Monday Mission, December 9, 2019
On May 17, 2018, Jenny Codding, a nurse anesthesia student, was seriously injured in an automobile accident.
Her injuries were severe. Yesterday afternoon, faculty, family and friends hosted Jenny for a reception to celebrate the fact that she will graduate with her degree this Friday.
Dr. Terri Cahoon of our faculty credits Jenny’s persistence, the support of her family and friends and a host of Samford’s faculty and staff for this success story. “James Clement and Lane Smith worked with her regarding insurance and financial concerns; Allison Maddox and Jay Flynn had roles with her alternative schedule; and Amy Snow and many clinical preceptors, especially Samford alum, Mary Beth Burrell, supported her gradual return to clinical education,” wrote Terri, adding, “Relationships and the smallest kind deeds do make a difference.”
The world is better because of Jenny Codding and her army of friends.
Monday Mission, December 2, 2019
I rely on these weekly messages to tell stories of how Samford people have, in various ways, lived out our university’s mission, core values and vision.
Over the Thanksgiving break, we lost two exemplars, men who demonstrated through their lives the values we hold dear.
Boyd Christenberry died on Thanksgiving Day, “slipping peacefully into the Lord’s arms,” as his son, Bill, said. As a life trustee for Samford, he served in virtually every imaginable capacity, including a term as chair. After a remarkable career of senior leadership with Alfa Insurance Corporation, his retirement years were consumed with attention to his family (especially his dear wife, Sara), his church and the other causes important to him—especially Samford. In expecting excellence from himself and from those within his influence, he was also a world-class encourager. He was an avid reader of these Monday morning e-mail messages. Often, within minutes of posting a message, my phone would ring. “Andy,” Mr. Christenberry said, “if you keep writing these messages about people who are doing good things, everyone else will want to do good things, too!” Mr. Christenberry nurtured us in our “development of intellect, creativity, faith and personhood.”
Pat Sullivan died yesterday morning, a few hours after Auburn’s triumph over Alabama in the Iron Bowl. If you have recently moved to Earth from another planet, you may not know that Pat was the Auburn quarterback “back in the day,” winning the Heisman Trophy in 1971. His highly successful career included playing in the NFL and coaching assignments at Auburn, TCU, UAB and Samford. He became our head football coach in 2006, ultimately leading his teams to more wins than any Samford football coach. As health concerns forced his retirement from football, he began serving Samford as Special Advisor for Campus and Community Development, a role he continued until his death. His wife, Jean, was the greatest treasure in his life. Self-effacing, kind, competitive, listening, indefatigable, Pat was all of these qualities, and far more. Last week, in the final text message I received from him, he was simply writing to make sure I knew of the recent success of Devlin Hodges, our Samford grad who has climbed to the top of the quarterback pile with the Pittsburgh Steelers. “Our boy Devlin Hodges is making Samford proud,” wrote Pat. I have no idea if Devlin knew yesterday afternoon of Pat’s death, but he led the Steelers to a 20-13 victory over the Cleveland Browns. Pat couldn’t text me about the win this morning, but I imagine he was watching the game. Residents of Alabama have to believe that there is a good cable sports package in Heaven.
The world is better because of the extraordinary lives of Boyd Christenberry and Pat Sullivan.
Monday Mission, November 25, 2019
In Friday’s mail I received a handwritten note from the father of one of our undergraduate students, expressing his deep appreciation for all that his daughter is receiving at Samford.
“Knowing she is safe and has a godly set of friends as well as mentors like . . . the education department faculty is a source of great pride and thanksgiving,” he wrote.
I’m thankful this morning for people across the campus, including our colleagues in the Orlean Beeson School of Education, for their investment in the lives and wellbeing of our students.
The world is better because of Samford people.
Monday Mission, November 18, 2019
This past Saturday we hosted prospective students and their families for the last Preview Day of the fall.
In the opening session, I did as I often do, calling a few current students (without warning) to the stage and then pitching questions to them. My concluding question was, “What gives you hope?” Grayson Hill, a senior from Cordova, Tennessee, had perhaps the most poignant reply. I don’t have a recording of his remarks, but a close paraphrase would be along these lines: we all struggle, and Samford is a good place for struggling.
The world is better because of the clear, strong, humble, hopeful voice of students like Grayson Hill.
