But when a friend suggested that UAB change its name, my first reaction was ‘what a great idea, why didn’t I think of that?”
I’ve thought about it ever since. The more I think about it the more I like it.
His idea is to change UAB’s name to UA Birmingham.
This makes sense on so many levels.
UA Birmingham gives us an opportunity to take advantage of both the UA brand and promote Birmingham at the same time.
And there’s precedent from other states with multiple Division 1 schools within their systems.
The University of California has ten state schools–each with a strong identity. There’s UCLA, UC Berkley, UC Irvine, UC San Diego, etc.
This is technically not a name change since our name is already The University of Alabama at Birmingham, but a change in what we call ourselves would make a difference.
This is about identity more than appellation. Nothing changes in a material way within the organization, but to the UA Birmingham alumni, student body, staff, faculty and other supporters, there would be a more clearly identified and unique institutional identity.
This is in many ways more powerful because it is about self-identification. It is about unifying the support for this institution. While still identifying with the overall state system, UA Birmingham wants to assert itself, have its voice, and proudly say, “I’m from Birmingham.” Don’t you like the ring of the Birmingham Blazers?
UA has one of the strongest, if not the strongest, state college name brand in America and this would give UA Birmingham the opportunity to take advantage of this reputation. This would also be good for UA because ‘UA’ in the name would gain the prestige of UA Birmingham’s Medical School, research, and other high level programs.
Birmingham is going through a renaissance. We take pride in our city and it would be great to include our Birmingham name in ‘our’ school rather than have the ‘B’ for Birmingham buried in the initials.
This past year has been difficult for UAB’s local image and its football program. Maybe it’s time for a new, fresh brand.
Think about it…
September 2, 2017, the UA Birmingham football team sprints onto the field with a new team, a new stadium, and a new name.
What do you think?
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David Sher is co-CEO of AmSher Compassionate Collections. He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).