Sept. 14, 2007
Media Contact: Deborah Lucas
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Two of the state’s most influential corporate and community leaders have been recognized by The University of Alabama Board of Trustees with the renaming of the Industrial Distribution program in the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Business as the Charles and Patsy Collat Industrial Distribution Program. The Board passed a resolution naming the program and accepting the couples’ latest gift to UAB, $1 million to the ID program, at its Thursday, Sept. 13, meeting.
“A more fitting name could not be possible,” said Robert Holmes, Ph.D., dean of the UAB School of Business. “This honors not only their most recent gift of $1 million toward the program, but also their leadership and vision that created the program. The Collat family and a number of other individuals and firms provided the funding to establish the Ben S. Weil Endowed Chair of Industrial Distribution in 1990 in honor of Patsy Collat's father, Ben S. Weil, founder of Mayer Electric.” At that time, funds also were provided for a Program Enrichment Fund to support student travel and other experiential activities. The Ben S. Weil Chair is held by Thomas DeCarlo, Ph.D.
Mr. Collat is chairman of Mayer Electric Supply Co. Inc., which was established in 1930 by Mrs. Collat’s father Ben S. Weil. Mayer is not only one of Birmingham’s largest privately held corporations; it is one of the top 15 electrical distributors in the county. It has grown from one location to 59 throughout the country.
The Weil chair was the first non-medical endowed chair at UAB. It helped attract talented leadership to the School of Business, which offers the degree-granting Industrial Distribution program—the only one of its kind in the Southeast and one of only 17 in the country. The Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Distribution is a highly specialized joint program between the Schools of Business and Engineering. The chair is currently held by Thomas E. DeCarlo, Ph.D., an internationally known educator and researcher in the area of industrial distribution. DeCarlo recently expanded the program to include a medical supplies and equipment track to complement the traditional industrial program.
In addition to their own gift, Mr. and Mrs. Collat will spearhead a campaign to raise an additional $1 million from suppliers and other key contacts within the Industrial Distribution industry, and these funds will be designated to support the program’s growth.
“We are very proud of this program and the support we have received from UAB,” Collat said. “It is an important program since we have had a 100 percent placement rate for graduates, and in fact there have been more jobs available than students to fill the need. Therefore, the program is being expanded to meet the need for these graduates. The program is nationally recognized for the quality of its graduates.”
The Collats’ support for UAB cuts across campus. In addition to serving on numerous influential campus committees, the Collats along with Mayer Electric Supply Co. Inc., and the Mayer Electric Supply Foundation, created the Charles A. and Patsy W. Collat Endowed Chair in Neurosurgery in the School of Medicine. The chair is held by professor of surgery Mark Hadley, M.D., an internationally recognized leader in spinal diseases and spinal cord injury, and director of the neurosurgery residency-training program and the neurosurgery spine fellowship program.
Other programs that have received support include UAB Athletics, the UAB Center for Palliative and Comfort Care, surgery, AIDS, ophthalmologic and cancer research. In 2000, the Collats and Mayer Electric Supply Foundation Inc. awarded a grant to the School of Education’s Ready to Learn in School Preschool Preparation Project designed to help at-risk children in Birmingham improve their language skills, and funded pioneering Education Accountability research.
“We have been able to do some things that make us feel awfully good, and our work with the School of Education is one of them,” Mr. Collat said.
Mrs. Collat said she is pleased that her father’s company and UAB have grown to be such an important part of the life of the community.
“We have grown up with Birmingham, just like UAB,” Mrs. Collat said. “My father would be so happy to know the company has grown with the city and, through our children, will continue to grow and contribute.”