TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Catherine and Pettus Randall Welcome Center at The University of Alabama has officially opened.
A ribbon-cutting was held today to celebrate the new home of UA’s undergraduate admissions and the restoration and reimagining of the Bryce Main property. The Randall Welcome Center provides a new front door for the University where visitors are engaged and immersed in all aspects of UA’s history and campus experiences. The 15,000-square-foot welcome center includes areas for prospective students to gather for campus tours, a lounge, theater and UA admissions offices.
“The Randall Welcome Center illustrates the rich history of The University of Alabama, our unwavering commitment to student success and the unmatched student experience at the Capstone,” UA President Stuart R. Bell said. “Our mission to bring the best and brightest students to our campus has been strengthened.”
The Randall Welcome Center is part of nearly 118,000 square feet of renovation and additions at Bryce Main, which includes the Smith Family Center for the Performing Arts. The welcome center also includes the Roll Tide Room — an immersive audio-visual experience.
Bryce Main will also house museums dedicated to the history of mental health in Alabama and the architectural evolutions of the Bryce property, as well as faculty and staff offices for UA’s Department of Theatre and Dance.
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. Catherine Randall serves on the campaign cabinet of the University’s current capital campaign, The Rising Tide. The street leading to the facility was renamed in February 2021 to Randall Way to honor the family’s generosity and commitment.
“To have Pettus’ name and legacy preserved in this way means the world to this family,” Randall said. “At his death at age 57, he had so much left to give on this Earth and so many plans to do so. Our family’s hope is that his legacy honored in this way by his alma mater will inspire others to grow into the person of generosity and vision that he was.”
The welcome center will serve as the starting point for campus tours for prospective students and is open to visitors.
“The Randall Welcome Center will have an enormous impact on our recruitment and admission efforts,” said Dr. Matthew McClendon, associate vice president and executive director of enrollment at UA. “By having the country’s premier welcome center, prospective students and their families will enjoy a campus visit experience that is unmatched. This facility will be the standard against which all other college and university admission offices are compared.”
The University of Alabama System agreed to preserve and restore components of the historic Bryce Main building when it successfully negotiated the purchase of the 168-acre Bryce property in the heart of UA’s campus in 2010, a transformative acquisition critical to sustaining the University’s impressive growth. The restoration of the main hospital on the Bryce campus preserves and replicates many of the architectural details of historic Peter Bryce Main, which was constructed between 1852 and 1861 as the state’s first mental hospital and would grow to serve more than 5,000 patients. Architects preserved the existing design of the centralized pavilion and stepped-back wings, natural lighting and pastoral settings — essential components in the treatment of mental illness at the time.
“As a history major at UA, Pettus would love that the University has saved the historic Bryce building not only for the campus but for his beloved hometown of Tuscaloosa,” Randall said. “Years ago, the University welcomed Pettus and me as students into a wonderful community that has given us countless blessings and charted the course of our lives. What a joy to be a part of supporting the University’s efforts to enhance that welcoming experience for incoming students.”
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.
Alex House, UA Strategic Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org