Monday Mission, November 11, 2019
After shaking hands with hundreds of our grads at Homecoming last weekend and hearing dozens of their stories, these are the thoughts that are seared into my mind this morning:
our graduates are profoundly grateful for the ways their lives were shaped at Samford—and each one of us, regardless of our title or tasks, is responsible for fulfilling the precious mission of this university. From the two 99-year-old grads who attended the Golden Bulldog reunion to alums who returned from the Class of 2019, the connections are vibrant and eternal.
The world is better because of the ways Samford people live out the Samford mission.
Monday Mission, November 4, 2019
It is Homecoming Week at Samford.
On Friday and Saturday we’ll welcome thousands of alums and their family members and friends back to campus. I’m reminded this morning of a recent conversation with one of those alums, chatting with me about his college experience. He recounted his most difficult course at Samford, taught by a faculty member with high expectations. “I never worked harder in college than in that course, and I learned more in that course than in any other,” the graduate said to me.
The world is better because of the high expectations of the Samford faculty.
Monday Mission, October 21, 2019
At a dinner for Samford donors last week, I interviewed three of our current students—Taylore Miller, Edward Garner and Michaela Hunter—about their experiences this past summer, working with a summer camp for children, a Vacation Bible School in South Korea and a school in Uganda.
As we closed the interview, I asked about the person at Samford who has most influenced them. Taylore spoke of the impact of Coach Todd Yelton. Edward offered words of praise for Dr. Grant Dalton. Michaela affirmed the work of Dr. Amy Hoaglund. The accomplishments of the three students are extraordinary; the support they have received from faculty and staff illustrates Samford’s goal to promote the “development of intellect, creativity, faith, and personhood.”
The world is better because of Taylore Miller, Edward Garner, Michaela Hunter, Todd Yelton, Amy Hoaglund and Grant Dalton.
Monday Mission, October 7, 2019
Jay Flynn, University Registrar, and his staff encounter many interesting situations each day.
They seek to be helpful. Such was the case in an account relayed to me a few days ago from Brannon Denning, Associate Dean of Cumberland School of Law, in which one of our recent law grads encountered an unusual problem. Apparently the graduate asked for her diploma to be mailed to the home of her parents. Her parents have dogs. The dogs must be hungry because, according to the message Brannon received from the recent grad:
One of her parents’ dogs got hold of the diploma and chewed it up. You read that right: she sent me an email saying that the dog ate her diploma. She was wondering whether—given that it was a case of canine malfeasance and not negligence on her part—she might get a new diploma. I emailed Jay Flynn and he didn’t hesitate. Her new diploma is on the way. Samford is a special place because of folks like Jay!
The world is better because of Jay Flynn. And law grads. And dogs.
Monday Mission, September 30, 2019
At a dinner with Dallas-area alums last week I had the pleasure of sitting with Dr. T. Bob Davis, a Samford graduate who has been practicing dentistry for—I think I heard correctly—52 years.
He spoke in loving, respectful term of his years at Samford and of the fact that his vocation, dentistry, has helped to provide a way for him to practice his passion and calling as an accomplished pianist and church musician. The life and witness of Dr. Davis is yet another example of the positive impact of Samford graduates
The world is better because T. Bob Davis and 50,000 Samford graduates.
Monday Mission, September 23, 2019
Jeanna and I returned Saturday evening from a quick trip to the UK (just in time for the football game), after attending a seminar at Oxford and then spending some time at the Daniel House in London.
Away from the office for a week, I expected as I returned this morning the usual piles of mail and miscellaneous reports needing attention. Included in the mail was an anonymous letter, which I began to read with the natural trepidation that accompanies the opening of unsigned correspondence. This letter was from a person who signed, simply, “a grandma.” She wrote to me to of her appreciation for Samford, with particular gratitude for the attention to her grandson by one of our faculty member. “Mark my words,” she wrote, “these professors are very influential to these students.” Her grandson “has been greatly impacted by the words of one . . . of his professors.” “I don’t know the name of the specific individual. To him, and for that matter, all of them, I want to say thanks. You have won a grandmother’s heart.”
Her concluding paragraph: “I’m sure he (my grandson) would be embarrassed to know that I have sent this letter; thus, his identity will remain undisclosed. But at age 75, I think I have earned the privilege to encourage you and the generation we love so dearly. We have the privilege to pass on the baton, and thank you once again for taking up that challenge and going forth.”
