Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2003-05-28

Honesty and integrity are the best policies to follow, both in and out of business, SouthTrust bank executive Wallace D. Malone, Jr., told Samford University graduates Saturday (MAY 24).

"The business world of the future is going to be quite different from the world in which I grew up," said Malone. "But I believe basic values will prevail as long as there is human nature."

Malone, chairman and chief executive officer of SouthTrust Corporation, spoke during Commencement activity at Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex Arena.

Samford graduated students from 26 states and six foreign nations during the day's activities, granting 455 undergraduate degrees, 140 law degrees and 200 other graduate and professional degrees.

"Keep in mind the need to use your gifts and abilities to the maximum; to cultivate a persistence that never gives in; to communicate your thoughts and listen to others' thoughts; to be yourself, instead of someone else," advised Malone, a Samford trustee and member of Mountain Brook Baptist Church.

He shared many lessons learned in almost 45 years in business. Bits of wisdom included: work hard and work smart, do more than you are paid to do, become indispensable, learn to plan ahead, be organized, be honest with yourself, be decisive and take responsibility, learn to develop timelines, surround yourself with people who are smart and bright, do a job right the first time, be a good listener, and learn to ask questions.

"If you don't understand something, ask for another explanation. What is important is that you clearly understand the how and the why," said Malone, a Dothan native.

Mark Louis McCreary of Villa Rica, Ga., received the President's Cup for the highest academic average in the senior class.

Amy Lauren Hinson of Franklin, Tenn., received the Velma Wright Irons Award as the salutatorian.

Samford provost Dr. Brad Creed announced that two Samford faculty members, divinity professor Dr. Lewis A. Drummond and law professor Carolyn Featheringill, will retire at the end of this academic year.

Dr. Drummond joined Samford's Beeson Divinity School as its first Billy Graham Professor of Evangelism and Church Growth in 1992.

Featheringill, a specialist in wills, trusts and estate planning, joined the Cumberland School of Law faculty in 1979.

On Saturday afternoon, attorney Mike Papantonio of Pensacola, Fla., spoke during Commencement for 143 Cumberland seniors at Wright Center on the Samford campus. A 1981 Cumberland graduate, he is a partner in the firm of Levin, Papantonio.

On Friday evening preceding Commencement, Baccalaureate speaker David Davenport told graduates not to be overwhelmed by numbers and statistics that describe today's world.

It is not only people of influence or power who can make a difference, said Davenport, research fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and former president of Pepperdine University in California.

He advised the graduates to not worry about moving mountains, but to plant seeds, such as faith, kindness, gentleness and joy, and let God give the increase. Davenport urged them to "be the light," in whatever role they find themselves in. "You've been given a dark and daunting world. Leave a light on."


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.