Barefield makes transformative $10 million gift to UAB to bridge criminal justice, entrepreneurship for a better Birmingham – News

A transformative gift from J. Frank Barefield, Jr. to UAB will help create a more prosperous future for Birmingham and beyond.

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Photography: Andrea Mabry
J. Frank Barefield Jr., President of Abbey Residential and Chairman of Crime Stoppers of Metro Alabama, presented a $10 million gift to the University of Alabama at Birmingham and committed $5 million to support UAB J Frank Barefield, Jr. to designate the Department of Criminal Justice at the College of Arts and Sciences and $5 million to designate the UAB J. Frank Barefield, Jr. Entrepreneurship Program at the Collat ​​School of Business. It is the largest single gift given by a UAB alumnus in the university’s history, a legacy designed to reduce crime and spur economic growth in Birmingham.

In addition, this donation will also identify endowed faculty positions to recruit and retain top talent, including the J. Frank Barefield, Jr. Endowed Chair in Criminal Justice and the J. Frank Barefield, Jr. Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship.

“I thought it was time to help others — I earned my MBA from UAB, and I’m very grateful for the benefits this degree has brought me,” Barefield said. “It’s a real sense of accomplishment to get an education and use what you’ve learned to give back to your alma mater. Our economy and our standard of living depend on business – both existing businesses and the creation of new businesses that give every person the opportunity to work and enable their families to live better and more rewarding lives. The more people can donate to educational institutions that expand the new business horizon, the better.”

Barefield’s gift is more than just an investment in two programs; It is an investment in the UAB as a whole – the state’s largest economic engine – and will combine multidisciplinary expertise in criminal justice and entrepreneurship to improve the lives of all Birmingham residents by making the city safer for future innovation, entrepreneurship and business growth.

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“UAB is deeply grateful for this transformational gift from one of our most accomplished and visionary alumni,” said UAB President Ray L. Watts. “Frank Barefield is widely respected for his remarkable achievements as an entrepreneur and business leader, and for his strong public safety advocate, so it is fitting that both our Department of Justice and our entrepreneurship program will bear his name. This generous gift will bring tremendous strides in recruiting and retaining top faculty and students, accelerating research and development of new programs, creating additional jobs and start-ups, and fostering a safer and more prosperous Birmingham.”

Barefield received his bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Alabama and served four years in the United States Air Force, where he was honorably discharged as a captain. He began his career in investment banking at two banks in Birmingham where he earned the Chartered Financial Analyst designation while earning his MBA overnight from UAB. Barefield spent five years at Arthur Young & Company where he earned the CPA designation and provided auditing and consulting services to clients in the healthcare, retail, manufacturing and real estate sectors.

Following this involvement in the multifamily real estate business, Barefield founded Abbey Residential’s predecessor in 1984 with his partner Marnix E. Heersink, MD, after whom the UAB Heersink School of Medicine is named. Over the past 38 years, Barefield and Heersink have grown Abbey Residential to $2.5 billion in wealth.

As a business owner, Barefield sees how crime negatively impacts individuals and the broader economy. Over the years, he had many conversations with Jefferson County District Attorney David Barber and Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis about the senseless nature of crime in the community and as he wanted to help reduce crime and criminals off the streets, Barefield agreed to join the board of Metro Alabama’s Crime Stoppers. He has been chairman of Crime Stoppers for the last 10 years and during his tenure tips have helped law enforcement make 1,651 criminal arrests and solve 3,717 crime cases.

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Connecting criminal justice and entrepreneurship to create a stronger UAB and a better Birmingham

With his gift, Barefield is committed to providing UAB with resources that will improve specific areas of both criminal justice and entrepreneurship.

In terms of criminal justice, this $5 million investment will help the department predict an individual’s risk factors for crime, collaborate with law enforcement agencies on crime prevention strategies, and conduct neighborhood interventions to combat cycles of violence, and prepare students for them exciting careers in the field of forensic science.

“There is probably no greater adversary to the business than the numerous crimes perpetuated by individuals in the public eye who seek to take something from those who deserve it — be it someone’s life or property,” Barefield said. “Business only thrives when honest people get the rewards they deserve. Law enforcement is an integral part of growing a business and people need to realize that law enforcement is the responsibility of everyone, not just the police. It’s one of the reasons Crime Stoppers does so much to reduce crime – by rewarding anonymous tipsters who just have to ‘make a call and make a difference’.”

For the College of Arts and Sciences, this gift will help students and faculty alike to help the Department of Criminal Justice continue to grow and make a difference in the Birmingham community and beyond.

“The generous investment that Mr. Barefield has made in the criminal justice system is significant,” said Kecia Thomas, Ph.D., dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “The department is interdisciplinary in nature and reflects research contributions from the social sciences, natural sciences and computer science. However, the core value that drives the department is equity. This amazing gift will give the department the opportunity to expand its reach as it seeks to identify and dismantle the elements and systems that create crime, as well as perfecting techniques and strategies to solve crimes as they occur. I look forward to the graduates of the program who will provide community and justice-focused leadership to our society.”

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As Barefield continues to advance the ever-growing entrepreneurship program at Collat ​​School of Business, Barefield’s gift will aid the program and Birmingham, in turn, will continue to serve as a catalyst for dynamic growth, providing a world-class education for Birmingham residents and incubating new ventures in growth industries and create new jobs that will make waves in the city and beyond.

“This generous gift from one of our very own MBA alumni will allow us to continue to grow a popular entrepreneurship major into a world-class program,” said Eric Jack, Ph.D., Wells Fargo Endowed Chair in Business Administration and Dean of the Collat ​​Business School . “The impact on our students and the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Birmingham will be huge in the years to come. We are grateful for Mr. Barefield’s generosity, vision and loyalty to UAB and the Collat ​​School of Business.”

For Barefield, who is influencing the next generation of students pursuing careers in criminal justice and entrepreneurship, he encourages them to take the plunge and take risks in order to achieve what they want out of a career.

“I encourage anyone who thinks they want to be an entrepreneur to step out and take that risk,” Barefield said. “Take the time to research what you want to do and see if it can be done and give it a try. I would like students to have more access to the characteristics of different professions that will help them decide which business area they are most passionate about and aspire to the most. Learning and listening to diverse entrepreneurs and professionals with a wide range of specialties and backgrounds is also critical to that success.”

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