TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Nine individuals (Classes of 2020 and 2021) were inducted into the College of Education Hall of Fame on February 26, 2022. The inductees were Dr. Frank Ashley III of College Station, Texas; Vickie Brown of Brent; Dr. James McLean of Tuscaloosa; Margaret Livingston of Sylacauga; Margaret O’Neal of Tuscaloosa; Dr. W. Ross Palmer of Tuscaloosa; Dr. Cathy Randall of Tuscaloosa; Dr. Carol Schlichter of Tuscaloosa; and Dr. Joffre Whisenton of Atlanta, Georgia.
Full biographies and photos are located on UA Box.
Dr. Frank B. Ashley III
Dr. Frank B. Ashley III is Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University, and he is also currently serving as the Director of Diversity Initiatives for the University. He came to the Bush School from the College Board, where he was Senior Vice President of Membership and Higher Education Engagement.
As Senior Associate Dean, Dr. Ashley oversees graduate education and research activities as well as strategic planning, faculty affairs, student affairs, program development, diversity, assessment, communications and external relations, student services, and extended education programs in the Bush School.
Ashley began his academic career as a science teacher and coach. His previous appointments include faculty positions and service as Dean of the College of Education and Interim Provost-Vice President for Academic Affairs at Texas A&M University-Commerce as well as Director of Admissions and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies and Teacher Education in Texas A&M University’s College of Education. From 2007 to 2010, Dr. Ashley served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs for the Texas A&M University System, where he served as Chief Academic Officer for the System and represented the System at the state level on all academic issues. In 2010, he was named Vice Chancellor for Recruitment and Diversity and Chief of Staff. In this position, he collected and analyzed system data on diversity and assisted system universities and agencies in recruiting and retaining diverse students, faculty, and staff.
Vickie G. Brown
Vickie Gibson Brown of Brent was raised in Marshall County in North Alabama and received her M.A. in Special Education from The University of Alabama in 1976, Class A Certification in Education Administration in 1979, and AA certification in Special Education in 1983.
Brown’s career in education spans from her first teaching position at the Education Center at Partlow School in 1974 to her retirement in 2014 from Tuscaloosa City Schools. After teaching at Partlow for three years, she became the principal at Eden School in St. Clair County for two years before relocating to Bibb County where she was employed as a special education teacher and, later, as a special education coordinator for twenty-seven years. In 2007, she accepted a position as director of student services with Tuscaloosa City Schools where she retired in 2014 from a career that spanned forty years.
After her “retirement” from full-time work, she accepted a part-time retiree-position with Special Education Services at the Alabama State Department of Education as an instructional coach for numerous schools, including Greensboro Middle School in Hale County where the first demonstration site for authentic co-teaching was founded under Mrs. Brown’s guidance. This resulted in numerous visitors from other school systems coming to observe high quality instruction and effective strategies to maximize achievement for students with disabilities.
Dr. James E. McLean
Dr. James E. (Jim) McLean received his Ph.D. from the University of Florida where he also received his M.Stat. and B.S. degrees. Jim served in the United States Marine Corps Reserve after receiving his A.A. degree from Orlando Junior College.
In 1974, Jim became an assistant professor at The University of Alabama where he advanced through the ranks to become a Board of Trustees University Research Professor in 1987. He held the same rank from 1995 to 2000 at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and held the James H. Quillen Chair of Excellence in Teaching and Learning endowed chair at East Tennessee State University from 2000 to 2004. He returned to The University of Alabama as the dean of the College of Education in 2004 and retired in 2013. Following his retirement, he continued to serve part-time as the associate vice president for community affairs and the executive director of the Center for Community-Based Partnerships.
His teaching was recognized at UA in 1988 with the Burlington Northern Foundation Faculty Achievement Award in Teaching, and in 1991 McLean was selected for the National Alumni Association’s Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award. His research received the Outstanding Research Award by the Mid-South Educational Research Association four times at which point the award was renamed in his honor.
The College’s endowments saw a seven-fold increase and annual giving saw a four-fold increase during his tenure as dean. The adapted athletics program evolved during his tenure as dean into an international model with the women’s wheelchair basketball team winning multiple national championships. His leadership as dean facilitated the hiring of highly productive faculty, multi-million-dollar renovations to Autherine Lucy Hall (formerly Graves Hall) and Wade Hall (formerly Moore Hall) and added several programs to the College. With the increase in student quality, the College of Education improved its national ranking to 79th among over 3,000 colleges in the country that prepare teachers.
