Published on October 4, 2006 by Mary Wimberley  

Jane Hollock Brock Hall opened at Samford University Tuesday, Oct. 3, with a dedication ceremony and a recital showcasing the school's performing arts program that will call the building home.

"Every now and then it may happen that you have an opportunity to be a part of something really special," said the building's namesake during the ceremony. "This evening, this building, is for me, that very special something."

At the ceremony, Samford president Dr. Andrew Westmoreland said that such occasions, "when we celebrate developments that will change lives," are points of inspiration for a campus community.

"The work that will be done in this building will change lives, and it will certainly enrich the life of this institution and those that we serve," said Westmoreland.

Brock Hall houses a 300-seat recital hall, a rehearsal suite for Samford orchestral and band programs, and an instrumental teaching center. The centerpiece of the nearly $9 million building is the recital hall with its state-of-the-art acoustics.

Samford president emeritus Dr. Thomas E. Corts expressed appreciation for Mrs. Brock and her husband, Harry B. Brock, Jr.

"They are wonderful friends of Samford," Corts said of the Brocks, adding that the building "is a marvelous gift from a loving husband to a patient wife."

Brock acknowledged that few people have the opportunity "to honor someone they've loved for 57 years and with whom they have had such a wonderful time."

"It took Tom Corts five minutes to sell me on the idea," of naming the building for his wife, said Brock, cofounder of Compass Bank and its chief executive officer for 27 years. He has served as a member of Samford's board of trustees for more than four decades and was chairman from 1985 to 1989.

"There's a desire in our hearts to be a part of something that will make a difference," said Brock. "This place, Samford, makes a difference. That's why the Brock family supports it."

The ceremony included the unveiling of a portrait of Mrs. Brock that will hang in the elegantly appointed lobby outside the recital hall. The portrait depicting Mrs. Brock wearing hunter's camouflage in a woodsy setting reflects her lifelong enthusiasm for the outdoors. A national championship turkey hunter, she served 12 years on the Alabama Governor's Advisory Board for Conservation and Natural Resources.

The recital began with a grand entrance by School of Performing Arts dean Dr. Joseph Hopkins singing Figaro's song from Il Barbiere di Siviglia. The 54-member A Cappella Choir, conducted by Dr. Timothy Banks, concluded the program with Roger Wagner's Alleluia: We Sing Our Praises to the Lord and the spiritual My Soul's Been Anchored in the Lord. In between, members of the School of Performing Arts instrumental and voice faculties displayed a variety of classical and popular musical styles.

Calling the facility a "magnificent place to perform," Hopkins, who became performing arts dean in June, acknowledged the efforts of his predecessor, Dr. Milburn Price, in making the building a reality.

"Tonight's celebration marks the culmination of a long project," said Price, recalling that he made his first modest proposal for the building to president Corts about 10 years ago.

During the past decade, the dream grew and grew, resulting in a facility to embrace an expanding program, reflected Price.

Concluding the recital, Dr. Westmoreland cited a biblical passage from the book of Nehemiah that details a dedication ceremony for the rebuilding of the wall at Jerusalem.

"On this day," he said, "the sound of our rejoicing in the gift and the building and the completion and the use of Jane Hollock Brock Hall has been heard from Homewood to Jerusalem."

The dedicatory recital was attended by invited guests and many Samford music students, for whom the event was a taste of future learning and performance opportunities.

Andrew Scollard, a sophomore church music major from Hoover, appreciated the acoustic perfection of the recital hall, in which adjustable tiles in the walls create tunable space for individual needs of instrumental and vocal performers.

"I think the sound is really, really good. It is just a beautiful room," said Scollard, a classical guitarist who looks forward to attending more events in the facility, and someday, performing himself.

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.