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.
Monday Mission, December 24, 2018
In an interview published earlier this month in the Georgia Bar Journal, Court of Appeals of Georgia Chief Judge Stephen Louis A. Dillard, also the current President of the Samford Alumni Association, was asked the question, “why is Samford University so special to you?”
Our General Counsel, Clark Watson, after reading the Judge’s comments, said, “The opinion of Judge Dillard on this matter will not be reversed on appeal!”
Here are Judge Dillard’s thoughts about Samford:
Thank you, Judge Dillard. The world is better because of you. Merry Christmas to all!
Monday Mission, December 17, 2018
Saturday morning, as I was checking final details in the Hanna Center prior to Commencement, headed the length of the gym floor to the hallways where students and faculty were gathering, I heard my name called from the stands.
It was the father of one of our soon-to-be graduates from the Brock School of Business, leaning over the railing. “I’ve been following you down the court, hoping to catch you,” he said. And then he expressed, in a strong voice but with eyes that were melting, his appreciation for all that his son received here. He concluded with a phrase that I hear so often: “The investment was worth it.” So this morning our story once again turns to the faculty, staff, students, trustees, alumni, parents, friends—and above all, to God—for creating and sustaining a university that is worthy of continued investment.
The world is better because of the abundant joy that is found, nurtured and shared at Samford.
Monday Mission, December 10, 2018
The Samford Recruitment Team (SRT) is comprised of undergraduates who lead campus tours, assist with Preview Days, and generally support all outreach efforts to prospective students and families.
The students are easily identifiable when they’re working because of the red polo shirts they wear. SRT member Shelly Fulks was not on “red polo duty” when she saw the family of a prospective student a few days ago, but she quickly did all she could to put the guests at ease. Here is the description of her kindness that we received last week from the visiting family:
Kudos to student, Shelly Fulks!!! She saw our family waiting to order food in the Health Sciences Building. She offered her last two meal swipes to us since she was going out of town for the weekend. After we ordered, she invited the three of us to sit and eat with her while she told us all about her Samford experience! She really connected with our daughter and made her feel at home!
The world is better because of Shelly and all the students in red polo shirts who regularly practice the gift of hospitality to our guests.
Monday Mission, December 3, 2018
A few days ago one of our graduates, currently enrolled in a graduate program at Vanderbilt, sent a heartwarming message to Dr. Jonathan Davis of our Department of Human Development and Family Life Education.
After offering examples of how her courses at Samford had prepared her for the rigors of a graduate program, she closed with this sentiment:
The world is better because of the ways in which Samford faculty members nurture their students.
Monday Mission, November 26, 2018
Continuing Samford’s lineage of success of intercollegiate Ethics Bowl teams, our current band of students—Will Featherston, Sierra Outerbridge, Rowan Rosewarne, Natalie Tidwell and Jones Willingham—won the Mid-Atlantic Regional tournament a few days ago, clearing the way for their entry in the national championship tournament in Baltimore in February.
To win the regional tournament, the Samford team defeated (such a harsh word in the context of ethics, right?) teams from Wake Forest, Ole Miss, Augusta University, the University of Maryland, Clemson and the University of Central Florida. The team members thank their coaches—Mike Janas, Wilton Bunch and Chris Metress—for their wise counsel and support.
The world is better because of the vigorous learning of Samford students.
Monday Mission, November 19, 2018
Chris Hatcher, our head football coach, had a few things on his mind in early November.
Among his assortment of priorities was to work with his team, amidst unexpected adversity, to carve out a winning season (which occurred against East Tennessee State University last Saturday). But one day earlier this month, Chris found the time to send a Samford jersey, on which he had scrawled “Go Dogs!” and “Chris Hatcher, Head Coach,” to a young man in a hospital in Atlanta. The young man, a high school senior who already had his heart set on attending Samford next year, was seriously injured when the driver of another vehicle ran a red light. His recovery is long and excruciating. The young man wants to be an archeologist, not a football player, so Chris violated no obscure NCAA recruitment rule in sending him the jersey. I’m not certain that Chris even knows the young man, nor his family. But he saw an opportunity on a November morning, and he took the time to meet the need.
Chris Hatcher loves to win. More than winning football games, however, Chris Hatcher cares for people. I’m glad he’s our football coach.
The world is better because of the winning ways of Chris Hatcher.
Monday Mission, November 12, 2018
Another airport story, this one from Dr. P. J. Hughes, Associate Professor in our McWhorter School of Pharmacy.
Here’s P. J.’s commentary from an encounter a few weeks ago:
Flying back home from a trip, my wife (Beth) and I are standing in line waiting to board our flight to Atlanta. We are discussing travel-related things and a pilot who is in line in front of us turns around and engages us in pleasant discussion. One thing leads to the other, and he tells us he’s based in Atlanta. He asks where we are from, and we respond, “Birmingham.” The gentleman then says, “Oh, my son attends Samford.” I then told him I worked at Samford. His face immediately lit up. We engaged in a five-minute conversation regarding Samford, the wonderful community, beautiful campus, excellent academic rigor, but most importantly, how good he felt about sending his son to Samford.
The world is better because Samford people make possible so many great stories.
Monday Mission, November 5, 2018
Homecoming is a memory, but much of the recovery remains.
Tents and chairs still dot the Quad this morning, our backs are aching from the strain of the past few days, and the projects that were held in abeyance have now reached a level of urgency. Hundreds of conversations with happy alums are a blur for me this morning, but they meld into a common refrain: we loved Samford because of faculty who taught and inspired us and friends who cared for us. The campus is beautiful, yes. The progress is great, yes. But we remember the people who touched our lives, then and now.
The world is better because of the dedicated faculty and staff and caring friends who have preceded us at Samford.
Monday Mission, October 22, 2018
Last week I wrote to you with a vignette about a voicemail message from the father of a prospective student.
Here’s another voicemail story, this time from the father of a recent graduate of our Ida Moffett School of Nursing. “In only his second month (of employment at a hospital), they had an emergency where someone was nonresponsive. It was my son who performed chest compressions and saved the patient’s life. The charge nurse was there, was present, and commended him for it. Again, it’s a testament to the outstanding training and education at Samford. He’s too humble to tell you, but I’m a proud dad for what he did.”
The world is better because of the competence, compassion and readiness of Samford graduates.
Monday Mission, October 15, 2018
Sandra Wilson is our Veterans Affairs Certification Officer and Counselor.
She works each day with veterans and their families to assist in their pursuit of a Samford education. Last week I received a voicemail message from a 30-year veteran who is also the father of a prospective student. He simply wanted those of us at Samford to know of the quality of Sandra’s work. “She really, really impressed us,” the father said. “We don’t normally find somebody that is that dedicated and that enthusiastic and that positive.” Because I am familiar with Sandra’s work, I was not at all surprised to hear these sentiments. She offers this same level of service to each person she encounters.
The world is better because of the faithful, effective service of Sandra Wilson.
Monday Mission, October 1, 2018
I was lapsing into sleep on a flight this past Saturday from Heathrow to Atlanta when I heard a person behind me say, “She’s narrowed her choices to two universities.”
The next thing I heard was that “Samford University in Birmingham” was one of the two. I pulled a business card from my pocket and turned around to hand the card to the mother of a prospective student, as the mom was making casual conversation with a flight attendant. We exchanged the customary “small world” banter, then I tried to explain that I wasn’t really eavesdropping on their conversation (which I suppose isn’t entirely truthful).
When the plane landed, we finished our chat. In response to my question about why her daughter is drawn to Samford, she said that every encounter with Samford had felt very personal—and that it was clear that Samford is a place that values individual students.
The world is better because of the goodness of so many people associated with Samford. (By the way, I checked the definition of “goodness” just now: “the quality of being good, in particular.” It fits.)
Monday Mission, September 17, 2018
The past weekend is still unfocused for me, given the thousands of people who visited the campus for Family Weekend and the hundreds of conversations—some brief and some extended—that I had with so many parents and other friends.
As I was recollecting my memories this morning, one image stood out from the others. It was a brief, simple exchange with two of our faculty members—Greg Kawell and Chuck Stokes—as I met them at about 1 pm on Saturday in the University Center construction site. They had each finished their morning sessions with prospective students and families and they were carrying the boxed displays from their departments, but they couldn’t resist taking some extra time to examine the emerging details of progress within the UC. We stopped for a few seconds for quick laughs, then we parted company. As I walked away, I smiled as I thought of Chuck and Greg and the ways in which our faculty and staff live out the mission, vision and values expressed below.
The world is better because of Greg Kawell, Chuck Stokes and more than 1,100 other dedicated faculty and staff members at Samford.
Monday Mission, September 10, 2018
Congratulations to our friends in the Brock School of Business upon the news that Samford students had the highest CPA exam scores and passing rate of any university in Alabama during the 2017 testing period.
Competent, caring, demanding faculty members, working with bright, persistent students: a good formula for success in every discipline.
The world is better because of Samford’s approach to the development of intellect, creativity, faith, and personhood.
Monday Mission, September 3, 2018
This morning I’m remembering lunch with Steve Donaldson, Professor of Math and Computer Science and co-founder of our Center for Science and Religion, two summers ago.
The setting is a small restaurant in Oxford, England. Steve and his family have been there for several weeks for a seminar on science and religion, sponsored by the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, but I’ve just arrived for the concluding days of the conference. As he recounted his conversations with bright faculty and authors from other universities around the world, I remember one detail. His eyes. They literally danced as he spoke of his own intellectual, spiritual development. He was completely, utterly engaged in a fusion of the life of the mind and the life of the spirit. I’m treasuring that memory as I think of him this morning.
I recall imagery that Steve employed in a book that he authored a couple of years ago on the examination of science and faith. He wrote of “cairns,” piles of rock left behind by hikers and mountain climbers to mark a route for those who follow behind. Aren’t we grateful for the cairns that Steve left for us?
In his passing yesterday, we lost a stalwart friend, a gifted faculty member, a dreamer, a realist, and a committed follower of Christ. Some within our Samford family lost a husband, father, son, brother. To Carol, his wife, their five children, to Dr. and Mrs. Frank Donaldson, his mother and father, and to Steve’s extended family, we offer our love and prayers today and for the days ahead.
The world is better because of Steve Donaldson.
Monday Mission, August 27, 2018
Today marks the “official” beginning of fall term classes at Samford.
Throughout the past week, filled as it was with meetings, preparation, and the arrival and return of students, I’ve never seen a better spirit of camaraderie at Samford. (Which is NOT to imply that we didn’t have our moments of tension!) Hundreds of people came together last week to renew their individual and corporate commitment to providing an environment of hospitality, from which will spring, beginning this morning, a season of teaching and learning. I wish that my powers of communication were adequate to express the depth of my thanks to each person who has contributed to the successful beginning of this new year. Perhaps this brief video will provide a glimpse of the gratitude of our students and their families for all that you have done: https://youtu.be/r352zQOcepw. One young lady, her thoughts captured in the video, said it best: “I’m over the moon.”
The world is better because hospitality abounds at Samford, preparing the way for extraordinary teaching and learning.
Monday Mission, August 20, 2018
More than 220 students—Resident Assistants, Orientation Leaders and Connections Leaders—invaded the president’s home last night, taking a breather in their planning for the arrival of new and returning undergrads.
They consumed vast amounts of food, took selfies and created new hashtags (#LookinDandyWithAndy). (Which, curiously, does not include a photo with Andy, which is dandy with me.) The collective volume of their conversations was deafening and their enthusiasm was palpable—and their presence was a great reminder to a tired president (and his wife) that there are no happier moments on a university campus than during the beginning of a new academic year. They’re back . . . and aren’t we glad?
The world is better because of the bright promise of a new year at Samford.
Monday Mission, August 13, 2018
A story about family memories, a great faculty member, and a thoughtful student . . .
Dr. Amy Broeseker is a beloved faculty member in our McWhorter School of Pharmacy. This past Saturday she drove to campus, stopping by the recycling bin in Beeson Woods to drop off a few items left over after clearing out the home her parents had occupied in Florida since 1957. As she placed the material in the bin, she noticed that one of the boxes still had her mother’s handwriting, so she got out her phone to take a photograph of the box. I imagine that Amy then took a few minutes to wipe away tears. She returned to her car, did a few additional errands and drove home—to discover that her cell phone was missing. She searched, to no avail. Then she called her number from her land line (yes, Amy apparently still has a land line) to see if she could hear the ring in her house. No success. She was about to hang up when someone said, “Hello.”
The person who answered Amy’s phone is Jaleel Laguins, a Samford student. As turns out, Jaleel was driving through the Beeson Woods parking lot with his father on Saturday, shortly after Amy’s visit. He noticed the cell phone lying near the recycling bin, stopped, picked it up, and had the presence of mind to think that the owner might call the phone, seeking to retrieve it. Jaleel was correct, although he may have been surprised that Amy called so quickly. Fifteen minutes later, Amy met Jaleel on campus and her phone, packed with photos of her family and other important information, was thoughtfully returned to her. Jaleel was gracious and respectful.
Returning home, Amy wondered about this young man, Jaleel Laguins, so she googled his name. To her surprise, she learned that he is new to Samford, transferring from the University of Georgia. When he was recruited as a senior in high school, he was rated among the top 10 inside linebackers in the nation. Amy even tracked down this story: https://collegefootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2018/05/25/sanford-to-samford-ex-georgia-lb-jaleel-laguins-heads-to-fcs/.
Amy has this to say to Coach Chris Hatcher: “Coach Hatcher, your team has not yet played a game this season and I know that Samford is slated to win the SoCon this year. I certainly wish you and your team all the best. However, even if you don’t win a game this year, you will have had a winning season in my book if your players have the character of Jaleel Laguins.”
The world is better because of Jaleel Laguins, a young man who is switching bulldogs, but maintaining his character. The world is also better for a wonderful, understandably absent-minded faculty member named Amy Broeseker.
Monday Mission, August 6, 2018
Please take a moment to scroll two inches down this page to read Samford’s mission statement, then click on the link below to watch a news story regarding the opening of the Chattanooga Preparatory School for boys.
Sixty-seven sixth graders enrolled last week. The story leaves out the fact that the school is the brainchild of two Samford alums, Ted and Kelly Alling, and that the purpose of the school is to help break the cycle of poverty among families in the Chattanooga area. In an interview that was published as the school was envisioned, Kelly said, “We want to take care of the whole person.” Ted and Kelly are living out the full extent of the Samford mission.
