Posted by William Nunnelley on 2008-01-21

Former Alabama Governor Albert P. Brewer Thursday paid tribute to retired banker Harry B. Brock, Jr., and his 45 years of service and support of Samford University during dedication ceremonies for the new Brock School of Business at Samford.

Brewer, a Samford trustee and retired law professor at the school, said the dedication also marked the commitment of the Brock School of Business to being "a world-class business school with an emphasis on entrepreneurship in an environment of the highest standard of business ethics."

Samford announced in December that its business school would be named for Brock, a longtime trustee and generous supporter of the university. Brock committed to helping build an endowment of at least $100 million for the business school.

"He wants this University to have one of the top business schools in the United States," Brewer said in his dedication remarks. "He wants the Brock School of Business to be a breeding place for young entrepreneurs. He wants the Brock School of Business to foster a culture of business ethics which will be a model for the rest of the country."

Brewer noted that Brock was from the hill country of Fort Payne, Ala., a section known "for its fiercely independent and hard-working people, traits that Harry exemplifies." He traced Brock's legendary career in Alabama banking, from his early days of taking on old established banks to his successful spreading of his Central Bank franchise across state lines to Texas.

"He brought a new banking concept to that staid old industry," Brewer said. "He introduced the customer oriented, retail banking concept which is widespread now but was contrary to banking custom at that time."

Brock led a 1980 effort for passage of a statewide bank merger bill that allowed bank branching across county lines, Brewer noted.

"This farsighted legislation was a direct cause of Birmingham's becoming home to four major bank holding companies with the resulting benefit to the local and statewide economy," he said.

Later, Central Bank (now Compass Bank) became the first in Alabama to own a bank in another state and the first out-of-state bank to own a Texas bank.

Brock's first involvement with Samford came in 1955, when he helped raise funds for the school's new Lakeshore Drive campus. He joined the Samford board of trustees in 1962, and has played a leading role in supporting the institution since that time.

"Harry Brock's unselfish commitment to Samford has impressed many people," said Brewer.

At the close of the program, Samford Board of Trustees Chairman Clark Watson presented Brock with a framed proclamation commending him for his leadership and service to the University.

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.