Published on January 24, 2017 by William Nunnelley 

Mike Hardin

Samford University’s semester-opening convocation Jan. 24 was a celebration of the school’s 175 years of scholarship and service. Samford—then Howard College—received its charter from the state of Alabama Dec. 29, 1841, and opened for classes five days later, on Jan. 3, 1842.

“This morning we celebrate 175 years of scholarship and service and those who, across the years, have empowered students to become servant leaders and to be equipped with confidence, compassion and knowledge,” said Samford President Andrew Westmoreland.

He recognized Samford’s current faculty and about 50 retired faculty and staff who attended the program as special guests.

The program, another in a series celebrating the 175th anniversary, began with the singing of “Lead On, Oh King Eternal,” the same hymn sung during Samford’s first spring opening convocation on its new Homewood campus in January of 1958.

Samford Provost Michael Hardin, in an address entitled “Our Calling/Our Name,” recalled great teachers he had known over the years. He remembered one that taught him to love writing, a subject that didn’t come naturally to him.

“That’s what great teachers do,” he said, defining teaching as “investing your lives in students.”

Hardin reminded students that “we face voices calling out to us” saying you need to be this or that. “Be nobody but yourself,” he told the students, quoting poet e. e. cummings.

He said one’s vocation might be at the crossroads of “your natural delight and what the world needs.”

In a quiet moment of meditation at the program’s close, he suggested that the students might ask God “where does the world most need me.”

The printed program for the service also listed 84 Faculty Emerita in university history. The designation is awarded to retired faculty members who have attained distinction in their academic careers through effective teaching, scholarship and fulfilling major positions of academic responsibility.

Two faculty members received special awards during the convocation. The late Gary Bumgarner, associate professor of pharmaceutical, social and administrative sciences, posthumously was honored with the George M. Macon Memorial Award for teaching. Bumgarner died unexpectedly in September. Emily A. Hynds, associate professor of mathematics, received the Jennings B. Marshall Award for Service.

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.