BIRMINGHAM, Ala.-Donald E. Powell, chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, urged Samford University seniors to do their part to help society's growing need for integrity. One thing they can do is to understand whatever culture they will enter after they leave Samford.
"Flee from a culture of greed," he said during commencement exercises at Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex Arena Saturday, May 21. "Look for values of selflessness. We need men and women of integrity."
Powell, who has led the federal agency that insures bank deposits in America since 2001, addressed a class of 639 seniors and several thousand others. Another 158 seniors graduated from Samford's Cumberland School of Law later in the day (see separate story), making the total class number 797.
Also at commencement seniors Adrienne Caples Watkins of Clay, Ala., received the President's Cup for the highest academic average, Ashley Leighanne Floyd (Bowling Green, Ky.) received the Velma Wright Irons Award for the second highest average and Joel S. Davis (Marietta, Ga.) and Megan A. Gladden (Gadsden, Ala.) were named co-winners of the John C. Pittman Spirit Award.
Powell said four things make America unique-personal freedom, popular sovereignty (the right to vote), the rule of law and capitalism. But problems have tarnished each of the four areas recently.
He cited "problems in the press," the prosecution of more than 1,100 public servants last year, some loss of public trust in the church and repeated examples of fraud in business. Even so, capitalism is not of itself evil, Powell said. "America is the envy of the world because of the free market" and the opportunities it provides, he added.
Powell reminded the seniors that "morality and ethics are not one and the same." Morality changes from time to time, while ethics are never-changing. "Focus on ethics," he charged the graduates.
Powell also asked the seniors to depend on their Christian faith and to "learn to give." Giving, he said, may be unnatural but it is very important.
"May God grant you the wisdom and courage to always do the right thing," he said in closing.