60th Anniversary Timeline: 1980s

Posted on December 13, 2023 by USA Marketing and Communications
USA Marketing and Communications

Mechanical Torque Converter

1980s: Research and Innovation

South’s first patent comes in 1983, for a mechanical torque converter invented by Dr. Eugene Odell, professor of mechanical engineering. Seven more patents follow in the 1980s; the total now stands at 108. Dr. June Ayling and Dr. Steven Bailey of the College of Medicine’s Department of Pharmacology collaborate on 11 of them, which generate millions of dollars in revenue for the University. Many of their patents involve ways of formulating and administering folates — B vitamins that can decrease the risk of birth defects, cognitive decline, cardiovascular disease and other disorders.


JOHN A. COUNTS SR., standing far right, becomes the first South alumnus to join the Board of Trustees. He serves until his death in 1995.

JOHN A. COUNTS SR., standing far right, becomes the first South alumnus to join the Board of Trustees. He serves until his death in 1995.

Computers on the Rise

South creates a Department of Computer Science, with about 300 student majors enrolled.


Where Babies Come From

South establishes Children’s & Women’s Hospital within University Hospital and later purchases Doctors Hospital, its current location. Today, USA Health Children’s & Women’s Hospital delivers more babies annually than any other hospital in Mobile. Its Hollis J. Wiseman Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is the region’s only Level III neonatal intensive care unit. And the Arlene Mitchell Pediatric Intensive Care Unit is the only facility of its kind in the region.


Crossing the Bay

Trustees officially establish the University of South Alabama Baldwin Campus in Fairhope, expanding the University to the east side of Mobile Bay. Academic programs today include the College of Nursing’s accelerated nursing program, which allows students to earn a bachelor’s degree in as little as a year.


Luis Gonzalez



BASEBALL OUTFIELDER Luis Gonzalez achieves Freshman All-American honors. Of the 28 Jaguars who reach baseball’s major leagues, Gonzalez, a five-time All-Star, becomes the best. Other star sports alums include baseball’s Lance Johnson, David Freese, Jon Lieber, Juan Pierre, Adam Lind and Brendan Donovan; basketball’s Terry Catledge; football’s Jeremy Reaves and Gerald Everett; soccer’s Jemma Purfield; track and field’s Muizat Ajoke Odumosu; and golf’s Heath Slocum.


Greek Row1987

Greek Row

Fraternities and sororities get the OK to create what becomes Greek Row on campus. Four fraternities and five sororities build houses there. Fraternities had previously set up houses off campus and at Brookley Center.



Down and Dirty

Oozeball debuts in all its squishy, gooey glory. The annual student mud volleyball tournament, still going strong, raises scholarship money for the Southerners student ambassador program.

Two people playing Oozeball in the 1980s.

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