Samford University’s Howard College of Arts and Sciences presented approximately 200 undergraduate and graduate degrees May 14, including degrees for two women who completed their work decades after they began it.
Samford President Andrew Westmoreland made special mention of Lottie Jacks, who received the Bachelor of Science degree she began in 1948, and Elois Ewart, who this year earned the three credits remaining for the Associate Degree she began in 1944.
Westmoreland also presented to Howard College of Arts and Sciences graduates two of the university’s top honors.
Journalism and mass communication major Lauren Elizabeth Sims of Trenton, Georgia, earned the John C. Pittman Spirit Award, which honors the 1944 alumnus who served on the university’s board of trustees for 62 years. Pittman’s nephew, Randy Pittman, Samford’s vice president for university advancement, was present to help honor Sims for consistently exhibiting exceptional Christian character in community life.
Classics major and University Fellows honor student Samuel T. Hahn of Siloam Springs, Arkansas, earned the President’s Cup, Samford’s valedictorian honor. Hahn was a Rhodes Scholar finalist earlier this year, and recently was named one of 10 students in the nation accepted to the prestigious Lilly Graduate Fellows Program.
Dr. William F. Warren, Landrum P. Leavell II chair and director of the Center for New Testament Textual Studies at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, presented the commencement address.
In a unique twist on a common commencement theme of changing the world, Warren said he sometimes prays for the end of a world, or, in fact, many worlds, where “hatred too often dominates . . . where peace seems to be an impossible dream . . . where we seem to spend more time defending what divides us rather than promoting what unites us . . . and where we make our own gods in our own image and likeness.”
“And that’s where you are part of my prayer,” Warren told the graduates. “For our world is about to be shaped by you in ways that hopefully will lead to the end of some worlds that need to end, and to the beginning of some worlds that need to emerge.”
Warren described Operation Iceberg, the largest battle of the Pacific theatre in WWII. His father took part, as did Warren’s home church pastor, Howard College alumnus Ernest Walker ’50, who offered the benediction for the commencement ceremony. The Allies won the battle, Warren said, “but the price was high to end a world of domination, to end a world of aggression.”
Warren wondered what the 2016 graduates would do on their own watch. “Our hope is with you,” he said. “It’s that you will make a difference in the arenas of health, poverty and wealth, political and social stability, and in the families you create. ” He urged them not to spend their lives waiting for the “right time” to meet these great challenges, but to be a force for good now, at any scale and wherever God calls them, and to adopt the Prayer of Saint Francis as their own goal and prayer:
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
Journalism and mass communication major and 2016 class president Margie Terp of Temple Terrace, Florida, offered the class farewell. “No matter where you go,” she told her fellow graduates, “take Samford with you in the joy that you will bring to others, in the service you will do for your community and in the strength you will have to share your faith.”