TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The University of Alabama hosted a ceremonial groundbreaking April 1 for a new welcome center that will be located in the historic Bryce Main building.
Construction is underway for the new home of UA Undergraduate Admissions, which will be named the Catherine and Pettus Randall Welcome Center, pending approval by The University of Alabama System Board of Trustees.
The Randall Welcome Center is named in honor of the late Pettus Randall and his wife, Dr. Catherine J. Randall, who have contributed in countless ways to UA and the Tuscaloosa community for decades. The Randall family’s charitable support celebrates the welcoming spirit of the Capstone.
“Once again, the Randall family is steadfastly demonstrating support and love for their beloved alma mater,” said UA President Stuart R. Bell. “Through their ongoing philanthropy and service to the UA community, the unique and personal way we welcome prospective students will be enhanced as we continue to draw the best and brightest to the Capstone.”
Cathy Randall served on the campaign cabinet for the Performing Arts Academic Center that will adjoin the historic Bryce Main building, which reached its $15 million fundraising goal in 2020 and recently celebrated a gift of $20 million to name the Smith Family Center for the Performing Arts. She also serves on the campaign cabinet of the University’s current capital campaign, The Rising Tide. North Campus Way, which leads to the facility, was renamed in February 2021 to Randall Way to honor the family’s generosity and commitment.
“The University of Alabama is responsible for our family,” Cathy Randall said. “It is where my husband and I met, and it is where I spent my entire career. Our family wanted to be as supportive as we could in thanking the University for all that it has meant to us.”
The 15,000-square-foot Randall Welcome Center will include an area for prospective students to gather for campus tours, a lounge, theater and UA Admissions offices.
“I hear from so many prospective students who knew The University of Alabama was the right place for them as soon as they stepped foot on campus,” said Dr. Matthew McLendon, associate vice president and executive director of enrollment management. “The Randall Welcome Center will take our campus visit experience even further and will be the envy of colleges and universities across the country.”
While giving in memory of Pettus is Cathy and her children’s main motivation, she said that preservation of Bryce Main was one of the reasons she was drawn to the space. Both Cathy and Pettus were history majors during their undergraduate years at UA, and preserving the legacy of the building was at the forefront of her mind.
Construction of the Randall Welcome Center began in February. The more than $83 million project to renovate Bryce Main, including the first floor for the welcome center, is scheduled to be completed in early 2024.
In addition to housing the Randall Welcome Center, Bryce Main will also house museums dedicated to the history of the University and mental health in Alabama as well as faculty and staff offices for the department of theatre and dance.
Approval for the next phases of construction for the project, including the adjacent Smith Center, are scheduled for consideration by the UA System Board of Trustees in February 2023 with construction scheduled to be completed in early 2026.
The University of Alabama System successfully negotiated the purchase of the 168-acre Bryce property in the heart of UA’s campus in 2010 and agreed to preserve and restore components of the historic Bryce Main building and the adjacent superintendent’s house, now called The Bryce House. This transformative acquisition was critical to sustaining UA’s impressive growth and represents the future of the campus.
The University of Alabama, part of The University of Alabama System, is the state’s flagship university. UA shapes a better world through its teaching, research and service. With a global reputation for excellence, UA provides an inclusive, forward-thinking environment and nearly 200 degree programs on a beautiful, student-centered campus. A leader in cutting-edge research, UA advances discovery, creative inquiry and knowledge through more than 30 research centers. As the state’s largest higher education institution, UA drives economic growth in Alabama and beyond.