Published on February 21, 2018  
Timothy George with the Grahams small
Dean Timothy George pictured with Billy Graham (left) and Ruth Graham (right)

Evangelist Billy Graham died today at the age of 99. Timothy George, founding dean of Beeson Divinity School, and Frank Thielman, Beeson's Presbyterian Chair of Divinity, remember Billy Graham and pay tribute to his life and ministry today on

Lyle Dorsett, Beeson's Billy Graham Chair of Evangelism, also remembers Graham after meeting him in the early 1980s at a Billy Graham school of evangelism. 

"He was a great preaching evangelist, but he always saw to it that when people came forward at his crusades that there would be a church that followed up and discipled them," he said. "He understood that we are called to make disciples to Jesus Christ not simply converts."

Dorsett added that Graham was a great inspiration to him as he began his own ministry. 

"I feel that I personally don't deserve to carry this man's luggage. So to be the professor in the chair that is named for him is the greatest honor and privilege in my whole academic career."

The late Lewis A. Drummond, former evangelism professor in residence at the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove in Asheville, was the first person to hold Beeson's Billy Graham Chair of Evangelism prior to Dorsett.

The Graham family also had multiple connections with Samford University through the years, and several family members spoke on campus. A grandson of Billy and Ruth Graham, Basyle "Boz" Johnathon Tchividjian, is a 1993 graduate of Samford’s Cumberland School of Law. Another Samford alumnus, Wayne Atcheson, is director of the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina, where Graham will be buried next to his wife. Will Graham, another grandson of Billy and Ruth, spoke at Beeson Divinity's Pastors School in 2008.

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.