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Monday Mission, November 30, 2020

When we concluded instruction last Tuesday, it was also the last day of teaching for a valued friend and colleague, Dr. Jennings Marshall, who announced his plans for retirement earlier this year.

Jennings joined the Samford faculty 35 years ago and quickly developed a reputation among his students for excellent teaching—and a reputation among his colleagues for fairness, hard work and good humor.  In fact, our annual award for faculty service, created in 2010, is named in honor of Jennings.  Through his 35 years of association with Samford, he mentored faculty and administrators (including me) in the cherished practice of shared governance.

For several years, Jennings and I taught 8 a.m. classes across the hall from each other in Dwight Beeson Hall.  Among my treasured memories at Samford is the sound of his distinctive voice, carrying across that hallway as he explained probability to another group of undergraduate business students—as enthusiastic as if he had just encountered the concept himself.

The world is better because Jennings Marshall planted himself at Samford 35 years ago. 

Monday Mission, November 23, 2020

Dr. Lisa Baker is the chair of our Department of Social Work in the School of Public Health.

She visited with me for a few minutes last week to provide an update as we approach an accreditation site visit from the Council of Social Work Education.  I was heartened by much of what Dr. Baker said to me about our program and our people, but I was especially grateful when she mentioned a key element that we reinforce in the minds of our students who are preparing for careers in social work:  “when you are with a family, you are standing on sacred ground.” 

Across our many academic disciplines at Samford, the members of our faculty are preparing students for the sacred ground in which they interact with the public.  I’m honored to be associated with so many good people.

The world is better because of a vibrant program in social work at Samford University.

Monday Mission, November 9, 2020

Last Monday I wrote of the success of two of our faculty members, Jeff Flaniken and Joel Davis.

Within minutes of sending the message, I heard from one of our alums, Keith Kirkland, expressing his deep appreciation for Joel.  I forwarded Keith’s message to Joel, who replied that Keith had played an extraordinary role in his life, serving as his fourth-grade Sunday School teacher and mentor—and his association with Keith influenced Joel’s decision to attend Samford as an undergraduate. 

Keith Kirkland is one of Samford’s most loyal graduates.  Keith and his wife, Sarah, have sent their daughters to Samford, participated in dozens (perhaps hundreds!) of Samford programs over the years and offered tremendous encouragement to many of us on the campus.  Approximately 40 members of Keith’s extended family have attended Samford.     

As Joel said in his message to me last week, “the world is better because of Keith Kirkland.”  I agree!

Monday Mission, November 2, 2020

A few days ago we learned that Joel Davis and Jeffrey Flaniken, associate professors in our School of the Arts...

...were named as finalists for the Arlin G. Meyer Prize in Musical Performance, sponsored through the Lilly Fellows Program.  The honor was based on their collaboration in presenting the Samford String Quartet’s 2017 live performance of “Antiphons-Benedictions” from Joel’s String Quartet No. 1:  Vespers.  The piece, incidentally, was commissioned by our friends Wilton and Vicki Bunch. 

The world is better because of Joel, Jeff, Vicki, Wilton—and all those who support the arts at Samford.

Monday Mission, October 26, 2020

Perhaps you don’t know a Samford employee named Terry Windsor, but her support has been a lifeline over the years as Jeanna and I have hosted guests in the president’s home.

Terry is the housekeeper, working long hours to maintain the home so that it is ready for the next event.  With more than 9,000 guests through the house on an annual basis, Terry’s role is essential.  Jeanna and I regret very much that she will be retiring in a few days.  Terry has earned our undying gratitude.

The world is better because of Terry Windsor.

Monday Mission, October 19, 2020

Throughout the past 15 years, one person has done more to advance Samford’s mission than anyone I know.

No, it’s not me. It is Jeanna Westmoreland, my wife, and today is her birthday. Her untiring efforts to host thousands of people in our home and on campus, the volunteering of her time for dozens of worthwhile causes, her efforts to promote the raising of funds for scholarships through the Legacy League, the classes she has volunteered to teach . . . all these things and many more prompt me to ask you to join in celebrating her today. And no, I haven’t yet bought her a birthday gift, but I’ll get it done before nightfall.

The world is better because of Jeanna Westmoreland.

Monday Mission, October 12, 2020

I promise I wasn’t eavesdropping while walking through the University Center last week;

I just couldn’t help overhearing this comment from one student to another:  “I knew she was having a bad day so I just called her and listened for a while.”  I don’t know if the person having a bad day was a friend or a mom or a sister or someone else within the student’s circle relationships.  Somewhere in the world, a person’s day was made a little better because a Samford student “listened for a while.”

