Posted by William Nunnelley on 2005-09-28

Samford University will dedicate the Boyd E. Christenberry Planetarium during annual Family Weekend Saturday, Oct. 8. The planetarium was completed in 2001 as part of Samford's Sciencenter project and named for Christenberry by the Samford board of trustees earlier this year.

Samford President Thomas E. Corts and planetarium Director George E. Atchley will speak during the 11 a.m. dedication program in the planetarium.

Christenberry, a Montgomery resident, retired in 1993 after a distinguished career with Alfa Insurance Company and its predecessor, Alabama Farm Bureau. He was executive vice president for marketing at the time of his retirement.

A civic leader and active member of First Baptist Church of Montgomery, Christenberry has served on the Samford board of trustees since 1978 and is now a lifetime member. He was chairman of the board from 1998 until 2002.

A native of Perry County, Christenberry was reared on a farm by sharecropper parents. He graduated from Auburn University in 1950 after service in the U.S. Army, and began working for Alabama Farm Bureau in 1956.

Christenberry and his wife of 54 years, Sara, have five adult children and 17 grandchildren.

The Samford planetarium is the largest at a teaching institution in Alabama. It offers unidirectional seating for 100 people and provides central focus on a tilted 40-foot dome. A 200-degree panorama projection system is supported with state-of-the-art surround audio. The advanced optomechanical System 1024 Star Projector reproduces the night sky with accuracy and fidelity.

There are fewer than six planetariums like the Samford facility in the United States, according to Atchley.


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 37th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 97th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,758 students from 48 states and 22 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.