Posted by William Nunnelley on 2010-12-18

Samford University board of trustees chairman W. Clark Watson encouraged graduates to “pursue work that engages your mind and not simply your wallet” during fall commencement Saturday, Dec. 18.

“I hope that Samford has instilled in you an unquenchable thirst for learning and wisdom,” Watson told the seniors.  “Many of you will pursue additional formal studies and degrees, but all of you are hopefully embarking on a lifetime of learning.”

Watson, an attorney and graduate of Samford’s Cumberland School of Law, addressed about 200 seniors and 1,500 others in Wright Center on the campus.  Included were the first 11 graduates of a new accelerated degree program in Samford’s Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing.

The speaker also urged the graduates to, “Consider careers in which you will be a lifetime learner.”  He noted that one of the seniors had sent him an email that said, “When I can do what gives me joy, then I know that financial reward will find its way there.”

Watson based the framework of his address on Samford’s motto: “For God, For Learning, Forever.”  The words “are descriptive of the manner in which your professors, the administration and the trustees of Samford strive to nurture not only you,” he said, but those students that came before and those that will follow.

“Samford is a rare crucible where spiritual development and robust scholastic preparation co-exist and indeed, complement each other,” he said.

Watson urged the seniors to use the motto as a “trustworthy compass as you set your course” away from Samford.  “There will be lots of unanticipated detours and hazards on the road of your lives,” he said.  “You will invariably take some wrong turns and find some dead ends along the way.  However, you will also make some wonderful unexpected discoveries.

“That is what makes life exciting, challenging and satisfying,” he said.  “That, my friends is why you need a compass.”

Watson encouraged the seniors to “entrust your life to Jesus Christ,” saying “he will give you a heart that does not yearn for those things that the world labels as desirable.”  He urged them to avoid “the culture of greed” and to live their lives “for God.”

The word “Forever” in the motto serves as a reminder “that plans and decisions are best made with a view beyond the immediate,” said Watson.  He urged the graduates to “enjoy a life-long relationship with Samford” and to support their alma mater financially.

He closed with a final reference to the motto as a compass, saying “consult it often to make sure that your bearings are true.  The world needs people who live with the perspective of For God, For Learning, Forever.  The world needs Samford people.”

The commencement program and a following reception in Beeson University Center climaxed two days of fall graduation activity.  On Friday, Dec. 17, the nursing school held its traditional pinning ceremony and Samford’s Air Force ROTC detachment held its commissioning program.  Earlier Saturday, Samford’s Brock School of Business had its hooding program.  The graduating seniors art show was on display the week of Dec. 13-18, and a reception in the art gallery followed commencement.

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.