Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2010-05-17

Samford University graduated about 800 seniors during a series of commencement programs in May.

Graduates from Samford’s largest school, the Howard College of Arts and Sciences, along with graduates of the School of the Arts and Orlean Bullard Beeson School of Education and Professional Studies, received diplomas on Saturday, May 15. About 400  undergraduate and graduate students participated in the program in Pete Hanna Center on the Samford campus.


Another 400 graduates of Samford’s Brock School of Business, Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing, McWhorter School of Pharmacy and Cumberland School of Law received diplomas on Friday, May 14. Samford’s Beeson Divinity School had its commencement exercise and service of consecration on May 5.


At the Saturday morning event, Pam Siddall, the new president and publisher of The Birmingham News, challenged graduates to believe in themselves, “even when others don’t,” and to pursue high standards.


“It takes courage to believe in yourself, to be able to adjust and adapt to an ever-changing world, to take risks knowing that you’ll sometimes fail,” she said.  “You must have a strong belief in yourself to do the right thing, even when faced with criticism.


“Life is all about trade-offs. Have the courage to make tough choices,” she told the audience of more than 5,000.


In remarks to the graduates, Samford president Andrew Westmoreland noted that he felt a special kinship to the class of 2010. He became president in the summer of 2006, as this year’s seniors were entering as freshmen.


The top student award winners were recognized at the close of the program.

Sarah Michelle Franklin of Taylorsville, Ga., a graduate of the nursing school, received the President’s Cup for the highest academic average.  Crystal M. Martin of Wayzata, Minn., a mid-year graduate of the business school, received the Velma Wright Irons Award for the second highest average.

The John C. Pittman Spirit Award went to two students: Meredith Shaw, a communication studies major from Lexington, Ky., and Trey Montgomery, a family studies major from Destrehan, La. The Pittman Award honors a Samford alumnus and long-time trustee.

Samford Provost and Executive Vice President Dr. Brad Creed recognized three faculty members who are retiring—music professor Timothy Banks, associate librarian Sue Peterson and German professor Terry Pickett.

Several thousand family members and friends celebrated with their graduates during Friday’s programs in Wright Center.


Speakers at programs for the four professional schools were:  pharmacy—Dr. Josh Benner, research director, Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform, Brookings Institute, Washington, D.C.; business—David Carrington, president of and a member of the Samford Board of Overseers; nursing—Dr. James Harris, deputy chief nursing officer, Department of Veterans Affairs, Washington, D.C. ; and law—Brig. Gen. John Miller, II, commanding officer, Army Judge Advocate General School, University of Virginia, and a 1986 Cumberland graduate.


Entering the field of pharmacy can be rewarding and challenging in the midst of national health care reform, Benner told pharmacy graduates. They are, he said, entering the profession at “a time of important change in the health care system, and that transformation will change our profession.”


“You’re the first class of pharmacy graduates that will deal with health care reform,” Benner said. “I want you to know that the pharmacists who succeed and thrive in a changing health care system will be those who figure out how to take care of more patients, improve the outcomes that matter to those patients and do it at a lower cost.”


He cited three ways that the graduates could improve health care: embrace change, see opportunities and seek accountability.


At the law ceremony, Adam Sanders of West Point, Ga., received the Daniel Austin Brewer Professionalism Award given to the graduating law student who best embodies the professional  ideals expected of a Cumberland lawyer.  Sanders, who received J.D. and M.B.A. degrees on Friday, is a U.S. Marine Corps captain who will soon be assigned to a combat battalion in Afghanistan.

The weekend schedule began with a Friday morning prayer breakfast that Dr. Westmoreland called “the most recent addition to Samford traditions.” The first-ever prayer breakfast continued a centuries-old tradition of providing a time of prayer, worship and reflection during Samford’s commencement activities, he explained.

A series of student and faculty speakers spoke on the importance of friendships, scholarship and faith as part of the lifelong learning experience.


Following the breakfast, graduating students processed along Centennial Walk, replicating the traditional “freshman walk” during new student orientation and the “senior walk” that formerly preceded baccalaureate.  The prayer breakfast replaced the baccalaureate service.

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 66th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 104th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,683 students from 47 states and 19 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.