Here's the video, and you can click “not now” when the Facebook box appears: https://www.facebook.com/204811986340015/videos/1103527253135146/
The world is better because of Ted and Kelly Alling.
The mission of Samford University is to nurture persons in their development of intellect, creativity, faith, and personhood. As a Christian university, the community fosters academic, career, and ethical competency while encouraging social and civic responsibility, and service to others.
Monday Mission, July 30, 2018
We sometimes take for granted the high level of scholarship performed by members of our faculty.
Dr. Dennis Sansom, chair of the Department of Philosophy in our Howard College of Arts and Sciences, presented a paper earlier this month at the annual meeting of the Baptist World Alliance in Zurich. He provided me a copy of his paper, which I found to be remarkably well developed. The topic was fascinating: “Blessed Are Those That Mourn: Evangelism Through and In the Compassionate Community.” In a meeting last week, we discussed the closing section of his paper, in which he examines the hypothetical impact that could be felt throughout the world if the members of the Body of Christ truly practiced the compassion found within this beatitude.
The world is better because of the scholarship—and the soul—of Dennis Sansom.
Monday Mission, July 23, 2018
For each of the past nine summers, Michael Wilson, Director of our Center for Congregational Resources, has worked with friends through the Ministering to Ministers Foundation to host a retreat for ministers and their families who have lived through forced termination.
For those among us who grew up in the homes of ministers, we are familiar with the stress that comes when things aren’t going well in the congregation served by parents, so I have a particular appreciation for this program. This morning I opened a card from a husband and wife who participated in the Samford retreat, expressing thanks for the support they received during their visit. “It gave us time, space, and a community to allow God’s healing to take place,” they said.
The world is better because of the quiet work accomplished through Michael Wilson and his colleagues.
Monday Mission, July 16, 2018
Philip Poole, recently retired as Samford’s Executive Director of University Communications, has written and edited a few thousand news releases, making known the accomplishments of our students, faculty, staff and alumni.
Turning the tables on Philip, he was featured in a release last week from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), announcing his selection as one of 11 new inductees of the College of Fellows, an organization comprised of approximately 350 public relations professionals from across the United States. The PRSA characterizes the selection as “the pinnacle of a professional’s career.” Philip has earned this recognition and we are proud of him and grateful for his service. Despite his new membership in the prestigious College of Fellows, I think Philip might say that the pinnacle of his career has actually been found through the investment of his life in the lives of others. Our very best wishes to Philip and Shellyn.
The world is better because of the faithful service of Philip Poole.
Monday Mission, June 25, 2018
You’re probably heard that our A Cappella Choir received top honors at the Laurea Mundi Budapest Choral Competition last month, winning first place in the categories of mixed choirs, musica sacra and folk-pop-spirituals.
While in Europe, gathered 130 below the surface of the earth in a salt mine in Poland, they gave an impromptu performance. The lyrics: “I believe in the sun, even when it is not shining. I believe in love, even when I feel it not. I believe in God, even when He is silent.” Watch and listen to the performance here: https://www.facebook.com/SamfordUniversity/posts/10155202914376012.
The world is better because Samford people understand that now we know in part, but then we shall know, even as we are known. Thanks to the members of the A Cappella Choir for touching our hearts.
Monday Mission, June 18, 2018
Last week one of our new undergrads was attending Bulldog Days on campus when, headed toward her registration session, she tumbled on the sidewalk, injuring her knee.
As demonstrated in this social media post from her mom, Samford faculty and staff quickly stepped in:
Her advisor took over her registration, the campus police took her to the health center, and somehow her orientation leader found out and called my husband. We weren’t at the health center for more than a couple of minutes before the director of orientation and her orientation leader both came to check on her. Her advisor made sure she got all the classes she wanted and called to check on her on our drive home. Who wouldn’t feel good about sending their student to a school like this?! And she is going to be fine. Banged up, bloody and bruised knee, but it will heal.
As this posting was forwarded to me last week, I realized that this mom was giving credit for the things that Samford people do on a routine basis. I’m honored to work with so many members of our faculty and staff who do and say the right things with such consistency.
The world is better because of the ordinary, extraordinary efforts of Samford people.
Monday Mission, June 11, 2018
As larger numbers of Baby Boomers contemplate where they’ll spend their remaining years, they’re looking for answers.
Last week I received a kind letter from the editor of Where to Retire magazine, a publication devoted to—what else?—assisting people in knowing some of their options for places to retire. The editor praised the work of our own Don Bradley, Associate Dean of the Howard College of Arts and Sciences, for producing four articles for the magazine, based on careful research of United States census data. The articles examined the fascinating topic of retirement migration, an issue with major implications for cities and states across the country.
By the way, after reading Don’s articles, I’ve decided to retire in Birmingham, Alabama. Looks like a great place to live.
The world is better because of the engagement of members of the Samford faculty with important issues of the day.
Monday Mission, May 14, 2018
Stephan Scott, PharmD, Class of 2018, arrived at Samford several years ago as an undergraduate, and I knew him from day one.
Monday Mission, April 30, 2018
If you attended one of the performances of “Children of Eden,” produced by our School of the Arts last week, you witnessed the incredible talent of our students and the influence of our faculty as they brought this complex production to the stage of the Wright Center.
Jeanna and I assisted Joe and Suzanne Hopkins in welcoming guests for the performances. One of the guests, unaware that our students were the performers, asked during intermission if the cast was a touring company. “No, this is a student production,” I said, with a smile.
The world is better because of the students, faculty and staff in Samford’s School of the Arts.
Monday Mission, April 16, 2018
“Samford Gives Back” is a service project sponsored by our Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership, involving hundreds of our students.
The event occurred on Saturday. Here is a story shared by Philip Poole, our Executive Director of University Communication:
One of the Samford Gives Back Day projects that I covered this morning involved 14 members of Delta Omicron at Galleria Woods nursing facility in Hoover. I wanted to share this with you because it’s one of the best SGB Day things I’ve covered in my years here at Samford. I’ll also admit that it was especially emotional for me because it brought back memories of my own mother in her final months. I arrived later than anticipated and missed the first 30 minutes or so of the students going down halls and from room-to-room singing and playing instruments, taking requests from individual residents. Rebekah Sexton, the program coordinator working with the students today, got so emotional trying to tell me about one incident that happened before my arrival. One of the students stopped in one room to play her violin for an Alzheimer’s resident who apparently is nonresponsive. As the student was playing, the resident starting mimicking her fingerings and tears were running down her cheeks. She was a former violinist! Rebekah said it a moving experience for everyone, especially since many of the residents in skilled care respond better to music than any other stimulus the staff can provide. The students were kind, gentle, patient, loving, caring, sweet, friendly -- everything you would hope and expect from Samford students. Ms. Sexton could not say enough positive things about our students and their willingness to do what they did. The responses from the students were equally inspiring and compelling and made me proud of all of them.
The world is better because a structured day of service at Samford last Saturday became a time of genuine, human connection.
Monday Mission, April 9, 2018
Preston Hite has applied his considerable talents as an innovative, caring faculty member in our Department of Interior Architecture in recent years.
He is loved by his students and colleagues and, in turn, he loves Samford. But Preston, his wife Janelle and the members of their precious family are called to other work in Taiwan. We celebrate that calling. The video posted below was developed by his friends at Shades Mountain Baptist Church. It is six minutes long, but the time it will take you to watch it might become the six most important minutes of your day.
The world is better because of Preston Hite and his family. Safe travels, Preston. Thank you for your service.
Monday Mission, April 2, 2018
Dr. Alice Laurendine is a member of Samford’s Board of Overseers—and one of the most encouraging people I have ever known.
She served as a school principal in Vestavia and has been at the forefront of educational leadership and innovation for many years. At a meeting of the Board of Overseers last fall, Dr. Laurendine learned of the work of The Hope Institute (www.hopeinstitute.org), which is affiliated with our Frances Marlin Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership and the Orlean Beeson School of Education. The Hope Institute seeks to promote the development of character education in K-12 schools. Instead of just hearing the report and never giving the matter another thought, Dr. Laurendine decided to lend her support in tangible ways.
Dr. Kara Chism of The Hope Institute offered this beautiful description of the ways that Dr. Laurendine followed up:
Dr. Laurendine has set up meeting with schools administrators, accompanied me on several school site visits, spent time on the phone looking for a venue for one of our Academy sessions, recruited schools for The Academy, has been an amazing sounding board of solid advice as well as attended every Academy session. In addition to attending the sessions, she arrived early to help set up the materials in the room, stayed after the sessions to ensure all materials were returned to their location, and worked with school leaders during the sessions. Dr. Laurendine has not only volunteered many hours of her time investing in school leaders; she has also embodied true lifelong learning we can all emulate.
The world is better because of Dr. Alice Laurendine.
Monday Mission, March 26, 2018
We learned yesterday that Paul Kuruk, faculty member in our Cumberland School of Law, was appointed last week as the facilitator of the Intergovernmental Committee (IGC) of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva, Switzerland.
Comprised of representatives from 191 countries, the IGC is “engaged in negotiations to develop international instruments for the effective protection of intellectual property, genetic resources and traditional knowledge.” Mr. Kuruk will play a crucial role within the IGC in shaping the agenda, clarifying issues, developing consensus, and preparing and revising the text emerging from a complex process of negotiation. He was nominated and appointed to the position, which has previously been held by law professors from Harvard, UVA and Emory, without objection from any country. It is a significant honor for Paul, for Cumberland and for Samford.
The world is better because of the outstanding contributions of Paul Kuruk.
Monday Mission, March 19, 2018
A few days ago I visited with the parents of one of our current students, an undergraduate.
They told me of a recent exchange with their son, in which he admitted that he wanted to change his major, but he was hesitant to discuss the issue with faculty members in his department. In reply, the student’s mom said, “Well, if they really mean all those things they say about addressing the needs of students, you won’t have anything to worry about.” Indeed, their son called his parents after meeting with faculty to say that they couldn’t have been more supportive in helping him with the transition.
The world is better because our faculty members seek to address the individual needs of our students.
Monday Mission, March 12, 2018
While March 12, 1928 is remembered in American history for the collapse of the St. Francis Dam in California and the corresponding loss of more than 400 lives, in the midst of tragedy, the day also saw the birth of a child who would come to be a great blessing to many, many people.
Boyd Christenberry, life trustee at Samford, cherished husband and father, inspirational and effective business executive, active church leader and one of the most encouraging people I have known, was born on that day. Happy 90th birthday, Mr. C. We love you.
The world is better because of Mr. Boyd Christenberry and his dear, intelligent, thoughtful wife, Sara.
Monday Mission, March 5, 2018
Simple acts often catch our attention.
Although I was out of the country when it occurred, one morning a few days ago my inbox began to fill up with stories of an episode along Lakeshore Drive as employees and students were arriving for work and classes, in which a driver’s truck had broken down. Apparently a Samford student stopped his car, ran to other side of the street and helped the man push his truck safely along the shoulder. Other accounts of the story include an unnamed Samford employee, running from near the west entrance to the campus, to lend a hand. As I stood last week in Israel along a route from Jerusalem to Jericho, the path identified by Jesus in his “parable of the good Samaritan,” I remembered this act of kindness offered by two caring, anonymous individuals associated with Samford.
The world is better when we help another person, without regard for credit or recognition.
Monday Mission, February 26, 2018
Wayne Atcheson, one of our distinguished graduates, has held leadership capacities with the Billy Graham Library in North Carolina for many years, encountering thousands of individuals with an interest in Rev. Graham’s life and ministry.
In these days following Billy Graham’s death, perhaps Wayne has never been busier. He wrote to me over the weekend with poignant accounts of people who have arrived at the library in recent days, many of them who knew little about Rev. Graham, drawn to a deeper understanding of God through media accounts they have observed. If you know Wayne at all, you can envision him serving each person he encounters, regardless of circumstances.
The world is better because of the ministry of Billy Graham and the humility and effectiveness of Wayne Atcheson.
Monday Mission, February 19, 2018
As you may know, the athletic rivalry between Samford University and Mercer University is ancient and our teams are strong competitors in all sports within the Southern Conference.
Last week Martin Newton, our Athletic Director, forwarded this message he received from Mercer’s Director of Sports Medicine:
I would like to express sincere gratitude to the sports medicine staff of Samford University. We had an emergency yesterday with our athletic trainer for basketball two hours before the team was to arrive to the arena. I contacted Matt Price and Brandon Evans and they assisted me with providing coverage and handling the needs of our team while I was in transit to Birmingham. Matt Price went to Grandview Hospital and checked on my athletic trainer and updated me on his status. Brandon Evans assured me that everything would be handled and it was. He and another staff member greeted me when I arrived and asked if I needed any other accommodations. We are all fierce competitors but the class and sportsmanship offered by your sports medicine staff was exemplary as they went above and beyond the call of duty. I greatly appreciated their help and support.
The world is better because the Samford spirit rises above partisanship (except during regulation play).
Monday Mission, February 12, 2018
Earlier today I had the privilege of speaking to the staff of the Alabama Baptist Children’s Home and Family Ministries, gathered in Birmingham and via video-link across the state.
Before and after our meeting several members of the staff proudly introduced themselves as Samford graduates. These men and women are on the front lines in addressing the immediate needs of broken lives and broken families. From a wide range of academic disciplines, Samford graduates are deeply and meaningfully involved in this important work. It is an honor for those of us at Samford to be affiliated with them.
The world is better because of the Samford graduates involved in Alabama Baptist Children’s Home ministries and other outreach efforts to families in need.
Monday Mission, February 5, 2018
I sometimes feel that I spend more time in the Atlanta airport than any place, other than the campus and our home.
The predictable layout of the airport and the wide hallways have become second nature to me, but impromptu conversations with people I’ve never previously encountered add a certain amount of unpredictability to the experiences. A few days ago, a person stopped me as I was making a flight connection, identified me as the president of Samford, introduced me to her husband, and then said something like, “You have a great school.” I didn’t say, “Well, it isn’t mine and it is actually a university.” Instead, I smiled, thanked her, and walked away. Later it dawned on me that it requires the work of thousands of people across many decades to prompt the impression in a person’s mind that Samford is “a great school.” I’m grateful for the untold numbers of people who have contributed to the narrative.
