The Samford University campus was filled with laughter and hugs Saturday as alumni reunited and renewed friendships that in some cases spanned half a century.
The quadrangle, with its sea of white reunion tents and colorful hot-air balloon, was the focal point, but affinity groups found special spaces all across campus. Whether at the A Cappella Choir reunion sing-along in Reid Chapel, or at the 1984 football team’s reunion on a grassy knoll overlooking Seibert Stadium, kindred spirits found ways to re-connect and reminisce.
On Friday evening, three alumni were singled out for special honors at the Homecoming banquet.
Mike ’61 and Carolyn Yeager Robinson ‘60, known for their enthusiastic support of Samford on many levels, received the Alumni of the Year Award.
Eric Motley ‘96, managing director of the Aspen Institute’s Henry Crown Fellowship Program in Washington, D.C. was named the inaugural Outstanding Young Alumnus.
“Mike and Carolyn, we appreciate your steady presence, and all the ways you support Samford,” said Samford president Andrew Westmoreland after Alumni Association president Greg Powell made the presentations.
And addressing Motley, a former Samford student government president and White House assistant, Westmoreland quipped, “Eric, Alabama casts its nine electoral votes for a future president of the United States.”
Following the banquet, many alumni joined students around a spectacular bonfire for music and a pep rally.
Alumni of all ages found something to celebrate during a busy schedule of reunions and activities.
Two were this year’s recipients of the Lockmiller Award given to the male and female alumni representing the earliest classes at the Golden Bulldog brunch.
Winners Howard Foshee ’50 of Spanish Fort, Ala., and Doris Teague Atchison ’48, M.B.A. ’69, of Birmingham took home special Samford clocks to acknowledge the occasion.
The department of journalism and mass communication inducted three members into its new Wall of Fame at a special Saturday morning ceremony. Inaugural inductees are journalism educator Jon Clemmensen of Birmingham, newspaper journalist Carol Fishburn Nunnelley ’65 of Birmingham and book publisher Randall Williams of Montgomery, Ala.
Some alumni found their way “home” to their alma mater after many years away.
Gary Mhoon, a 1982 graduate from Atlanta, Ga., was making his first Homecoming visit since graduation.
“I began reconnecting with old classmates on Facebook, and decided I was way overdue for a Homecoming,” said Mhoon as he waited with other former A Cappella choir members to join the song fest.
More recent graduate Carrie Tomlinson Stevenson ’99 didn’t mind waiting in line with her children for the popular hot-air balloon ride.
“I wanted the kids to see the campus, and I wanted to enjoy the colorful scenery,” said Stevenson, who met her husband, Eric Stevenson J.D. ’98 while she was in undergraduate school and he was in law school.
‘I really miss Birmingham this time of year,” said the Pensacola, Fla., resident, who had especially enjoyed a Friday evening cooking demonstration that featured New York chef James Briscione ’01, who is also from Pensacola. The chef’s mother, she said, teaches her son in kindergarten.
Briscione, joined by his wife Brooke and infant daughter Parker, was grand marshal for the Saturday morning parade.
“That was a first for me, and a lot of fun,” Briscione, a repeat champion on the Food Network’s Chopped! program, said after the parade.