Classics Coming of Age at Samford

Samford's Department of Classics will reach a milestone this spring. Established four years ago with Baylor University scholar Randy Todd as chair, it will graduate its first two majors in May.

Not many universities offer a full-fledged classics major in this era of tightened budgets in higher education. But Samford is an exception, for good reason.

"The civilization of the Greeks and Romans is foundational to all western traditions," noted Samford President Thomas E. Corts. "The classics of Greek and Roman thought and culture are the basis of what we now refer to as the liberal arts."

And the liberal arts provide the core to every Samford undergraduate's learning experience.

The classics department offers majors in classics, Greek or Latin. The major provides a basis for graduate study in humanities and such professional fields as medicine, dentistry, theology and law. Any student can choose Greek or Latin to satisfy the general language requirement, and department courses are available as electives.

"In my own experience, the great themes of antiquity were stirring," said Corts, whose Ph.D. is in classical rhetoric. "So much of what we encounter day-by-day is common to concepts of Greek tragedy and in the literature of that era."

The classics department has made itself known in a relatively short time at Samford. A second full-time professor, Douglas Clapp, was added. Todd was elected president of the Alabama Association of Foreign Language Teachers. This fall, the department will host a meeting of the Southern section of the Classical Association of the Middle West and South at Samford.

In addition, Todd will lead a group of colleagues studying problem-based learning at the University of Maastricht, Netherlands, with the help of a grant from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education [FIPSE] later this year.

The chair also is faculty team leader for development of a program that will help students examine the relationship between their faith and vocational choices. Funded by a grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc. of Indianapolis, Ind., this program will also provide opportunities for students to explore Christian ministry as a vocation and will help faculty and staff be better able to mentor students in this area.

There's another compelling reason for studying the classics, says Corts. They help students know and better understand Jesus Christ and His times.

"Often, Christians have a view of the New Testament as having fallen out of the sky, in a neat leather binding, with gold-gilt edges," he said. "There is a richness in seeking fully to understand and appreciate the rise of Christianity by taking stock of the hard realities of Jesus' and His disciples' time-the cross-currents of culture and custom, the severity of politics in that day, the constraints of class and status.

"As a Christian university, we should take very seriously the responsibility to know better Jesus Christ and His times, so we can better relate Him and His example to our times," Corts added.

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Maintained by University Relations. Last updated: June 18, 2002

Spring 2002
Vol. 19, No. 1

Seasons Staff

William Nunnelley
Mary Wimberley
Associate Editor
Jack Brymer
Contributing Writer
Sean Flynt
Contributing Writer
Scott Camp
Multimedia Graphic Designer
Donna Fitch
Web Designer & Editor
Janica York
Editorial Assistant
Caroline Baird Summers

Samford University Alumni Association Officers 2002-03

Bennie Bumpers '63
Sonya Bumpers '63

Tom Armstrong '73
Vice President

Brooke Dill Stewart '95

Seasons is published quarterly by Samford University, 800 Lakeshore Drive, Birmingham, Alabama 35229, and is distributed free to all alumni of the University, as well as to other friends. Samford University is an Equal Opportunity Institution and welcomes applications for employment and educational programs from all individuals regardless of race, color, age, sex, disability or national or ethnic origin.