The world is better because of a great school known as Samford University.
Monday Mission, January 29, 2018
As you may know, Bruce Atkinson, former chair of our Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, died last week.
Many across the campus (and around the world) are mourning the loss. Rarely have I known a person as even-tempered, as competent and as selfless as Bruce Atkinson. I’m uncertain of who wrote this sentiment passed along to me by Emily Hynds, but it comes close to a summary of this dear colleague.
“Bruce was endlessly kind and generous. He had limitless patience and understanding. He smiled easily and was always upbeat. He experienced life with a boyish sense of wonder.”
The world is better because of Bruce Atkinson.
Monday Mission, January 22, 2018
This year--and especially this semester--we’re remembering with gratitude the racial integration of Samford that took place 50 years ago.
In convocation tomorrow morning our Provost, Dr. Mike Hardin, will welcome and interview Dr. Charles L. Howard, the son of Audrey Lattimore Gaston Howard, the first African-American student to enroll at Samford. Dr. Howard serves as the University Chaplain at the University of Pennsylvania.
The world is better because of the important, meaningful contributions of Samford’s African-American students, faculty, staff and alumni.
Monday Mission, December 18, 2017
Following our second commencement ceremony on Saturday, I was headed back to Samford Hall to put away my academic robe when I encountered the father of one of our December graduates.
My mind was still jumbled from the activities of the morning so I can’t remember his exact words, but the essence is easy to recall. He began by saying that, of all the money he has ever spent, even with sending three children to three other universities, he didn’t think he had ever made a better investment than in the experiences his daughter received at Samford. He spoke of the ways in which his daughter had grown, academically, emotionally and spiritually. He praised the members of our faculty. He spoke in glowing terms of our students. I found myself carried away, as I always am, with the depth of gratitude that I also feel for Samford, as an employee, as the parent of a graduate and as a lifelong admirer for the timeless goals of education.
The world is better because of Samford University, a unique, beautiful, flawed, aspiring, hopeful place. Jeanna and I wish the happiest of Christmases for each of you.
Monday Mission, December 11, 2017
Last Friday morning, as snow was falling and electricity to the campus was out and we had no idea when power would be restored, I walked to the cafeteria to check on conditions there and to be sure that lunch would be provided to our students.
(With all the fun in the snow on the quad, I knew they would soon be hungry!) In the cafeteria, half-lit through the windows at the front of the room, I found Michael Scheffres and his staff, calmly proceeding with meal preparations and making contingency plans for whatever circumstances might lie ahead. Though employees of Sodexo, our food service provider, they were demonstrating on Friday morning that their primary interest was taking care of Samford students.
The world is better because of the men and women who provide our meals each day, sometimes under challenging circumstances.
Monday Mission, December 4, 2017
If you’ve attended an event in the Wright Center, you’ve probably been assisted by Finnie Scott and Betty Hart, even if you don’t know them by name.
Finnie and Betty are sisters and they’ve been members of the Wright Center staff for many, many years. And as great as they are with helping adult patrons to find their seats, Finnie and Betty are at their best when guiding thousands of school children to get off their buses and move safely into the Wright Center for special performances. As Kenny Gannon, Director of Performance Venues, has said, “They treat all our patrons like royalty.” In my own case, one commencement day as I was literally running down a side aisle of the Wright Center before the building opened and tripped on my academic robe, I landed flat on the floor with my cap, notebook—and bling!—flying in all directions. They were beside me in a heartbeat, dusting me off and helping me to laugh off the embarrassment.
Finnie has had serious health problems in recent days and she’s in one of our local hospitals. Betty has been constantly by her side. And yet, last Friday evening, with the Wright Center filled with guests for a performance by the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Betty was there. Except for those friends who knew the challenges faced by Finnie and Betty right now, those Betty assisted saw only the face of kindness and competence that they’ve seen every time they’ve visited the Wright Center.
The world is better because of Finnie Scott and Betty Hart. I’m honored to know them.
Monday Mission, November 27, 2017
The accolades for our nursing graduates are so frequent that I sometimes take them for granted . . . and then I encounter an unsolicited letter from the person responsible for staffing an intensive care unit for children in Georgia, who recruited two of our graduates for positions this year.
Just a few snippets: “Your students are top tier,” “articulate, capable and professional,” “easily transitioned,” “quality focused.” And then this one: “Please share with your staff that their blood, sweat and tears have not been in vain.”
The world is better (and lives are saved) because of the preparation received by the graduates of the Ida Moffett School of Nursing.
Monday Mission, November 20, 2017
I overheard snippets of several conversations last Saturday between members of our faculty and prospective students and their families as they gathered for a Preview Day activity in the Pete Hanna Center.
Sentence by sentence, faculty members were becoming acquainted with many students who, one year from now, will be nearing the end of their first semester at Samford. I was thankful as I witnessed these exchanges. A friend told me many years ago that a university can't be better than the faculty. Samford is a strong institution, in large measure, due to the quality of our faculty.
The world is better because of the strength and dedication of the Samford faculty.
Monday Mission, November 13, 2017
Last Friday we hosted hundreds of friends who serve on the advisory boards for our schools and programs for a “Leadership Summit,” in which we tried to communicate the significance of supporting both the depth and the breadth of Samford.
Presiding at the event was Tim Vines, the Chair of our Board of Trustees. In fact, Samford activities filled most of his calendar that day, including an event on Friday evening. Late Friday afternoon I learned through the local news media—not from Tim—that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, one of the state’s most significant businesses, announced that day that Mr. Vines has become the company’s President and he will also assume the title of CEO in 2018. Throughout the day at Samford, Mr. Vines said nothing of this personal accomplishment, even as his mobile phone must have been filling up with text, e-mail and voice messages from near and far. He gave selflessly of his time, focusing his entire attention on Samford University. He is the embodiment of our core values.
The world is better because of the humility and competence of Tim Vines.
Monday Mission, November 6, 2017
In another variation of an often-told story, Stan Davis, retired advancement officer, wrote to me yesterday to tell of a conversation he overheard at the beach among middle-aged adults this weekend.
“It isn’t STAN-ford; it’s SAM-ford!”
The world is better because of the life-changing missions of institutions throughout higher education, including SAM-ford.
Monday Mission, October 30, 2017
Our Cumberland School of Law has been known for many years as an exemplar in trial advocacy.
Ramona Albin, Assistant Professor of Law and Director of Advocacy, wrote to me last week to say that—in one weekend—our National Trial Team won two national tournaments (California and Michigan) and received individual honors in another (Texas). As she said in her message to me, our students “not only excelled, but did so with grace, dignity and professionalism.” To read the details of the story, go to https://www.samford.edu/news/2017/10/Cumberland-Law-National-Mock-Trial-Team-Wins-Two-National-Tournaments. Congratulations to the law students and their coaches.
The world is better because of the academic, career and ethical competency of our students in the Cumberland School of Law.
Monday Mission, October 23, 2017
Adam Grossman, Founder and CEO of Block Six Analytics and a thought leader in sports analytics, recently wrote a blog post with this headline: “Samford Hits a Home Run with Center for Sports Analytics.”
Among Mr. Grossman’s favorable comments regarding this new program, he observed that “Samford can credibly say that it is at the forefront of the data-driven decisions that will be critical to the future of the sports industry.” Combined with Samford’s emphasis on ethical behavior, perhaps the Center for Sports Analytics may be of even greater help.
The world is better because of Samford’s increasingly innovative presence in higher education.
Monday Mission, October 16, 2017
Coach Casey Dunn led our baseball team to the Dominican Republic over Fall Break, flying down on Friday and returning on Tuesday.
It was a quick trip, packed with dozens of experiences. Arriving on Friday, the team members were first hosted at a ministry called Pasitos de Jésus, a home operated by Dalma Florian for almost 40 young girls, where our students told their stories of accepting Christ and marveled, as Coach Dunn says, at “the pure joy and happiness” of the young girls. On Saturday morning our students worked with 200 boys at a youth sports clinic, then played a game against Santa Fe, a Dominican minor league team, achieving a 3-0 victory. Throughout the day, our team members shared their faith and their love of baseball with those they encountered. After attending church on Sunday (all speaking and singing in Spanish), our students played another game—against team members ranging in age from 14 to 45 years old. (Coach Dunn hasn’t mentioned the score of that game!) On Monday and Tuesday the students played baseball with other groups, told their stories to everyone they encountered, bought and distributed groceries for 32 families, spent time at an orphanage for boys . . . and helped to change lives, even as their own lives were being changed.
The world is better because of Casey Dunn and the Samford baseball team.
Monday Mission, October 2, 2017
I grew up in a town of 7,000 people.
Each of them, plus the populations of the neighboring “suburbs” in my county would be a fair approximation of the turnout on the Quad for Family Day festivities this past weekend. I am grateful to the many members of our faculty and staff—and our students—for the efforts that led to a successful weekend. As Jeanna and I stood on Saturday near the tree at the midpoint between the University Center and Buchanan Hall, we had a five-minute conversation with one of our Samford families. The daughter will graduate next May. Her mother and father each recounted the ways in which their daughter had grown during her time here and the student, with tears bursting from her eyes, said, “Coming to Samford is the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.” In the shade of that tree, I was reminded of the burden that each of us shoulder as we seek to offer a unique, meaningful educational experience to our students, bolstered by the grace and truth that we find in Christ.
The world is better because of Samford’s unique and beautiful mission.
Monday Mission, September 18, 2017
Lilla Bea Granger, a senior from Montgomery, Alabama, served last summer as an intern with the Academy of Achievement in Washington, D.C., a non-profit organization that provides opportunities for young people to have contact with leaders from around the world.
Lilla Bea is a Brock Scholar, a program coordinated by Dr. Sara McCarty. Last month Dr. McCarty received a letter from the Program Director of the Academy of Achievement, Maggie Jones, in which Lilla Bea was celebrated for her “keen global perspective and understanding of the non-profit environment,” which “positioned her to represent the Academy team in an advanced capacity.” The staff members of the Academy of Achievement were so impressed with Lilla Bea’s work that they asked her to serve in October as the office coordinator for their International Achievement Summit in London.
The world is better because of Lilla Bea Granger.
Monday Mission, September 11, 2017
Last Friday evening was the time for us to “freeze” enrollment at Samford for the fall semester, capturing the numbers that are included in official reports.
For the ninth consecutive year, we posted a record-breaking enrollment, with 5,509 students. Of that number, 3,373 are undergraduates and 2,136 are enrolled in our graduate and professional programs. The students come to us from 45 states and 29 other countries. May we assist each one of them in “their development of intellect, creativity, faith, and personhood.”
The world is better because of the engaged minds and souls of Samford students.
Monday Mission, August 28, 2017
In greeting our new undergrads and their families on Friday afternoon, I offered five or six points for the consideration of the students as they pursue their degrees.
The first piece of advice was “go to class.” Whether our students are taking their first college course or the first course of their last semester, they’ll begin today. Syllabi are in order, class schedules are arranged, faculty members are prepared, students (and faculty) are anxious and lives are about to be changed. Despite reliving this day for decades, I am still awestruck by the opportunities it affords.
The world is better because of the dedicated, inspired service of the Samford faculty.
Monday Mission, August 21, 2017
Our great academic enterprise is about to extend to another year at Samford.
I am grateful for the arrival of a new semester. Throughout the year we will celebrate the active engagement of our faculty and students in teaching, learning, performance and research. As I write this message, I’m reminded of the hundreds of people who play roles in supporting the environment of the campus. Workers are busily making last-minute repairs and cleaning our buildings, groundskeepers are caring for our lawns, cafeteria employees are preparing meals, and support staff members across the campus are providing important assistance for the thousands of details necessary for the beginning of a new academic year. One body, many members, each with significant work to do.
The world is better because of the effective support offered by so many among us.
Monday Mission, August 14, 2017
Jay Mike Johnson, a senior pursuing a management major and a concentration in sports marketing in the Brock School of Business, has spent the summer in Portland, Oregon as one of 90 interns at the U. S. headquarters of Adidas.
Last week the Adidas Global CEO, Kasper Rorsted, and the North American President Mark King announced that Jay Mike’s team won the Adidas Summer Intern Project. According to Jay Mike, “Each team was assigned a trade zone in a key city. We were then asked to do an intensive research of our area. That boiled down to understanding the history of that area, who the people are (the demographics of the area), where are they going (hotspots in the area), and a few other data results.” He said that his team triumphed because of the “group’s display of collaboration and creative abilities, as well as how well our activation idea matched our target demographic.”
In words sure to bring a smile to the faculty members in the Brock School of Business, Jay Mike offered this additional commentary: “The sports marketing program in the Brock School of Business first helped me land the highly competitive internship with Adidas at their corporate headquarters in Oregon. They also prepared me for success by allowing me to participate in real-world, cross-functional projects while still in school. Working as consultants for various sports teams, leagues and sports brands laid the foundation and paid huge dividends in allowing me to draw upon that experience during this project. Samford faculty are passionate about investing deeply in each and every student. I am so grateful for all the many hours that Samford faculty have invested in mentoring me and preparing me for success in the real world.”
The world is better because of the personal attention offered to students by members of the Samford faculty.
Monday Mission, August 7, 2017
You may have noticed the Forbes rankings of colleges and universities, released last Friday, in which Samford received the highest score among colleges and universities in Alabama.
I’m not a great fan of the college rankings, as differing methodologies offer a confusing conglomeration of results. However, the Forbes comparisons, grouping institutions regardless of type and size, offer an interesting approach. There are currently more than 4,700 degree-granting institutions in the United States. Approximately 3,100 of them are private, and almost 1,600 of the private institutions are not-for-profit. Of that number, slightly more than 1,000 are religiously affiliated . . . and of that number, 144 are either members or collaborative partners of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. Of those 144 institutions, Samford ranks third—behind Pepperdine and Westmont—in the Forbes rankings. Through unwavering commitment to mission by trustees, faculty and other employees, generous gifts across 175 years and the prayers of thousands of people, Samford occupies a hopeful position within the context of American higher education. We are blessed.
The world is better because, regardless of institutional rankings, Samford’s mission endures.
Monday Mission, July 31, 2017
Perhaps you are aware that Susan Doyle, Director of Parent Programs, worked with volunteers a few years ago to develop a prayer guide for the campus, which is used during the weeks of student orientation in the summer by the parents of new students as they walk the campus in the early morning hours.
