BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Samford University's school of business is being named for longtime Samford trustee and Alabama banking legend Harry B. Brock Jr. The Brock School of Business name is effective immediately.
The announcement was made Dec. 4 by the university's board of trustees. Board chair William J. Stevens of Birmingham said the trustees voted to honor Brock's more than 45 years of trustee service to Samford, his longtime generosity to Samford and the community, and his professional achievements.
Brock is considered a banking pioneer in Alabama, Stevens noted. Brock triggered a chain of events in the 1960s and 70s that resulted in Birmingham becoming a nationally-recognized banking center.
Joining Stevens and Brock in making the announcement were Samford President Andrew Westmoreland, business school dean Beck A. Taylor and Brock's wife, Jane.
"Samford has always been an inspirational part of my life and this is my opportunity to give back to the school and help influence the lives of young people," said Harry Brock. "My desire and vision for the School of Business is to be a little different and to find a niche that will help these young people fulfill their dreams."
Brock announced his personal commitment to help the Brock School of Business build an endowment that will reach at least $100 million. "All aspects of business education will be significantly impacted," said Brock.
Included will be an initiative to establish a world-class program in entrepreneurship. One of the immediate goals will be to add three full-time faculty positions to support the entrepreneurship program. The school of business currently has 23 full-time faculty members.
"The trustees and Mr. Brock have identified an enhanced entrepreneurship emphasis as a key focus for the school of business, and we plan to work on this immediately," Stevens said. "What Harry Brock did for banking, he is about to do for business education in Alabama and across the nation."
The endowment also will provide for expanded research and scholarship opportunities for business school faculty and students and greatly enhance the school's service to the community through opportunities such as partnerships and internships, Westmoreland said.
Once reached, the $100 million endowment would place Samford's Brock School of Business potentially among the top 25 accredited business schools in the United States in terms of total market value of endowment, according to Taylor. And, Samford would be in the top five among faith-based universities with endowed business schools, he added, based on current information from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
"We are honored and humbled to carry the Brock name and legacy," Taylor said. "Our partnership with Mr. Brock will enable Samford's school of business to move to national prominence in business higher education. Furthermore, the Brock School of Business will immediately become a recognized leader among business schools with an explicitly Christian mission."
Westmoreland also noted the importance of having the Brock name associated with Samford's business school.
"Harry Brock is synonymous with Alabama business and banking, and fortunately for us, with Samford University for more than 50 years" said Westmoreland. "He is the consummate example of the entrepreneurial spirit and ethical business practice, and it is fitting that his name will be affiliated with Samford's Christian mission."
Brock first became associated with Samford when he moved to Birmingham in the mid-1950s. He served on the committee that raised funds for the university's current campus in suburban Homewood. Through the years, the Brocks and their family foundation have supported several endowed scholarships, renovation of what is now Brock Forum in Dwight Beeson Hall, gardens along Centennial Walk honoring Brock's parents, Samford athletics, capital projects, the Samford Auxiliary and a long list of other projects. The Brocks provided the lead gift in 2006 for Jane Hollock Brock Hall, the location of the Dec. 4 announcement about the newly-named Brock School of Business.
Brock and Westmoreland both committed to plans to pursue the endowment funding.
"We will work together to bring the vision for the School of Business to reality," said Brock. "I am honored to have my name attached to the Samford School of Business."
"The Brock name is legendary and communicates innovation and greatness among those in the business world," said Taylor. "Our faculty, staff, and students have a new vision for the future, and it begins today as the Brock School of Business."
Spearheading the multi-bank holding company concept in Alabama, in 1971, Brock brought Central Bank and State National Bank of Alabama together to form a registered bank holding company, Central and State National Corporation of Alabama. As more banks joined the Central family, the name changed to Central Bancshares of the South, Inc.
Brock was instrumental in the passage of the Statewide Bank Merger bill of 1980, allowing bank branching across county lines. This made it possible for Brock to merge his banks into one bank with branches throughout the state.
In 1987, Central Bancshares purchased a bank in Texas, thus becoming the first bank in Alabama to own a bank in another state and the first out-of-state bank to own a bank in Texas. He named the Texas operation Compass Bancshares of Texas and later changed the name of the parent organization to Compass Bancshares. Brock served as chairman and CEO of Compass Bancshares and Compass Bank of the South until his retirement in March 1991.
Brock, an innovative leader in the banking industry, has given his time, expertise and financial resources to help make Birmingham, Jefferson County and the State of Alabama a better place in which to live and work, Westmoreland noted. He has been an active board member of numerous charitable and civic organizations in Alabama. In 1962, Brock became a member of the Samford University board of trustees and was named a member of the Executive Committee in 1963. He served as board chairman from 1986 until 1991. He received an honorary doctorate from Samford in 1994.
Taylor noted that the Brock announcement is the latest in a long history of achievements for business education at Samford, which has offered degrees in business and commerce since 1922. In 1965, the school of business was established to offer both bachelor's and master's degrees in business. Alabama's first part-time master of business administration degree program was established at Samford, and the first MBA degrees were awarded in 1967. The master of accountancy degree was approved in 1995. The business school was fully accredited by AACSB International in 1999, a recognition earned by less than 10 percent of business schools worldwide.