Tennant McWilliams, Ph.D., dean of the UAB School of Social & Behavioral Sciences (SBS) since 1990, has announced that he is stepping down this summer from that position and returning to the faculty.
“I have served in administrative roles here at UAB for more than a quarter of a century, and I am ready to get back to teaching and writing full time,” McWilliams said. “I look forward to returning to the classroom and helping our students understand history and how it shapes their lives.
“Also, there are several areas of research that have interested me for some time, and now I will have the opportunity to explore them further in depth,” he said.
A noted scholar on Southern history, McWilliams plans to write a biography of Renwick C. Kennedy, a South Alabama preacher who ministered to people dying in World War II before returning to Alabama to become an intense voice for social progress.
The author of three books and numerous scholarly articles, McWilliams has provided presentations on Southern history throughout the nation and been an invited speaker internationally regarding the development of higher education in the United States.
“Under Dr. McWilliams’ leadership, the School of Social & Behavioral Sciences has flourished during the past decade and a half,” said UAB Provost Eli Capilouto. “The faculty, staff and students of the school are involved in the everyday aspects of people’s lives, and their work makes a tremendous difference to all of us. Tennant has led the school through unprecedented growth in terms of programs offered and research endeavors. Additionally, he has led the charge to provide the school with a new home, and that building is under construction now.”
McWilliams joined the UAB faculty in 1974 as an assistant professor of history. In 1978 he was named associate professor and director of undergraduate programs in history. By 1981 he was department chair, a position he held for three years when he was named assistant vice president for academic affairs. He was interim senior vice president for University College before being named dean of SBS in 1990.
Under his leadership, research funding for the school has increased dramatically, reaching $9.3 million annually, and the number of degree-seeking students has nearly doubled to 2,010. Additionally, he has overseen the increase of interdisciplinary programs in subjects including Legal Studies and Mock Trial, Medical Sociology, Developmental Psychology, African-American Studies and Ethnographic Filmmaking.
“The school is positioned to become a major force in many areas,” McWilliams said. “With the construction of a new physical home for the school and the excitement that will bring, I believe now is the time to bring in fresh leadership to infuse even more energy to the school.”