Published on January 27, 2021  

Samford University Provost J. Michael Hardin presented the opening address of the virtual spring convocation reflecting on the lessons from the fall semester and the dedication of faculty to creating new learning experiences through a variety of modalities. 

“We have learned this last semester that although we thoroughly enjoy gathering in large and small groups on our beautiful campus those gatherings don’t define us at Samford,” he said. “Even when we can’t visit in person, our Samford community is strong. Our Samford community is creative, continually finding ways to connect, to teach, to learn.” 

During the program, two faculty members were presented with top awards from the university.

 James Barnette, associate professor of biblical studies, received the George Macon Memorial Award. The George Macon Memorial Award goes annually to a faculty member who through outstanding performance as a teacher, counselor and friend demonstrates the ability to inspire students to greatness. The award honors 1884 graduate George Macon who later joined the faculty to teach chemistry, natural history, applied mathematics and engineering.

English professor Rosemary Fisk was presented the Jennings B. Marshall Award. The annual award goes to a faculty member for significant and sustained contributions in service to the university.

Orlean Beeson School of Education Dean Anna McEwan was the featured speaker of the convocation, offering a challenge to students to approach the new semester with curiosity. 

“You will get the most out of your educational experience at Samford if you embrace your God-given capacity to wonder,” she said. “Our job at Samford is to fan the flame of your intellectual courage and celebrate your questions as a natural part, a necessary part of the learning process.” 

She offered three suggestions for reclaiming a sense of wonder— unplug, learn to be comfortable in silence and get outside of your comfort zone.

“My prayer is this: that you will become confident in who you are— a beloved creation made in the image of the God of wonder,” she said. “That you will develop the courage to ask questions and take intellectual risks and that you will develop the habits that place you in the position to reclaim wonder. It can happen. It’s what you were created for.”

University Minister Bobby Gatlin provided the closing benediction.

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.