The world is better because of a grandmother’s heart—and the meaningful ways in which her heart was won by the competence, compassion and wisdom of Samford faculty.
Monday Mission, September 16, 2019
As we welcomed entering freshmen and their families for orientation throughout the past summer, an important element of the program was a worship service for parents, held in Reid Chapel.
During the worship hour, parents and other family members were invited to complete prayer cards. You may access the hundreds of prayers from family members for the Class of 2023 by clicking this link: Prayers for Class of 2023. I hope you will take a few minutes to read the prayers and reflect on the significance of our covenant, as members of the Samford faculty and staff, with these families.
The world is better because of the prayers for Samford, voiced each day by thousands of people, near and far.
Monday Mission, September 9, 2019
Dorothy Jean Adams began her service at Samford on a December morning in 1985 as a baker in the Cafeteria.
She progressed through a variety of roles, eventually becoming the head cashier for the Caf. Along with way, she became “Ms. Dot,” one of the most familiar faces at Samford. Ms. Dot managed her responsibilities well, welcoming hundreds of thousands of diners—and shushing occasional students away who offered a “dog ate my meal card” excuse while attempting to gain access. Ms. Dot’s retirement was announced last week. I miss her—and I’m grateful for her service.
The world is better because Dorothy Jean Adams.
Monday Mission, August 26, 2019
When it rains, it pours, especially for our hard-working team members in facilities management.
After a grueling week and weekend of welcoming new and returning students to the campus, they were faced Sunday morning with a massive tree limb that had fallen across Montague Drive, near the Wright Center. Throughout the day—Sunday—they dealt with other issues across campus. Then last night—Sunday night—a transformer failed near Lakeshore Drive and most of the campus was without power. Alabama Power responded as quickly as possible, assisted by our facilities management team members, who then had to go building-by-building to reset equipment. Today, without having had time to rest, they’ll tackle whatever comes their way. When you cross paths with them, please offer a word of thanks.
The world is better because of Samford’s staff in facilities management.
Monday Mission, August 19, 2019
We find ourselves at the week before the week, the week just prior to the beginning of another academic year at Samford, and I’m remembering that our work today is only possible because of the sacrifices of many people over the years.
On April 7, 1884, as Howard College faced bankruptcy and the meager assets were placed for auction, two trustees—W. W. Wilkerson and J. B. Lovelace—stepped forward, purchased the assets, returned them and allowed the college to continue.
The world is better because of the sacrificial support of Samford’s friends.
Monday Mission, August 12, 2019
The Center for Sports Analytics at Samford is a relatively new invention, but under the guidance of Dr. Darin White the program has advanced at a remarkable pace.
For instance, internships for our students in the first year of the operation of the program included the Green Bay Packers, the Atlanta Braves, Legion FC and Coca-Cola sports marketing. In a rapidly growing field, Samford graduates will be well positioned for leadership roles in the years ahead.
The world is better because of the direct engagement of Samford students in their fields of study.
Monday Mission, August 5, 2019
For those of you who have been around Samford for a while, you may recall that I usually send this message to employees sometime during the month of August as we anticipate the arrival of our new students. It is personal, but I believe it is also an expression of our shared hope for providing a welcoming presence to the families we’ll embrace in a few days. I’m still stunned by the opportunities I’ve had in life, many of them shaped through the support I received from faculty, staff and students in college, four decades ago. Here’s my story . . .