Susan wrote to me a few days ago to say that Max Josephs, the new chaplain for our Student Government Association, met these family members for each of the 6:30 a.m. sessions, even on the mornings of pouring rain. Susan said that Max “welcomed them, distributed the map, thanked them for praying for Samford and then prayed for them and the transitions their families face this fall.”
The world is better because of Max Josephs and the prayers of faithful friends.
Monday Mission, July 17, 2017
Jeanna and I spent the past few days at a retreat in Jackson Hole, Wyoming for new presidents of Christian colleges and universities.
(No, we are not new; we were helping new presidents and spouses!) As I was buying the requisite Diet Coke for Jeanna in the Jackson Hole airport, I glanced nearby and saw Claire Goodson and her parents. Claire earned her undergraduate degree at Samford two years ago and completed work on her MBA in May. Claire and her mom and dad were wrapping up a family trip before she begins her brand new job this week. There are two points to this story: a) you run into Samford people wherever you go and b) our graduates are getting great jobs. By the way, the Goodson family had wonderful things to say about Claire’s entire Samford experience, especially our outstanding program in track and field sports, where Claire excelled.
The world is better because of the good work of Samford people.
Monday Mission, June 19, 2017
Among those who completed the requirements for their undergraduate degrees last December (94 of 100 graduates responded to our survey), 98 percent reported that they were either employed or continuing their education in internships or graduate programs.
The world is better because of the breadth and depth of undergraduate preparation at Samford.
Monday Mission, June 12, 2017
Those of us on the campus know that June is “orientation month,” as we seek to welcome our new undergraduates and their families through a series of two-day events.
Last Tuesday, while the rain was pouring outside, I sat at breakfast in the Caf with a group of parents, including a husband and wife from Wisconsin. Their son will enroll this fall. I asked the inevitable questions about the paths that led them to Samford and they described their son’s college selection process, which—of course—began with an Internet search. Their son was interested in a Christ-centered university with a strong undergraduate program in business. He also wanted to attend a university with D-1 athletics. A few other preferences helped to narrow his list and, before long, the family discovered Samford. A campus visit clinched the deal. Although he will be a long way from home, the young man’s parents believe that their son made a very wise choice.
The world is better because Samford is a quality university, small enough to build meaningful relationships, large enough to offer a wide array of outstanding programs, and infused with the hope found only in Christ.
(By the way, thanks to each of you for helping to welcome our new students and their families and to create memorable, positive experiences for them during these important days. Each act of kindness has a lasting impact.)
Monday Mission, June 5, 2017
You may have read a recent story regarding the 927,192 hours that Samford’s students, faculty and staff donated in service to our community last year.
The number is so large that it is difficult to comprehend, so it is helpful to look at personal examples. Stephen Black, President of Impact America, wrote to me last week to express his thanks for the participation of our students (undergrads and law students at Cumberland) in a program to provide free tax preparation for low-income, working families. According to Mr. Black, “This tax season, 21 Samford and Cumberland Law students volunteered at free tax preparation sites across Birmingham and Bessemer to help prepare over 2,500 tax returns for working families, securing them more than $3.9 million in tax refunds and saving them $1 million in commercial tax preparation fees.” He offered additional thanks to Allison Nanni, Caroline Janeway and Alyssa DiRusso of our faculty and staff for their help in coordinating Samford’s involvement.
The world is better because of Samford’s “service to God, to family, to one another, and to the community.”
Monday Mission, May 29, 2017
For many summers, James Strange of our Department of Religion has made annual treks to Israel to participate in archaeology digs.
He has returned to Israel this year, accompanied by seven Samford students. His reports are always beautiful, informative and poignant. Here is a paragraph from the message he sent this past weekend:
"I am struck more and more by how archaeology is a human science. I want to hold up objectivity as the highest value. And this certainly is the case when it comes to gathering data and drawing conclusions. (Well, we are as objective as we can be.) But we are uncovering what remains of the lives of the dead. These people, worked, loved and hated, devoted themselves to or ignored their God, and died either peacefully or as someone’s victims. We cannot touch their things—return them to the light of day after 1800 years—without becoming committed to them, or to our imagined construction of them. At least I cannot.
"Would that we all could do the same with the living."
The world is better because of the scholarship and influence of James Strange.
Monday Mission, May 8, 2017
We inducted the inaugural members of the Samford Athletics Hall of Fame on Saturday evening.
It is a stellar class, including Walt Barnes, Lauren Blankenship, Bobby Bowden, Wally Burnham, Cortland Finnegan and Charlie Owens. As they spoke, the inductees caused the members of the audience to laugh, to cry and to be inspired. Perhaps the most poignant moment came during the remarks of Cortland Finnegan, standout football athlete at Samford and NFL star, when he spoke across the crowded room to his mother, acknowledging her challenges as a single mom and thanking her for the sacrifices she made on his behalf. Cortland credited Samford for his success, as well, but every person in the room on Saturday night knew that his character was shaped by a slight lady, beaming through her tears as her son spoke of his love for her.
The world is better because of Cortland Finnegan and the gentle toughness of his mother.
Monday Mission, May 1, 2017
As much as I would like to say otherwise, bad things sometime happen at Samford.
Last Friday, the laptop computer for one of our students was stolen. Megan Mileski, a faculty member in our Ida Moffett School of Nursing and an advisor to Chi Omega, wrote to me to say that, quickly and without fanfare, through a bundle of small contributions from the young ladies, the members purchased a new laptop for the student and presented it to her last night. “I have never felt so humbled or overwhelmed with gratitude in my entire life,” wrote the student in an Instagram posting last night, with an accompanying photograph, holding her new MacBook Pro.
The world is better because spontaneous kindness is routine at Samford.
Monday Mission, April 24, 2017
I've been in China for the past seven days with a delegation from the Consortium for Global Education, seeking to discover new opportunities for engagement in China by our students and faculty.
We've visited Yantai, Xi'an and Wuhan so far and we'll conclude the trip in Beijing later this week. As I've said so often, Samford graduates are everywhere. One of those outstanding grads, Lin Liu, met us in Yantai and will assist us when we arrive in Beijing. Lin studied German and political science at Samford, and she's putting her education to good use in the creation of her own company. When I asked her a few days ago to tell me the person who most influenced her at Samford, she responded with several names, but one stood out: Dr. Angela Ferguson. "I wanted to be Dr. Ferguson," said Lin.
The world is better because of Lin Liu and Angela Ferguson.
Monday Mission, April 17, 2017
Last week art imitated life on the stage of Bolding Studio in the production of “Remembering June,” a play written by Malyn Porter, a Samford student.
She began the script in Dr. Don Sandley’s playwriting course. The play is based on the story of her grandfather’s slow decline from Alzheimer’s disease and the corresponding impact on Malyn’s grandmother and other family members. “I found healing in addressing and talking about the issues discussed in the play,” Malyn said. “I hoped others would be able to relate and find comfort in knowing they are not alone in what they are going through.” After each performance, representatives from the Central Alabama Alzheimer's Association were on hand for “talk-backs” to open the door for conversations with audience members.
Proceeds from the play were directed to ongoing research for a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.
The world is better because of the poignant talent of a very special granddaughter named Malyn Porter.
Monday Mission, April 10, 2017
A few days ago I received a message from Kimberlie Carrick, the mom of a Samford student on our baseball team (and also the mom of one of our recent graduates).
Kimberlie and her husband and other Samford families were in Virginia as our baseball team prepared to play VMI, stopping by the Washington and Lee campus for a visit. There they encountered the campus museum shop co-supervisor, Margaret Samdahl. Upon recognizing that the families were from Samford, Mrs. Samdahl enthusiastically noted that she is a nursing graduate from Samford, expressing strong appreciation for Dr. Nena Sanders and our nursing faculty. Kimberlie said, “We felt that instant Samford bond!”
Many of us have had similar experiences, meeting Samford people across the globe through chance encounters and experiencing “that instant Samford bond.”
The world is better because of the depth and breadth of the Samford community.
Monday Mission, April 3, 2017
At an alumni event in Washington, DC last week I met Mark Holmes, a Samford graduate and an architect at a large design firm with offices throughout the world.
When I asked him his major at Samford, he smiled and said "biology." While acknowledging that biology is not the traditional gateway to the pursuit of a successful career as an architect, Mr. Holmes told me that he had never regretted the decision, and that the breadth and depth of his Samford education underscored the importance of our emphasis on a well-rounded liberal arts approach to learning.
The world is better because Samford's undergraduate programs prepare students for meaningful lives, and in ways which they might not have foreseen.
Monday Mission, March 27, 2017
Earlier this month Samford lost a dear friend, Elizabeth Sloan-Ragland.
She was the first African-American student to complete an undergraduate degree at Samford, graduating in 1973 and preparing the way for others who would travel this path. In a visit to campus a few years ago, she spoke a line that I will long remember: “It was worth the journey.”
The world is better because of Elizabeth Sloan-Ragland.
Monday Mission, March 20, 2017
The members of our site team from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) will be on campus this week to evaluate our status for reaffirmation of accreditation.
One important element of the reaffirmation process is the development of a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), designed to strengthen student learning. As you probably know by now, given all the banners and flyers you’ve seen in recent weeks, our QEP is called “Level Up: Transformative Teaching through Powerful Assignments.” Eric Fournier, who helped our faculty, staff and students to create and shape the program, told me last week that “a compelling part of the QEP process has been how so many people worked together to develop a plan that is dedicated to improving student learning by helping faculty become more effective teachers.” I agree!
If you have a spare minute, watch this brief video to learn more about the QEP: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ji1N4R2LmrI
The world is better because of our innovative, dedicated faculty.
Monday Mission, March 6, 2017
Last week I attended an event hosted by the Birmingham Center of the National Society of the Colonial Dames, a group that has sponsored the “American Independence Awards” for 60 years.
The program’s purpose is to encourage scholarship in the field of colonial American history, and the members of the group have presented prizes to Samford students for six decades. Fifteen Samford students were recognized last Thursday for the submission of their papers, and Dr. Jonathan Bass, chair of our Department of History, introduced Keely Smith, the author of the winning paper, and four other students to offer synopses of their research. Keely’s topic was “The Power of Faith in Florida: The Effects of Catholicism on Diplomacy under Pedro Menendez.” Without referring to her notes, she gave a concise, elegant description of the elements of her paper. I suspect that she could have talked for two hours, given the extent of her research. The room filled with applause at the conclusion of her remarks.
The world is better because Samford students are nurtured in their development of intellect.
Monday Mission, February 27, 2017
In a cascade of victories over the weekend in three locations across the country, our Women’s Track and Field team repeated as SoCon champions (the men finished second), our Mock Trial team (undergrads) qualified for the National Mock Trial Tournament, and our Ethics Bowl team made it to the quarterfinals of the National Tournament (for the second year in a row).
While I’ll admit that bragging on the achievements of our students may not be one of the core values listed below, on a rainy morning in Birmingham, I can’t resist the impulse to pass along this good news.
The world is better because of Samford students.
Monday Mission, February 20, 2017
In a conversation last week with Amy Broseker, Professor in our McWhorter School of Pharmacy, she told me of her pilgrimage to Samford.
Speaking with a mentor near the end of her formal preparation for a career in pharmacy education, he said, “I think that Samford would be a good place for you.” In recounting the story to me, Dr. Broseker said that these ten words changed her life. As she spoke, I was reminded of the ways in which key people in my own life have offered commentary or advice which seemed unusual or irrelevant at the time, but which later proved to be of life-changing value. As members of the faculty and staff, we often have these opportunities as we interact with our students. They’re listening more than we realize.
By the way, Amy’s reply to the suggestion of her mentor that she consider Samford was, “Where’s that?” The world is better because Amy Broseker discovered Samford.
Monday Mission, February 13, 2017
Jeanna and I enjoy many opportunities to host Samford friends and prospective donors for events at the house and we are often assisted by Samford Ambassadors, students who are chosen especially for these assignments.
One evening last week, as we welcomed guests for dinner, Elizabeth Poulos and Juliette Stanley were our student hosts. They are each seniors and their academic interests have spanned the breadth of our undergraduate programs. Their faithful testimonies were full of illustrations of the ways in which their experiences at Samford have prepared them for graduate school and for life. That evening, listening to them, I was reminded again of my gratitude for our students and for Samford employees—faculty and staff—who contribute so much to their success.
The world is better because of Juliette Stanley, Elizabeth Poulos and all of our Samford Ambassadors.
Monday Mission, February 6, 2017
Last Friday afternoon, Eric Motley, an executive vice president at the Aspen Institute and one of Samford’s most distinguished graduates, hosted a reception in the Rotunda Club in honor of Steven Epley.
Because Steven is among the treasured members of our faculty and because Eric’s fan base is deep and wide, the event attracted many friends. Eric’s inspiration for the reception was the publication of Steven’s scholarship on the American writer, Susanna Rowson, by Northwestern University Press. Standing at the edge of the room and surveying the joy of the moment, I was reminded again—as if I needed another reminder—why I have such deep affection for people who nurture “intellect, creativity, faith, and personhood.”
The world is better because of the Samford faculty . . . and for graduates like Eric Motley who, long after leaving Samford, recall and cherish the influence of teachers who became their friends.
Monday Mission, January 30, 2017
A few days ago I accompanied a small delegation from Samford to Beijing and Jakarta, seeking to build and renew relationships in Asia.
We included a one-day stopover in Hong Kong, where we visited Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU), long an exchange partner for Samford. Our hosts greeted us by displaying old newspaper clippings and other memorabilia regarding Dr. Jerry Barrett, the long-time and influential Vice President for Academic Affairs and faculty member in chemistry at HKBU. They explained to us that Dr. Barrett, who died in 2010, continues to be revered at the institution because of his faithful commitment to excellence.
You won't be surprised to learn that Dr. Barrett was a Samford graduate.
The world is better because of Samford graduates--like Dr. Barrett--who serve quietly and effectively in positions of influence across the globe.
Monday Mission, January 23, 2017
Today marks the beginning of a new semester at Samford.
It is the first semester of my tenure here in which a dear friend is not among us. Governor Albert Brewer, long associated with Samford through the Cumberland School of Law, the creation of the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama, and the Samford Board of Trustees, died a few days ago. He served as the co-chair of the search committee in 2005 and 2006 as Samford sought a new president, and without his influence, I doubt that my family would be at Samford today. Take a moment to read the list of Samford’s core values noted below. Governor Brewer exemplified each of them. He represented the very best of Samford University.