The world is better when we stop to listen.

Monday Mission, October 5, 2020

I learned last week from Ramona Albin, Director of Advocacy Programs for our Cumberland School of Law, that our National Trial Team was ranked third in the nation for the 2019-20 academic year in the National Trial Competition Performance Rankings.

Cumberland has held this position since 2016.  As Ramona said in her message, “The hard work, competence, and professionalism of our national trial team members, coaches and faculty are responsible for this outstanding achievement.”  Well done, Cumberland!   

The world is better because of the Cumberland School of Law.

Monday Mission, September 28, 2020

A few days ago, it was just another weekend in the virtual exploits of the members of the Samford debate team, participating in their season-opening competition, hosted by Northwestern University.

Fighting their way to 16th seed, our Samford students defeated teams from Georgetown and Harvard, among others.  Read all about it here:  https://www.samford.edu/arts-and-sciences/news/2020/Samford-Debaters-Advance-at-Virtual-Season-Opener.

The world is better because Samford students learn how to think—and speak—on their feet.  Not a bad skill, regardless of professional calling.

Monday Mission, September 21, 2020

Good, bad or otherwise, higher education is obsessed with metrics these days.

 It is what it is.  One number worth remembering and repeating:  86 percent of our classes this fall are taught either fully or substantially in person.  What a tribute to the members of our faculty! 

The world is better because of the persistence and creativity of the members of the Samford faculty.

Monday Mission, September 14, 2020

The 2021 US News college rankings were released overnight.

In the most recent reshuffle of universities within categories (a couple of years ago) Samford was recognized as a “national university.”  This year our ranking is 143; last year it was 147.  Samford received additional recognition as #86 in “best value” in the national university category.  In the highly competitive marketplace of universities, Samford steadily rises.  We should be pleased with these accomplishments.

As important as rankings may be to external audiences, I’m grateful that our people—faculty, staff, students—engage each day in the ongoing pursuit of teaching and learning, with comparatively little regard for external validation.  By keeping our focus on matters of importance, our reputation gains credibility.

The world is better because Samford people tend not to “worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”

Monday Mission, September 7, 2020

An e-mail message from the parent of a new student, quoting his daughter:

“I wanted to tell you about my Cultural Perspectives class. I can’t stop tearing up because our professor prayed for our class . . .”

The world is better because of the audible and silent prayers of Samford faculty and staff.

Monday Mission, August 30, 2020

During these days I think we are more aware of the efforts of our food service and cleaning personnel.

Their routines are vastly different as a result of COVID-19, yet they are finding ways each day of accomplishing their very challenging tasks.  And while many of us struggle with simply speaking through our masks, they have the additional burden of the physical effort required in the normal performance of their duties.  While we rely on partnerships with companies outside Samford for these services, these men and women are part of our Samford family.  They are vital to our safety, our happiness and the fulfillment of Samford’s mission.

Perhaps you would like to speak a word of support or write a note today to thank them for their service.

The world is better because of the individuals who support Samford through preparing our meals and cleaning our facilities.

Monday Mission, August 24, 2020

We had hoped last spring to celebrate—in grand fashion—the retirement of Dr. Nena Sanders,

longtime dean of the Ida Moffett School of Nursing and vice provost for the College of Health Science, but our plans, like so many other elements of campus life, were delayed due to the challenges of COVID-19.  Few people over the past 25 years have had as much impact on health care education in the State of Alabama as Dr. Sanders.  Tuesday’s opening convocation, offered virtually this year, will provide us an opportunity to thank Dr. Sanders for her faithful and effective service to Samford and to our students.

The world is better because of Dr. Nena Sanders.

Monday Mission, August 17, 2020

Our Orlean Beeson School of Education received the great news last Friday that Dr. Andrew Jackson, a fourth grade teacher in the Pell City School System, has been named the 2020-21 Alabama Teacher of the Year.

Dr. Jackson received his undergraduate degree from Samford in 2009.  In his response to the news of the honor, Dr. Jackson said, “True learning requires perseverance, problem-solving and personal connection.”  I’m guessing that those qualities were reinforced for Dr. Jackson during his years of association with the members of our faculty.

The world is better because Dr. Andrew Jackson, Alabama’s Teacher of the Year.

Monday Mission, August 10, 2020

Bonnie Bolding, our Samford graduate and friend, died a few days ago after a long illness.