Forty-four years ago this month, I loaded just about everything I owned into my Pontiac Ventura, said goodbye to my mom and dad, and hit the road from Batesville, Arkansas, 160 miles south to Arkadelphia and to Ouachita Baptist University. As best I can remember, it didn’t occur to my parents that they might accompany me on that fateful day. The reasoning was that, if I was old enough to go to college, I ought to be capable of driving there and unloading the car by myself. Somehow it escaped us that we were supposed to come as a family, listen to a bunch of sappy speeches from administrators, and then hug each other as if we’d never be together again, this side of Glory. I think I knew one other Ouachita student at the time. I also knew my admissions counselor. The first night in the dorm, I remember counting the number of days on the calendar until the end of the semester. Whatever the number, I was relatively sure I couldn’t live long enough to see final exams. I was lonely, I was surrounded by people who seemed to know each other, and I didn’t know the first thing to expect from college. I can recall not knowing what a credit hour was, but being too embarrassed to admit it to anyone I thought might actually be able to explain it to me. I remember the names of my student group leaders. I remember going with the members of my freshman group to the home of a faculty member for dessert. I remember standing in line in the student center, waiting to shake hands with the university president, Dr. Grant. When we finally shook hands, he was very gracious. He asked me where I was from. I said Batesville. He asked me if I’d considered staying home and attending Arkansas College, which was located in my hometown. I didn’t quite know what to make of that; perhaps he thought I should have stayed home; but I said no, not really. He asked me if I knew Dan West, the president of Arkansas College. I think I may have said that I’d seen his photograph in the local newspaper. He said, “He’s one of the good guys.” I agreed, although having only seen his photograph and having elected not to attend his college, I felt my response was somewhat hypocritical. Then Dr. Grant wished me well, which was my cue to move to the line for lemonade.
That semester I discovered that I could be a decent student. It was as big a surprise to me then as it is to you now. I also discovered that I could fit into college life. That was an even bigger surprise. The environment that seemed so distant to me in August had begun to feel like home by December. I found that I could make my way in a world totally unknown to me. The lessons that I learned that first semester were among the most important of my life, lessons—four decades after the fact—that are helping me to live out a calling to be at Samford University. A few years later, as I began graduate school, I also remember every detail of the first few days. The middle is a twilight zone of papers and seminars, but the beginning and the end, I recall with almost perfect clarity.
There are two points to this little autobiographical narrative as we lock arms to begin a new year. The first point is that I didn’t have to think very hard to recall each one of the details that I’ve mentioned over the past few paragraphs. Forty-four years after the fact, those encounters are still engraved in my memory. The point is not that I have a great memory; in fact, Jeanna will tell you that my memory is about shot by now. It is simply that these people and these events were of great importance to an impressionable 18-year-old. The students who will be arriving on our campus this week will be watching and remembering, and 44 years hence, they’ll still have memories of their moment of arrival. The events of the next few days will be crucial to the development of these young people. Let’s give them our best.
The second point is that the institution where we serve has a transforming nature about it because of the work that takes place on this little spot of ground in Homewood, Alabama. Every college does. That’s part of the character of higher education. But those of us who work here testify to the unique power of this institution. In this entering class of undergrads and in the entering cohorts in our graduate and professional programs are hundreds of students who are presenting their lives to us. I’ll admit that what happens from this point largely depends on them. It depends on the extent to which they apply, conduct, and discipline themselves. But it also depends on us. What will we do tomorrow, and next week, and this year to add knowledge and understanding to their lives? It is a challenge worthy of everything that we can offer.
Jeanna and I wish for you and for the members of your family the very best as we begin this time together. May God bless you and strengthen you each step of the way, and may God bless Samford University.
The world will be better, Samford friends, because of the work you will do this year.
Monday Mission, July 29, 2019
Erica Jewel Littleton-Williams is a distinguished graduate of Samford, currently serving as a member of our Board of Overseers.
She’s a friend to many of us on campus and her list of accomplishments is long. Above all, she’s a teacher—and she has now begun a new role, working though Mayor Woodfin’s office, as the Director of Educational Advancement for the City of Birmingham. Take a minute to watch this introductory video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAYo5OgvWs8.
The world is better because of the competence and spirit of Erica Jewel Littleton-Williams.
Monday Mission, July 22, 2019
Many of us experienced a sense of loss when Dr. Chuck Sands left his faculty position at Samford a few years ago to join the administration of California Baptist University in Riverside.
A Samford graduate (and the son of our former pharmacy dean, Dr. Charlie Sands), Chuck was a highly respected member of our faculty. One thing led to another for Dr. Sands and he is now serving as Provost at CBU. A few days ago a friend commented to me of Chuck’s growing influence in the world of higher education. We still miss him—but we are grateful that Samford played a small role in his preparation for life beyond Birmingham.
The world is better because of the significant contributions of Samford graduates.
