As head of alumni programs at the UT Health Science Center in Memphis, Barbara McAdams definitely got around—to hundreds of alumni events attended by thousands of graduates. Retired as of June 2008 with 30 years service, McAdams says she couldn’t have imagined a better job.
“I could not have created a more prefect career for myself,” says the 1972 UT Knoxville education graduate. “Working for UT was an honor and privilege.”
Alumni relations was her job, but she also helped raise money—more than $3.5 million over the years. “In the early eighties I worked on the first alumni-funded million-dollar professorship, in honor of longtime professor of neuroanatomy, Dr. Simon Rulin Bruesch,” McAdams says. “Later I worked with alumni leaders on the College of Medicine Alumni Council Scholarship Endowment named in honor of the late Dean Robert L. Summitt. That fund created a full-ride merit scholarship and provides tuition and fees for two medical students.”
McAdams, who also holds a law degree from the University of Memphis, helped put together the medicine alumni council and worked with the nursing, pharmacy, and dental alumni boards, as well.
She was involved in establishing a $1-million College of Dentistry research endowment and a fund to honor Dr. Joe Hall Morris, a former chair of oral surgery. McAdams helped create the MidSouth Dental Congress, which led to another $1-million endowment, this one honoring Dean Bill Slagle upon his retirement.
McAdams says during her career, business often spilled over into pleasure. “One of the most rewarding parts of my career included working with so many outstanding faculty and staff members and students, and especially with alumni leaders of UTHSC, their spouses—even their children,” she says. “I forged many lasting friendships.”
McAdams was dedicated to improving alumni relations in all the colleges at the UT Health Science Center, says Lofton Stuart, executive director of the UT Alumni Association. “Barbara worked with those colleges to provide a strong, beneficial leadership network.”
UT President Emeritus Joe Johnson, who was in charge of alumni relations during much of McAdams’s tenure, says she did her job well. “Barbara McAdams created exemplary alumni activities that were applauded by alumni of the professional colleges and that generated understanding and support for the academic programs on our Memphis campus.”
Until a permanent replacement is hired, Kris Phillips of the UT Alumni Association staff is serving as acting assistant vice-chancellor at UTHSC.
Surveying the changes during her career, McAdams says she saw alumni boards become more hands-on and more diverse, which strengthened their involvement. “Alumni are the lasting stakeholders of the university’s image and reputation,” she says. “Faculty and staff members come and go, but alumni are alumni throughout a lifetime.”