Published on January 30, 2013 by Mary Wimberley  

Howard College of Arts and Sciences professors H. Hugh Floyd and Penny Long Marler received top university awards at the school's opening convocation of the 2013 spring semester Tuesday, Jan. 29.

Dr. Marler, who has taught in the religion department since 1993, received the George Macon Memorial Award for outstanding performance as a teacher and counselor, and who as a friend to students demonstrates the ability to inspire greatness.

Dr. Floyd, sociology department chair since 1993, received the Jennings B. Marshall Service Award for significant and sustained service contributions to the university.

Samford provost Dr. Brad Creed presented the awards during the convocation program in Wright Center.

Creed noted Marler's nationally known research on church attendance that has influenced both the sociological understanding of religion and policymaking in religious denominations, and her expertise on the changing role of women in churches. She was instrumental in writing proposals that resulted in a $2 million Lilly endowment grant to establish Samford's Resource Center for Pastoral Excellence.

Marler's strong mentoring relationships are a hallmark of her work, said Creed, and through her thoughtful guidance students have entered vocational ministry, been accepted to graduate school, and followed careers in social work and other care-giving ministries.

She has been the ear that listens and the shoulder to cry on for many students during times of spiritual crisis. And she is the one they want to contact first whenever they had breakthroughs or achievement milestones in their careers.

"Her greatest legacy will not be her titles or publications, but the hundreds of students who have been touched by her life," said Creed.

Marler holds a bachelor's degree from Auburn University, master's and Ph.D. degrees from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a master's in social work from University of Louisville.

Creed cited Floyd for his dedicated efforts toward ensuring learning and freedom of inquiry in the classroom. He has been a longtime member of the university curriculum committee, university faculty senate, and the Alabama Academy of Sciences' local arrangements committee. He has been president or vice president of the Samford chapter of the American Association of University Professors since 1994, and a member of the environmental management advisory committee.

Integrity, honesty, justice and a commitment to diversity are the core values that make Floyd a respected college and professor, said Creed, noting the professor's work on the Alabama Poverty Project and involvement in the grant proposal for the Resource Center for Pastoral Excellence.

"As a sociologist, he has spent a lifetime studying the way humans work together to achieve common goals," said Creed. The Jennings Marshall award, he noted, recognizes that Floyd "has also been willing to put that knowledge to work for the betterment of his university and the greater community."

Floyd holds a bachelor's degree from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas, and a Ph.D. from the University of Georgia.

The George Macon award is named for a 19th century professor who graduated from and taught at Samford when it was Howard College. The Jennings B. Marshall award is named for the veteran business professor and faculty leader who has taught at Samford since 1987. 

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.