Birmingham, Ala. (July 22, 2003) -- A beloved professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham isn't letting an incurable lung disease stop him from teaching, but his health issues have prompted well-wishers to raise funds for an endowed scholarship in his honor.

Professor Ollie Powers has been teaching at the school for 32 years, full-time since 1976. When colleagues and former students learned last fall that Powers was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a degenerative disease that transforms lung tissue to scar tissue and is untreatable except for a lung transplant, offers started pouring in to help, said UAB School of Business department chair Frank Messina.

"People know how much he loves to travel and some asked if they could send him on a trip, while others asked to help with his medical bills. But he said, "No, I want to do something for the students,'" Messina said. "Our ultimate hope is that he receives a new lung and is back in the classroom full time and influencing young lives."

Powers, a certified management accountant, said he is honored by all the attention, and pleased that as a longtime participant in the internal scholarship program, he's able to help students in need. "When they tried to set up a tribute to me, I realized that a scholarship fund is what I'd prefer," Powers said. "That way students for years to come could benefit from the endowment. There's a great satisfaction in helping students in urban school such as this one, who really need financial assistance."

The school needs to raise $25,000 in order to endow the scholarship program, and is already accepting contributions.

To learn more about the Ollie Powers fund, click here:

-- Tracey Miller-Segarra

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