Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2011-05-13


The parts of their lives that come before, during and after Samford are all important, but more critical is a relationship with Jesus Christ, which should be a part of all that they do, business executive William J. Stevens told graduates of Samford University’s Brock School of Business Friday, May 13.

“I do believe we can be involved in business today and have a vibrant relationship with our Lord. This does not make you perfect, always right, or guarantee you success as judged by the world, but I believe it works,” said Stevens, president and CEO of Motion Industries and a member of the Brock School of Business Advisory Board.

Being an ambassador for Christ, as he was taught as a youth in Alexander City, Ala., he said, is not part-time, but all-the-time. “We should always remember this whether we are involved in sales, operations, information technology or whatever,” he told the business graduates.

The part of the graduates’ lives that preceded their arrival at Samford likely involved people who helped with their decision to enroll. Perhaps it was someone who shared an experience, prayed, or helped with finances, he said.

“I see all of these influences as part of God’s wonderful plan that enabled us to end up here at Samford,” said Stevens, a Samford graduate and Board of Trustee member whose wife, Kimeran, and many family members also attended the school.

The time spent as students offered opportunities ranging from classroom experiences to the development of friendships and relationships. Now that they are about to embark on the “after Samford” period, he said, graduates will pursue careers, graduate work and other worthy pursuits.

“You are graduating at a time that one might consider to be both exciting and challenging,” he said.

“The excitement comes from the improving economy that still has not seen a total recovery from the recession in the later part of 2008 and the entire year of 2009,” said Stevens, adding that “a lot is happening in North America.”

“The development of technology from personal devices to automated factories is developing at speeds that make it challenging to stay current with the latest equipment,” he said, stressing the importance of embracing change, whether in technology or processes.

“Be open to these changes and the opportunities they present,” he said. “God and his plan prepared us before we arrived here, have guided us while we have been here, and now will be with us as we go from here.”

Brock acting dean James P. Reburn echoed Stevens’ advice about change, noting that the students had undergone change as they mastered new skills, gained new insights and learned about themselves and the world.  He noted that the business school also changed during the last four years as it took a new name—Brock School of Business, and added new degree programs and faculty.

Although the school will hold tightly to its convictions and core values, “We will seek and embrace the change that is necessary to keep up with the ever-shifting world, in part to serve our current students and professional community, but also to serve you who are graduates,” promised Reburn.

Graduating senior Sarah Beth Clement challenged her fellow business graduates to build careers that focus on the values that surround their Samford education.

The accounting major from Plant City, Fla., noted that the school not only cares about personal relationships and high ideals, but practices them everyday inside and outside the classroom.

“We’ve learned that business can be a higher calling, and have been taught the importance of having a career centered around vision, courage, intelligence and ethics,” said Clement, recipient of the 2011 John C. Pittman award based on her service to the business school, the university, and the Birmingham community.

“It is my genuine hope that we, as Brock School graduates, will be distinguishable among our peers by these four principles.”

The graduating class included 73 Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree recipients, eight Master of Accountancy degree recipients, and 34 Master of Business Administration degree recipients.


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.