May 23, 2008
Samford welcomed hundreds of graduates, alumni, family and friends to multiple commencement ceremonies on campus May 16-17.
Friday’s events included separate ceremonies for graduates of McWhorter School of Pharmacy, Brock School of Business and Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing. Speakers at all three events are Samford alumni.
Cancer researcher Douglas Figg `87, a senior scientist at the Center for Cancer Research at the National Institutes of Health, challenged the pharmacy graduates to use their new degree for something besides simply earning a six-figure paycheck. "Think of the impact you could have on the profession, your community, the country and the world," he said. "There is often a better way to do things. Challenge the norm . . . and don't be afraid."
Gregory R. Powell `81, president and chief executive officer of Fi-Plan Partners, reminded business graduates of the power of their degree. "Today," he told them, "you are receiving a piece of paper, your diploma that becomes your Declaration of Independence. It is your freedom to stand fully for your beliefs, your values. You have the knowledge that gives you confidence to overcome and confront your fears."
John Derrick `08 addressed his own graduating classmates during Commencement for Samford's Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing. The former missionary said he often was asked why he sought a nursing degree. "My greatest joy in life is listening to my kids laugh," he said. "I have seen the opposite–where children are abandoned, hurting, vulnerable. I want to live in a world where every child has the opportunity to have a childhood–to laugh and play. I believe nursing is the best way to help make that happen."
Friday evening's Baccalaureate service featured Dr. Fisher Humphreys, who retires this year after 40 years in religious education, the last 18 on the faculty of Samford's Beeson Divinity School. Humphreys reminded the class of 2008 of the Apostle Paul’s advice to "clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."
Saturday morning brought a combined Commencement for Howard College of Arts and Sciences, Orlean Bullard Beeson School of Education and Professional Studies and School of the Arts. Featured speaker Rod Davis `58, English professor and former Dean of Howard College of Arts and Sciences, encouraged graduates to ask questions that matter. Davis said that, "unfortunately, in this country when students have left the labs and libraries behind, the fearless asking of good questions in the public sphere seems to have languished a lot."
Celebrating the 50th anniversary of his own graduation, and with dozens of other graduates of 1958 in the audience, Davis challenged the class of 2008 to choose questions “that you, when you come back fifty years from now, will be pleased with your younger self for asking."
Saturday afternoon Lee H. Rosenthal, U.S. District Court Judge for the Southern District of Texas since 1992, told Cumberland School of Law graduates their chosen profession can be tedious and demanding. But, she said, "being a lawyer has given you an incredible range of opportunities, public and private." In order to avoid "professional dissatisfaction," she said, they should "volunteer time, talents and thought to working on rules at all levels and in other parts of the justice system infrastructure. Like all infrastructures, it needs maintenance. The world changes. The rules must change as well.” That type of work makes a difference, Rosenthal added. "The work will take you to the heart of our justice system. That work will let you make a difference. It will transcend your day jobs."
Five Samford University graduates received the university's top awards at commencement ceremonies May 16-17.
Three students tied for the President's Cup, which is presented to the students in the graduating class with the highest grade-point-average. Samford officials said it was rare for three students to tie for the honor.
At May 17 commencement ceremonies, President's Cup recipients were Elizabeth Ann Rice of Tupelo, Miss., who received the bachelor of music education degree, and John Andrew Wesley of Texarkana, Texas, who received the bachelor of arts degree in music.
Deborah Ann Norris of Lake Placid, Fla., graduated in December 2007 with a bachelor of arts degree in family studies.
Kristen Suzanne O'Dillon of Hanceville, Ala., received the Velma Wright Irons Award as the graduating student with the second highest grade-point-average. O'Dillon earned a bachelor of science degree in biochemistry.
At May 16 graduation ceremonies for the Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing, Mary Katherine Nunnally was presented the John C. Pittman Spirit Award as the student in the graduating class who demonstrates exceptional Christian character in student life.