Beck A. Taylor, Ph.D., was inaugurated as Samford University’s 19th president on Thursday, Nov. 4 in Birmingham, Alabama. Accompanied by his wife, First Lady and Executive Director of Legacy League Julie A. Taylor, and two of his three children, he received the Oath of Office from Board of Trustees Chair William J. Stevens, followed by the investiture, in which he was conveyed the ceremonial chain of office.
The chain bears the names of those who have served as president and represents the authority and responsibility bestowed by the Board of Trustees. President-emeritus Andrew Westmoreland assisted with the investiture to represent continuity of the university’s Christ-centered mission since 1841.
“The names of 18 presidents on this chain of office I now proudly wear, including the names of two Samford presidents I’ve known and loved, Drs. Corts and Westmoreland, don’t just point to a line of presidential succession,” Taylor said in his inaugural address. “No, they also give us confidence that from one season of leadership to the next, God has important plans to accomplish in and through all of us here at Samford.”
Taylor, who most recently served as president of Whitworth University, a position he assumed in 2010, is no stranger to the Samford community. He served as dean and professor of economics for Samford’s Brock School of Business from 2005-2010.
Ahead of the service, Taylor led a procession of delegates from more than 65 higher education institutions and associations, Samford’s Board of Trustees, deans, members of the executive leadership team, faculty members, representatives of student organizations, administrative officers, and 112 flags representing the states, territories and countries that are home to Samford’s 55,000 alumni.
Ephesians 3:16-19 was the theme of Taylor’s inaugural address with a focus on being “rooted and grounded in love.”
“I challenge us to make such love the cornerstone of all we do at Samford, to make love the foundation of any vision that we might cast together in the coming months and years,” Taylor said. “Some might think it too abstract, or too emotional, or too self-evident to claim as the foundation of all we do at an academic institution, at a modern university. But, if our efforts aren’t rooted and grounded in love, in the love of Christ, I contend that we will fail.”
As a Christian university, Taylor explained how love is at the heart of Samford’s mission of “For God, for learning, forever.”
“It should be no surprise to us now that Christ’s commandment to us is rooted and grounded in love – a commandment to love God with all of ourselves (heart, mind, body, soul, spirit) and to love others fiercely, devotedly, sacrificially, even as we love ourselves,” Taylor said. “I’m not sure that the mission and vision of Samford could be articulated more succinctly or more inspirationally.”
Looking ahead to the future, Taylor encouraged the Samford community to “complete the work that the Lord has given us while carrying the solemn duty to plant new seeds of hope, healing, justice, mercy and love” through our actions.
“We will be confident that the Good Lord will protect our humble offerings, nurturing those tiny seeds – those acts of love we will produce – until great timbers of goodness, and truth and beauty are established and graciously provide their welcome shade to future generations, and generations beyond those, until the Lord comes again,” Taylor said. “May some future president and Samford congregation gathered on a day like today remember us fondly in posterity for being faithful in this next season of growth. May they remember us for our love.”
A reception for delegates and honored guests was held after the ceremony.