Published on November 12, 2019 by Sarah Cain  

Samford University honored four distinguished alumni at the annual Alumni Candlelight Dinner and Awards Program, The Beesons, during 2019 Homecoming weekend. 

The Beesons are presented as three categories: Alumni of the Year, Outstanding Young Alumnus and Humanitarians of the Year.

The event included a performance by Kara Young ’16 of her original song written for Homecoming titled “Seems Just Like Yesterday.” Speakers included Stephen Dillard, president of the Samford University Alumni Association; Wendy Field, vice president of committees, Samford University Alumni Association; Randy Pittman, vice president for University Advancement, Chris Hatcher, Samford Football coach, University President Andrew Westmoreland and Joe Hopkins, School of the Arts dean. 

Alumni of the Year honorees were nominated by members of the Samford community and selected by a committee of Samford Alumni Association representatives and university administrators. They are distinguished in their professional careers, community and church involvement, and in their ongoing service to Samford.

The award to an outstanding young alumnus honors a graduate from the past 10 years and was established in 2009 to recognize recent graduates for professional achievement and involvement with Samford. 

The Humanitarian of the Year award was established in 2016 to recognize Samford graduates of distinction, wide respect and acknowledged leadership who have made outstanding contributions to better the lives of those around them by staying true to the Samford mission. 

Alumnus of the Year

John Floyd  85,’88, and ’99, a three-time Samford graduate, has been named Alumni of the Year, the highest honor the university bestows on graduates. 

Floyd served on the Samford University Board of Trustees and held roles on the executive committee and as secretary. He also served on the Board of Overseers as chairperson and the Cumberland School of Law Advisory Committee.

Outstanding Young Alumnus

Randall Woodfin ’07, mayor of the city of Birmingham, has achieved a number of milestones since taking office. He and his team developed the Office of Social Justice and Racial Equity dedicated to human rights issues in the city, ensured the availability of winter shelter and warming stations for the city’s homeless population and worked toward the cessation of gun violence in the Birmingham area. He frequently speaks at events on Samford’s campus and currently serves on the Samford University Board of Overseers. 

Outstanding Young Alumna

Jewel Littleton-Williams’05 and ’10, who received a Bachelor of Science in 2005 and a Master of Science in Education in 2010, is a nationally board-certified educator. Littleton-Williams is the director of Educational Advancement for the city of Birmingham. Under her leadership as president of the Samford Black Alumni Association, the John T. Porter Minority Scholarship surpassed $100,000 in contributions. In 2018, she was an inaugural recipient of the Audrey Gaston Howard Award, and Orlean Beeson School of Education established Jewel Littleton-Williams Annual and Endowed Scholarship for Minority Students in her honor. She currently serves on the Samford University Board of Overseers. 

Humanitarian of the Year 

Meredith Toering ’13 is the international director of Morning Star Foundation in Beijing City, China, where she works directly with orphaned and abandoned infants and children housed in the Morning Star Family Home. The foundation cares for children who suffer from severe congenital and acquired heart disease and provides for the cardiac intervention and medical care they desperately need. 

Read more about this year’s recipients.

Read more about the awards and previous recipients.


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. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 2nd nationally for student engagement and US News & World Report ranks Samford 86th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,729 students from 47 states and 30 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 1st nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.