It was an evening to remember and one full of surprises, as Samford University celebrated President and First Lady Andrew and Jeanna Westmoreland ahead of their retirement. Hundreds of faculty, staff and students gathered in the Pete Hanna Center on April 27 to honor the Westmorelands and their 15 years of service to the university.
Samford’s musical and theatre ensembles were featured throughout the evening, beginning with the Samford Jazz Band and Orchestra in a rendition of Feelin’ Good. The Westmorelands entered the arena as the Samford Brass Ensemble played Fanfare from La Perla, followed by a welcome by Board of Trustees Chair William J. Stevens.
“Jeanna and I are so touched by the performances and the love we have felt from our Samford family. To be celebrated and honored by such talented students and faculty is a blessing and a memory we will always cherish,” said President Andrew Westmoreland. “We are deeply grateful for this community and we are humbled to have served this university. Jeanna and I agree that serving Samford has been the greatest honor of our lives.”
Key aspects of Samford’s mission were reflected throughout the night, including the university’s commitment to quality and offering of a great breadth and depth of academic and student life programs.
Students from the Samford Department of Theatre and Dance performed the number, BFF, from SpongeBob Squarepants: The Broadway Musical. A video montage that featured members of the university’s leadership, notable alumni and presidents of peer institutions was played with memorable testaments to the Westmorelands.
Samford’s Orchestra performed The Pines of Rome: VI, The Pines of the Appian Way, reflecting President Westmoreland’s beloved saying of, “we sit in the shade of trees we did not plant.”
What many may consider the highlight of the evening was President Westmoreland’s tribute to his wife, Jeanna, when he accompanied Samford’s Commercial Music Ensemble and played a trumpet solo during a rendition of You’re Still the One.
At the conclusion of the celebration, both Andrew and Jeanna Westmoreland were named alumni honoris causa by the Board of Trustees, including them as lifetime members of the Samford University family.
“The honorary degree gives me the right and the privilege to call myself a Samford alum and I am so proud of that,” said Jeanna Westmoreland.
In closing remarks, President Westmoreland said that on his first day as president in 2006, he found two letters on his new desk. One was from President Thomas E. Corts, the other from Samford’s President-elect, Beck A. Taylor.
“It is fitting now that on my first day as president, I began by reading letters from my predecessor and from my successor,” Westmoreland said.
Guests were given a sapling as they left the event, with a call to plant the tree in honor of the Westmoreland family.
Learn more about the legacy, impact and retirement tributes for the Westmorelands.