Published on May 10, 2019 by Morgan Black  
Dean Finch Commencement 2019 small

Samford University’s Brock School of Business held its spring 2019 commencement ceremony May 10 in the Leslie Stephen Wright Fine Arts Center. The ceremony was one of seven this spring being held by Samford. 

Brock School of Business conferred more than 160 undergraduate and graduate degree recipients during the ceremony.

Jeremy Thornton, professor of economics and the Dwight Moody Beeson chair of business, led the commencement processional as the mace bearer. Mackenzie Fazenbaker, an accounting graduate from Franklin, Tennessee, provided the invocation.

James Hornsby, outgoing Student Government Association (SGA) president and a finance graduate from Birmingham, read a passage of scripture chosen from Psalm 118:24, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

University President Andrew Westmoreland then gave a welcome to the graduates and their families. “We recognize the Brock School of Business class of 2019 as they join this remarkable heritage,” Westmoreland said. “When this ceremony ends, a new covenant will exist between you and Samford. This will be your alma mater for all time to come.”

Following music by Samford’s A Cappella Choir, Westmoreland proceeded to introduce the featured speaker, Dean J. Howard Finch. After serving as Brock School of Business’ dean for eight years, Finch will assume the role of Samford’s senior associate provost July 1.

Finch began, “Well, it is truly a wonderful day. Let me take this opportunity to congratulate each of you on earning your respective degrees. It has been a privilege for those of us from the faculty, staff and administration of Brock School of Business and Samford University to be an important part of your formal education. We are proud of you!”

After addressing decisions, responsibilities and upcoming changes in the graduates’ lives, in addition to things that will be out of their control, Finch emphasized the factors that they will be able to control—their attitude and their anchor.

“Things are going to happen for which you are not prepared, people are going to say things you do not like, and things will occur which you will prefer not to have happened. All you can do is manage how you react,” he said. “You may have heard it said that one of the most wonderful things about the education you have earned is that no one can take it away from you; that is also is true of your attitude.”

In regards to attitude, Finch quoted well-known Baptist pastor, Charles Swindoll. “Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think, say or do. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we embrace for that day. We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it.” 

Finch continued to emphasize how the graduates can stay positive as they move forward and live out their adventures ahead.

“The answer is your anchor, which is inscribed on the gates of Samford’s main campus entrance from chapter 22 of Matthew’s gospel,” Finch stated. “In response to the question of what commandments are the greatest, Jesus said we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. This is your anchor, straight from scripture, reinforced through your Samford experience.” 

Finch closed, “Today as you begin the rest of your lives, your graduation gift is the love of the faculty, staff and administration of this great institution. You will always be part of the Bulldog family. This is the strategic plan for your future success: Keep a positive attitude regardless of circumstances, keep the love of God as your anchor at all times, and let your treatment of others reflect the love of Christ. Good luck and God bless.”

Following the address, the presentation and conferring of degrees was provided by Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs J. Michael Hardin and Westmoreland, respectively. Associate dean and Brock family chair in entrepreneurship Chad Carson and assistant dean, Barbara Cartledge assisted in the hooding of the master’s recipients. Beginning July 1, Carson will become the school’s interim dean and Cartledge will take on the role of senior assistant dean. Additionally, Thornton will assume the role of associate dean currently held by Carson.

Mitchell McEver, a finance graduate from Dallas, Georgia, then provided a charge to the class of 2019, beginning with the recognition of families, friends, faculty and staff for their time, kindness and patience that brought the class to where they are today.

After referencing the “My Samford Story” university marketing campaign from a few years ago, McEver mentioned he did not really care for the phrase and thought that he would step into college living life as he always had, one day at a time. He added that what he did not expect of his college experience was to learn the value of a great story, which was conveyed to him in the small things at Samford.

In closing, McEver shared, “My hope and prayer for our class is much bigger than just finding and relishing good stories, and that with the great story of Christianity—of Jesus of himself—that we would realize and remember that we can never exhaust its wonder. That we would return to it day in and day out. Knowing the Word of God is living and active, rejoicing that, despite our brokenness, Christ died and was raised so that we may be reconciled to the Father and have a true and lasting hope. And by graduating from the top school in Alabama, we can proudly walk into our careers with knowledge and confidence in our skills. Still, even better, we can walk in with the irrepressible hope of Jesus Christ, the gift of hope we can bring into every meeting, business trip, and email. We are headed to places and subcultures full of people desperate for a great story. And we have a chance to share one with them, by the way we live our lives. That they may know that hope we have in Christ. And I have no doubt that, by the Lord’s strength, He will empower us for the task. And that the Lord, the great author, will continue weaving the story of the world and its redemption through you and I.”

Reginald Harris, assistant professor of management, provided the benediction.

Prior to commencement, Brock School of Business held its annual senior awards ceremony. Numerous awards were issued to graduating seniors, and scholarships were given for those students going on to participate in Samford’s Master of Accountancy program. Awards given to students of overall distinction included:

Outstanding Economics Senior: Moriah Stice, Sycamore, Illinois

Outstanding Finance Senior: Kyle Stuart, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Outstanding Management Senior: Teya Lonquist, Pensacola, Florida

Outstanding Marketing Senior: Berkley Bryan, Alpharetta, Georgia

Outstanding Entrepreneurship Senior: Ashley Steiner, Birmingham, Alabama

Outstanding Accounting Senior/Alabama Society of Certified Public Accountants Award: Kyle Church, Colleyville, Texas

Outstanding Sports Marketing (concentration) Senior: Brooke Jenkins, marketing major, Houston, Texas

Outstanding Professional Sales (concentration) Senior: Brooke Adams, marketing major, Norcross, Georgia

Outstanding Social Entrepreneurship (concentration) Senior: Jackson Core, finance major, Oviedo, Florida

Distinguished Service Awards were given to Kayleigh Hudson (Brock Scholar, Moulton, Alabama), Emerson Brooks (economics and finance major, Madison, Alabama), Berkley Bryan (finance major, Alpharetta, Georgia) and Shelby Collins (economics major, Midland, Texas). Roos van der Zwaan (finance major, South Holland, Netherlands) received the Outstanding International Student Award.

Rhys Miller (accounting major, Chattanooga, Tennessee) and Peyton Welch (Brock Scholar, Slidell, Louisiana) were recognized for Outstanding Academic Achievement, James Hornsby (finance major, Birmingham, Alabama) received the Faculty Student of Distinction Award, and Mollie Master (entrepreneurship major, Rockwall, Texas) was honored with the John C. Pittman Award.

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.