Posted by William Nunnelley on 2006-12-18

Samford University department chair Chuck Sands urged Samford graduates to remember the importance of relationships and relating to other people as they complete their university experience and head off into life.

"Right relationships are the key to life," Dr. Sands said at fall commencement Saturday, Dec. 16. "It begins with focusing on others and not on self."

The head of Samford's exercise science and sports medicine department, Sands addressed an audience of more than 2,200 in Wright Center at Samford. Some 314 seniors received degrees.

"My sense is that in many respects we have lost, or we are losing, the ability and the art of relating to each other," he said. "I don't think we are lacking in our attempts to communicate information, but I wonder about the impact of technology on our ability to relate."

He cited the growth of cell phone users and email messages in the past five years as evidence that "we are transmitting data and information at a record pace."

Technology provides many advantages, he said, but asked his audience to recognize that "one potential negative of this increase in technology is a reduction in the development of relationships." One result of this, he said, is the "social isolation" described by author Robert Putnam in a New York Times article Friday, Dec. 15.

Sands quoted William J. Bennett, former secretary of education, as saying Americans have lost their ability and desire to serve others. "Rarely do I see people working together for the common good," said Sands. He urged his audience to work at serving others through their relationships.

Sands received Samford's annual John H. Buchanan Award for Excellence in Classroom Teaching at the start of the 2006 fall term. With his remarks, Samford began a tradition of having each year's Buchanan winner speak at fall commencement.

As part of Commencement Weekend, Samford held its pinning ceremony for graduates of Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing Friday. Also on Saturday, Samford held hooding ceremonies for School of Business master's degree recipients and a commissioning ceremony for Air Force ROTC graduates.

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.