Samford University

History & tradition


Any family or community is enriched and affirmed by holding and keeping traditions across generations. The Samford University family is proud of our history and tradition as the 87th oldest university in the United States. From large university-wide celebrations like Homecoming and the fierce competition of Step Sing to small personal traditions like rubbing Major Davis’ nose for luck; we cling to our red and blue and cheer for our Bulldogs.

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The frantic activity of freshmen move-in is just the beginning of three days of insane fun with your new freshman class. We designed this program for freshmen to get to know their peers through many different experiences both on and off campus, including a community service activity and an ice cream party at the president’s home.
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Welcome Back

At the beginning of each fall semester, the Student Government Association hosts concerts, parties and other activities to welcome both returning and new students. It’s a time to renew old friendships, make new ones and ease into the semester.
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Family Weekend

Held during the fall semester, this annual event provides the Samford University community a chance to welcome our students’ families for a weekend full of special activities including parties, a reception at the president’s home and an exciting football game.
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For more than 140 years, Samford alumni have met together from time to time to renew acquaintances, share a meal and reconnect to their alma mater. In January 1866, at the end of the Civil War, Howard College and the town of Marion, Alabama, celebrated the return visit of Howard’s first president—Vermont native Samuel Sterling Sherman—in the first recorded homecoming celebration. By 1870, the alumni association had elected officers and inaugurated an official annual reunion of alumni that included a banquet in connection with spring commencement ceremonies. The homecoming tradition continues each fall, with a candlelight banquet, football game and activities for the entire Samford community.
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Hanging of the Green and Lighting of the Way

Decorating for Christmas has special meaning at Samford University. The traditional Hanging of the Green service just after Thanksgiving features candlelit walks, beautiful seasonal decoration of Reid Chapel and Centennial Walk, a worship service celebrating the birth of Christ lead by a group of selected senior class honorees and the official lighting of the campus Christmas tree during Lighting of the Way.
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Alma Mater

Oh Samford Alma Mater true
Her halls shall ever ring

With Sounding Glories of the past
With plans and future dreams.
On knowledge that we seek, O Lord,
We pray thy blessings true.
With pride we pledge our hearts and minds,
To the Samford Red and Blue.  

The original text was written by George W. Macon in 1884 and modified by Kelley Courington in 1986. The tune was composed by Professor Paul de Launay in 1927.

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Fight Song

A Samford tradition for decades, the current Samford Fight Song was introduced in the late 1950s by then band director Bill Nugent. First-year students learn the Fight Song during Connections (another Samford tradition), and it is used at most athletics events and other special occasions. 



Fight, Fight, Fight
For Samford Bulldogs,
Go onward to victory.
Oh, we’ll wear the red and blue,
Samford we’re all for you…
and we love you, too!

Fight! Fight! Fight!

Fight, Fight, Fight
For Samford Bulldogs,
Go onward to victory.
Oh, we’ll give a cheer or two,
Samford we’re all for you…
Fight! Fight! Fight!

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Deo, Doctrinae, Aeternatati

The Latin words appearing on the university seal represent the motto of Samford University: nurturing persons for God, for learning, forever.
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Crimson and Blue

The origin of crimson and blue as Samford’s traditional school colors is unknown. Archival records show the colors were in use in athletic events as early as 1908, and by 1910 references clearly demonstrate the colors were recognized by students and alumni as the official colors. In the mid 20th century, crimson was replaced by red.

In our hearts our college emblem
Long has been with love enshrined.
In the vast of our affections
With our memories entwined.
We would lift this veil of silence,
Bring our emblem forth to view,
We would share the storied treasures
Of the Crimson and the Blue.
Bursting into song exultant,
We would lilt to lay to you
Telling of the storied treasures
of the Crimson and the Blue.
Joseph T. Vaughn, class of 1918

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Entre Nous and The Samford Crimson

Student publications are a Samford University tradition dating back to the 19th century. Beginning in the 1910s, Samford students began publishing a regular newspaper, The Crimson, and a yearbook the Entre Nous. These records of daily life are the richest source of information about Samford’s past and present, and they continue to point the way toward the University’s future.
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Step Sing

Each year, almost 1,000 Samford students participate in this unique Samford musical production, which began more than half-a-century ago and has developed into one of the most popular Samford traditions. Each Step Sing show is developed, writing, choreographed, rehearsed and performed by students. In addition to entertaining thousands of audience members, the proceeds of each Step Sing are donated to charity.
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Miss Samford

Beginning in the 1920s, the Entre Nous yearbook included a section of college beauties. By the 1940s, a competition was held to name one of the beauties Miss Entre Nous. In 1986, the Miss Entre Nous contest became an official preliminary to the Miss Alabama and Miss America pageants. Samford University graduate Deidra Downs was crowned Miss America in 2005. She was one of many Samford students or alumane to wear the Miss Alabama crown, and several other Samford students and alumnae have placed among the top finalists in Miss America pageants.
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Spring Fling

One week each April, Spring Fling helps students take a break from the end-of-semester crunch and celebrate the arrival of warm weather. The event, with roots dating back to the 1910s, offers several days of music, games, friendship and relaxation on Samford University’s famously beautiful quad.
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Rascal Day

Each spring the Cumberland School of Law faculty, staff and students honor a mongrel pup named Rascal. According to tradition, Rascal faithfully attended classes at the law school’s former campus location in Lebanon, Tennessee, until he was presented with the rare degree of Doctor of Canine Jurisprudence in 1937. Legend holds that his diploma was awarded in recognition of the hundreds of classes and mock trials at which his attendance had been difficult to ignore. When he passed away in 1940, Rascal was buried beneath the window of the classroom where he had spent so much time. When the law school joined Samford University in 1961, Rascal’s tombstone and a few spadefuls of dirt from his grave were brought to the Samford campus and reinterred on the west side of Robinson Hall. Each year, a procession of two- and four-legged creatures passes by Rascal’s grave to commemorate one of the law school’s most memorable graduates.
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Bulldog Athletics

