Published on May 11, 2018 by Morgan Black  
Keith Herron
Keith Herron

Samford University’s Brock School of Business held its spring 2018 commencement ceremony May 11 in the Leslie Stephen Wright Fine Arts Center.  The ceremony was one of seven this spring being held by Samford. 

Brock School of Business recognized 176 undergraduate and graduate degree recipients during the ceremony.

The ceremony began with Professor of Accounting Michelle Newberry leading the processional as the mace bearer. Graduate Jay Michael Johnson, a management major from Tampa, Florida, provided the invocation.

University President Andrew Westmoreland then gave a welcome to the graduates and their families. “For all time to come, this will be your alma mater,” Westmoreland said. “Remember to always engage your mind, hands and soul in all that you do and say.”

Graduate Elijah Brown, a marketing major from Birmingham, read a passage of scripture chosen from Jeremiah 29:11-13 followed by music from Samford’s A Cappella Choir.

Dean Howard Finch then introduced featured speaker, Keith Herron, senior executive vice president and head of corporate responsibility and community engagement for Regions Bank.

Early in his address, Herron said, “Each of you should be very proud of this major milestone in your life. You have worked hard, you have set your goals high and you have succeeded.”

Herron then began to offer a challenge to the graduates – what to do when life offers you adversity and failure. “What will you do when: the company you want to work for does not offer you a job? You are not accepted into the graduate school you wanted to attend? You are passed over for the promotion you deserve? Your marriage is in trouble and your boss says you are fired? What will you do?”

Herron said, “I want to challenge you today to embrace three things when you do face adversity in your life: be thankful for what God has given you, have a positive attitude and never give up on your dreams.” He continued his address by expanding upon each point.

 “In closing, you can achieve anything you want in your life with a degree from Samford,” Herron added. “I know you can and will make a difference. I want you to remember when one door closes another one will open and I hope your life becomes everything you want it to be. May God bless you along your journey and may God continue to bless this great university! Go Bulldogs!”

Herron earned his bachelor’s degree from Samford. In addition to his responsibilities at Regions Bank, he serves as Chairman of the Board of Overseers for Samford, a member of the Brock School of Business Dean’s Advisory Board and many other community boards throughout the Birmingham region.

Following Herron’s address, the presentation and conferring of degrees was provided by Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs J. Michael Hardin and President Andrew Westmoreland, respectively. Associate Dean and Brock Family Chair in Entrepreneurship Chad Carson and Assistant Dean Barbara Cartledge assisted in the hooding of the master’s recipients followed by remarks from Finch. 

Two prestigious university-wide awards were given to Brock School of Business graduates and presented by President Andrew Westmoreland. The John C. Pittman Spirit Award was given to Brock Scholar Lilla Bea Granger from Pike Road, Alabama. The Pittman award is named for an alumnus and longtime trustee and is awarded to the graduating student who most consistently exhibits exceptional Christian character and community life.

Mary Katherine Stanley, a University Fellow and accounting major from Memphis, Tennessee, received the President’s Cup award. This award is given to the graduating student with the highest grade point average across all Samford colleges and schools. 

Before the singing of the Samford Alma Mater, graduate Elizabeth E. Southall, an accounting major from Lexington, Kentucky, provided a charge to the class of 2018. Southall thanked family, friends, professors and administration for bringing the class to where they are today. She charged the class to reflect on the past few years and the experiences they have had at Samford.

“Our experiences are all different,” Southall said. “But, we’ve all learned little nuggets of wisdom from our professors. We must learn from these lessons so that we don’t make the same mistakes twice.”

“Our hard work has built up character and integrity inside of us,” Southall added. “We must continue the legacy of trendsetting and ingenuity that our Samford experience has given us.”

Jeremy Thornton, professor of economics and Dwight M. Moody Chair of Business, provided the benediction.

Prior to commencement, Brock School of Business held the annual senior awards ceremony. Numerous awards were issued to graduating seniors, and scholarships were given for those students going on to participate in Brock’s Master of Accountancy ( program.

Finch added, “The faculty and staff of Brock School of Business have worked diligently to prepare these students for professional success. The students have worked hard to successfully complete their academic programs. The world will be a better place with their inclusion as the next generation of business leaders who share a Christian worldview of success.”

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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.