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UNA’s Healthcare Heroes Plaza honors alumni, friends in the field

FLORENCE – The University of North Alabama recently initiated a way to recognize alumni who work in the health field as well as raise money for its nursing college – Healthcare Heroes Plaza. The on-campus site is in front of Harrison Hall, home to Anderson College of Nursing and Health Professions.

Kevin Haslam, vice president for Advancement and Executive Director of the UNA Foundation, said the idea for the plaza came during one of his walks across campus.

Kevin Haslam (UNA contributed)

“I was on a walk with my wife one evening, and we came around in front of Harrison Hall,” he said. “We saw the plaza and thought that it isn’t too dissimilar to Harrison Plaza (near the university’s main entrance). The thought struck us both that we should do here what we have done at Harrison Fountain and Plaza as part of the Legacy Initiative.

“This time, we will create a place to honor all workers in the healthcare professions and the money that’s raised will benefit the Anderson College of Nursing and Health Professions.”

Putting the idea into motion, Haslam worked with donors to fund the site itself, knowing the name would be Healthcare Heroes Plaza. Briget McCabe, a longtime friend of the university whose mother worked as a nurse, created the endowment that will generate an annual fund for use by the College to meet its ongoing needs.

The plaza will also offer opportunities for donors to purchase named bricks, plaques, benches, and trees. At the center of the site is the Opler Clock, a gift to the university by Jack Opler in honor of his wife, Nancy.

Dr. Tara Kirkman (UNA contributed)

Dr. Tera Kirkman, who sees and walks the plaza daily in her role as Anderson College dean, said it is a fitting tribute to the individuals who graduate prepared to go into healthcare fields locally, regionally, and in facilities across the country.

“Establishing Healthcare Heroes Plaza is a tribute to the dedicated healthcare professionals who demonstrate the unwavering commitment to caring for individuals during their most vulnerable moments,” Kirkman said. “The esteemed recognition accorded to nursing and healthcare-related fields in the 2023 U.S. News & World Report jobs list, where they occupy top positions, emphasizes the significance and demand of these roles in our society. Despite the demanding nature and high-pressure environments in these professions, the remarkable contributions of those who serve often go unnoticed. 

“Healthcare Heroes Plaza is a testament to their selfless dedication and offers a well-deserved acknowledgement of their invaluable service.”


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