Published on July 8, 2024 by Dakota Rice  
AAG Award SpeightsBinet Ken Foote

Samford University’s Department of Geography and Sociology in Howard College of Arts and Sciences has been “put on the map” with an award from the American Association of Geographers (AAG).

This spring, at the AAG annual conference in Honolulu, Hawaii, Samford received an honorable mention for the 2024 AAG Award for Bachelor’s Program Excellence. This award is quite the achievement for a department Samford’s size. While the other university recognized has 10 geography faculty members, Samford is shining with four faculty, plus one adjunct professor.

Since the Geography and Sociology departments merged in 2018, the department has thrived by cultivating interdisciplinary work between the two majors, including the creation of two inderdisciplinary minors: Race, Ethnicity, and Social Justice and Environmental Studies. 

Jennifer Speights-Binet, department chair, accepted the AAG award on behalf of the university.

“What I’m most proud of with this recognition is the success we’ve had creating a healthy department from two previously separate programs,” Speights-Binet said. “The citation recognizes our innovative interdisciplinary work with sociology and other programs, as well as our commitment to collegiality and a community of care between faculty, staff and students. For our size, we are highly productive in teaching, scholarship, and service at the college, university, and especially the disciplinary level.”

This award recognizes Samford’s commitment to high-quality instruction and continued professional development. The AAG also recognized the department’s dedication to community engagement through the development of county-level data monitoring tools for the COVID-19 pandemic.

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.