She possessed an irrepressible spark of vitality and lived each moment to the fullest.  If the world is indeed a stage, Bonnie would inhabit the spotlight.  After graduating from Samford in 1955, she headed to Hollywood and appeared in television and movies.  She moved on to New York and became a Wall Street stockbroker, one of the first women to earn a seat on the exchange. It was in New York that she met and married John Swearingen, the CEO of Standard Oil of Indiana (now BP America). Bonnie also devoted her time to significant civic and philanthropic causes. Many leaders of industry, politics and society—including several U.S. presidents—knew Bonnie as a friend.

One vignette.  The first time that Jeanna and I met Bonnie was soon after our arrival at Samford in 2006, when we hosted a small dinner party in her honor.  Over dessert, and as the room was quiet, she looked at us and said to Jeanna, “Did he kiss you on the first date?”  You’ll have to ask Jeanna how she responded.

Bonnie never forgot Samford.  She loved this university, its campus and its people.  We give thanks for the legacy of Bonnie’s remarkable life. 

The world is better because of Bonnie Bolding, who taught us that each day of life is a cause for joy.

Monday Mission, August 3, 2020

Dr. Quentin Lee is the Principal of Childersburg High School, a gifted teacher and musician, a loving husband and father, with a master’s degree and a doctoral degree from Samford’s Orlean Beeson School of Education.

He’s also an Internet sensation.  If you haven’t already watched the video he prepared to help his students understand the importance of health and safety as schools reopen in a few days, it is worth your time:  https://youtu.be/oeAN8Xxz0q4.

The world is better because of Dr. Lee and the thousands of educators who have earned degrees through the Orlean Beeson School of Education.

 

Monday Mission, July 27, 2020

For pure joy, watch this brief video, posted last week through Samford’s social media outlets to celebrate Steve Knight’s fiftieth anniversary of admission to the Guild of Carillonneurs of North America.

Steve is, of course, OUR carillonneur.  The video also gives us a backstage look at one of the most mysterious places on campus, the Belltower. 

https://www.instagram.com/p/CC3YQmLhzJd/?igshid=m2gl71t5u4c9

The world is better because of Steve Knight.

Monday Mission, July 20, 2020

Sometimes a little encouragement goes a very long way.

Here’s one sentence from a message I received this weekend from a Samford parent, with sentiment expressed to each member of our faculty and staff:  “You are loved and appreciated far more than you know.”

And alongside these words from a parent, take note this morning of Ecclesiastes 8:15:  “So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad.  Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.”

In these days of elusive answers to enigmatic questions, to be still for a moment, to recognize friendships and to contemplate simple joys . . . we find the tranquility and resolve to take the next step.

The world is better because of friendships we find through association with Samford.

Monday Mission, June 15, 2020

A few days ago, faculty from our Orlean Beeson School of Education and the Hope Institute joined colleagues from the University of Tennessee Knoxville, the University of Alabama and Lipscomb University to sponsor an event called “Character Convening.”

 The sessions enabled faculty from the institutions to discuss current research and practice of character education at colleges and universities.  Samford is at the forefront of these discussions.  You may read about the conference here: https://www.samford.edu/education/news/2020/School-of-Education-Co-sponsors-First-Ever-Character-Convening-in-Higher-Education

The world is better because of the character-building work of our Samford faculty.

Monday Mission, May 18, 2020

From Paige Mathis, who oversees our academic services for student-athletes:

our overall grade point averages for student-athletes for Spring 2020 were the highest on record, with 211 students earning GPAs between 3.0 and 3.99 and 54 students earning GPAs of 4.0.

The world is better because of the hard work of our students, faculty and academic support personnel.

Monday Mission, May 11, 2020

So many stories have accumulated in my mind over the past two months that it is impossible to retrieve just one to illustrate the interaction of our faculty and students during a period that might be characterized as both our greatest challenge and our greatest victory.

One line, however, stands out and I regret that I can’t readily find the source.  But I remember the line.  One of our students, struggling, said of one of her faculty members, “She just won’t let me quit.”

Praise God for students and faculty and staff members and families and friends that just won’t quit—and that do all they can within their circles of influence to prevent others from quitting, as well. 

The world is better because of the resolve of Samford people.

Monday Mission, May 4, 2020

Our story is told today through the voices of Samford’s A Cappella Alumni Choir:

https://www.facebook.com/106549467711246/videos/232860921253953/

The world is better because of the presence in our lives of a Beautiful Savior.

