Published on August 17, 2020 by Morgan Black
In a virtual commencement event on Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020, beloved Cumberland School of Law professor T. Brad Bishop ’61, J.D. ’71, delivered a heart-warming message to the class of 2020.
Bishop began, “No one needs reminding of the coronavirus pandemic, but we all could profit from Bear Bryant’s words, ‘When the going gets tough, the tough get going.’”
Bishop, who has been a part of 57 live graduation speeches, 53 of which have been as a Samford University and Cumberland faculty member, he mentioned that he could not think of one speech that was truly memorable. Most speeches, he recalled, were focused on the speaker’s goal of advising graduates on what to expect as members of the legal profession.
The goal of his address, however, was to motivate the class to live a happy life and to be successful while doing it.
He went on to share several words of wisdom from others which he said have had a major impact on his life.
The first of his “words to live by” that he read was a poem by Lloyd Shearer, “A Guide to a Happy Life.” Then, he shared a quote by President Calvin Coolidge, “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not: unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”
His final words to live by were from Robert J. Hastings’ poem “The Station,” which concludes with these lines:
So, stop pacing the aisle and counting the miles.
Instead climb more mountains,
Eat more ice cream,
Go barefoot more often,
Swim more rivers,
Watch more sunsets,
Life must be lived as we go along.
The station will come soon enough.
Each year during commencement, Cumberland School of Law recognizes a graduating student who best exemplifies the high standards of ethics and professionalism expected of members of the legal profession. During the virtual ceremony, Dean Henry C. “Corky” Strickland recognized the 2020 recipient of the Daniel Austin Brewer Professionalism Award, Brooke L. Messina.
Strickland also honored retiring faculty members, Tom Stone and Deborah Young, whom he said have been “pillars of the law school for decades.”
Mason Bunn, president of Cumberland’s class of 2020, also addressed the class. In summary he said, “The legal profession is all about relationships, and that is what Cumberland School of Law has taught us well. The memories and relationships will last a lifetime. The class of 2020 will enter the legal profession at a time when our skills are needed more than ever. While I know that it is a challenging time for everyone, I have no doubt that our class will stand out for their resilience and determination. This generation of Cumberland lawyers will undoubtedly be one of the best in Cumberland’s 173-year history. I look forward to watching what, I know, will be some remarkable careers. Cumberland School of Law, thank you for the opportunities you afforded the class of 2020 in our time here as students. Now let us go forth and make you proud!”
The names of each graduate were read, and 132 Juris Doctors were conferred by Samford University President Andrew Westmoreland and Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs J. Michael Hardin.
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. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 66th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 104th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,683 students from 47 states and 19 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.