Margaret Livingston Morton
Margaret Morton is currently the executive director of the Sylacauga Alliance for Family Enhancement Family Services Center, which she has been doing since 1998.
Morton retired in 2007 from the Sylacauga City Schools. She began her career in education in 1973 as a learning disabilities specialist at East Lake Elementary School in Birmingham, Alabama. She later moved to Tuscaloosa and served as the learning disabilities specialist for Arcadia Elementary in the Tuscaloosa City Schools. From 1974-1977, she was a special education (EMR/TMR) teacher for Sumter County Training School. In the mid-1990s, Morton was on the foundational team of the Sylacauga Alliance for Family Enhancement, better known as SAFE. Morton originally worked as an elementary guidance counselor at Sylacauga City Schools when SAFE was just beginning to grow. She became the organization’s part-time executive director in 1998, sharing her time between SAFE and the school system. During this time, she was named the Alabama Counseling Association’s Elementary Counselor of the Year in 1995.
Morton has been recognized by her peers on multiple occasions, which shows the respect they have for the work that she has done over her lifetime. In 2021, CBS Nexstar named her Alabama’s Remarkable Woman of the Year. In 2020, under her guidance, SAFE (first ever organization so designated from Alabama ) received the Chick-fil-A True Inspiration Award Winner. Additionally, they (she and SAFE) won the Innovator of the Year by Alabama Works.
In 2016, Morton was the recipient of the inaugural the David Mathews Center for Civic Life’s Jean O’Connor-Snyder Award. Morton also received a lifetime achievement award from Alabama Chief Justice Tom Parker and the U.S. Trust at the Alabama Supreme Court. The Alabama Department of Human Resources recognized Morton for her Outstanding Commitment to the Children and Families of Alabama in 2006. In 2003, she was named Sylacauga’s Woman of Achievement Award.
Margaret Young O’Neal began her professional career as a social worker in rural South Alabama where she worked with families in need of services for the care and safety of children.
In 1970, Margaret began her teaching career. In the midst of a teacher shortage, a family friend asked her to teach until a credentialed teacher could be found. This experience led her to pursue a new career. In 1996, Margaret moved from teaching young adults in the classroom to work as an administrator. Her administrative roles in the Madison County, Tuscaloosa County, and Tuscaloosa City School Districts included assistant principal, principal and assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. After her retirement from K-12 education in 2011, Margaret served as a supervisor and clinical master teacher liaison for the College of Education.
Margaret was named the first principal of Northridge High School in Tuscaloosa where restructuring involved not only the transformation of an academic setting but the development of a new school culture from one of a traditional mega high school to that of a smaller neighborhood school. As a district curriculum leader in the Tuscaloosa City Schools, Margaret led a team of educators, parents, and community leaders in the research, design and implementation of the curriculum, and a plan of instruction for two International Baccalaureate magnate schools at the elementary and middle school levels that would provide a transition to the established IB high school in the district.
Margaret has received many awards and honors during her career. At the state level, she was recognized by the Alabama Council for the Social Studies as the Alabama Outstanding Social Studies Teacher of the Year and received the Curriculum Administrator of the Year award given by the Alabama Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. On the national level, she received the George F. Cram Company Scholarship Award and the NCGE Distinguished Teaching Award given by the National Council for Geographic Education. Additionally, she was awarded the Keizai Koho Center Fellowship given by the Japan Institute for Social and Economic Affairs and the National Council for the Social Studies. Margaret was selected as a teacher consultant for the National Geographic Society Education Program and for the Alabama Geographic Alliance. She served as faculty for geography institutes in Washington, D.C., and at various universities in Alabama.
She has been active on the advisory board of the Children’s Hands on Museum and Caring Days. She served on the education committee for the Alabama 200 Bicentennial Commission and worked with the Bicentennial Teacher Institutes held in Tuscaloosa.
Dr. W. Ross Palmer
A lifelong educator, Dr. W. Ross Palmer graduated from Crystal Springs High School in Mississippi in 1957, earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in secondary math from Mississippi College; he then taught 7th and 8th grade math in his community.
He left the public school system to move to Florida to complete his doctoral studies and later joined the UA faculty as an instructor in 1968. The following year, he became an assistant professor and in 1973, he was promoted to associate professor and chair for the Foundations Department. In 1978, Ross was granted his first sabbatical. While others in his situation might use the opportunity to conduct research, Ross chose once again to give back to his community and return to Mississippi to teach 8th and 9th grade math at Forest Hill Junior Senior High School.