Monday Mission, April 6, 2020

On April 5, 1884, 136 years ago yesterday, the meager assets of Howard College (which became Samford University in the 1960s) were auctioned from the steps of the Perry County Courthouse as the college faced financial ruin.

 Two trustees, J. B. Lovelace and W. W. Wilkerson, purchased the assets at auction and returned them to the Board of Trustees, securing the institution’s survival.

We have seen hard times before.  We’ll see hard times again.   

The world is better because of the grit of Samford people.

Monday Mission, March 30, 2020

Even as we maintain hope, challenges abound—and reports come to us daily of the circumstances of our families.

Last night I learned of one of our students, residing outside Alabama, who arrived home a few days ago to find her mother, father and brother seriously ill.  She is taking care of the entire household while keeping up with her courses.  So far, she has remained healthy.  One of the student’s friends said this about her:

Her faithfulness to God is getting her through this hard time.  She told me yesterday that her prayer for this spring semester was for God to reveal himself more to her.  Looks like He has been doing that every day!

The world is better because God is bigger than our present circumstances.  Look up, be smart, practice discipline, remain compassionate.  Be Samford.

Monday Mission, March 23, 2020

Like many of us, Dave Luthin of our pharmacy faculty was having problems with molasses-like speed on the Internet at home.

He talked with Joe Zellner, instructional designer from our Office of Online and Professional Studies.  Knowing where Dave lives, Joe recommended an area with free wifi, with 43.95 Mbps for downloads and 10.36 Mbps for uploads.  Boom!  How did Joe come across this information?  “I had to try three different spots before I could connect.  Finally succeeded in a rear lot about 50 feet from the building, near a bank of windows.” 

Dave added, “we will get through this with folks like Joe Zellner willing to go the extra mile to help us succeed.”

The world is better because of all the people—that would be each of us—finding the ways to “get through this.”

Monday Mission, March 16, 2020

Philippians 4:12-13 . . .

“I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound.  In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

We can do this, Samford.

The world is better because of Samford people, past, present and future.  To God be the glory.

Monday Mission, March 2, 2020

When discussing university rankings I always begin my commentary by saying, “there are many ways to evaluate the worth of a university . . .”

So I’ll begin this “Monday Mission” by saying, again, that there are many ways to evaluate the worth of a university . . . but College Consensus has recently named the online MBA from our Brock School of Business as the top online MBA program among Christian-related universities in the United States.  Other programs at strong universities are listed, as well.  Congratulations to Interim Dean Chad Carson and our outstanding faculty and staff for achieving this recognition.  You may read our news release here:  https://www.samford.edu/business/news/2020/Brock-School-of-Business-Ranked-Number-1-by-College-Consensus-for-Best-Christian-Online-MBA-Program.

The world is better because of the competence of our people and programs.

Monday Mission, February 24, 2020

Along with Beeson Divinity School students and faculty and friends from the community,

Jeanna and I attended a standing-room-only session last Friday afternoon, listening to Dr. Robert Smith, Charles T. Carter Baptist Chair of Divinity, speak about the elements of sermon preparation.  He initiates the process by reading the biblical text at least 50 times.  Next he fills notebooks with his own questions and thoughts, preparing himself intellectually and spiritually to “have conversations” with commentaries and scholarly articles.  Only then does he “begin” the composition of the sermon.  In the case of Dr. Smith, I suppose a 40-minute sermon must consume 80 hours of study . . . and a lifetime of preparation. 

The world is better because of the discipline, intellect and spirit of Dr. Robert Smith.

Monday Mission, February 17, 2020

Ramona Albin, Assistant Professor and Director of Advocacy Programs for our Cumberland School of Law, sent this message earlier today:

Cumberland's National Trial Team swept Region 6 of the National Trial Competition (NTC) with each team winning their final round and advancing to the nationals in Fort Worth, Texas in April. Each team went 5-0 on their way to winning the championship. This is the ninth time in the past twelve years that a Cumberland team has won the NTC regional championship and the fourth time Cumberland has swept the regionals in that time period, for a total of thirteen teams advancing to nationals in twelve years. 

The world is better because Samford is helping great people to become great lawyers.

