Posted by William Nunnelley on 2003-10-21

Samford University will pause Friday, Oct. 24, to remember a man described as "a titanic figure" in its history: Ralph Waldo Beeson.

The man for whom Samford's Beeson Divinity School and various campus structures are named was born Oct. 24, 1900, and died Oct. 15, 1990, nine days short of his 90th birthday. Samford observes that birthday each fall as Ralph Waldo Beeson Day on campus.

Following Beeson's death, Samford President Thomas E. Corts called him "a titanic figure in the history of Samford University," adding, "All that Mr. Beeson did, he did out of a sense of profound Christian stewardship."

Beeson supported Samford generously during his lifetime and at his death, left the school an estate gift of $54.8 million. At the time, it was the largest charitable gift in Alabama history and one of the largest to an American university. He and his family donated well over $100 million to Samford in all.

Beeson's statue sits on a park bench at the entrance to Centennial Walk at Samford. On Friday, a wreath at the site will pay tribute to his memory.


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 3rd nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.