Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2004-10-19

The top executive of the million-member Southern Baptist Woman's Missionary Union and the founder of Lexmark International, Inc., have been named 2004 Alumni of the Year at Samford University.

Wanda Lee, executive director/treasurer of WMU, and Marvin Mann, chairman emeritus of Lexmark International, Inc., will be recognized during Homecoming activity Oct. 28-31. They will be honored at the annual Homecoming dinner on Friday, Oct. 29, at 6:30 p.m.

Lee is a 1969 Samford nursing graduate. She served as president of WMU from 1996 until 2000, when she was named to her current post. She is the first woman in WMU history to hold both positions. A native of Russellville, Lee has been active at all levels of WMU--church, association, state and national. Early in her career, she worked as a registered nurse in hospitals in Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama and the Windward Islands, where she and her husband, Larry, were missionaries during 1979-81. WMU, an auxiliary to the Southern Baptist Convention, employs about 115 staff members at its Birmingham headquarters and has more than a million members of all ages in Baptist churches worldwide.

"As CEO of the premier woman's missionary support organization in America, Wanda Lee applies all the sensitivity and care she learned as a nurse and nurse administrator to the promotion of missions," said Samford president Thomas E. Corts. "In our diverse world, hers is an extremely important task and she fulfills it with a warm, genuine Christian spirit."

Lee and her husband live in Shelby County. They have a daughter, Allison Lee Dearing, and a son, Matthew, both Samford graduates.

Mann, a 1954 Samford business graduate, served as chairman from Lexmark's founding in 1991 until 1999, and was chief executive officer for most of those years. Lexmark is a leading developer, manufacturer and supplier of printing solutions to consumers in offices and homes in more than 150 countries. A former IBM vice president with 32 years as an executive with the company, the Birmingham native was instrumental in the formation of Lexmark, which reached nearly $4.8 billion in revenue worldwide in 2003.

"Marvin Mann's leadership of Lexmark is legendary," said Dr. Corts. "It will likely be the substance of case studies for years to come. This understated, highly-focused man rose from Samford to the heights of business leadership, first as a top executive with IBM, and then as a world-class entrepreneur establishing Lexmark as a company and a brand. And he has done it with a keen commitment to his family, to Christian values, and to his God."

Mann and his wife, Frances, both graduates of Tarrant High School, live in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., and Cary, N.C. They have two grown children, Tara and Jeff, and two grandchildren.

Homecoming weekend events include activities for all ages, reunions, a football game and a concert by country music star Brad Paisley. Lee will be the featured speaker at a 9:30 a.m. worship service in A. Gerow Hodges Chapel on Sunday, Oct. 31. The service is the traditional closing event of Homecoming weekend. 


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.