Students chose the bulldog mascot by popular vote in 1916. Until then athletic teams were known as the Baptist Tigers or Baptist Bears. In a tradition of intercollegiate competition dating to 1878, today Samford competes in 17 NCAA Division I sports as a member of the Southern Conference. Rex is the current live bulldog mascot who attends games and other special events. Spike is the athletics department mascot.
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Tailgating on the Quad

Don’t miss the food, fun and games as a festival atmosphere envelops the University Quad hours prior to the kickoff of every home football game. The Bulldog Walk takes place about two hours prior to kickoff as the team walks from Beeson University Center to Seibert Stadium, led by the Samford University cheerleaders and the Samford Marching Band.
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The Victory Flag

As a symbol of Samford University pride and campus unity, the Samford victory flag is posted in Talbird Circle on the following occasions celebrating:

  • Faculty academic achievement (opening convocation in August)
  • Student academic achievement (honors day in April and commencement days)
  • Academic team national championships
  • All football regular season and play-off victories
  • Southern Conference team championships regular season
  • NCAA playoffs and championships
  • Other occasions at the president’s discretion
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Rushton Memorial Carillon

Harwell G. Davis Library, built in 1957, is home to one of Samford University’s best-heard traditions—the bells of the Rushton Carillon. The 60 bells, together weighing more than five tons and covering five octaves, were cast in Asten, Holland, at the renowned Royal Eljsbouts Bell Foundry. Steven Knight, university carilloneur, gives regular concerts and plays for special university occasions.
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Major Davis' Nose

 Presidential portraits may be seen throughout University Library, but a special place is reserved for the portrait and bronze bust of Major Harwell Goodwin Davis, 15th president. Davis helped save the college during the Great Depression and led the college through its relocation in 1957. Touching the bust of Davis in the entrance of University Library proves to be an irresistible good luck charm to visitors, who keep the nose well-polished.
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Mr. Beeson

Introduced to Samford University by longtime trustee A. Gerow Hodges, Ralph W. Beeson and his family helped define the physical and intellectual shape of the university for more than three decades. Their gifts, totaling more than $110 million, supported a variety of building and academic projects. Glynn Acree’s life-size bronze statue of Ralph Beeson at the foot of Centennial Walk welcomes visitors to Samford’s campus and is a popular spot for photographs. Mr. Beeson’s birthday is celebrated each year on Oct. 24.
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The Mace

The mace is an ancient symbol of authority and status. Samford University’s official mace includes designs, images, words and artifacts representing the university’s distinctive culture. Created in 1994 by sculptor Glynn Acree, the mace is of sterling silver and ebony. It is borne before the faculty at opening convocation, commencement and other important events in university life. When not in use, it is on display in Harwell G. Davis Library.
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Christian missions have long captured the hearts and imaginations of Samford students. In addition to organizing short-term international and domestic mission opportunities, University Ministries maintains a scholarship program for student missionaries and hosts an organization dedicated to international students and students who grew up on the mission field.
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Graduate Prayer Breakfast

Since our inaugural commencement in 1847, graduates and faculty have joined in a dedicated time of prayer, worship and reflection. In 2010, the formality of the baccalaureate service was replaced with a breakfast providing a relaxing opportunity for graduates and professors to celebrate.
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Jan Term

For three weeks each January you will have the opportunity to break out of your routine and immerse yourself in a variety of courses. You can choose from laboratory research to interdisciplinary opportunities and cross-cultural study-abroad experiences. You can choose to take up to two unique courses designed to integrate your education with the world at large, your life and your future career.
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Since the first classes convened in February 1842, one constant of the curriculum has been required chapel. Today as a part of Samford University’s Christian mission, every student must obtain 60 convocation credits by attending a variety of religious services, lectures, faculty-student cadres and other designated events.
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The President

Samford University has had only four presidents in the past seventy-plus years. As our graduates carry our mission and tradition across the globe, the presidents, along with their spouses, embody the legacy and tradition of our university heritage on campus.
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Georgian-Colonial Campus

In the 1940s as plans were made for a new campus in Shades Valley of the Birmingham suburb of Homewood, university leaders (it is said, with the heavy influence of Howard College’s first lady Lena Vail Davis) chose classical Georgian colonial architecture for the original buildings. When the campus opened in 1957, the media called it the Williamsburg of Alabama. To this day, all major campus buildings reflect the distinctive brick pattern and stone trim of American colonial times. The original 1950s buildings and many of those built since were designed by Davis Architects of Birmingham. The famed Olmsted Brothers landscape design firm of Boston, Massachusetts, is credited with the original design of the 180-acre campus.

Mission and Core Values


The mission of Samford University is to nurture persons in their development of intellect, creativity, faith and personhood. As a Christian university, the community fosters academic, career and ethical competency while encouraging social and civic responsibility and service to others.

Core Values

The Samford community values lifelong:

  • belief in God, the Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord.
  • engagement with the life and teachings of Jesus
  • learning and responsible freedom of inquiry
  • personal empowerment, accountability and responsibility
  • vocational success and civic engagement
  • spiritual growth and cultivation of physical well-being
  • integrity, honesty and justice
  • appreciation for diverse cultures and convictions
  • stewardship of all resources
  • service to God, to family, to one another and to the community.

History of Samford University

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