Posted by William Nunnelley on 2004-09-21

Dr. Joseph F. Volker, the first president of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, was inducted into the Alabama Men’s Hall of Fame at Samford University Tuesday, Sept. 21. He was honored during the annual Men’s Hall of Fame luncheon at The Club.

Founded by the Alabama Legislature in 1987, the hall recognizes men "whose lives have impacted the state, nation and world." Honorees must have been deceased at least two years. The Birmingham Women’s Committee of 100 sponsors the program. HOF board members represent Alabama’s seven Congressional districts.

Volker (1913-1989) was a renowned researcher, educator and administrator who was instrumental in the development of UAB, where his career spanned more than 40 years. He came to UAB in 1948 as the first dean of The University of Alabama School of Dentistry.

A native of Elizabeth, N.J., Volker held the D.D.S. degree from Indiana University and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Rochester, where he conducted groundbreaking studies on the use of fluorides in the prevention of dental decay. Volker was named dean of the Tufts College Dental School near Boston in 1945 and joined UAB three years later.

During the 1950s and '60s, he took on growing responsibilities at UAB, first as director of Research and Graduate Studies and as vice president for Health Affairs. He was named president of UAB in 1969 and in 1976 became the first chancellor of the three-campus University of Alabama System, a post he held until 1982.

From then until his death, he served as distinguished professor of UAB.

Volker received the Distinguished Faculty Lectureship at the Medical Center in 1966. He was also named to the Alabama Healthcare Hall of Fame and the Alabama Academy of Honor.


Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 37th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 97th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,758 students from 48 states and 22 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference, and ranks 1st nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.