I have realized over the past ten years that the phrase, “without Governor Brewer,” ends for many of us with a description of how our lives were made better. Surely, in eternity, we will see that bright smile again.
The world is better because of Albert Brewer.
Monday Mission, December 12, 2016
Emily Hynds, Chair of Mathematics and Computer Science and our Faculty Athletics Representative, often reminds me of the efforts of our student-athletes to attain academic progress.
She sent me this message a few days ago, illustrating the commitment of the members of the volleyball team as they hosted (and eventually won) the SoCon tournament:
After the win (in the tournament) on Sunday, it was decided that the volleyball team would not attend classes on Monday in order to prepare for the last night. Kind of like it would be if the championship was somewhere else. I spoke with Larry Harper, who has a couple of the players in his class this semester. They had a test on Monday and he had communicated with them that he was more than happy to arrange for them to take it later. They told him that they had found time on Sunday to prepare and that they would be in class on Monday to take the test, in spite of the fact that no one was requiring it!
The world is better because so many Samford students exceed expectations.
Monday Mission, November 21, 2016
Stephen Stake, a Samford graduate, recently defended his doctoral dissertation in public health at Johns Hopkins University.
The title of his dissertation is “Intimate Partner Violence and Depressive Symptoms among Women of Reproductive Age in Rural Bangladesh.” Dr. Stake took a few minutes to write to one of his Samford mentors, Dr. Stephen Chew:
“Looking back, my education at Samford (particularly Psych) was top notch and prepared me for the masters and doctoral work. I know you were a huge part of that and I’m thankful for your investment in me. For the next few weeks I’ll be editing my three separate papers for journal submissions and then exploring a few jobs associated with Hopkins. My two advisors work internationally, one in Uganda in IPV and mental health, the other in Bangladesh in maternal and child health. There are a couple of other international jobs associated with my dissertation committee from Hopkins I am exploring next week as well. I’m praying about next steps, but hoping to blend in a little more administration and program development with international focus. After a fairly demanding season, I’m aiming to stay around Baltimore/DC area with international travel until next spring and then re-evaluate where God is calling me to. I trust that He will guide as He has done before at every fork in the road. I hope you are well and so happy you are still investing in students!”
The world is better because of the engagement of Samford faculty members in the intellectual development of their students.
Monday Mission, October 31, 2017
When history repeats itself, it isn’t always good, but this past weekend in Orlando, our Ethics Bowl team (Jordan Holland, Elizabeth Poulos, Stone Hendrickson, Caleb Punt and Bailey Bridgeman) secured Samford’s second Southeastern Regional Intercollegiate championship in a row, sharing the title with Rollins College.
We will advance to the national tournament in February.
The world is better because of the ethical tenacity of our students.
Monday Mission, October 24, 2017
Jeanna and I attended a reception yesterday afternoon in honor of Ben and LuAnne Russell, recipients this year of the Alabama Humanities Award, presented by the Alabama Humanities Foundation.
Mr. and Mrs. Russell have been extraordinarily generous in supporting charitable work across our state, including Children’s Harbor, which offers significant services for children with serious illnesses and their families. During the event, Dr. Myrle Grate introduced himself to us. Dr. Grate is the Chief Executive Officer of Children’s Harbor, where he works each day to serve these families. In introducing himself to us, he was quick to let us know that he is a Samford graduate.
The world is better because of the faithful service of Dr. Myrle Grate and thousands of other Samford graduates.
Monday Mission, October 17, 2016
In the space below this message, you’ll read Samford’s official statements regarding the mission, core values and vision for the institution.
They’re great statements, but nowhere will you see the word “fun.” Perhaps it is a word we ought to add. Late on Saturday afternoon, after a rather comprehensive victory by our Bulldogs, Deion Pierre proposed marriage to his girlfriend, Jasmine Henderson, at Seibert Stadium. The 2:09 video is pure fun. Watch all the way to the end to hear Deion’s teammates chanting “She said yes!”
The world is better because of Deion Pierre, Jasmine Henderson, and a host of guys who are destined for successful careers, but probably not as backup singers.
Monday Mission, October 3, 2016
Throughout Family Weekend, I was privileged to have hundreds of conversations, usually brief, with the parents of many of our current students.
Two themes were prevalent throughout the majority of the comments that I received: parents treasure the Christ-centered environment of the campus and they are grateful for the personal attention of the members of our faculty and staff in the development of their daughters and sons. We are blessed to enjoy the widespread support of this vast array of friends.
The world is better because of the parents of our students.
Monday Mission, September 26, 2016
This morning Samford will receive the New Affiliate of the Year Award from The Washington Center at a luncheon at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
Tom Woolley and I will be on hand to receive the award. The Washington Center now serves as home base for our students who wish to gain valuable experience in DC as they contemplate career options. Later today I'll visit with Austin Ferrer, a Samford senior, at his work assignment on Capitol Hill. If Austin chooses a career in DC, he will add his name to a long list of distinguished Samford graduates who are currently involved in providing service to the country and shaping public policy.
The world is better because of the influence of Samford graduates in places of power.
Monday Mission, September 19, 2016
Last Friday, in celebration of U. S. Constitution Day, our programs for University Fellows, Micah Fellows and Pre-Law, along with the Office of Diversity and Intercultural Initiatives, hosted an event for area high school students who were designated by their schools as “Constitution Day Fellows.”
They heard an address by Judge Stephen Dillard (a Samford alum) of the Court of Appeals of Georgia, participated in a discussion of The Federalist Papers, and learned about Lincoln’s famed “Cooper Union” speech. Along the way, the students were exposed to Samford and to the opportunities that await them in the years ahead.
The world is better because of Samford’s outreach to our community and because of the hope offered through the lives of these young men and women.
Monday Mission, September 12, 2016
Last Friday we observed—with a simple ceremony—the opening of the new buildings for the schools housed within our College of Health Sciences.
Brief remarks were presented, prayers and scripture offered and hymns sung. As our A Cappella Choir sang, I was especially struck by these lyrics from a hymn, words which seem appropriate for each person within each of our disciplines:
For those who need our work, God,
the ones that we’re called for.
We strive each day to serve them,
to give and love them more.
Vocation is for others,
lives given in exchange—
the good of all your children,
our common hopes and dreams.
The world is better because it is woven into the fabric of Samford that “vocation is for others.”
Monday Mission, August 29, 2016
According to the National Science Foundation, “the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) is the highest recognition that a kindergarten through 12th grade mathematics or science (including computer science) teacher may receive for outstanding teaching in the United States.”
Amanda Strickland Cavin, a graduate of Samford’s Orlean Bullard Beeson School of Education, has recently been designated as a PAEMST honoree.
Amanda is currently the assistant principal of two schools in Henry County, Georgia. She began her career teaching third grade in the Clayton County School System, she spent the majority of her career teaching first grade, fifth grade, and pre-K students with special needs at Unity Grove Elementary School. Her expertise in fostering a positive environment for teaching and learning is described on the PAEMST website:
As a teacher, Amanda engaged her students in project-based learning experiences, providing them the opportunity to apply their knowledge of mathematical concepts in a real-world context. She utilized technology to stimulate interest among her students and empower them to communicate mathematically. Her students maintained personal blogs to share their ideas and mathematical connections to the real world, such as an analysis of weather data to inform decisions about the class garden. These young mathematicians regularly played games to reinforce strategies for mathematics with students in other states via Skype and often connected with experts using the class Twitter account. These innovative teaching practices were recognized by the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement and Georgia Public Broadcasting.
The world is better because of Amanda Strickland Cavin (and Amanda’s dad, Dean Corky Strickland of our Cumberland School of Law, has known that the world is better because of Amanda since the moment of her birth).
Monday Mission, August 22, 2016
Jeanna and I know that the arrival of our entering freshmen can’t be far away because last night we hosted more than 100 “Connections” leaders at the house for dinner.
Later this week, these returning students will lead our 900 new undergraduates through their introduction to the campus, concluding with dinner and a concert on Sunday evening.
After dinner last night, the Connections leaders were given an opportunity to stand and talk about their memories of arriving at Samford as freshmen and their hopes for how they might welcome new students this week. Among those who are now seniors, their positive, hopeful comments were laced with melancholy, as it has dawned on them that the experiences they have treasured here will soon give way to whatever lies ahead. It is the ebb and flow of college life: welcoming the new, preparing others to leave. “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven,” we read in Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3. This is our season for welcoming, and I will cherish each moment.
The world is better because of new life for the Samford community.
Monday Mission, August 15, 2016
As I was watching the members of our football team in their scrimmage on Saturday morning, I remembered a voicemail message, received a few weeks ago by Martin Newton, our Athletics Director, which Martin forwarded to me.
As I was watching the members of our football team in their scrimmage on Saturday morning, I remembered a voicemail message, received a few weeks ago by Martin Newton, our Athletics Director, which Martin forwarded to me. The message was from a local resident and a former collegiate athlete at another university, and he was calling to offer appreciation to Jake Kingree and Devlin Hodges, two Samford football players, for finding his wallet (with $200 to $300 in it), locating him on Facebook, and returning the lost item to him. He praised Jake and Devlin for “their honesty and integrity,” closing the message by saying, “I’m a Samford fan now!” Before playing their first game of the season, the members of our team are already winners.
The world is better because of Samford’s core values of “integrity, honesty, and justice,” as so often exemplified by our students.
Monday Mission, August 8, 2016
Perhaps the most industrious members of the Samford community spend all of their time outdoors.
Under the careful observation of Dr. Suresh Matthews, Chair of the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics and his colleagues and students, our Samford Bees are making a positive difference in the world each day. Their hives are located on a balcony outside our new facilities for the College of Health Sciences.
The world is better bee-cause of the Samford Bees.
Monday Mission, August 1, 2016
Scott Fisk, an artist and chair of Samford’s Department of Art, and his wife, Timarie, an author, have found the time in recent months to create a children’s book with a very specific focus on Birmingham.
Scott Fisk, an artist and chair of Samford’s Department of Art, and his wife, Timarie, an author, have found the time in recent months to create a children’s book with a very specific focus on Birmingham. Fuzzy Finny’s Adventures in the Magic City traces the journey of Fuzzy Finny throughout Birmingham, visiting many of our local landmarks. I’ll admit that I have not read the book, but apparently Fuzzy Finny leads children toward a very tranquil sleep. I may try to obtain a copy and ask Jeanna to read it to me tonight.
Incidentally, ten percent of the proceeds from the sale of the book will be used to provide scholarships for students in the arts in Alabama.
The world is better because of the creativity of Samford’s faculty members—and their creative spouses.
Monday Mission, June 20, 2016
A few minutes later they shared they had a desire to start a homeless ministry in downtown Birmingham and wanted to serve pancakes; and now they had the tools to get started.
During the week of final exams in May, a few of us volunteered one evening to cook pancakes for students during a study break in the University Center. I can’t say that the pancakes were restaurant-quality, but the students were hungry, which mitigated the quality of the food. The next day, Paige Acker, Director of Student Activities and Events, wrote to me to say that four students, Micah Green-Holloway, Alan Lane, Grant Landry, and Caylee Kennedy, stayed late to clean up the mess we had made in preparing the food. In the process, through no fault of their own, a couple of the griddles were damaged. Paige wrote:
The griddles were still working, but I had concerns about us using them for safety reasons. I offered them to the students and they were overjoyed. They said, "We have been praying for this!" Of course, I thought, "Well that's interesting, but okay." A few minutes later they shared they had a desire to start a homeless ministry in downtown Birmingham and wanted to serve pancakes; and now they had the tools to get started. A few moments ago, they stopped by my office. They shared they got up around 5 a.m. today and made over 200 pancakes to take downtown. They were able to serve food, share the gospel, and donate the remaining food to a local church for their ministry. They then served coffee and sandwiches with the church members, praying with the people coming in for a free meal.
The world is better because Samford students reclaim broken griddles for great purposes.
Monday Mission, June 13, 2016
A month ago, during the commencement ceremony for our Cumberland School of Law, Birmingham attorney and Cumberland adjunct faculty member Terry McCarthy, selected as the commencement speaker, captivated the audience by reading from cards written by the new graduates when they were in one of his courses as first-year law students.
A month ago, during the commencement ceremony for our Cumberland School of Law, Birmingham attorney and Cumberland adjunct faculty member Terry McCarthy, selected as the commencement speaker, captivated the audience by reading from cards written by the new graduates when they were in one of his courses as first-year law students. His humor, gently roasting the students as he read their comments (and adding a few of his own), demonstrated the ways in which our faculty members get to know their students. The students loved it. But the story gets better. Alan Moore, one of our 2016 Cumberland graduates, wrote to me with this additional information a few days ago:
I don’t know if you’re aware, but Professor McCarthy kept those notecards he mentioned and hand wrote a personal note of congratulations to all the graduates, mentioning something we wrote on the notecards. These appeared by surprise in our student mailboxes a couple of days before graduation. I thought it was an incredibly kind and personal gesture. Law schools have this reputation of being impersonal places where no one gets along, but at least at Cumberland, that’s just not the case. The bottom line here is that one of Alabama’s busiest and most respected attorneys cared enough to personally congratulate every one of his graduating students (and I believe that’s most of our class).
The world is better because Samford faculty members—full-time and part-time—invest themselves in the lives of their students.
Monday Mission, June 6, 2016
If they would, I’m sure there are many former students who could step forward and say, “Mr. Zeiger made it possible for me to go to Howard and/or Samford.”
A few days ago Mrs. Gene Zeiger, widow of Mr. Evan Zeiger, passed away. Her husband was, for many years, the business manager of first, Howard College, and then Samford University. He was a legendary figure during difficult economic times, squeezing every penny so that Samford could meet obligations. I was unable to attend Mrs. Zeiger’s funeral service, but I received a copy of a letter that she wrote to her children on June 15, 1991, their 45th wedding anniversary. In the letter, she sought to communicate to members of her family the joy that they found in serving God through their Samford association. Among the many poignant passages is this one:
Many times the phone would ring and it would be your dad calling to ask me if we had any money in the bank. He would say he had a student that didn’t have the money for his tuition, so we came to his rescue. If they would, I’m sure there are many former students who could step forward and say, “Mr. Zeiger made it possible for me to go to Howard and/or Samford.”
