UA Announces 2015 Premier Awards for Scholarship, Leadership

Recipients, from left: Derek Carter, Dr. Paul Houghtaling, Allison Montgomery, Brielle Appelbaum, Dr. Judy Bonner, Katie Plott, Jason Arterburn, Brian C. Goodell and Dr. Pam Parker.
Recipients, from left: Derek Carter, Dr. Paul Houghtaling, Allison Montgomery, Brielle Appelbaum, Dr. Judy Bonner, Katie Plott, Jason Arterburn, Brian C. Goodell and Dr. Pam Parker.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Recipients of the 2015 Premier Awards – the top individual honors for scholarship, leadership and service at The University of Alabama – were announced at a recent presentation dinner.

The 2015 UA Premier Award recipients will also be recognized at UA during Honors Week.

They are:

The William P. Bloom Scholarship Award — Katie Plott (Northport)

The William P. Bloom Scholarship Award honors a junior who has improved intergroup relations within the University community; this year’s awardee is Katie Plott, of Northport. A junior finance and economics major, Plott helped to found the Think Community, an Honors College program in which UA students mentor high school sophomores and juniors in cooking up community service projects.

The program turns the students into “mini-entrepreneurs and event planners who execute perfect programs in a group setting.”

Service projects include free swimming lessons through Big Brothers Big Sisters and a citywide book drive to benefit Alberta Elementary School. Plott directed the program at Northridge High School and is working to incorporate Think Community into the Honors College curriculum.

In addition to the Think Community, Plott has worked with Forza Financial, a student-founded microfinance initiative that evolved into a charitable organization for which she has worked as a grant writer and chief underwriter. She has received the Most Outstanding Sophomore Award-Order of Omega and the Judith L. Bonner Academic Achievement Award.

The John Fraser Ramsey Award –  Derek Carter (Joplin, Missouri)

The John Fraser Ramsey Award recognizes in a junior the versatility of gifts and attainments, as well as the breadth of excellence in mind and character that have traditionally been the goals of a liberal education. This year’s recipient is Derek Carter, of Joplin, Missouri.

Carter spent the fall of 2014 living on the town square in Marion and commuting twice a week to classes at UA. The building he lives in is part of UA’s 57 Miles program, in which UA students engage with the Marion community to improve its quality of life.

Carter, a mathematics and economics major, served as director of economic development for 57 Miles and taught a three-week class in Francis Marion High School that covered areas in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics curriculum. He was going to Marion so much, he decided to move there into a building UA students were renovating.

In 2014, Carter was working on opening a coffee and ice cream shop on the ground floor of the building in which he’s living.

The Morris Lehman Mayer Award –  Brielle Appelbaum (Tuscaloosa) and Dr. Paul Houghtaling

The Morris Lehman Mayer Award recognizes one graduating senior and one member of the teaching faculty who exemplify integrity, selfless service and leadership at UA and in the community, and who have made significant  contributions to student life. The student is Brielle Appelbaum, of Tuscaloosa; the faculty member is Dr. Paul Houghtaling, associate professor of voice.

When Appelbaum, a senior communication studies major, saw UA expanding in a variety of ways, she decided incoming freshmen needed an even deeper opportunity to meet their peers and learn about university life. She helped to start Camp 1831, which takes a group of incoming freshmen out to a camp to get to know each other better and learn about UA lore.

She also has served as executive secretary and chief implementation officer of the Student Government Administration and helped to start Meaningful Meals, in which students donated meals to children in need, and Got Meals, which encouraged students to donate “swipes” from their meal plans to needy students.

Appelbaum also helped to found theUA American Association of University Women chapter of the American Association of University Women and worked as an intern with the Republican Attorneys General Association and received the Jarrod Nackley Award.

Houghtaling also directs UA’s Opera Theatre in the College of Arts and Sciences’ School of Music. He joined the UA faculty in 2007.

Career highlights include European tours as Papageno in “Die Zauberflöte” with Teatro Lirico d’Europa; a debut with the Bard Music Festival and the American Symphony Orchestra in Haydn’s “L’Infedeltá Delusa”; Peter Maxwell Davies’ “Eight Songs for a Mad King” with ALEA III in Boston; U.S. tours with the Waverly Consort, including Kennedy Center appearances, and Early Music New York; and “Opera Buffa: Comedy On Stage” on Lincoln Center’s “Meet the Artists” series.

Houghtaling is the artistic director of the Druid City Opera Workshop, a weeklong young artist training intensive at UA. In January 2010, 2011 and 2012, Houghtaling and several student members of the UA Opera Theatre represented UA as finalists in the National Opera Association’s Collegiate Opera Scenes Competition at that organization’s national conventions in Atlanta, San Antonio and Memphis.

The ensemble placed second and third in 2011 and captured third place again in 2012. In 2014-15, two of his UA students were finalists in the Vann Vocal Institute’s Emerging Artists Competition; one won second place.