Monday Mission, February 10, 2020

Jonathan Den Hartog is just past the mid-point of his first year at Samford—as Chair of our Department of History—

 and his recent book, Disestablishment and Religious Dissent: Church-State Relations in the New American States, 1776-1833, is already receiving strong reviews. Jonathan co-edited the book, a collection of 21 essays, with Carl Esbeck, Professor Emeritus of Law at the University of Missouri School of Law.  According to John R. Vile of The Free Speech Center, “Esbeck and Den Hartog have conceived and charted, and multiple contributors have delivered, a finely executed volume on individual church-state relations in the nation’s first 50 years and beyond.  It is likely to become the standard work on the subject and a provocative source for further research and reflection.”  

The world is better because of the scholarship of Samford’s faculty.

Monday Mission, February 3, 2020

Step Sing? Yes, it is that time of year.

While we are very much aware of the shows themselves and the amount of time they require, we are usually unaware of the co-curricular aspects of the production.  Remy Garfield, Creative Producer with our Media Center, sent me this message last week:

I just wanted to send a quick note saying how excited I am to produce the livestream of Step Sing again this year, especially the opportunity to be streaming the show on Apple TV. Of the past three years I have been involved with the production team, we add new elements each year to increase the production value step by step. It's an amazing opportunity for students like myself to work on such high quality productions and streaming on such well known platforms gives us a leg up in the competitive workforce.

Remy closed his message with, “always proud to be a Samford Bulldog.”  Good luck to Remy (and more than 1,000 other students) as they bring Step Sing to life and livestream this week.

The world is better because of the creativity of Samford students.

Monday Mission, January 13, 2020

Good news on a January morning: our students won the Musical Theatre Division at the National Opera Association Annual Conference during the Opera Scenes Competition in Cleveland, Ohio.

Students competed with a scene from Into the Woods, to be performed this April at Samford.  Congratulations to Lydia Yates (musical theatre major), Grayson Johns (musical theatre major), Blake Mitchell (vocal performance), Madison Hablas (music education), and Savannah Bracewell (graduate vocal performance).  Kristin Kenning, director of our opera program and Nicholas Robertson, pianist, accompanied the group.

The world is better because of Samford’s School of the Arts and our amazing students, faculty and staff.

Monday Mission, January 6, 2020

With so many aspects of our lives tethered to electronic gadgets, a fellow at Samford named John Bandy plays a more significant role each day.

His title is Chief Information Security Officer.  I don’t know when he sleeps because he responds quickly to every inquiry from me, regardless of holidays or late hours.  John has the unenviable task of keeping our data systems as safe as possible, which usually means he is having to ask us to practice safeguards we may find cumbersome.  Not a happy assignment!  Even so, he maintains a cheerful spirit—against all odds—and he comes to work every day asking, “what is the worst thing that can happen today and what can we do to prevent it from happening?” 

The world is better because of the vigilance of John Bandy. 

Monday Mission, December 16, 2019

Audrey Bates, a senior at Samford, wrote to me a few days ago to express her appreciation for one of those thousands of nice gestures that our people do with such regularity.

Here’s Audrey’s story:

When I arrived back to Samford after Thanksgiving break, my car battery had died.  On Monday night I was attempting to jump my car (and had no idea what I was doing) with no luck; that is when the shuttle driver, Tito, drove up in the shuttle and asked if I was okay. Within the next ten minutes Tito had pushed my car out of the parking spot by himself and jumped my car for me. Tito was about to go home for the night and took the time to help me start my car in the cold, and did it all with an incredible, servant-hearted attitude. Samford is incredibly lucky to have Mr. Tito! 

By the way, if you haven’t met him, the person referenced in Audrey’s message is Tito Haire.  He’s a valued member of our shuttle-driving team and perhaps the most popular person on campus.

The world is better because of Tito Haire and the great people who take care of our students and employees, 365 days a year.  (Actually, next year it will be 366.)

Monday Mission, December 9, 2019

On May 17, 2018, Jenny Codding, a nurse anesthesia student, was seriously injured in an automobile accident.

Her injuries were severe.  Yesterday afternoon, faculty, family and friends hosted Jenny for a reception to celebrate the fact that she will graduate with her degree this Friday.

Dr. Terri Cahoon of our faculty credits Jenny’s persistence, the support of her family and friends and a host of Samford’s faculty and staff for this success story.  “James Clement and Lane Smith worked with her regarding insurance and financial concerns; Allison Maddox and Jay Flynn had roles with her alternative schedule; and Amy Snow and many clinical preceptors, especially Samford alum, Mary Beth Burrell, supported her gradual return to clinical education,” wrote Terri, adding, “Relationships and the smallest kind deeds do make a difference.”

The world is better because of Jenny Codding and her army of friends.

