UA’s Computer-Based Honors to be Renamed for Longtime Director

  • April 7th, 2017
Pictured, from left, are Dr. Shane Sharpe, UA President Stuart R. Bell, Dr. Cathy Randall and Kate Randall Danella.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — In celebration of its 50th anniversary and in honor of its longtime director who was formerly a student in its inaugural class, The University of Alabama’s Computer-Based Honors Program will be renamed the Catherine J. Randall Research Scholars Program.

Recommended by UA President Stuart R. Bell and approved today by the Board of Trustees, the name change will take place in 2018 in commemoration of this milestone anniversary.

“Dr. Randall has been a tireless ambassador for our University since she first stepped foot on our campus as a freshman, but her greatest legacy is the work she has done with the Computer-Based Honors Program,” said Bell. “It is entirely fitting that this program be named after someone whose work has allowed it to flourish and whose passion not only for this program, but this University, has left an indelible mark on so many of our students.”

Created in 1968, the Computer-Based Honors Program, a component of UA’s Honors College, is a nationally recognized undergraduate research program that pairs academically elite students directly with leading research professors and cutting-edge computing technology to complete scholarly research projects in any field of study.

In honoring their mother, Randall’s children – Jaynie Randall Lilley, Kate Randall Danella and H. Pettus Randall IV – have directed a significant gift through the Community Foundation of West Alabama that will expand the Computer-Based Honors Program to encourage projects that improve the quality of life for all people.

“We are deeply grateful for this generous gift from the Randall family, which ensures that Computer-Based Honors will be able to continue its important mission of educating outstanding students for lives of distinction through their innovations and commitment to serve others,” said Dr. Shane Sharpe, dean of the Honors College. “Dr. Cathy Randall provides an example of a life distinguished through dedication, leadership and service, and this gift from the Randall family will allow the program to continue its important work into the future.”

Randall earned her bachelor’s degree, two master’s degrees and two doctoral degrees from UA, and she has served the Capstone in various capacities throughout her career, including 25 years (1980-2004) as director of the Computer-Based Honors Program.

Under her leadership, the program flourished, and, today, elite academic students from around the globe vie to experience the research opportunities available to undergraduate students.

During their freshman year, Computer-Based Honors students at UA complete an intensive series of courses on complex problem solving, the use of computers, project management and research fundamentals. These skills enable students to learn and adapt to technologies required for faculty-directed research projects.

Throughout their sophomore to senior years, program students select a research project in which the student will work closely with a faculty member who will serve as a project director.

Students typically will work on projects in areas related to their academic discipline. They may elect, however, to work in an unrelated field to further challenge themselves and broaden their exposure to academic research.

“When Dean Shane Sharpe told me that the students wanted to change the name of the program, I was absolutely overwhelmed, as I was at my children’s desire to support in this major way the University that their wonderful father, Pettus, loved,” said Randall.  “Dean Sharpe is leading the program to heights never even imagined by its visionary founder, Dr. Charles L. Seebeck.

“And, in his role as president, Dr. Stuart Bell is standing on the shoulders of giants – former UA presidents whom I’ve had the privilege of knowing from Dr. Bob Witt back to Dr. David Mathews – in leading this university to ever more greatness.”

At its 1968 launch, the program was the nation’s first university-wide undergraduate research program and the National Institute of Education would later name it one of the “six most intriguing honors programs in the country.”

Over the past 48 years, more than 1,000 students have participated in the program. Following graduation, most go on to distinguished careers or some of the most prestigious graduate schools in the country and around the globe.

The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.