He has supervised several Doctor of Musical Arts students and has directed “Don Giovanni,” “Patience,” “The Consul” and “Cosi fan tutte” at UA.

Houghtaling holds a Doctor of Musical Arts from the Graduate Center, City University of New York; a master’s in vocal performance from Hunter College; and bachelor’s degrees from the College of the Holy Cross and the New England Conservatory of Music.

The Catherine Johnson Randall Award Brian C. Goodell (Plattsburgh, New York)

The Catherine Johnson Randall Award recognizes the most outstanding graduating senior at UA, based on GPA, rigor of course study and extraordinary scholarly or creative endeavor. This year’s recipient is Brian C. Goodell.

When he was 12, Goodell, a senior Barry M. Goldwater Scholar from Plattsburgh, N.Y., watched on television the devastation unleashed by Hurricane Katrina. Since then, he has wanted to promote sustainability by researching ways to provide alternative energy.

At UA, he has pursued this goal since his freshman year through majoring in chemical engineering and physics. The double major is not a well-trodden path: Goodell says his adviser told him he was the first person “in the department’s memory” to attempt it.

Through his participation in the Computer-Based Honors Program, Goodell became involved in the Center for Materials for Information Technology’s studies of novel substitutes for rare-earth magnets. More recently, he is collecting and analyzing data involved in the study of nanoparticles.

In addition to receiving the Goldwater Scholar award, Goodell was named the outstanding junior in chemical engineering and in the Computer-Based Honors Program, the Darren Evans-Young Outstanding Freshman in Computer-Based Honors Program and is a member of the Tau Beta PI engineering honor society and the Omega Chi Epsilon chemical engineering society.

The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award – Allison Montgomery (Talledega), Jason Arterburn (Madison) and Dr. Pam Parker.

The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award recognizes excellence of character and service to humanity. The award honors one man and one woman of the graduating class and one nonstudent who has been helpful to and associated with the University. The student recipients are Allison Montgomery and Jason Arterburn; the faculty recipient is Dr. Pam Parker, UA’s former vice president for advancement.

Montgomery, a senior from Montgomery, has sat both as the chief justice of the Honors College Council and the University-wide Council and has helped promote UA’s Academic Integrity Week and other initiatives. A biology major, Montgomery participated with Dr. Lane McLelland, director of the Crossroads Community Center, in a semester-long Sustained Dialog focusing on sorority recruitment.

As vice president of academic affairs in the Student Government Association, she began the College Bound Initiative, which brought 90 third- and fifth-graders from Tuscaloosa to campus to see what college life is like.

This year, she is participating in UA’s Rural Medical Scholars program and will enter the University of Alabama School of Medicine in the fall of 2015; she cites a medical mission she undertook her freshman year in Haiti and the Dominican Republic — where she met a Haitian woman who had walked six hours to bring her sick baby to the clinic — as what inspired her to civic engagement. In fall 2014, she was elected homecoming queen.

Arterburn is a senior from Madison majoring in economics and interdisciplinary studies with a minor in Chinese language, Arterburn has received the prestigious Harry S. Truman and David L. Boren scholarships as well as a Critical Language Scholarship from the U.S. State Department. Among his many service projects, Arterburn’s engagement with Birmingham to Beijing stands out.

He and a partner taught Chinese language and culture classes to highly motivated high school students, and they helped raise $50,000 to cover program costs.

He has also participated in the University Fellows Experience, Black Belt Experience,Crossroads Community Center and Project Bright Side, in which he helped design a service learning course at the Boys & Girls Club of West Alabama.

As a scholar, Arterburn used his Boren scholarship to study Mandarin Chinese in Shanghai and Harbin, Heilongjiang, China, in 2013 and 2014.

Parker served as UA’s vice president for advancement from 2007 to 2011 and as associate vice president for advancement from 1997 to 2007. As vice president for advancement, she oversaw  fundraising, alumni relations, marketing communications and public relations. She was responsible for “Our Students. Our Future,” UA’s Capital Campaign, which raised more than $600 million in cash and pledges.

She also led efforts to restore Foster Auditorium and to construct the new Hillel Foundation student center. Parker earned a bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from UA. She joined UA 1986 as the director of events and scholarships for the National Alumni Association, and she served in a variety of development positions, including major gift officer for the College of Education and director of development for the College of Arts and Sciences.

She received the 2006 William Roth Fundraising Executive award, given by the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

“Her giving spirit and artful advising of student leaders and organizations have been a role model for many faculty and staff,” said Dr. Kathleen Cramer, former senior associate vice president for Student Affairs.

Parker’s extensive contributions to the community include a leadership role in the Junior League of Tuscaloosa and serving on the boards of the Alabama Choir School, Counseling Ministry Professionals, the Community Foundation of West Alabama, Junior Achievement, Theatre Tuscaloosa, the University Club, United Cerebral Palsy of West Alabama and the United Way of West Alabama.


Richard LeComte, media relations,, 205/348-3782