The world is better because of the legacy of support for Samford from friends like Evan and Gene Zeiger.
Monday Mission, May 23, 2016
Our student teachers from the Orlean Bullard Beeson School of Education receive tremendous benefits from their experiences in the schools, but I’m frequently reminded that they often give as much as they receive.
Our student teachers from the Orlean Bullard Beeson School of Education receive tremendous benefits from their experiences in the schools, but I’m frequently reminded that they often give as much as they receive. Susan Galloway, ESL teacher at Vestavia Hills Elementary Cahaba Heights, sent this message two weeks ago to Dean Jeanie Box:
I want to write you to compliment you on all the wonderful student teachers that you all have sent to Cahaba Heights from Samford. Margaret Ann Walker and Brandy Travis have truly been exceptional teachers and I just wanted you to know how impressed that we have all been with both of them. They are just so professional and so passionate about helping the students. You all should be so proud of them as they are excellent teachers and they are wonderful representatives of Samford University. They just really have that "wow" factor and we are going to miss them so much!
The world is better because Samford education graduates are professional and passionate.
Monday Mission, May 9, 2016
Mike and Mary Anne Freeman, generous sponsors of many of our programs in the School of the Arts, wrote last week to express their appreciation for one of our students from the Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing.
Mike and Mary Anne were leaving an event downtown when they witnessed the competence and compassion of Jessica Chapman. Here’s Mike’s account:
Following the performance, one of the older audience members, who is of an age where she is now mobility challenged and forced to walk with a cane, was leaving the Alys Stephens Center when she slipped and fell onto a concrete walkway while attempting to negotiate a doorway to the parking lot. She was badly bruised, was bleeding profusely and, quite frankly, appeared somewhat scared by this turn of events.
Jessica was nearby at the time and immediately rendered assistance to this woman even though the friends she was with were ready to leave. She made the accident victim comfortable, checked her condition, worked to staunch the bleeding -- and most importantly, stayed with the injured woman and kept her calm until the Birmingham paramedics arrived to transport her to the ER.
We're very thankful that Jessica was present to make effective use of the skills she's learned during her time at Samford, and that she was willing to make assisting others in need a priority over enjoying her own evening out on the town with her friends.
In response to the nice message from Mike and Mary Anne, Jessica had this to say:
When I saw the elderly woman so afraid and in need of medical attention, my heart went out to her and I wanted to do all in my power to assist her. The IVMSON teaches us how to provide care compassionately, empathetically, and courageously. Those skills came to my aid when comforting this woman. Even though I could not mend her physical bruising and bleeding, I was able to provide comfort and keep her stable until help arrived. Thanks to my education at the IVMSON, this set of skills came naturally to me when the time arose.
The world is better because of Jessica Chapman and the education she has received through the Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing and Samford University.
Monday Mission, May 2, 2016
We heard a few days ago from Dr. Joe Creech, Director of the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts that our own Sam Hahn, Samford Class of ’16, has been named a member of the ninth cohort of Lilly Fellows, a distinguished program for graduate students.
We heard a few days ago from Dr. Joe Creech, Director of the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts that our own Sam Hahn, Samford Class of ’16, has been named a member of the ninth cohort of Lilly Fellows, a distinguished program for graduate students. He follows Nathan Smolin, named last year to the eighth cohort. Dr. Joel Davis of our School of the Arts was our first Lilly Fellow, several years ago. Sam follows within a long Samford tradition of producing graduates with a unique blend of heart, soul, and mind.
The world is better because of Sam Hahn and the members of the Samford faculty who helped to nurture his soul and sharpen his mind.
Monday Mission, April 27, 2015
Every employee at Samford is in a position to lend support to our academic program.
Every employee at Samford is in a position to lend support to our academic program. In fact, that’s why we’re all here. Last week I received this vignette from Dr. Kristie Chandler, Chair of Human Development and Family Science, reminding me of the important interaction between our students and the valued members of our staff:
As I was working in my office with the door closed (trying to grade…ugh!), I overheard one of our students who dropped by to speak with Susan Kalinich, our departmental Administrative Assistant. With great excitement, the student said, “Ms. Susan, I just ran my t-test for my senior research project, and my finding was significant!” I am grateful to work in a place where administrative assistants are partners in the educational process of our students.
The world is better because of the attention our students receive from members of the Samford staff.
Monday Mission, April 25, 2016
Earlier this month, students from our Department of Journalism and Mass Communication in the Howard College of Arts and Sciences competed in the Bateman Case Study Competition, sponsored each year by the Public Relations Student Society of America.
Earlier this month, students from our Department of Journalism and Mass Communication in the Howard College of Arts and Sciences competed in the Bateman Case Study Competition, sponsored each year by the Public Relations Student Society of America. The competition is among the most prestigious collegiate public relations programs in the nation, with 70 entries this year. Sixteen entries received honorable mention, but only three of the teams were invited as finalists. Our team from Samford, advised by Dr. Betsy Emmons, will travel to Chicago next month to join their peers from Loyola University of New Orleans and the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa to compete for the top prize. Congratulations to Dr. Emmons and her great team, comprised of Emily Duval, Allie Haywood, Lauren Hutchens, Kathleen Sharp, and Paige Shelby.
The world is better because of the creativity and persistence of Samford people.
Monday Mission, April 18, 2016
Last Saturday morning, 824 students (and a few eager Samford employees) climbed out of bed early to gather at Seibert Stadium before departing throughout Birmingham for "Samford Gives Back," sponsored by our Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership.
Last Saturday morning, 824 students (and a few eager Samford employees) climbed out of bed early to gather at Seibert Stadium before departing throughout Birmingham for "Samford Gives Back," sponsored by our Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership. Working with 33 charities, they gave almost 3,300 hours in service. As icing on the cake, a group of Samford alums joined the effort. The day was a living example of the challenge of Christ to love our neighbors.
The world is better because Samford people understanding that life is empty without serving others.
Monday Mission, April 11, 2016
Institutional cultures don’t develop overnight.
Institutional cultures don’t develop overnight. They’re formed over the process of many years; in Samford’s case, almost 175 years. Visitors to our campus often speak of their first impressions, and invariably they mention the kindness of the people they encounter. (Yes, they also mention the green grass as they drive through the main gate.) Dr. Jill Cunningham of our Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing forwarded to me a message that she received from a campus guest who caught us on a very good day: “Samford really is unique. From the staff at Einstein’s Bagels, to the groundskeeper I asked directions from, to the staff I spoke with in the graduate program, everyone was so helpful and friendly—just the ‘personal touch’ I am looking for.”
The world is better because kindness is cherished at Samford.
Monday Mission, April 4, 2016
Gina Locklear earned her degree in business management from Samford in 2001. Featured last week in a major story in The New York Times, the article’s headline proclaimed her as the “sock queen of Alabama.”
Gina didn’t become Alabama’s sock queen overnight. In fact, she inherited the interest from her parents in Fort Payne and has helped to keep alive the struggling sock manufacturing industry in that town, securing employment for people along the way. Her goal for the two lines of her business—Zkano and Little River—is to “make a sustainable sock” by exercising great care in the selection of materials. According to the article, “Gina handles it herself—in addition to ordering yarn, designing both lines, doing social media marketing, processing credit card orders and lying awake nights with worry.”
Sock it to ‘em, Gina. The world is better because of you.
Perhaps you already know that the Republic of Mauritius is an island nation, located east of the southern portion of the continent of Africa.
Monday Mission, March 28, 2016
Four Samford students now know considerably more about Mauritius than the nation’s location, as they represented the country last week at the 2016 Model United Nations in New York. Among the 5,000 students from 400 colleges and universities, the Samford delegation (Juliana Guzman, Marley Davis, Emily Praktish and Ella Oxley, along with advisor Dr. Serena Simoni) was awarded Honorable Mention status. Following the conference, Marley Davis gave her own assessment of the most significant part of the experience: “While we had time to explore New York City, what was more memorable was the connections we made with other national and international students.”
The world is better because of Samford’s engagement in understanding people from all nations.
Monday Mission, March 7, 2016
I'm sure you are aware that Samford's Core Text Program is comprised of two courses, Cultural Perspective 101 and 102, in which, according to our website's description of the program, students "are taught to read, think, and communicate by interacting with classic texts that have stood the test of time."
Directed by Dr. Jason Wallace, the program also features a two-week study/travel component in London, available each summer to a small group of rising sophomores. These immersion experiences have been well received by the participants. In fact, one of the students to participate in the first summer program in 2014 (in her first trip outside the United States) recently voiced this endorsement:
"The trip gave me the ability to travel out of my comfort zone. I am now going back to England for a third time this summer. I went last summer and worked alongside a church planter. We worked in a local school and it was wonderful to build relationships with the students. I made lasting relationships last summer with the people I came in contact with. This upcoming trip will be more meaningful due to the fact that I get to see my friends again."
The world is better because of lessons learned and experiences gained through the Core Text Program.
Monday Mission, February 29, 2016
LTC Jeff Damron, a Samford graduate from the Class of 1975, sent me this message last week:
Last Saturday, I took three of our cadets from Lyman Ward Military Academy, a boarding school in Camp Hill, Alabama, where I serve as Academic Dean, to the Samford vs. VMI basketball game. As a 1975 Samford graduate, I was anxious to show them my alma mater. We decided to tour the campus after the game, and we met two of your freshmen—Summer Bennison and Jack Biedermann.
Summer and Jack invited us to eat with them in the Cafeteria, which we did, and to take us on a walking tour. I was anxious to see the new Business Building (it has the "wow" factor), and we made the loop around the Quad. My three cadets were enthralled by the whole experience, and one of them, who is a junior, plans to apply to Samford. He is interested in journalism, which happens to be the major for both Summer and Jack.
Bottom line: Two Samford freshmen took time out of their schedule on a late Saturday afternoon to show hospitality to four visitors. They made an indelibly positive impression on me, and especially on my three students.
The Admissions Office should hire Summer and Jack for internships. (And the world is better because of Summer and Jack!)
The world is better because Samford people, including Summer and Jack, put aside their own priorities to look out for the needs of those around them.
Monday Mission, February 22, 2016
It is an ordinary Monday morning in February, a bit dreary in Birmingham due to the rain that we’ll be receiving throughout the day.
It is an ordinary Monday morning in February, a bit dreary in Birmingham due to the rain that we’ll be receiving throughout the day. But extraordinary things are about to happen at Samford. Faculty and students are preparing for classes and, throughout the day, there will be bursts of understanding, laughs about shared experiences, and the satisfaction that comes when we know that we are where we are supposed to be, doing what we are supposed to do.
The world is better because extraordinary things happen at Samford, even on ordinary days.
Monday Mission, February 8, 2016
Having spent eight days in Washington, DC since the end of January, I was glad to return home on Thursday evening.
Having spent eight days in Washington, DC since the end of January, I was glad to return home on Thursday evening. My visit to Washington included several meetings with elected officials and staff members. Late in the day last Tuesday, I spent about 30 minutes with Mary Blanche Hankey, a graduate of our Cumberland School of Law and the Legislative Counsel for Senator Jeff Sessions. At the end of a very long day for her, Mary Blanche listened patiently to me as I tried to explain many of the public policy interests for those of us in independent higher education. Her competence and compassion are hallmarks of Cumberland lawyers.
The world is better because of Mary Blanche Hankey and the dozens of Samford graduates serving on Capitol Hill.
Monday Mission, February 1
Cindy Ritter, our Coordinator of Undergraduate Student Services in the Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing, lost her mom last month.
She was comforted by wonderful memories and many expressions of support from colleagues and friends. But perhaps the most poignant reminder of support came from this simple post-it note left on her desk by the housekeeping staff in her building.
The world is better because, at Samford, we share a sense of calling to our work, regardless of our responsibilities.
Monday Mission, 1/25/2016
This past weekend Clayton McWhorter, pioneer in the delivery of health care and a visionary leader, slipped from this world to his eternal home. In lending his name to our own McWhorter School of Pharmacy and in giving of his resources to support our people and programs, his legacy will endure at Samford for generations to come.
This past weekend Clayton McWhorter, pioneer in the delivery of health care and a visionary leader, slipped from this world to his eternal home. In lending his name to our own McWhorter School of Pharmacy and in giving of his resources to support our people and programs, his legacy will endure at Samford for generations to come. Clayton was bright, friendly, considerate, and inquisitive, always searching for solutions to problems. Many of us at Samford are honored to have known him as a trusted friend.
The world is better because of Clayton McWhorter.
Monday Mission, January 4
As is the case with most universities in the United States, Samford is dependent on the gifts of alumni and friends for the support of our people and programs, but the stories of those gifts too often fade into the background.
As is the case with most universities in the United States, Samford is dependent on the gifts of alumni and friends for the support of our people and programs, but the stories of those gifts too often fade into the background. Among Samford’s many friends are Sue and Lon Vance, retired school teachers from Eutaw, Alabama. Their daughter, Katherine Victoria, known as Kavi to family and friends, earned a pharmacy degree from Samford in 1998. Their son, Dean, graduated from Samford in 1995. In September of 1999, the Vance family lost Kavi in a tragic car accident. A few months after the loss, Sue and Lon, joined by those who love them, began to make gifts to Samford to establish a scholarship in Kavi’s memory. Each December, Sue and Lon place luminaries in the cemetery at Eutaw in memory of the “saints gone before,” and each year since 1999 more than 100 of their friends have made gifts to Kavi’s fund, which now exceeds $160,000. Kavi’s legacy is alive in the dozens of pharmacy students who have benefited from these precious scholarships.
The world is better because of Kavi Vance, her family and friends.
Monday Mission, December 21
Later this week, Mr. Beeson (and his statuary friends) will be virtually alone on the campus as our official Christmas holidays get underway.
Monday Mission, December 14, 2015
As I left my office in Samford Hall on Saturday morning to walk to the Hanna Center for our December commencement ceremony, I noticed seven or eight people gathered near the Christmas tree on Centennial Walk, one of them in cap and gown.
