Samford University will honor four outstanding graduates with annual alumni awards during 2013 homecoming Nov. 15-17. They will be honored at the annual homecoming banquet Nov. 15 and will be recognized at other events throughout homecoming weekend.

Mark Cottingham, Michael (Mickey) Newsome and Sylvia Young have been selected as 2013 Alumni of the Year, and Jeff Stephens is 2013 Outstanding Young Alumnus.

Cottingham, a 1983 graduate, is associate pastor of music and arts at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, Marietta, Ga. Cottingham and his wife, Rebekah, are active in both the Samford Alumni Association and the Samford Parents Association. Their daughter is a Samford graduate, and a son is a current Samford student.

In addition to his ministry achievements, Cottingham has been responsible for recruiting dozens of students to Samford through the years, according to David B. Goodwin, Samford's director of alumni programs.

Newsome is executive chairman of Birmingham-based Hibbett Sports, Inc. Under his leadership as president, the company grew to include stores in 28 states and with annual sales of more than $300 million. Newsome earned a bachelor's degree in business in 1962. He is a member of the advisory board for Samford's Brock School of Business and has been actively involved in other community endeavors. He has two daughters who also are Samford graduates.

Newsome is being recognized for his achievements in business and for his support of Samford scholarship programs, Goodwin said.

Young also graduated in 1983 with a degree in public administration. In 2012, she recently was named president of the continental division of Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), based in Denver, Colo. A 27-year veteran of health-care administration, Young previously was head of HCA's hospitals in Las Vegas, Nev.

Young has distinguished herself in the health-care profession and is a recognized leader who also is serving as a role model for Samford students, Goodwin said. Young was featured speaker for Samford's Omicron Delta Kappa leadership forum in 2010.

Alumni of the Year recognitions are the highest honor the university's Alumni Association can bestow, Goodwin explained. Honorees must have graduated at least 15 years ago and are chosen through a nomination and review process. This is the 56th year for the awards to be presented.

Stephens is the seventh Outstanding Young Alumnus recipient. He is general manager of 365, Inc., a Birmingham-based sports marketing and sporting goods company. Stephens joined the company in 2004 after earning his bachelor's degree in management. During his time with 365, Inc., sales have increased from about $1.5 million to about $40 million annually.

"Jeff has extended his active involvement as an undergraduate to continued active engagement as an alumni volunteer," Goodwin said. Stephens is active in the Samford Alumni Association and regularly speaks in classes and for admission recruitment events.

The Outstanding Young Alumnus award was established in 2009 to recognize graduates in the last 10 years who already are distinguishing themselves professionally and in community service.

Profiles of the four alumni honorees will be included in the September issue of Seasons, Samford's news magazine.

Alumni Association

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.