Monday Mission, July 8, 2019
It is a name that has come to be virtually synonymous with Samford, given the breadth of the Beeson family’s investment in our university. We are well aware that Mr. Beeson made a lot of money—and he gave away a lot of money, almost $100 million to Samford from the combined gifts of the Beeson family. His motivation? In his own words: “It’s the Lord’s money. He gave me the gift of making it. I am not smart enough to make that much money on my own. It’s his money and I’m going to give it back to him.”
The world is better because of the “giving back” of Mr. Beeson and so many other friends of Samford.
Monday Mission, July 1, 2019
Samford’s students and faculty are everywhere this summer.
David Parks of Beeson Divinity School’s Global Center, for example, reports that students in Nepal trekked to the Himalayas last month to visit the villages of ethnically Tibetan tribes. They walked 46 miles and ascended 18,602 feet in elevation, teaching and preaching at a school along the way and working with area missionaries.
The world is better because Samford people are so many places in the world, doing so much good and learning so much from others.
Monday Mission, June 24, 2019
The spirit of hospitality on Samford’s campus is so abundant that we often take it for granted.
As a simple and recent example, I received a message last week from a visitor to the campus (the father of a prospective student), including these sentences:
I stopped at another point and asked a student about the education building. He didn’t just tell me where it was – he insisted on walking me through it, and then showed me the renovations in the student building, as well as pointing out the dorms where my daughter would most likely be.
Kindness is not accidental. Thanks to the anonymous student who gave so generously of his time to a person he didn’t know.
The world is better because of the kindness of so many people affiliated with Samford.
Monday Mission, June 17, 2019
The first class of our Micah Fellows visited Northern Ireland at the beginning of the summer.
Bryan Johnson, director of the program, reports that the “students were able to spend time listening to former enemy combatants, both Protestant and Catholic, as well as experience how Belfast is still a city divided along sectarian lines.” Here’s a short summary of Dr. Johnson’s report:
Our students will tell you they learned a lot about peace and reconciliation and how important that is to their own service work. The most important part of the trip was getting to spend time working with children and teenagers in Catholic and Protestant youth centers. Our hosts couldn’t emphasize enough how valuable it was to have American college students give these young people a sense of hope that they can finish high school and attend a university. With University Fellows and Micah Fellows we spend a lot of time emphasizing the importance of being good ambassadors for Samford, for their families, for their country, and for themselves. These students, every one of them, took that seriously. They are mature beyond their years, trustworthy, kind, and entirely decent.
The world is better because of the calling of Samford students to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God.
Monday Mission, June 10, 2019
Quietly, happily, respectfully, a few dozen friends gathered in Cooney Hall last Thursday to celebrate Tom Woolley’s retirement from Samford.
Dr. Woolley’s exemplary contributions as a faculty member in the Brock School of Business framed most of his involvement with Samford, but in recent years he has served as our Senior Associate Provost. He also gave thoughtful attention and support to the development of our Center for Science and Religion. Tom’s interests span the breadth of all academic disciplines, so he was a perfect, natural choice to provide assistance in academic administration for programs across the campus. Some of my fondest Samford memories are of impromptu conversations with Tom in my occasional wanderings through Dwight Beeson Hall, finding him alone in his old office and stopping for a moment, to realize 30 minutes later that one thing led inevitably to another. Thank you for the gift to us of your time, Tom. It passed too quickly. You are always welcome here.
The world is better because of the faithful, meaningful, hopeful service of Tom Woolley.
Monday Mission, June 3, 2019
A few days ago I had the privilege of giving the (mercifully short) graduation speech for the Calvary Day School (Winston-Salem, North Carolina), where two graduates from the class will be freshmen at Samford this fall.
While in Winston-Salem, I connected with several recent Samford graduates to learn of their experiences following graduation. Some of them are natives of North Carolina who have returned home for life and work and others are transplants to the region—but in every case I was impressed with the ways in which they are engaged in meaningful work and service. Driving home the day after the graduation ceremony, my thoughts were drawn again and again to the inspirational stories of our graduates. In a world of skepticism and turmoil, they offer hope.
The world is better because the “intellect, creativity, faith and personhood” of Samford graduates.
