the last year or so. Our new undergraduate Bachelor of Science
in biomedical sciences is heavily subscribed. it’s a pre-health
oriented undergraduate major. And our new bachelor
of science and public health has become very popular already. We are striving to reach across the campus
and leverage strengths, and the department of neurobiology, which has been centered in the School of Medicine, is now a joint department in the College
of Arts and Sciences, and that partnership has allowed us to
develop an undergraduate major in neuroscience which is one of the most
outstanding in the country, and it gives our students
experience with world-class scientists, even in
their first or second year of college. A very important need that we have
recognized is for students who finish their undergraduate work, they may
want to go on to graduate work or professional school, but perhaps are
not ready or they don’t have quite the right background. In the past those students have taken classes and maybe worked a little bit for a year or so to
try to prepare themselves to be more competitive. Well, our faculty have come together
across many schools to put together a new masters program, a
one-year master’s program, in biomedical and health sciences, which
gives them a graduate degree and rigorous education in the biological and related
sciences. And as you approved this morning, our new
Bachelor of Science and Informatics, with the focus on bioinformatics around
genomic medicine and molecular medicine, is going to be a
signature program for UAB. Under consideration are some new
innovative bachelor’s degrees in immunology, which
is a real strength at UAB, in cancer biology–there’s not
another in the country– and in genetics. And, of course, today online
learning is more important than ever. We continue to grow and strive for excellence in that area. Any university is only going to be as
great as it’s faculty. So we are very excited to have some tremendous new leaders that
have been added to you UAB this year. Doctor Vickers is our new
senior vice president and dean of medicine. Doctor Robert Palazzo is our new dean of the College of Arts
and Sciences. He’s had a very distinguished academic career. Doctor Eric Jack is our new dean of the School of Business, already off to a great start with the signature gift by the Collat family to name the Business School the Collat School of Business. And Doctor Iwan Alexander, who joined us from
Case Western Reserve, is dean of engineering. We’re also equally
excited to have a new leader, a new chief executive officer, of SRI (Southern Research), Doctor Art Tipton, who is an Alabama
native although he’s had a global career in biomedical research and in drug
development. He took over the reins after Jack Secrist
retired this year and is already off to a great start. And as you will hear, the partnership between SRI and UAB around drug discovery and other
innovative economic development opportunities is truly unique. We want to continue to grow because we
know to achieve the goals that we have and to continue to
lead nationally and internationally in science and scholarship, we want to grow with very top faculty.
You see that we have been fortunate because of partnerships,
community support, to have a hundred board-approved endowed chairs and 58 endowed professorships. We want to continue to grow those
because those are an important magnet for the recruitment of top
faculty. You see our goals there on the bottom. We think that we will
meet those and indeed exceed those. This is looks like a busy slide
and I won’t go through it in detail. I just want you to get a sense of the breadth and depth of recruitment
of new talent across the entire university–and you’ll
see many of those areas are our strategic priority areas in our
strategic plan for the School of Medicine and the
Health System. And we of course want to continue to
break new ground in health care. Our University Hospital is second to none. It’s one of the largest and technologically advanced in the world and you see many of the accolades it has garnered. The people in that great University
Hospital are what make it even better and we couldn’t do it
without all of our employees. We see over a million patients a year
annually from throughout the state and throughout the region and nation, and you see here the footprint that UAB
Hospital and UAB Health System has in Alabama. We take care of over 700,000 patients a year from
every county in the state of Alabama and our
1157 baird’s are generally full because people who are really sick wanna be here
to be taken care of we also want to work with physicians and
hospitals across the state to provide outstanding here everywhere we can see everyone we certainly want to
work with all the other health centers to
provide great care in there local environments, and you see
that we have partnerships with almost 20 hospitals statewide. And our AMC 21 strategic plan, which is to help UAB become the preferred academic
medical center the 21st century, is off to a great start and is gaining even greater speed with doctor Vickers as our new leader. You’ll hear in the days
to come and the months to come that we have a very very robust plan to grow. I’ll show you some growth goals that we
have today but I can promise you we’re going to
exceed those if we can do what we expect to do. You see on the
left these disease areas— These are the most important disease is
facing mankind and we want to be continuing to do
research because that’s where every new treatment
comes from—the discovery what’s going wrong in these important
diseases. And in 21st century medicine, genomics is
going to transform our future; we will be able to have our
own individual genomes and look at risk factors for different
diseases and control those earlier than we’ve ever done before. So
“personalized medicine” really means medical care that is directed to that
individual person and their genetic makeup and the
environment that they have lived in. That’s going to be a signature
of our new initiatives. And we also reach people and serve our
community and nation and world through the arts. We have
a world-class performing arts center across the street, the Alys Stephens Center, and you can see that we reach over a
hundred thousand people a year, who come to performances there to hear our faculty and students, but also
world-renowned performers. We played an important role with the
City of Birmingham in the 50 Years Forward celebration. We had our first ever commissioned orchestral and choral composition during that time called
“A More Convenient Season” and it had a wonderful premier
here and just recently premiered in Los Angeles. Our outreach, our arts outreach, has a very powerful impact on Birmingham and surrounding communities and we bring world-class artists to Alys Stephens Center. We also put those artists in touch with our students around the
city and around our communities. Across the street, this unusual looking
building, truly unique in Birmingham, the new Abroms-Engel Institute for Visual Arts, opened a couple weeks ago. Some of you were
with us. That was a fabulous opening at this
beautiful world-class new visual arts facility. It will transform
our ability to educate not only our students but people