As I left my office in Samford Hall on Saturday morning to walk to the Hanna Center for our December commencement ceremony, I noticed seven or eight people gathered near the Christmas tree on Centennial Walk, one of them in cap and gown. I assumed that they were trying to get ahead of the rush on a busy day in what has become the iconic Samford location for photographs. A few seconds later, I looked again. They had formed a circle and their heads were bowed in prayer. My heart was gripped as I was reminded of the sacrifices that families have made, the prayers offered, the joys shared, the adversities overcome, the lessons learned, the friendships built, the knowledge gained, the wisdom pursued, the doors opened . . . all within the pathway of a Samford degree.
The world is better because of the heartfelt prayers of Samford people.
Monday Mission, 11/30/2015
Perhaps you saw the news a few days ago that Dr. Brad Busbee, chair of our Department of English, received the Excellence in Teaching Award from the Southeastern Medieval Association at the organization’s fall meeting in Little Rock.
Perhaps you saw the news a few days ago that Dr. Brad Busbee, chair of our Department of English, received the Excellence in Teaching Award from the Southeastern Medieval Association at the organization’s fall meeting in Little Rock. In addition to his record as a classroom teacher, bringing medieval literature to life for his students, Brad’s scholarship extends to many published works and to serving as co-editor of the Grundtvig Studier: An International Journal for the Study of Nicolai Frederik Severin Grundtvig. He will serve as host for Anders Holm, his colleague from Denmark, as a visiting Fulbright scholar at Samford next spring.
The world is better because of the teaching, service, and scholarship of Brad Busbee.
Monday Mission, November 23, 2015
Who says that Samford isn’t bowl eligible?
Who says that Samford isn’t bowl eligible? Not the judges for the Southeastern Ethics Bowl championship, held earlier this month in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Bulldogs defeated the Midshipmen of the U. S. Naval Academy in the championship match. They’ll move on to the national championship round, scheduled for February in Reston, Virginia. Led by team captain Caleb Punt (given the abundance of football clichés in this piece, I’ll resist the temptation to offer additional commentary on Caleb’s last name), the Samford squad includes Bailey Bridgeman, Stone Hendrickson, Jordan Holland, Laura Ann Prickett and Elizabeth Poulos. They are coached by two all-stars, Wilton Bunch and Michael Janas. To read additional details, go to http://www.samford.edu/news/2015/11/Samford-Ethics-Bowl-Team-Wins-Regional-Title.
The world is better because of Samford’s game-winning students and coaches (in athletics and in other significant areas of campus life).
Monday Mission, November 9, 2015
On Saturday evening our Orlean Bullard Beeson School of Education celebrated 100 years of teacher education by presenting “Learning for Life Awards” to more than 100 distinguished graduates.
On Saturday evening our Orlean Bullard Beeson School of Education celebrated 100 years of teacher education by presenting “Learning for Life Awards” to more than 100 distinguished graduates. Ninety-eight of the recipients, or members of their families, were present to accept the awards. Their professional pursuits are varied: teachers at all levels in all aspects of education; principals; superintendents; ministers; missionaries; musicians; business owners; health professionals; homemakers; and authors. They represent the thousands of graduates who have brought knowledge and hope to millions of people throughout the past century.
The world is better because of the Orlean Bullard Beeson School of Education.
Monday Mission, November 30, 2015
Perhaps you saw the news a few days ago that Dr. Brad Busbee, chair of our Department of English, received the Excellence in Teaching Award from the Southeastern Medieval Association at the organization’s fall meeting in Little Rock.
In addition to his record as a classroom teacher, bringing medieval literature to life for his students, Brad’s scholarship extends to many published works and to serving as co-editor of the Grundtvig Studier: An International Journal for the Study of Nicolai Frederik Severin Grundtvig. He will serve as host for Anders Holm, his colleague from Denmark, as a visiting Fulbright scholar at Samford next spring.
The world is better because of the teaching, service, and scholarship of Brad Busbee.
Monday Mission, November 2, 2015
This past Saturday I asked our students to mention the person at Samford who had most influenced their lives. Without a second’s hesitation, the four students named four Samford employees: Bernie Ankney, Charlotte Brammer, Matt Kerlin, and Eric Mathis.
When we host prospective students and their families for Preview Days and I’m given an opportunity to welcome the group, I often invite—without any advance warning—three or four of our current students to the stage so that I can ask them questions about their Samford experience. The spontaneity at least holds the attention of the early-morning audience. This past Saturday I asked our students to mention the person at Samford who had most influenced their lives. Without a second’s hesitation, the four students named four Samford employees: Bernie Ankney, Charlotte Brammer, Matt Kerlin, and Eric Mathis. In each case, the students mentioned the amount of time and wisdom that these men and women had poured into their lives.
The world is better because the members of the Samford faculty and staff always make time for their students.
Monday Mission, October 26
It has become commonplace: another regular season SoCon championship for Samford soccer. The win came Friday evening at East Tennessee State University, with a final score of 1-0. But there has been nothing common about this season.
It has become commonplace: another regular season SoCon championship for Samford soccer. The win came Friday evening at East Tennessee State University, with a final score of 1-0. But there has been nothing common about this season. Throughout each day this fall, and stretching back several years, Coach Todd Yelton and his wife, Shauna, and their family and friends have been battling Shauna’s cancer. During her time as the director of our campus health center, Shauna provided much-needed care to hundreds of our students and employees. Now it is our turn to care for her.
In an exchange with Todd early Saturday morning, he wrote these words to me: “This has been a tough journey. However, the Almighty continues to show up in our desperation. We often speak of family. It has become a cliché in sports. However, this team, the athletic department and the Samford community have demonstrated that we really do love one another. I am humbled by the love that our team and their families have demonstrated to us. We often speak of how much we love and care for one another. To this group it's much more than a cliché as they demonstrate that daily. I am moved beyond being able to express how proud I am of this group.”
The world is better because of Shauna and Todd Yelton.
Monday Mission, October 19, 2015
At the most recent Annual Conference on Teaching, five of the 27 research papers selected for presentation were from Samford students.
According to Dr. Stephen Chew, chair of our Department of Psychology, the Annual Conference on Teaching (ACT) is the main conference for the Society for the Teaching of Psychology. At the most recent conference, five of the 27 research papers selected for presentation were from Samford students. The strong record of acceptance is a testimonial to the scholarship of the students and to Dr. Chew’s attention to their work. Congratulations to Joshua Aarons, Kevin Figlewicz, Keke Fletcher, Sarah Pryor, Will Brennan, Ashley Ferguson, Parisa Poorak, Sarah Tarnakow, Jeremy Dale, Ashlyn Ward, Rebecca Womack, Sara Nolin, Mikala Pickens, Katherine M. Wood, and Ellen Pacsi.
The world is better because of Samford’s environment for teaching, learning, and research.
MONDAY MISSION, OCTOBER 5, 2015
According to Dr. Kristie Chandler, department chair, a Samford graduate has received this national award four years in a row.
Hannah Newman, one of our 2015 graduates from the Department of Human Development and Family Science, was notified a few days ago that her paper, “The Relationship Between Parental Conflict Tactics and Sibling Contact Tactics,” received the Outstanding Undergraduate Research Paper Award from the National Council on Family Relations Affiliate Council, a noteworthy accomplishment. According to Dr. Kristie Chandler, department chair, a Samford graduate has received this national award four years in a row.
The world is better because Samford students and faculty are committed to high standards of scholarship.
Monday Mission, September 28, 2015
Two people associated with Samford received significant international honors this month.
Heather West, director of our Critical Languages Program, was named a Knight of the Order of Academic Palms by the government of France in recognition of her record of service to French education. She founded the Samford in France program in 1996 and is currently serving as the executive director of the Alabama World Languages Association.
Elmer Harris, a Samford trustee and former President and CEO of Alabama Power, was recognized by the government of Japan with the presentation of the Order of the Rising Sun. Mr. Harris served for a decade as Honorary Consul General of Japan, promoting closer ties between Alabama and Japan.
The world is better because of the international engagement of Samford’s faculty, students, alumni, and friends.
Monday Mission, September 21, 2015
The world is better because of the Samford faculty...and because of the support of Samford parents for the educational experiences of their students.
Among the many great elements of Susan Doyle’s planning for Family Weekend was her inclusion of classes for parents, taught on Friday afternoon by several members of our faculty. Topics ranged from “the reliability of eyewitness testimony” to “how Plato can save your life,” with “betterocracy” thrown in for good measure. The brief sessions highlighted for parents the ways in which our faculty members regularly engage students in courses across all disciplines. I heard many positive remarks about the classes on Friday and Saturday, usually with this parting comment: “we wish that we were enrolled at Samford!”
The world is better because of the Samford faculty...and because of the support of Samford parents for the educational experiences of their students.
Monday Mission. August 31, 2015
This morning I’m conscious of the fact that we have not one story, but 5,206 stories at Samford.
This morning I’m conscious of the fact that we have not one story, but 5,206 stories at Samford. That is our final fall enrollment number: 5,206. They come to us from 46 states and 32 other countries, each student bringing with them all of the characteristics and influences that have shaped their lives. Each with a mind, a heart, a soul. Will we nurture them, as our mission calls us to do, in the “development of intellect, creativity, faith, and personhood”? The challenge of meeting that standard inspires us each day.
The world is better because of the presence of 5,206 lives among us this fall at Samford University.
Monday Mission, August 24, 2015
We are blessed this year, as always, with a remarkable freshman class.
We are blessed this year, as always, with a remarkable freshman class. One of our entering students, Beth Birchfield of Montgomery, brings with her a zeal for helping the people of Haiti. In her short life, she has already made 18 trips there. Commenting on her most recent visit to Haiti, Beth wrote a few days ago, “I learned to love big because our God is big.”
The world is better because of Beth Birchfield.
Monday Mission, August 17, 2015
One of our students, Rachel Fox, served as an intern this summer in Rwanda.
One of our students, Rachel Fox, served as an intern this summer in Rwanda. A friend shared a summary of Rachel’s experiences with me. Of the many poignant stories that she related, this one caught my attention:
I remember an instance that was especially eye-opening for me when my boss and I showed up unannounced to have a meeting with a hotel manager. When we entered, the place reminded me of a Western hotel. After waiting a while to have a meeting with the manager and having a hurried few minutes of conversation with her, my boss and I left. I felt that we had a fruitful meeting because we accomplished the goal of our visit, but as we were walking out, my boss whispered to me, “I hate coming to this place because they never have time for people.” While I was pleased with the efficiency of our meeting, my boss was frustrated at the rushed nature of our time there.
On this first day of classes for the new academic year, I hope that we will remember a lesson from Rachel’s new friend in Rwanda: may we always have time for people.
The world is better because Samford helps students to learn from people around the globe.
Monday Mission, August 10, 2015
As the members of our faculty and staff in the Brock School of Business will attest, we’ve begun to take complete occupancy of their new home.
As the members of our faculty and staff in the Brock School of Business will attest, we’ve begun to take complete occupancy of their new home. Even as we prepare for classes to begin in the new facility next week, this message from Dr. Lowell Broom of our accounting faculty is a reminder that, despite the beauty of the new building, it is what happens inside the building that counts:
The world is better because of the teaching and learning environment at Samford.
I have just been notified by the Executive Director of the Alabama State Board of Public Accountancy that for at least the past year, Samford University graduates had the highest first time pass rate on the CPA Exam of any university in the State of Alabama. That is, of candidates sitting for a given part of the CPA Exam (there are four separate parts) for the first time, Samford students passed that part on their first attempt at a higher rate than any other university’s graduates in the State of Alabama. That passing rate also far exceeds the national average.
Monday Mission, August 3, 2015
We all know the frustration of a bag that rips open in the parking lot, our purchases tumbling in all directions.
We all know the frustration of a bag that rips open in the parking lot, our purchases tumbling in all directions. A few weeks ago—in the early evening—I was walking across campus when I heard the sound of cans and bottles crashing upon concrete. I turned to locate the noise and I saw one of our custodians already bent over a burst garbage bag, grabbing items that were beginning to roll down the hill. Just as quickly, I glanced around to see one of our students, out for a walk, ever-present earbuds in place, suddenly running to assist the custodian. I watched for a few seconds as he collected garbage and she thanked him for his help. It was the spontaneity of the young man that captured my attention. His action were prompted by first instincts. Does Samford have a lock on that kind of helpfulness? Hardly. But the “first instinct” response of our people is a joy to see.
The world is better because of the healthy, meaningful interaction that takes place at Samford every day.
Monday Mission, July 27, 2015
How College Works is a book written a couple of years ago by Dan Chambliss and Christopher Takacs.
How College Works is a book written a couple of years ago by Dan Chambliss and Christopher Takacs. Chambliss is a long-time faculty member at Hamilton College in New York, where he has studied the factors that contribute to the success of college students. A very simple summary of the book is that a great college experience is built on relationships with two or three friends and meaningful encounters with one or two faculty members. Everything else pales by comparison. On the basis of hundreds of conversations with our alums, my guess is that this thesis is correct, at least as far as Samford is concerned. For all the efforts throughout higher education today to provide every possible environmental factor to improve college life, key relationships will always have the greatest influence.
The world is better because relationships are cherished at Samford.
Monday Mission, July 20, 2015
In less than one month we will welcome the largest number of entering undergraduates in our history, more than 800 freshmen according to our latest projections.
In less than one month we will welcome the largest number of entering undergraduates in our history, more than 800 freshmen according to our latest projections. Hundreds of employees and thousands of friends have helped to recruit this class, but our staff in the admissions office, led by the indomitable Jason Black, deserve the greatest round of applause for their efforts. Thank you, admissions staffers, for your extraordinary service.
The world is better because of the 800 freshmen headed our way . . . and the men and women who recruited them.
Monday Mission, July 6, 2015
Dr. Michael Hardin began a new chapter in his life last week as our Provost, completing his tenure as the Dean of the Culverhouse School of Business at the University of Alabama.
Dr. Michael Hardin began a new chapter in his life last week as our Provost, completing his tenure as the Dean of the Culverhouse School of Business at the University of Alabama. He arrives with the good will of the entire campus (and the relief of the 19-member search committee). Mike’s wife is Anna Kathryn. As I received the committee’s recommendation that we ask Dr. Hardin to accept the position, I talked with perhaps as many as 30 people who had known him in various capacities, both personal and professional. If I had to offer one summary of the conversations, it would be this: “He’s one of the finest people I have ever known.” Welcome to Samford, Mike and Anna Kathryn, where you’ll write your own Samford stories.