Monday Mission, May 13, 2019
From Dr. Joe Hopkins, Dean of the School of the Arts:
Our senior students in Interior Design have worked to create a solution for a church community in the Dominican Republic. Located in Santo Domingo, the project will become both home and education center for pregnant teenage girls. In evaluating the work, a panel of professional designers had glowing words of commendation for the project, its professional quality, the care in understanding the needs of a different culture, and the potential impact of this facility. For me, it is moving to see our students already changing the world and sharing Christ through real and powerful means; it is a small glimpse into the difference they are about to make through professional lives undergirded and infused by faith. Through this project, Samford students have engaged the church community of a neighboring nation to offer hope and a new beginning to those who stand at the threshold of life decisions. The project plan is inspiring, personal, responsible, and innovative. I look forward to the day we can visit this facility in operation and meet those whose lives have been changed by the thoughtful design of Samford students.
The world is better because of the innovative, caring work of Samford students and faculty.
Monday Mission, May 6, 2019
Hundreds of friends attended an event Friday evening in celebration of the life and work of our founding, retiring Dean of Beeson Divinity School, Dr. Timothy George.
Earlier in the day, during his sermon at the Beeson commencement ceremony, Dean George fused scripture with the cherished architecture of Hodges Chapel. He made reference to the martyrs in the alcoves, the saints in the dome, and even the vacant places into which we all must step. These are “translucent icons,” Dr. George said, and we see through them to the magnificence of Christ. In his concluding remarks on Friday evening, he quoted the theologian Karl Barth, comparing his own influence to that of the donkey used to carry Jesus to Jerusalem: “I was permitted to be the donkey that carried this better theology for part of the way, or tried to carry as best I could.” Whether in the imagery of the humble donkey, lifting up Jesus, or the translucent icons of Hodges Chapel, reflecting a deeper understanding of our faith, we find our own Timothy George.
The world is better because of the faithful, mindful, humble service of Timothy George.
Monday Mission, April 29, 2019
Amidst much good news from our 2019 candidates for graduation, we learned last week that Mackenzie Fazenbaker, a senior accounting major who will begin the M.Acc. degree at Samford, was chosen to receive a prestigious scholarship from RSM, the fifth largest accounting firm in the United States.
She is one of only 10 students to receive the award nationwide, and one of two from private institutions.
The world is better because of Mackenzie and those who have taught her in the Brock School of Business and throughout Samford.
Monday Mission, April 22, 2019
Precious words from the mother and father of a member of the Samford Class of 2019, received this weekend:
We would like to extend our sincerest gratitude to Samford’s faculty and administration. A special thank you to professors Amanda Howard and Gregory Kawell for their mentorship, availability and caring attitude. Our daughter thrived during her undergraduate studies at Samford due to the institution’s high academic standards coupled with a Christian-based value system. Thank you for setting the bar high! She is leaving as a very confident, self-reliant and highly motivated young adult. During her four years at Samford, she was challenged academically, participated in a number of Samford-sponsored community outreach programs as well as other extracurricular activities. She was able to discover her passions and grow both intellectually and spiritually through these experiences. Consequently, she is well-prepared to embark on her graduate studies this fall.
The world is better because of Samford’s all-encompassing approach to education—and the extra efforts of faculty members like Amanda Howard and Greg Kawell.
Monday Mission, April 15, 2019
Dr. Brian Gregory of our Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry told me last week of one of his graduates—Alex Davis—who was facing a very difficult decision regarding two highly-coveted graduate fellowships.
Alex is currently pursuing graduate study in physics at Auburn. After careful reflection, Alex chose an offer from the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) program. Last year, NDSEG made 69 awards from an applicant pool of 3,100, so the competition is fierce. “I know that there were so many amazing applicants and it is truly an honor that they would choose me,” Alex wrote to Dr. Gregory. Congratulations, Alex.
The world is better because of Samford’s commitment to academic, career and ethical competency.
Monday Mission, April 8, 2019
Patty Roark is a Financial Aid Advisor at Samford.
You’ll find her on the ground floor of Ingalls Hall with the other members of our competent staff in Student Financial Services. Patty’s job is challenging, interacting with students and parents each day, pursuing solutions to their problems. Last week as I dashed to the library to buy a cup of coffee, the mom of one of our students stopped me to ask, “Do you have time for some praise?” She told me how, during her association with Samford through the enrollment of two daughters, Patty has offered consistent, caring service. The person who told me this story is of great influence in her own community, but my guess is that Patty has no idea of that fact. She respects each person, regardless of personal circumstances, offering kind and helpful attention.
