Published on January 26, 2016 by Mary Wimberley  

Samford University professors Howard P. Walthall and Thomas W. Woolley received two top university faculty awards during the 2016 spring semester opening convocation Tuesday, Jan. 26.

Walthall, who has taught at Samford’s Cumberland School of Law for 40 years, received the George Macon Memorial Award for outstanding performance as a teacher, counselor and friend who inspires students to greatness.

Woolley, a statistics professor in Samford’s Brock School of Business, received the Jennings B. Marshall Service Award for significant and sustained service contributions to the university.

Each received a $1,000 cash prize presented by Samford President Andrew Westmoreland. Announcement of their selection was made via a video presentation that highlighted their service and dedication to the school.

Walthall was cited for his teaching, innovation, energy and devotion to students. He has taught an array of courses, including first-year contracts, federal and state constitutional law, numerous business and commercial law courses, and cultural perspectives in the Samford undergraduate core curriculum.  He has won the law school’s Harvey S. Jackson Excellence in Teaching Award multiple times.

By pioneering the integration of writing instruction and assessment processes into classes and addressing a need for essential analytical skills, he continues to develop new approaches to meet the unique needs of students — making the law school program better for each new generation of students.

His tribute to the legend of Rascal, a dog that was awarded the degree of canine jurisprudence when Cumberland School of Law was located in Tennessee, is a popular part of the law school’s annual Rascal Day celebration. He is also a longtime participant and organizer of Samford’s Old Howard 100 bike ride held each spring.

Walthall is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College and a graduate of Harvard Law School. Before joining the Cumberland School of Law faculty, he was a partner in a Birmingham law firm.

Woolley was cited for his broad and deep service contributions to Samford. He recently completed a second consecutive two-year term on the promotion and tenure committee in the business school. He has served on the university’s core text advisory committee, and on provost and business school dean search committees. He has also assisted with faculty searches in Howard College of Arts and Sciences and Orlean Bullard Beeson School of Education.

He has been instrumental in the founding and development of Samford’s Catholic Student Association and Center for Science and Religion.

Woolley, Samford’s 2001 Buchanan Award for Excellence in Classroom Teaching recipient,  was named the Carnegie Foundation/CASE Alabama Professor of the Year in 2000. He was a Templeton Scholar during 2003–05.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences, a master’s in biological science/education and a Ph.D. in statistics and research design, all from Florida State University. Prior to joining the Samford faculty, he was affiliated with the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Tim Vines, chairman of Samford’s board of trustees, was the featured guest at the convocation. In a casual interview format with President Westmoreland, the chief administrative officer of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama shared personal insights and life lessons. His Christian faith and his family form the core of his belief system, he said.

“Don’t ever miss an opportunity to be an influence in someone’s life,” Vines advised the students.

Westmoreland noted that the university will celebrate its 175th anniversary during the coming academic year. Another milestone, the 40-year anniversary of Wright Center, site of the convocation, was also noted.

Reprising a performance by Metropolitan Opera bass Jerome Hines when Wright Center opened in 1976, Samford School of the Arts Dean Joseph Hopkins sang “Bless this House” to  open the convocation. He was accompanied by arts school faculty members Ron Shinn, pianist, and Jeffrey Flaniken, violin.



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.