The world is better because of Mike and Anna Kathryn Hardin. (You may write a word of welcome to Dr. Hardin at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Monday Mission, June 22, 2015
Although God did not call me to preach, as the president of Samford I have more than my share of opportunities to stand in pulpits on Sunday mornings, preventing—as I often say—the congregation from hearing a good sermon.
Although God did not call me to preach, as the president of Samford I have more than my share of opportunities to stand in pulpits on Sunday mornings, preventing—as I often say—the congregation from hearing a good sermon. Yesterday I had the privilege of speaking in the 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. services at the First Baptist Church of Tuscaloosa, where Samford connections abound. Prior to the first service, I met a lovely, soft-spoken lady who informed me—with appropriate pride—that Sonya Davis is her daughter. Sonya is an instructor in the Core Curriculum at Samford, where she keeps alive (or kindles, if necessary) the love of learning in our students. Sonya’s mom and I stood in the aisle of the church yesterday morning, giving thanks for her work and the fact that she is at Samford. The setting of the exchange reminded me of the sacred calling that we have, even if we’re not called to preach.
The world is better because of Sonya Davis (and her very nice mother).
Monday Mission, June 15, 2015
Almost every summer, I pass along a few lines in a “Monday Mission” from James Strange, Associate Professor of Religion in our Howard College of Arts and Sciences, as he continues his archeological work in Israel.
Almost every summer, I pass along a few lines in a “Monday Mission” from James Strange, Associate Professor of Religion in our Howard College of Arts and Sciences, as he continues his archeological work in Israel. In an update I received from James this weekend, he commented on the fact that he is ending the last week of the dig. This morning I offer to you his poignant closing lines:
We are visitors here, no matter how at home we feel. And when we leave, the banality, joys, and heartbreaks of everyday life will continue. People will have to negotiate how to live with people they merely tolerate, or despise. The issue of violence and how to resolve the Palestinian problem will persist. All of this will require efforts of genuine goodwill, because we know what hatred will do if unchecked by our God-given knowledge of what is right. Pray for peace in Israel.
The world is better because of the mind, soul, and hands of James Strange.
Monday Mission, June 8, 2015
We’re hosting another wave of new students and family members this morning for orientation.
We’re hosting another wave of new students and family members this morning for orientation. In a few minutes I’ll have the honor of speaking to them in the Wright Center, welcoming them to the next chapter of their lives. In my years at Samford, as I’ve asked hundreds—perhaps thousands—of students why they were drawn to this place, perhaps the most common reply is that “it felt right to me.” That’s shorthand, I think, for reasons that are probably too numerous to mention, but it is impossible for most of us to separate a “right feeling” about a place from the people we encounter there. Samford feels right for so many students and families because of the quality of our people.
The world is better because of the people—students, alumni, friends, and employees—of Samford.
Monday Mission, June 1, 2015
A few days after commencement weekend I received a letter from the father of two Samford graduates.
A few days after commencement weekend I received a letter from the father of two Samford graduates. One of the students graduated this May. Pleased with the experiences of his students, he chose—through the lens of a parent—to provide five answers to the question, “Why Samford?” Here they are:
- So many classes are taught by full professors.
- Tremendous opportunities for international studies.
- “No co-ed dorms.”
- The requirement of a senior thesis.
- “Most importantly, Samford has maintained a biblical world view in an intellectually rigorous environment.”
This dad also took the time to highlight a few of the people who contributed to the success of his Samford graduates: Larry Davenport, Dave and Robin Johnson, and Julie Steward.
The world is better, according to this thoughtful father, because of at least five reasons, all of them found at Samford.
Monday Mission, May 11, 2015
Among our graduating seniors this weekend will be Adam Quinn.
Among our graduating seniors this weekend will be Adam Quinn. Adam’s honors while at Samford are too numerous to recite in this short message, but one quick illustration will put his work in context. A few weeks ago I received this message from Dr. Jane Hiles of our Department of English:
I'm happy to announce that senior English major Adam Quinn has been awarded first prize for the best paper submitted to the Sigma Tau Delta International Honor Society's annual convention in British/International literature. Adam presented his paper, titled "Joyce's Portrait: Education and Colonial Status," at the Sigma Tau Delta convention in Albuquerque, NM, last Saturday. He was accompanied by two other presenters from Samford's English department: senior Megan Burr and junior Sarah Sullivan. Adam will receive a first place award of $600. After his presentation, the colleague chairing the session remarked that Adam's was a graduate-level paper, and he exclaimed, "I want some of your students before I retire!" Adam has represented the English department, the Fellows program and Samford University very well. I'm proud of his work and of the work Samford faculty have done with him.
Adam has earned an Academic Fulbright Award and will study at University College Dublin this fall.
The world is better because of Adam Quinn.
Monday Mission, May 4, 2015
Just last night, Matt Kerlin, Assistant Dean for Spiritual Life, sent this message to me:
Just last night, Matt Kerlin, Assistant Dean for Spiritual Life, sent this message to me:
Sunday afternoon I was able to see the final performance of Samford theatre’s production of Jane Eyre, a musical adaptation of the novel by Charlotte Brontë. The talent on display was truly astounding and brought the story to life with emotion and creativity. In particular, senior musical theatre major Carin Lagerberg performed stunningly as the main character. In the post-production Q & A with the cast and crew, a student asked Carin which of the musical’s themes most resonated with her. Carin spoke of how the story highlights the social pressure placed on women to live up to artificial standards of beauty, and she reminded all of us in the audience that God’s compassionate view of us should take precedence over how others may judge us. As the father of two daughters, I thought her response was both memorable and wise.
Matt concluded his message with these words: “In my ninth year at Samford, I continue to be moved by all that is good about this place.”
The world is better because Samford nurtures persons in their development of intellect, creativity, faith, and personhood.
Monday Mission, April 20, 2015
Throughout this week and extending into the early portion of next week, many of us on the campus will be engaged in interviews with three candidates for the position of Provost.
Throughout this week and extending into the early portion of next week, many of us on the campus will be engaged in interviews with three candidates for the position of Provost. The interviews are taking place, of course, because our current Provost, Dr. Brad Creed, has accepted the presidency of Campbell University in North Carolina. Dr. and Mrs. Creed and their family are cherished members of this community. Today, April 20, happens to be Dr. Creed’s birthday. Join me, if you will, in flooding his inbox with birthday greetings and best wishes for his important work at Campbell. His e-mail address is email@example.com.
The world is better because of Dr. Creed’s presence at Samford.
Monday Mission, April 13, 2015
Following is the text of a message I received on Saturday from Dr. Bryan Johnson, Director of our University Fellows program, writing from Tallahassee where university students from Birmingham had a very successful weekend:
Following is the text of a message I received on Saturday from Dr. Bryan Johnson, Director of our University Fellows program, writing from Tallahassee where university students from Birmingham had a very successful weekend:
Our University Fellows Ethics Bowl team just finished as runners-up to UAB at the National Bioethics Bowl Tournament. In their first bioethics competition, Bailey Bridgeman, Stone Hendrickson, Jordan Holland, Laura Ann Prickett, and Caleb Punt won five matches in a row to make it into the championship match. They defeated Illinois Tech, Doral College, DePauw University, Dartmouth, and Florida State. In the championship match, they tied an all senior UAB team only to lose on a tiebreaker. Along with Elizabeth Poulos, who competed in the Southeastern Regional Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl last fall, they have practiced all year for these competitions. That meant two hours of practice a week, case preparation, and research. They didn’t do that work alone. Dr. Wilton Bunch and Dr. Mike Janas spent all semester coaching them through complex ethical cases. These students are among our brightest Fellows, but that’s not what I’m most proud of. They compete with dignity, grace, kindness, and sportsmanship.The world is better because of the dignity, grace, kindness, sportsmanship—and competence—of Samford students.
The world is better because of the dignity, grace, kindness, sportsmanship—and competence—of Samford students.
Monday Mission, March 30, 2015
Although Jake Hamilton graduated from Samford only a few months ago, he’s already discovering creative ways to help the students in his classroom at KIPP Indianapolis College Preparatory School, as shown in the attached news clip from the ABC affiliate in that city.
Although Jake Hamilton graduated from Samford only a few months ago, he’s already discovering creative ways to help the students in his classroom at KIPP Indianapolis College Preparatory School, as shown in the attached news clip from the ABC affiliate in that city. Take a look to learn Jake’s secret to success for his students.
http://www.theindychannel.com/news/local-news/teacher-turns-to-mp3-players-to-help-students-read?autoplay=true [link broken as of 1/7/2019]
The world is better because of Jake Hamilton.
Monday Mission, March 23, 2015
As I prepared to part company after dinner last week with one of our most distinguished graduates from the 1950s, he took my hand and said, “When we have the time I want to tell you about the impact of my Howard College—Samford—experience.”
As I prepared to part company after dinner last week with one of our most distinguished graduates from the 1950s, he took my hand and said, “When we have the time I want to tell you about the impact of my Howard College—Samford—experience.” With only a little encouragement, he then related a few of the details of his rural background and how his time with faculty at Howard College laid the foundation for his career. “It began with Howard College,” he said. In reality, given this person’s considerable strengths, I think that the raw material was already in place when he arrived on the campus, but I join him in acknowledging the transformational power of higher education.
The world is better because we are engaged in meaningful, life-changing work.
Monday Mission, March 9, 2015
Jeanna and I joined with hundreds of friends of Dr. Gene Black on Saturday morning for a service at Dawson Memorial Baptist Church, in celebration of his life with us and his new life in a place far beyond our comprehension.
Jeanna and I joined with hundreds of friends of Dr. Gene Black on Saturday morning for a service at Dawson Memorial Baptist Church, in celebration of his life with us and his new life in a place far beyond our comprehension. Dr. Black served as a member of Samford’s music faculty for 35 years, becoming Dean of the School of Music in 1980. He retired in 2000. The music for the service, offered by former members of our A Cappella Choir, was heavenly. Dr. Black was a primary actor in shaping the legendary A Cappella Choir, but the influence of Dr. and Mrs. Black on the men and women who sang and spoke on Saturday morning transcends the development of a program, school, or university. It was his soul, I think, that pointed thousands of young people to Christ. Along the way, they found their competence, their calling, their profession, their voice.
The world is better because of Gene Black. We shall see him again.
Monday Mission, March 2, 2015
In a conversation over coffee last Friday morning, one of our distinguished alums, now retired, mused about his education at Samford.
In a conversation over coffee last Friday morning, one of our distinguished alums, now retired, mused about his education at Samford. He was exuberant about Samford’s past, present, and future—but he reserved his highest praise for the core curriculum and general education. Assailed throughout much of the marketplace today as irrelevant and burdensome, it was these courses which, throughout a successful career, still brought a gleam to the eyes of the man sitting across the table from me. Like many of us who tended to take our general education courses for granted, he now understands that they were the elements which helped him to see across continents and lives to find understanding and hope.
The world is better because of those who labor (and learn) in the vineyard of the core curriculum and general education.
Monday Mission, February 23, 2015
Over the weekend I read a message from the father of one of our student-athletes, offering words of appreciation for several Samford employees who have been of particular help in fostering his son’s academic and personal development.
Over the weekend I read a message from the father of one of our student-athletes, offering words of appreciation for several Samford employees who have been of particular help in fostering his son’s academic and personal development. One line in the message stood out: “Ms. Christina pulls no punches.” He was speaking of Christina Harris, our Football Academic Coordinator. What the father meant, I think, is that nurturing is not always a soft concept. When we nurture our students, we sometimes tell them things that they don’t necessarily want to hear, but that we know are in their best interest. Christina Harris demonstrates her commitment to the lives of her students by pulling no punches.
The world is better because of Christina Harris.
Monday Mission, February 16, 2015
Step Sing weekend affords opportunities for many of us to reconnect with alumni and friends who visit the campus to attend one of the performances.
Step Sing weekend affords opportunities for many of us to reconnect with alumni and friends who visit the campus to attend one of the performances. The alum with the longest journey to Homewood this year was probably Meredith Toering, a 2013 graduate currently working with Morning Star Foundation in Beijing, China. The primary mission for Morning Star is to care for orphaned, abandoned, or needy children with heart disease. Gifts raised by Step Sing participants enabled Meredith to return to Beijing with $10,863, enough to provide surgery for one of the children in her care. For more information about Morning Star, visit http://morningstarproject.org.
The world is better because of Meredith Toering and the Samford students who helped to save a life.
Monday Mission, February 9, 2015
At a meeting a few days ago in Washington, DC, I heard David Coleman, President of the College Board, reflect on the value—and the demise in so much of higher education—of what he characterized as “productive solitude.”
At a meeting a few days ago in Washington, DC, I heard David Coleman, President of the College Board, reflect on the value—and the demise in so much of higher education—of what he characterized as “productive solitude.” Writing this message at an early hour, looking across a serene campus, I’m heartened by the fact that Samford is a place where productive solitude may still be found, and even cherished. Ideas and understanding come to many of us in quiet moments. Even on the first day of the week of Step Sing, I’m in awe of the silent majesty of this place.
The world is better because productive solitude may still be found at Samford.
Monday Mission, February 2, 2015
The purpose of the American Journalism Historians Association (AJHA) is to "advance education and research in mass communications history
The purpose of the American Journalism Historians Association (AJHA) is to "advance education and research in mass communications history." At last weekend's southeast symposium of the AJHA, Samford swept the top two awards in the category of undergraduate research, with Bailey Fuqua placing first and Rachel Stanback placing second. Following the presentation, Bailey and Rachel were quick to thank faculty member Julie Williams for her assistance in preparing them for the event.
The world is better because of Samford's emphasis on undergraduate scholarship.
Monday Mission, January 5, 2015
Last month we hosted Rev. Howard Golden and his family and friends on campus to celebrate his service through a program now known as the Ministry Training Institute.
Last month we hosted Rev. Howard Golden and his family and friends on campus to celebrate his service through a program now known as the Ministry Training Institute. When Rev. Golden began teaching courses in the program almost 60 years ago it was called the “Howard Extension Division,” which was created to expand the base of theological education throughout Alabama. Rev. Golden’s efforts in recent years have focused on offering courses to inmates at prisons in the state, and his ministry has touched hundreds of lives at the Staton and Draper correctional facilities in Elmore County.
The world is better because of Howard Golden.