November 1, 2022
Margaret Garner, MS, RD, LD, former executive director of The University of Alabama Student Health Center and Pharmacy and longtime faculty member with UA’s College of Community Health Sciences, died Oct. 16, 2022, at UAB Hospital in Birmingham, Ala. She was 74 years old.
Garner was a leading authority on nutrition education for physicians, residents and medical students, and on the training and mentoring of registered dieticians.
Garner served in the top leadership role at the Student Health Center from 2013 until her retirement in 2022. She led a team of 85 staff who provide health care and pharmacy services to a campus of 38,000-plus students. During her tenure, the SHC’s Department of Health Promotion and Wellness received national recognition for the prevention education it provided campus wide through four Peer Education Programs staffed by students who delivered more than 50 hours of weekly activities.
Prior to joining the SHC, Garner served as assistant and then associate professor of family medicine at CCHS, as well as assistant dean for health education and outreach for the College. She helped educate resident physicians and medical students at CCHS, while also providing medical nutrition therapy for patients at University Medical Center. CCHS operates both the SHC and UMC.
Garner served as a preceptor for dietetic students at UA and as coordinator for the Community Nutrition Program for select dietetic students funded by the U.S. Bureau of Maternal and Child Health. She was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Human Nutrition and Hospitality Management’s Coordinate Dietetics Program at UA’s College of Human Environmental Sciences.
From 1997-99, Garner served as the UA Faculty Senate President. She was the University’s representative to the Higher Education Leadership PAC Board for five years and received the group’s Courage of Conviction Award. Garner received the University’s premier Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award in 2013 for her service to UA. The award recognizes excellence of character and service to humanity.
Garner served as director-at-large for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, formerly the American Dietetic Association. The academy has more than 72,000 members and is the world’s largest professional organization of food and nutrition specialists. Garner also served in numerous academy leadership roles, including as a member of the board of directors and the commission on dietetic registration. She was a member and chair of the academy’s legislative and policy committee, political action committee, coding and coverage committee, council on education and strategic planning task force. She was recognized as a fellow of the academy, and in 2011 she received the academy’s highest honor, the Marjorie Hulsizer Copher Award.
Garner helped establish and was the first chair of the Alabama Food and Nutrition Exposition, a unique partnership of the Alabama Dietetic Association, Alabama Dietary Managers Association and Alabama School Nutrition Association. She is past president of the Tuscaloosa District Dietetic Association and the Alabama Dietetic Association.
Garner received her bachelor’s degree in home economics from Georgia Southern University, a master’s degree from The University of Tennessee at Knoxville and completed a fellowship in Nutrition and Developmental Disorders at UT’s Medical Unit in Memphis. She began her career as a registered dietician in St. Louis, Mo., as a public health nutritionist, and joined UA in 1974.
Garner was born in 1948 in Waycross, Ga.