Published on December 1, 2020 by Kristen Padilla  
Robert Smith social

Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School is pleased to announce a new scholarship in honor of longtime faculty member Robert Smith Jr. for his more than 20 years at Beeson and more than 50 years of preaching God’s Word.

The Dr. Robert Smith Jr. Endowed Scholarship will provide significant tuition assistance to outstanding applicants who are called to the preaching ministry.

"Dr. Smith is one of the most respected preachers in the world, and one of the most beloved professors and mentors at Beeson,” said Beeson Divinity’s Dean Douglas A. Sweeney. “He has become a spiritual father to literally hundreds of our grads, so it is fitting that his legacy continues in part through this provision for Beeson students of the future. Gifts to the Robert Smith scholarship fund will help us train godly 'pastors who can preach' for years to come."

Smith, who has been a professor at Beeson since 1997, is a world-renowned preacher and teacher of preaching, having received the prestigious E.K. and V.M. Bailey Living Legend Award in 2017. Not one to just stay in the classroom, he has filled numerous pulpits on Sunday mornings around the nation and world. He has lectured and taught on the subject of preaching at conferences such as The Gospel Coalition, the E.K. Bailey Expository Preaching Conference and Morling College Preaching Conference in Sydney, Australia, to name a few. Smith is also the author of two books, Doctrine that Dances: Bringing Doctrinal Preaching and Teaching to Life and The Oasis of God: From Mourning to Morning.

“The Reverend Dr. Robert Smith shows us that there need not be a divide between scholarship and the preaching of the gospel. God, through him, has enriched his church and numerous preachers to do the same,” said Ralph D. West, senior pastor of the Church Without Walls in Houston, Texas, and co-chair of the scholarship steering committee. “This scholarship is properly given in Dr. Smith’s name. Through it, many more students will be able to take on Dr. Smith’s model.”

Sixth Avenue Baptist Church and Dawson Memorial Baptist Church, both of Birmingham, have made lead gifts to fund the scholarship. The school’s goal is to fully endow the scholarship at $500,000.

Fellow co-chair of the scholarship steering committee and Beeson alumna, Victoria Gaston, gave thanks for the provision of these two churches to establish a scholarship in Smith's name for those who are called to preach God's Word.

"The esteemed ministry of the Reverend Dr. Robert Smith Jr. is a reflection of what he writes, 'The preacher who handles the Word must be touched by the Word,' said Gaston. "He is a witness of one who runs the race given to him in the passion of Christ with doxological eschatological joy. May students who receive this scholarship seek to be a faithful witness of the living God."
Smith said he feels overwhelmed that anything would be put in his name.

“I want the scholarship to reflect God’s glory," he said. "If the scholarship can promote the cause of Christ through the gospel, I’d just be so grateful. I want the scholarship to be an instrument to equip people who can edify the church.”

Congregations or individuals who have benefitted from Smith’s preaching ministry and want to give to this scholarship can contact senior advancement officer Gary Fenton at or send a check to Fenton’s attention at 800 Lakeshore Drive Birmingham, Alabama 35229. Gifts also can be made online.

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.