It was perfect spring weather and a perfect start to what may become a new Samford University tradition. Seventy grandparents from 10 states registered for the university’s inaugural Grandparents Day April 28.
The event was a collaboration of Samford’s Office of Parent Programs and Division of University Advancement.
“Family has always been an important part of the Samford community and is why we wanted to find a way to connect with the grandparents of our undergraduate students,” said Susan Doyle, director of parent programs. “Hosting a Grandparents Day seemed the natural beginning. It has become obvious in recent years how involved grandparents are with their grandchildren as we’ve seen more and more of them attending orientation sessions, Family Weekend and other special events on campus. We invited them to campus to see and experience the university their grandchildren have chosen.”
The day began with a worship service in Andrew Gerow Hodges Chapel and included presentations in Brock School of Business and the College of Health Sciences, a family lunch in the university’s main dining hall and the Samford baseball game vs. Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.
It was the first visit to campus for Barbara Zerkel of Richmond, Virginia. Her granddaughter, Zara, is a sophomore nursing major from Cumming, Georgia.
“Starting with worship was perfect,” Grandmother Zerkel said. “It helps me to know that Samford is taking care of her.”
MacKinley Maguire, a senior accounting major from Franklin, Tennessee, was hosting his grandparents, Ron and Nancy Lay of DuQuoin, Illinois, for their first-ever visit to Samford. Maguire was especially excited for them to see Cooney Hall and the Brock School of Business.
“It is really great for them to see what I’ve been doing for the last four years, the quality of education I’ve received,” Maguire said.
His grandmother concurred. “It’s been amazing,” Lay said. “I think Samford is a wonderful place to be.”
The sentiments were echoed by Jeanette Golson, whose grandson Ben Cross is a sophomore prebusiness major from Marietta, Georgia. Golson, a retired Air Force nurse, is from Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
“We have had a wonderful day,” Golson said. “I’m really impressed with the health sciences facilities, but the business school is cool, too, because that’s where our grandson is."
Gary Fenton, a retired Birmingham pastor who now works as a Samford development officer, reminded grandparents in the worship service of their responsibility to “teach the next generation to trust God so they can teach future generations about the truth of God.”
Quoting the university’s motto, “For God, for learning, forever,” Fenton said, “It’s all about God. We’re always learning. It’s a lifetime process.”
“May you fully enjoy today knowing that God will continue to provide for future generations and that Samford is playing a key role in that process.”
With additional reporting by Maryellen Newton, a journalism and mass communication major and a news and feature writing in the Division of Marketing and Communication.