Samford University students were introduced to real life examples of leadership, citizenship and good work ethics during the opening convocation of the fall semester Tuesday, Aug. 30.
A series of award presentations to outstanding faculty and staff underscored Samford’s commitment to encouraging the best in all areas of scholarship and job performance.
Longtime professor and former Alabama governor Albert P. Brewer received the Samford Medallion, becoming only the third recipient of the honor since it was created by the Samford Board of Trustees in 2006. The medallion recognizes persons whose good works have made a difference in society, in community affairs, in the life of the church, and in the quality of life for individuals.
Clark Watson, chairman of the Samford board, presented Brewer with the surprise honor, calling him a “tremendous example to lawyers, educators, government leaders and the population of this state at large.”
As an Alabama legislator, speaker of the house, lieutenant governor and governor, distinguished professor of law and government in Samford’s Cumberland School of Law, chairman of the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama, and faithful churchman, Watson said, Brewer has dedicated his personal life to the public good “through inspiring leadership, warmhearted compassion and a genuine dedication to truth.”
Exercise science and sports medicine professor Dr. Alan Jung received the John H. Buchanan Award for Excellence in Classroom Teaching. The annual award carries with it a silver tray, a lapel pin and a $1,000 cash prize. Finalists for the award are nominated by members of the 2011 graduating class.
Jung was cited for his passion for his job and his students, and an attitude that encourages learning and makes his students excited about class.
“He truly shows what it means to be a servant leader in the context of a university professor,” said Provost Dr. Brad Creed in presenting the award. Jung is known for challenging students to think beyond what is required and encouraging undergraduate research, and for his desire that every student in his department be involved in a medical mission trip.
Samford associate registrar Nancy Miller received the President’s Award as a staff member who exceeds all expectations and offers exemplary service to all segments of the Samford community.
Miller, a staff member since 1995, was heralded for her many good deeds, vast breadth of service, and a dedication that is a shining example for others to emulate. “She is patient, methodical, optimistic, consistent, dedicated and encouraging during good times and bad; all the while displaying a Christian example by living Samford’s mission,” said Samford president Dr. Andrew Westmoreland.
Three employees received Meritorious Service Awards: Tracy Luke, program assistant, Cumberland School of Law; Sherry Baldone, director of enterprise applications group, technology services; and Jan Paine, director of undergraduate student services, Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing.
Following the presentation of the Samford Medallion, Westmoreland asked Brewer to share thoughts on several areas in which he is much admired, such as his abilities to bring harmony among people and offer hope during adversity.
Brewer said he learned to get along with people and bring them together by treating them with respect and kindness. “We must recognize the validity of each person and their ability to contribute to the discussion,” he said, adding that in the law profession, differences must be reconciled. “That works in life and in the academy, too.”
Admitting that he has always been an optimist, the Decatur, Ala., native said he believes that all people are on earth for a purpose, and even when faced with adversity, must still fulfill that purpose. He noted that the young people at Samford are so vibrant, enthusiastic and optimistic, “you help us retain that optimism.”
Brewer told how he came to Samford in 1987, when then president Thomas E. Corts asked him to lead a Samford-based organization that would research public policy. A key factor in his acceptance, said Brewer, an attorney, was the opportunity to teach, which he did both in the law school and in the undergraduate history department.
Although he retired in 2005, Brewer continues to teach professional responsibility to law students as distinguished professor of law and government and professor emeritus.
His relationship with Samford and the classroom, he said, “is the most exciting, fulfilling thing I’ve ever done in my life.”
The convocation also included acknowledgment of 75 Founders Circle members who have supported Samford with annual gifts in an uninterrupted chain of at least 35 years. This year, the elite group of donors includes 12 new members.