throughout Alabama and the nation. These are the student facilities that
we’re investing in with your support and approval. The new
Hill Student Center— You can see the
foundation is being laid on University Boulevard and 14th Street, and it will truly be a world-class
facility that will meet the needs of our students and will serve us for many many years to
come. We also are investing in a new residence
hall. Our residence halls are a hundred percent
full and have been for the last few years and with your
approval and support ground is broken, and we’ll have this ready
by the summer of 2015, right in the heart of the campus. You see some green on that picture—-
that’s meant to show you how, unlike in our past decades where we will build red
brick buildings right up to the street or the sidewalk, we’re trying to incorporate green space
and have a pleasant environment for our students to Live and work in, as well as our
employees. This is really exciting for us. This will
be the next wave of growth after these student facilities: This is the corner of University
Boulevard and 18th Street and this is the current Shelby
Biomedical Research Building. The School of Nursing building is there, they’re planning in addition to that
building. The School of Health Professions is here, and they’ve just added two floors
and renovated their building. We’re renovating now our new Student
Health & Wellness Center. But this building will be the next
research building we plan to build and we’ll bring more
specific plans in the not too distant future. It’s going to
be a genomic medicine and data sciences building that will revolutionize the future of biomedical science and medicine and we want to be on the
forefront. We’re planning for another biomedical research tower, a conference center, and to make this a
research and academic crescent that is a leader in the world. It’s a big investment, it will take
significant resources, and we are already working to plan to garner those resources as we move forward as part of our strategic plan. Well, as I’ve listened and learned over
the last couple years, but the last year in
particular as president, I realize how important UAB is to the economic welfare not only of Birmingham but the state, and we want to grow in our faculty and employees and we want our leaders to
understand that that’s even better than attracting a
manufacturing company to Alabama—not only us but University of
Alabama, University of Alabama in Huntsville,
University of South Alabama, and Auburn. Working together and collaborating together, we can bring very top talent to Alabama. And we intend to do our share at UAB by working and striving to add at least 10 additional outstanding investigators a year. That will have a tremendous impact over
the next five to eight years (you can see on the bottom there). If we do that over the next eight years, we
will create 500 plus high-technology jobs, have a hundred million dollar impact
economically and grow our research funding by 50
million dollars. We intend to do that and do more as we come forward. Our partnership across the community and
state continues to grow around economic
development. Our Research Foundation, the legal entity for intellectual property protection and
commercialization, is more active than ever. Our new Institute
for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is off to a
great start and Innovation Depot, a partnership with
UAB, is almost full, with over 90 companies that are growing and thriving in that
environment. What’s interesting is they graduate about 10 or 12 of those companies
out each year and another 10 or 12 that are
just starting come in. When we feel that up, we’ll build
another one across the street. Our partnerships and collaborations
around research and development reach into the community. We have a great
partnership with the Birmingham Business Alliance, and just this year we got one of 17
National Science Foundation Partnership for Innovation grants around
diamond coating that’s a great boon to our community. We’re collaborating actively with HudsonAlpha, and you see a large NIH grant that we recently
received. And our collaboration with Southern
Research is going extremely well. Over the last four years
or so, we’ve initiated this partnership and already we have about 15 separate
new treatments that are extremely promising for
important diseases like Alzheimer’s, cancer, diabetes. Anyone of those, if they become a treatment, will be a multi-billion
dollar a year treatment because these are really going
after disease modification and treatment and maybe cures. We want to
expand that partnership beyond our investment and are already in
discussions with the Birmingham Business Alliance, with the state and our local governments to match our investments. This past year has been a year of great
accomplishment but it’s also been challenging. You see the
federal sequestration in FY13 cost us 18 million dollars in NIH funding and 16 million dollars of health care funding. But we’re continuing to use the resources we
have as wisely as possible. And while there are
challenges, there are opportunities, and we have worked with Chancellor Witt
and the other campuses this year to try to encourage our governor, who is supportive, and our legislators to maintain the funding that the
governor has recommended at 10 million dollars a year to use to match university investments
and bringing new talent and jobs to Alabama. We’re working hard and we want to continue to work hard
because we know this will pay off. And we certainly are laying the
foundation for our new Genomic Medicine and Data Sciences Building and programs to become a reality. This partnership that we’re in with our community supporters, with you (many
of you have already contributed, as many of our leaders have), but across our community, across the state
and across the nation, we have a very ambitious goal of raising a
billion dollars. It sounds like a daunting task. the good thing is,under the leadership Doctor Shirley Salloway Kahn, our co-chairs—- Trustee Johnny Johns, Michael Warren (who’s CEO of Children’s Hospital) and Theresa Bruno (who’s a wonderful arts innovator and supporter) have agreed to culture this campaign
with us. We’re already at 460 million dollars and counting. We cannot believe how supportive and
positive everybody has been, as we brought the
plans that we have for UAB and our initiatives and programs. We’ve never been turned down; we don’t
always get as much as we might ask for, but we have never been turned
down in investing in this plan. And it’s really
about people, and as I close I want to share with you
this one-minute video that really puts the
human face on our campaign. And you’ll see that we want to educate young people to be
great citizens. We want to cure cancer and Alzheimer’s. We want to open the
future for others through our mission. [soft music] [soft music] [soft music] [soft music] [soft music] [soft music] As we sought to capture in a short but powerful way what we’re about UAB, “knowledge that will
change your world” is what our wonderful team has come up
with. I think all of us at UAB are very proud of
that. The real goal of the campaign is for people to “Give Something–Change
Everything.” Thank you very much for your attention. [applause]