The world is better because of Patty Roark and our staff in Student Financial Services.
Monday Mission, April 1, 2019
Samford’s reputation is built as graduates demonstrate, throughout their lives, intellect, creativity, faith and personhood.
Dr. David Little of our Orlean Beeson School of Education forwarded to me last week this message from a recent graduate, now a first-year teacher in a school in another state, following her “summative meeting” with her principal and first-year teacher advisor:
“They both told me they could not believe I was a first year teacher! They said I had a great teacher presence, wonderful classroom management, great student relationships, promoted higher order thinking, and noticed that I focused a lot on social/emotional development. All I could say was, ‘I had a wonderful master's program and teachers!!!’ Thank you for everything.”
The world is better because of the ceaseless investment of Samford faculty members in the lives of their students.
Monday Mission, March 25, 2019
While many of us are engaged in watching the basketball version of March Madness unfold, our friends in Samford’s Print Shop recognize that every day is filled with madness as their clients ask for impossibly quick results.
The staff is no larger than the number of refs required to officiate a collegiate basketball game—three—with employees Judi Moore and Alise Stone supervised by Lisa Dodd. Lisa’s involvement dates to 1989. The staff members earn double-double status each day: double-digit service and double-digit speed.
The world is better because of the slam dunk team in Samford’s Print Shop.
Monday Mission, March 18, 2019
At 12 Ashburn Gardens in South Kensington, London, dawn broke about six hours ago.
The property is known to us as Daniel House, and last night marked the first time that it has been inhabited by Samford students and faculty since an extensive renovation began last year. Construction is ongoing, so access to portions of the house will be restricted for a few additional weeks, but the guests are now inside, safe and sound. My thanks turn this morning to the hundreds of people who have made gifts to support the project, to the London-based staff who support the operations there, to our architects and contractor in London, and especially to Lauren Doss, Nancy Biggio and Jeff Poleshek, who labored long last week to prepare the house. They’re headed home today.
The world is better because of the life-changing experiences that have occurred—and will occur—at the Daniel House.
Monday Mission, March 4, 2019
Last week I had an e-mail message from Porter Rivers, a graduate of two years ago.
In his senior year, Porter served as our SGA president, and it was especially through that relationship that I came to know him. Employed by a local, successful business, Porter told me that he was going to be on campus on Thursday for a career fair (recruiting Samford students for positions within his company) and he hoped we could chat for a few minutes. I arranged to meet him at the career fair, then we walked—in the rain—to take a look at the construction in the University Center, talking constantly during our few minutes together. Porter was married a few months ago, he loves his job, and his future is exceptionally bright. Walking back to my office—in the rain—I was reminded of the ways in which Porter’s life was touched here, and I was grateful for his family and for those who invested in him while he was a student at Samford.
The world is better because of Porter Rivers and those who poured their wisdom and knowledge into him.
Monday Mission, February 25, 2019
This is the time of year when prospective students are coming to grips with one of the most significant decisions of their lives, their college choice, so it isn’t surprising that the campus is crowded in February and March with families, having conversations with admission staff, taking one more tour, and generally assessing their options.
Last week I visited briefly with one of those families and listened as they related their observations. I have no idea if the prospect will choose Samford, but if she does, I suspect it will be largely because of the interaction that she had with members of our faculty members in the Howard College of Arts and Sciences. Sitting in on a couple of classes and talking with faculty members later, she left with a deep appreciation for the attention afforded our students.
The world is better because of the engagement of our faculty in the development of our students—and our prospective students.
Monday Mission, February 18, 2019
A couple of weeks ago I spoke to about 100 people gathered for a prayer breakfast in the town of West Jefferson, located along the northwest border of Jefferson County, joining Walker County.
The town itself has a population of slightly more than 300 people. Although they lost their high school several years ago, they’ve managed to hold on to their elementary school (which has an enrollment of about 150 students). Gathered on the morning of the prayer breakfast were emergency and law enforcement personnel from the area, the Mayor and other officials, the community’s Senator and Representative in the Alabama legislature, and other men and women who care deeply about the quality of life in their town. Before and after the breakfast I managed to meet most of the guests and chat with them, and I was gratified—as I always am—when encountering the Samford connections in the group. “My daughter graduated there,” “I know Jennings Marshall on your faculty,” “my grandchildren are there now,” “you’ve got a great school,” “Samford has been a positive influence on Alabama.” Samford’s “community” extends to the largest cities on the planet and to towns like West Jefferson, Alabama.
