Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2012-08-28

Classics professor Randy Todd, senior systems analyst Abby Casey, student leaders and generous donors of longstanding were applauded during the opening convocation of the fall semester at Samford University Tuesday, Aug. 28. 

Dr. Todd, founding chair of the Samford classics department, received the John H. Buchanan Award for Excellence in Classroom Teaching. The annual award includes a silver tray, a lapel pin and a $1,000 cash prize.  Finalists for the award were nominated by members of the 2012 graduating class.

Todd was cited for his leadership in building a thriving classics program that is the envy of many schools throughout the nation, said Provost J. Brad Creed.

"He has built a robust major, attracted outstanding students and faculty, and played an integral role in developing a classically-oriented core curriculum," said Creed, adding that Todd "conveys a contagious enthusiasm for the literary and cultural achievements of the past." More students are enrolled in Greek and Latin courses at Samford than at many schools five times its size, he said.

A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Furman University, Todd holds a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University.  He and his wife, Dr. Candy Todd, who teaches in the Samford mathematics department, have four children.

Casey, who has worked in Samford's technology services department for 13 years, received the 2012 President's Award as a staff member who exceeds all expectations and offers exemplary service to all segments of the Samford community.

Casey was cited as a "willing and dedicated co-worker with wonderful ideas and a generous spirit," said president Andrew Westmoreland in presenting the award.

A graduate of Auburn University, where she was a math major, Casey received a glass plaque and a $1,000 cash prize with the President's Award.

Student leaders were recognized for their contributions to campus life in ways ranging from athletic teams to academic organizations and social groups.  Student Government Association president Cameron Thomas, a religion major from Goodwater, Ala., led the leaders in a responsive prayer of dedication for their efforts this year.

A group of special guests was applauded for their long-standing financial generosity to the school.  The 98-member Founders Circle honors those who have supported the university with a financial commitment for at least 35 years. 

An elite category of the Founders Circle includes donors who have given to Samford for 40 years or more.  New 40-year members this year are Cheryl J. Adams, Marlene H. Rikard, Doyle B. Sessions, Eileen D. Sessions, William J. Ward and Caroline T. Ward.

New 35-year members are Charles W. Cairns, Thomas M. Donahoo, Hazel Donahoo, William T. Etheridge, Grace S. Etheridge, S. Wayne Fuller, Joan Fuller, H. Chervis Isom, Jr., Martha G. Isom, Paul Tracy, Lee Merrill, Robert Schlosser, Sharron P. Schlosser, Bill L. Wear, Jeanne M. Wear and Ann Weeks.

Together, the Founders Circle members are responsible for more than $18 million.  "Without them, Samford as we know it would not exist," said an appreciative Westmoreland.

Following the convocation, Founders Circle members enjoyed a luncheon at the home of President and Mrs. Westmoreland.


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.