Is it time for UAB to change its name?

UABIt never would have crossed my mind.

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?

Let’s turn Birmingham around.  Click here to sign up for our newsletter.  There’s power in numbers. (Opt out at any time)

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).


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14 thoughts on “Is it time for UAB to change its name?”

  1. You have good intentions wanting to promote Birmingham, but this would be disastrous. UAB has struggled with being called Alabama-Birmingham which has only cheapened the school’s brand. In order to establish the independent branding you speak of, we don’t need to try to be the offbrand UA. We need to be our own University, UAB.

    When someone from Minnesota hears UAB, I want to them to think of an independent University with no association to Tuscaloosa. When someone from Minnesota hears UA Birmingham, they’ll think of it as off brand UA.

    UAB doesn’t need a name change, it needs a leadership change at all levels.

  2. *This is an outstanding idea!  Birmingham needs to be front & center.  This is an urban university, with practically ZERO  in common with it’s preppy neighbor to the west!

  3. Sorry, but hell no. The thought of my alma mater being called “UA Birmingham” makes me sick to my stomach. Considering the ugly past of UAB and the UA System Board of Trustees, this is a terrible, terrible idea.

    We are not UA. And we like it that way. 

  4. I think you had the best of intentions, but this is not it. UAB is The University of Alabama at Birmingham. We are not UA-birmingham. 

    So by your own writing, will the Tuscaloosa campus call themselves UAT. You yourself just wrote “The University of California has ten state schools–each with a strong identity.  There’s UCLA, UC Berkley, UC Irvine, UC San Diego, etc.” So we can reasonably assume it would be UA Tuscaloosa, UA Birmingham, and UA Huntsville in the UA System. This would finally open up the opportunity for a board of regents for the school system.

    “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.” Which UA are you talking about? Because UAT has prestige as football U. UAB has cultivated the medical school along with Birmingham. Since UAT won’t prop up UAB’S football or basketball team, why should UAB use it’s medical school to prop up UAT.

  5. *Glad to see the idea of a name change being talked about.. but would rather drop the A or the UA if  UAB is to be recognized as an independent, autonomous university. 

  6. Absolutely NOT.  We’ve already spent a ton of time and money branding ourselves as UAB, we’re not going to throw that down the drain.  Not to mention all the strife that has occurred between UAB and the BOT- we want separation, not assimilation. 

    Just when I think you can’t get any more tone deaf, David Sher, you go and write some junk like this.

  7. It’s been mentioned before, but not by anyone higher up than the president of the university.

    Unless you count UAB employee John Rogers who suggested “Jefferson County Birmingham University” in 2007.

  8. I would definitely like to see “Birmingham” highlighted for UAB, but as a UAB alumnus I would rather not champion the connection to UA at all. You’re right about the UA brand being powerful, but UAB needs to be powerful on it’s own. UAB’s football plight was very traumatic for us. There is no animosity toward UA at all. Many UAB folks rally for the Crimson Tide every weekend. But the sheer cruelty of UAB’s relationship with the UA Systems Board of Trustees has been a nightmare. UAB needs to sever our relationship to that board if there is any way possible. We suspect that by doing so, they will attempt to disconnect us from UAB Medical School which they frequently make a point of saying is theirs, not ours. They literally tell nursing students to call the school “The University of Alabama at The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing.” I am not making this up. They actually have new nursing students practice saying it.  So there is bad blood with the UA Systems BOT.  I don’t know if this could ever happen but it would be wonderful to really be “The Birmingham Blazers.” Thank you for bringing it up.  The Birmingham Blazers is exactly where those of us who fought to bring back Blazer Football want us to be….just without the UA.

  9. While certain to be unpopular with football fanatics, how about University of Alabama Biomedicine? Biomedicine has been the growth stimulant and source of recognition for UAB and Birmingham. Brand UAB for our excellence in biomedicine. The range of biomedicine is from molecule to man in clinic and in the community. Health matters more than helmets. Biomedicine is the future for our community and for our country not football.  

  10. *UAB doesn’t have a medical school. The University of Alabama School of Medicine operates on both the campus in Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, however the school is associated through the University of Alabama and not UAB. Check out the diploma of any MD that graduated and it is clearly from UA and not UAB. Why do you think UAB has an alumni association and so does the medical school?…because many doctors don’t want to be associated with a school in which they did not belong , but rather they want to support the school in which they learned and trained.

    If UAB were to go out on its own and break away from UA what do you think would happen? Do you think UA would simply allow UAB to lay claim to the school of medicine via annexation or eminent domain? Nope, not a chance. Do you think UAB could ever raise the money to buy the school of medicine from UA? Again not a chance. 

    I think rebranding/renaming isn’t really about the school but about external forces. If leaders of the trustees and UAB want to rename then so be it, but right now this argument is like me trying to tell my neighbor what color to paint his house…it isn’t any of my business or anyone else’s unless you are a leader at UAB or a trustee.  

  11. The School of Medicine DOES belong to UAB.  It frankly always has, and the official rebranding was done in 2004.  Not saying the UA System would ever let UAB break away, but let’s not live in the past.  Today it’s the UAB School of Medicine, not UASOM.

  12. Tradition only becomes tradition if you stick with it. UAB. It has tradition. I think an “unofficial moniker” couldn’t hurt if organically produced and grown by those that represent UAB’s tradition. B’hamU (pronounced: “bam•u” or “b•ham•u” perhaps?) Just a thought. Gooooooooo Blazers! ~UAB Alum circa 1996 & 2000.

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