Monday Mission, December 2, 2019

I rely on these weekly messages to tell stories of how Samford people have, in various ways, lived out our university’s mission, core values and vision.

Over the Thanksgiving break, we lost two exemplars, men who demonstrated through their lives the values we hold dear.

Boyd Christenberry died on Thanksgiving Day, “slipping peacefully into the Lord’s arms,” as his son, Bill, said.  As a life trustee for Samford, he served in virtually every imaginable capacity, including a term as chair.  After a remarkable career of senior leadership with Alfa Insurance Corporation, his retirement years were consumed with attention to his family (especially his dear wife, Sara), his church and the other causes important to him—especially Samford.  In expecting excellence from himself and from those within his influence, he was also a world-class encourager.  He was an avid reader of these Monday morning e-mail messages.  Often, within minutes of posting a message, my phone would ring.  “Andy,” Mr. Christenberry said, “if you keep writing these messages about people who are doing good things, everyone else will want to do good things, too!”  Mr. Christenberry nurtured us in our “development of intellect, creativity, faith and personhood.”

Pat Sullivan died yesterday morning, a few hours after Auburn’s triumph over Alabama in the Iron Bowl.  If you have recently moved to Earth from another planet, you may not know that Pat was the Auburn quarterback “back in the day,” winning the Heisman Trophy in 1971.  His highly successful career included playing in the NFL and coaching assignments at Auburn, TCU, UAB and Samford.  He became our head football coach in 2006, ultimately leading his teams to more wins than any Samford football coach.  As health concerns forced his retirement from football, he began serving Samford as Special Advisor for Campus and Community Development, a role he continued until his death.  His wife, Jean, was the greatest treasure in his life.  Self-effacing, kind, competitive, listening, indefatigable, Pat was all of these qualities, and far more.  Last week, in the final text message I received from him, he was simply writing to make sure I knew of the recent success of Devlin Hodges, our Samford grad who has climbed to the top of the quarterback pile with the Pittsburgh Steelers.  “Our boy Devlin Hodges is making Samford proud,” wrote Pat.  I have no idea if Devlin knew yesterday afternoon of Pat’s death, but he led the Steelers to a 20-13 victory over the Cleveland Browns.  Pat couldn’t text me about the win this morning, but I imagine he was watching the game.  Residents of Alabama have to believe that there is a good cable sports package in Heaven.   

The world is better because of the extraordinary lives of Boyd Christenberry and Pat Sullivan.

Monday Mission, November 25, 2019

In Friday’s mail I received a handwritten note from the father of one of our undergraduate students, expressing his deep appreciation for all that his daughter is receiving at Samford.

 “Knowing she is safe and has a godly set of friends as well as mentors like . . . the education department faculty is a source of great pride and thanksgiving,” he wrote. 

I’m thankful this morning for people across the campus, including our colleagues in the Orlean Beeson School of Education, for their investment in the lives and wellbeing of our students.  

The world is better because of Samford people.

Monday Mission, November 18, 2019

This past Saturday we hosted prospective students and their families for the last Preview Day of the fall.

In the opening session, I did as I often do, calling a few current students (without warning) to the stage and then pitching questions to them.  My concluding question was, “What gives you hope?”  Grayson Hill, a senior from Cordova, Tennessee, had perhaps the most poignant reply.  I don’t have a recording of his remarks, but a close paraphrase would be along these lines:  we all struggle, and Samford is a good place for struggling.   

The world is better because of the clear, strong, humble, hopeful voice of students like Grayson Hill.

Monday Mission, November 11, 2019

After shaking hands with hundreds of our grads at Homecoming last weekend and hearing dozens of their stories, these are the thoughts that are seared into my mind this morning:

our graduates are profoundly grateful for the ways their lives were shaped at Samford—and each one of us, regardless of our title or tasks, is responsible for fulfilling the precious mission of this university.  From the two 99-year-old grads who attended the Golden Bulldog reunion to alums who returned from the Class of 2019, the connections are vibrant and eternal.

The world is better because of the ways Samford people live out the Samford mission.

Monday Mission, November 4, 2019

It is Homecoming Week at Samford.

On Friday and Saturday we’ll welcome thousands of alums and their family members and friends back to campus.  I’m reminded this morning of a recent conversation with one of those alums, chatting with me about his college experience.  He recounted his most difficult course at Samford, taught by a faculty member with high expectations.  “I never worked harder in college than in that course, and I learned more in that course than in any other,” the graduate said to me.    

The world is better because of the high expectations of the Samford faculty.