He returned to UA as professor and chair of the Program in Educational Foundations.
Upon return from sabbatical, Ross served in the role of professor and program chair, acting assistant dean, associate dean, and then served 15 years as assistant dean for student services and certification. In 2002, he was granted administrative leave with the intent to retire the following year, but Dr. Judy Bonner, then provost, had other plans for Ross Palmer. When the dean’s position was left vacant, Bonner asked Ross to serve as interim dean for a year. He fulfilled this last role on campus with ease and expertise and retired in 2004.
Ross was granted a lifetime membership in Kappa Delta Pi, an international honor society in education which promotes fellowship among those dedicated to teaching, and he has served many roles in this organization.
Dr. Cathy J. Randall
Dr. Cathy J. Randall is the chairman of the Board of Pettus Randall Holdings, LLC, and is the former chairman of the Board of Randall Publishing Company, the former director of the University Honors Programs at The University of Alabama, and a former news anchor at CBS-affiliate WCFT-TV. She earned two Ph.D. degrees from The University of Alabama and has been named one of the top 31 women graduates of the century.
She has been honored with Tuscaloosa’s 2005 Lifetime Achievement Award for Women of Distinction, the 2002 E. Roger Sayers Award as the outstanding University of Alabama faculty/staff member, UA’s Living Legend Award in 2007, the Tuscaloosa County Civic Hall of Fame in 2012, 2004 Tuscaloosa’s Philanthropist of the Year and Pillar of the Community, one of two Birmingham Outstanding Civic Leaders in 2013, Tuscaloosa’s first Champion of Character in 2014, and the Bryan Lifetime Achievement Award from the North Central Girl Scouts in 2015, the Heart of an Eagle Award by the Boy Scouts of Greater Alabama 2019, Yellowhammer Woman of Impact 2018, Grand Marshal of the University of Alabama Homecoming Parade 2018 and Tuscaloosa’s 2019 Bicentennial Parade, and Achievement Award by the Association of the U.S. Army’s west/central Alabama chapter.
Cathy Randall’s contributions to UA are numerous. She has served the Capstone in various capacities throughout her career, including 25 years as director of the Computer-Based Honors Program, which now bears her name — the Catherine J. Randall Research Scholars Program, a nationally recognized undergraduate research program that pairs students majoring in any field with professors to apply computer-based research to their projects.
Dr. Carol L. Schlichter
Dr. Carol L. Schlichter joined the College of Education as professor and chair of the program for gifted and talented in 1975 after having served 15 years as an elementary teacher, gifted specialist, art specialist, and project director for Talents Unlimited in Mobile County as well as a gifted education teacher in Athens, Greece.
Schlichter’s work with Talents Unlimited, the thinking skills model she developed and researched during the early 70s has been cited as one of the nation’s “Top Ten Thinking Skills Programs” and has been adopted by teachers across the nation, as well as internationally.
She received the 1997 Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award given by The University of Alabama National Alumni Association; the 1995 and 1984 Jasper Harvey Award for Outstanding Teacher Educator in Alabama from the Alabama Federation of Council for Exceptional Children; the 1994 E. Paul Torrance Award for Creativity from the Creativity Division of the National Association for Gifted Children; the 1990 Award for Teaching Excellence from The University of Alabama College of Continuing Studies; the 1985 Award for Excellence in Teaching, Research, and Service from the Capstone Education Society; a Certificate of Commendation from the Alabama Association for Talented and Gifted in 1978; and the 1968 Outstanding Young Educator from Mobile County, AL.
Since her “retirement” in 2000, Dr. Schlichter has continued to teach part-time in the College’s Multiple Abilities Program.
Dr. Joffre T. Whisenton
Dr. Joffre T. Whisenton currently serves as president of Joffre T. Whisenton and Associates, Inc. The consulting firm has been in operation since 1988 focusing on the resolution of problems in institutions of higher learning as well as industry, foundations, corporations, and the federal government.
Whisenton formerly served in the capacity of president of the Southern University System in Baton Rouge. Whisenton served as associate executive director with the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in Atlanta before assuming the presidency of the Southern University System.
Whisenton is the first African American to earn a Ph.D. from The University of Alabama in 1968. After earning his doctorate, he served on Stillman College’s faculty for 13 years.
Whisenton also served in the capacity of special assistant for educational policy to the Secretary of the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare. He served as a major policy advisor to the Secretary and other key officials of the department on the broadest range of educational policy issues.