Samford University broke ground Wednesday, Feb. 14, for the Hazel P. Boren Courtyard and Gardens to be constructed this spring adjacent to the new Jane Hollock Brock Recital Hall.
The project is a gift to Samford from Russell and Hazel Boren of Birmingham. It honors Mrs. Boren, a longtime member of the Samford University Auxiliary and its scholarship committee.
"Several years ago, Russell established a music scholarship to honor Hazel, and students already are benefiting from that generosity," said Samford trustee Ronnie Watkins during groundbreaking ceremonies. "Today, Russell is honoring Hazel again, but all of us will benefit from this latest gift.
"The new Hazel P. Boren Courtyard and Gardens will enhance the beautiful new Jane Hollock Brock Hall and Samford's fine arts complex which surrounds us as students, faculty and staff enjoy its ambiance."
Watkins added that, "Rather than just giving his wife a bouquet of flowers for Valentine's Day, Russell has chosen to honor Hazel with an entire garden."
Boren owns Boren Explosives, Dixie Drilling Company and Apache Construction Company of Birmingham. His businesses work with coal mining, rock quarry and construction companies, and have done extensive site preparation work for such Birmingham projects as the flyover entrance from I-459 to Riverchase Galleria, the new shopping mall between I-59 and Highway 11 in Trussville, the Birmingham Horse track and many others.
In thanking Boren for his generosity, Samford President Andrew Westmoreland said, "For a man in the explosives business, you certainly made a big boom today at Samford."
Boren said he and his wife had been impressed over the years with Samford students, and supported scholarship programs in the Samford School of Performing Arts for a simple reason. "We like to give back, and this is a way to give back," he said. He also praised the work of retired performing arts Dean Milburn Price and current Dean Joseph Hopkins.
The Borens are natives of Blount County. They met and married in Oneonta after Boren earned his degree in civil engineering from Auburn University. They have two grown sons and five grandchildren.
Dean Hopkins said the new garden will represent "connecting space" between the new Brock Hall, Buchanan Hall music building and Wright Fine Arts Center. "It will be used for concerts and programs, and also will be a gathering spot for students," he said.