Bryant Bank gives $250K to support UAH nursing and business colleges, athletics

group photo presenting check
Ken Watson, center, president of Bryant Bank in Huntsville, came to the UAH campus on Oct. 4, 2023, to present donations totaling $250,000 to the UAH College of Business, College of Nursing and UAH Athletics. On hand to thank him personally were students of the colleges and UAH athletes as well as, left to right, Mallie Hale, vice president for university advancement and executive director of the UAH Foundation; Jason Greene, dean, College of Business; UAH Provost David Puleo; UAH President Charles Karr; Karen Frith, dean, College of Nursing, and Cade Smith, athletic director.
Michael Mercier | UAH

Bryant Bank continued its longstanding support of The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) on Oct. 4 with a combined donation of $250,000 to three UAH programs: $100,000 each to the College of Nursing and the College of Business for scholarships and $50,000 to the Department of Athletics. UAH is part of the University of Alabama System.

Ken Watson, president of Bryant Bank’s Huntsville market, says this gift is the largest contribution Bryant Bank has made to a single organization in a single year since it gained a presence in Huntsville.

“On behalf of our owners, board of directors, executive management and all of the members of our team, we are honored and grateful to have the opportunity to support UAH, the colleges of Business and Nursing, and the many students and student-athletes at UAH,” Watson says. “While the immediate focus of the gift is to enhance enrollment and quality of experience at the university, the longer-term vision, highlighted by our financial commitments into the future, is to have a lasting impact on our community.”

Bryant Bank pledged $3 million over 30 years to the College of Nursing in 2014, and this $100,000 gift is the annual disbursement. This commitment supports a nursing scholarship plan called Early Promotion into UAH Nursing Program (EPNP), an honors program offered to highly qualified students who enter UAH as freshmen and declare nursing as their major.

“North Alabama deserves excellent health care professionals to serve its rapidly growing population,” says Dr. Karen Frith, dean, College of Nursing. “Our community’s health and well-being rest on our ability to educate the current and future nursing workforce. We are immensely grateful to Ken Watson for championing the College of Nursing and our mission to educate and inspire individuals to become visionary nurse leaders.

“The Bryant Bank Excellence in Nursing Scholarship provides high-achieving high school students guaranteed acceptance into the nursing program and the financial stability to complete the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. It is truly the greatest gift for a nursing student to receive as they pursue a rigorous education – peace of mind and assurance for their future at UAH.”

Frith recalls a student saying that she chose to attend UAH instead of another school she was considering because she received a Bryant Bank Scholarship.

EPNP participants may take all the lower division nursing coursework on the UAH campus and are guaranteed placement in upper division nursing courses. The program provides students an opportunity to have enriched freshman and sophomore years in the UAH Honors College in preparation for admittance into upper division nursing coursework.

The Bryant Bank Excellence in Nursing Scholarship is renewable, and the value will adjust each year to reflect the cost of the nursing program in conjunction with the recipient’s existing Merit Tuition scholarship.

The $100,000 gift to the College of Business helps fund the Bryant Bank UAH Business Scholarships, a non-endowed fund designed to benefit business students. This is the third installment of a $1.5 million commitment, one of the largest gifts ever made to the college. Bryant Bank has pledged an additional 12 annual payments in the same amount through 2035.

“We are incredibly grateful for the visionary leadership of Ken Watson and Bryant Bank,” says Dr. Jason Greene, dean, College of Business. “This gift demonstrates that Bryant Bank is truly committed to making our community better by investing in its future. Their gift to the UAH College of Business helps us in our mission to launch students’ careers. The Bryant Bank business scholarships provide students access to an outstanding business education and inspire the next generation of business professionals throughout our community.”

Each business scholarship will be in force for one year and pays for tuition, fees, books and other academic-related expenses. Recipients, known as Bryant Bank UAH Business Scholars, may be eligible for an additional year up to a maximum of four years, or until degree requirements have been met, whichever is shorter.

Business Scholar Greta Downing says she is thankful for the freedom the scholarship has given her “to pursue a highly involved college experience, as well as focusing on my academics.” She serves as a College of Business Ambassador, one of many campus leadership opportunities she has been able to hold because of the scholarship’s financial aid.

“This scholarship has impacted my life in more ways than just this one area,” she says, “and I could not be more grateful for everything it has given me. I appreciate the generosity of the donors, and I hope to share the impact they have made on my life and the lives of other students just like me.”

Bryant Bank’s $50,000 gift to the UAH Department of Athletics will help support 15 men’s and women’s teams. A portion of the gift will be used to enhance the nutrition offerings for student-athletes at Spragins Hall as well as establish a program that focuses on mental health and student-athletes’ well-being.

2023 is the fifth year in a row that Bryant Bank has made a significant contribution to UAH’s intercollegiate athletic program. This year’s $50,000 gift doubles the previous annual gifts of $25,000.

“The continued support from Bryant Bank for the entire department of Charger Athletics has made a lasting impact on our student-athletes and their experience here at UAH,” says Dr. Cade Smith, director of athletics.

“Their additional gift, targeted at improving nutrition and mental health, will immediately better the lives of our students and allow us to be even more competitive as we strive to have a championship culture within our department on campus. I cannot be more appreciative of their generosity towards young people!”

Founded in 2005 by Paul W. Bryant, Jr., Bryant Bank’s vision is to see every Alabamian experience a financially stable future and live in a thriving community. Bryant bankers put care into action to help Alabamians invest in their full potential every day. The bank offers 18 branches in Alabama – three in the Huntsville area, including a new location in Athens.


Kristina Hendrix

Elizabeth Gibisch