Alabama Academy of Honor


Carol Z. Garrison

The following biographical sketch was compiled at the time of induction into the Academy in 2010.



Carol Z. Garrison exemplifies a 21st century university president. As president of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, she oversees the largest academic engine of economic growth in our state, with an annual impact of $3.6 billion on Alabama. She chairs the board of the UAB Health System, which includes UAB Hospital, The Kirklin Clinic, and other of UAB’s nationally and internationally ranked patient care facilities. As CEO of Alabama’s largest single employer, she directs a workforce of more than 18,000 faculty and staff and some 56,000 jobs statewide related to the university and the health system.

One of three children, Garrison was born in 1952 and raised in Upper Montclair, New Jersey. After graduating from public schools, Garrison enrolled in the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, where she earned a nursing degree in 1974. The following year, she began her nursing career at UAB Hospital and earned her master’s at UAB in 1976. In 1982, she was awarded a doctorate in epidemiology from UNC-Chapel Hill. From 1982 to 1997, she held several positions at the University of South Carolina, including faculty member in epidemiology, department chair, dean, and provost. In 1997, she joined the University of Louisville as provost and was appointed interim president in early 2002. Later that year, the University of Alabama’s Board of Trustees unanimously elected her president of UAB. Garrison’s return to Birmingham and her alma mater marked a major milestone in her career.

Since 2002, Garrison has overseen more than $1 billion in new construction and renovations, and the University has raised $598.7 million (with a record $96.5 million in 2009) for scholarships and other priorities. Overall and graduate enrollments have reached record highs for two consecutive years. UAB remains in the top 30 for federal research funding and in the top 20 in funding from the National Institutes of Health, and is among only a handful of universities ranked by the Carnegie Foundation in both the highest tier for “research activity” and the “community engagement” classification. It was ranked by The Scientist magazine as one of the “Top 5 Best Places to Work in Academia,” and its innovative academic programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels are nationally respected. According to the 2010 Academic Ranking of World Universities, UAB is among the top 100 universities in the United States and the top 200 universities in the world.

A well-known and respected community leader, Garrison serves on numerous boards, including the Birmingham Business Alliance, Operation New Birmingham, Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, and Southern Research Institute. She has served on the boards of the Metropolitan Development Board, Region 2020, the Rotary Club of Birmingham, and United Way.

Now in her ninth year as president, Garrison continues working in partnership with the campus and the community towards an extraordinary vision for UAB and for Birmingham.

Garrison is married to Julian Banton, and they have three daughters and six grandchildren.