|University of South Alabama alumnus Neil Henderson has pledged $25,000 toward a laboratory in the new Shelby Hall – Engineering and Computing Sciences Building. The laboratory will be named in Henderson's honor.
Henderson's $25,000 gift will be matched at 50 percent by the University.
Henderson received his master's from the School of Computer and Information Sciences in 1990. He was the co-founder and general manager of the embedded systems division of Mentor Graphics, known as Accelerated Technology. Accelerated Technology creates and sells embedded operation computer software systems. The company was started in 1990, and by 1995 Accelerated Technology was earning over $1 million in annual sales. More than 80 USA alumni work at the company, which employees nearly 200 people.
Some of Accelerated Technology's customers include Compaq, Honeywell, NASA, Sony, and Texas Instruments. While at Accelerated Technology, Henderson fostered a relationship with USA's School of Computer and Information Sciences by providing more than $300,000 in equipment and $150,000 in graduate fellowships. Henderson was one of the first graduate students in the master of science degree program at the USA School Computer and Information Sciences. Prior to attending USA, Henderson served in the Navy from 1975 through 1983 and received his bachelor's degree in accounting at the National University in San Diego.
Henderson said, "There have been few relationships in my professional life that have been more rewarding to me than that with the University of South Alabama. From earning my graduate degree, hiring its graduates, teaching students in the School of Computer and Information Sciences through my current enrollment in the drama curriculum, it has been very rewarding.
"I believe strongly that, when we are able, we should give back to the University. It is great to have the confidence that the funds we give will be put to good and productive use. I am very excited about the future of the School of Computer and Information Sciences. Under Dr. Yasinsac's leadership, the school is blossoming and its energy is at an all-time high. I can see in the student's eyes the desire to learn and grow. Best of all, they seem to enjoy themselves while they are learning. I hope that this gift will encourage others to give to a very worthy and honorable cause."
Dr. Alec Yasinsac, dean of the School of Computer and Information Sciences, said, "Neil Henderson is the face of the graduate program in the School of Computer and Information Sciences (SCIS). As one of our first graduate students, our first distinguished alumnus, and a generous sponsor of SCIS graduate assistants, it is fitting that Neil is our first alumnus to sponsor an SCIS research laboratory in Shelby Hall.
"We are most appreciative of the continued support we receive from both Neil and his wife, Laura. This laboratory will be a tremendous asset to the school and our students and is an enduring reaffirmation of the partnership between Neil and the School of Computer and Information Sciences."
USA Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Dr. Joseph F. Busta Jr. said, "Neil Henderson is one of USA's most successful businessmen and entrepreneurs. His support of the University over the years has been significant and this gift should inspire other alumni to support the School of Computer and Information Sciences similarly."
Construction continues at the University of South Alabama on Shelby Hall, a 155,000-square-foot engineering and computing sciences building that is expected to spur local economic development by generating new technological advances and providing state-of-the-art education for the next generation of engineers and computer science professionals.
The new building is named Shelby Hall - Engineering and Computing Sciences Building - in honor of U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby and his wife, Dr. Annette Shelby. A longtime supporter of USA and its academic programs, Sen. Shelby was instrumental in securing more than $40 million in federal funding for the project.
Slated for completion in September 2011, the facility will include technologically advanced multimedia classrooms, laboratory space and computing facilities for both the College of Engineering and the School of Computer and Information Sciences at USA. It is being built on USA's main campus at the intersection of University Boulevard and Old Shell Road.
Engineering and computer and information sciences students total 1,632 at USA, more than 10 percent of USA's enrollment of 14,757.