The world is better because of Samford’s “service to God, to family, to one another, and to the community.”
Monday Mission, February 11, 2019
Last week several folks forwarded to me the most recent attempt to spoof my e-mail account so that it appears that I’m sending messages to random people with lines like, “Are you available?”
I did as I always do on such occasions, dutifully forwarding the messages to our friends in Technology Services so that they could do whatever it is they do. Then I stopped to realize the extent to which I take these staff members for granted. Each day they perform hundreds of tasks to maintain our systems, fix our computers and answer my inept questions—and they do it all with competence and grace.
The world is better because of Samford’s dedicated employees in Technology Services, who always answer “yes” when asked if they are available!
Monday Mission, February 4, 2019
Friday morning we lost a dear friend, William “Bill” Self Propst, Sr., one of the most successful graduates in Samford’s history.
Mr. Propst was a pioneer in the pharmacy industry, first opening his own store in Huntsville, Alabama, and later overseeing the installation of pharmacies in Kmarts across the United States. As his career progressed, he purchased a small operation to produce generic drugs and built the business to the extent that it became one of the largest such enterprises in the country. He will be remembered for his business acumen, but he would say that the greatest elements of his legacy are his family and the investment he made in charitable causes. Among those investments is Samford University. Mr. Propst was one of the most generous people I have ever known, and many of us learned significant life lessons from him. We miss him—and we’ll see him again.
The world is better because of Bill Propst.
Monday Mission, January 28, 2019
We are only one week into the spring semester and already—given the pace—I’m remembering these comforting, challenging words from a prayer offered last August by Dr. Ahinee Amamoo, Associate Professor in our School of Public Health:
In the hustle and bustle of the semester help us to stop and see the needs of our students. Help us to minister to them as you see fit. We recognize that we are providing our students an invaluable education here at Samford, but help us to see and realize that each of our students come to campus with different needs, concerns and issues. Use us, God, to show them your love and compassion and help us, help them grow closer to you.
The world is better when, at our best, we are seeking to fulfill the hope offered in Ahinee’s prayer.
Monday Mission, January 14, 2019
If you are considering a trip to Kigali, Rwanda, a recent article in The New York Times offered “five places to go.”
Number two on the list is The Women’s Bakery. If you drop by the bakery, you might encounter Rachel Carroll, a Samford graduate, the Program Manager. Here’s the link from The New York Times, just to whet your appetite: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/18/travel/five-places-to-go-in-kigali.html. Samford graduates are everywhere.
The world is better because of Rachel Carroll and the work done each day in The Women’s Bakery.
Monday Mission, January 7, 2019
A career passing total of 14,584 yards, now the record in FCS NCAA Division I football; FCS records now held for completions and attempts; leading the nation in 2018 in passing yards per game (389.4), total passing yards (4,283) and total offense per game (417.8); and now Samford QB Devlin Hodges is the recipient of the Walter Payton Award, given to the top offensive player in all of FCS football.
He is the first Samford player ever to receive the award and it is only the seventh occasion for the honor to go to a representative of the Southern Conference. When I wrote to congratulate him on Friday evening, he replied by shifting the focus elsewhere: “What a great honor to represent Samford!”
The world is better because of Devlin Hodges.
Monday Mission, December 31, 2018
Timothy George, Dean of Samford’s Beeson Divinity School, offered a beautiful, challenging message to our December graduates at our winter commencement ceremony.
His closing statement to our graduates is an appropriate way to mark the end of 2018 and to embrace, as he said to our graduates, “the stewardship of starting all over again.”
Amidst the brokenness all around us, and sometimes even within us, we are summoned today to be faithful to God’s calling. We are to be steadfast, persevering in discipleship so as to bear witness to the beauty, the light, and the divine reality that we shall forever enjoy in heaven. We are called to do this in a culture that seems, at times, fragile and beset by dangers we cannot predict. You will not do this perfectly—you will fail, as all human beings do—but reach out and claim the promise of God’s forgiveness. Reach out and accept the gift of a new beginning, the stewardship of starting all over again.
The world is better because, through God’s grace, we may accept the gift of a new beginning.