Samford University conferred degrees on 265 graduates from 19 states and three foreign countries and awarded an honorary doctorate to retired former provost William E. Hull, who spoke during Fall commencement Saturday, Dec. 13.
Dr. Hull, a well-known writer and theologian who served as Samford provost during 1987-96, received an honorary doctor of letters degree. In presenting the degree, Clark Watson, chairman of the Samford Board of Trustees, said, "As much as any other person over the last two decades, Dr. Hull has led the charge to ensure that Samford continuously strived for the highest possible standards, at all levels."
Watson read a doctoral citation that described Hull as "a man of intellect, a gentle spirit, a world-renowned theologian, a loving pastor, a lifelong learner and teacher, a Renaissance man and a Christian committed to the integration of faith and scholarship."
Hull told the graduates that their "educational pilgrimage should last a lifetime" and offered suggestions on how to make that happen. "Take seriously the operative word commencement," he said, suggesting that they view today as the next step in their ongoing efforts to learn. He reminded them that part of their Samford education was "learning how to learn."
Hull urged the graduates to "test your learning with views that are different from your own," and to work at being with people "who will bring you other views."
Finally, he said, "learn to think independently, learn to commit deeply" and have the courage "to take your stand."
His remarks were greeted with a standing ovation from a crowd of more than 2,000 in Samford's Pete Hanna Center.
A Birmingham native and 1951 Samford graduate, Hull continues to hold the position of research professor at Samford. He also serves as theologian-in-residence at Mountain Brook Baptist Church.
Hull has written 12 books on theological subjects, the most recent being Harbingers of Hope, published in 2007. He has contributed to 24 other books. He recently completed another manuscript that is an update of his 1981 book, Beyond the Barriers.
Samford awarded degrees to graduates of its Howard College of Arts and Sciences, School of the Arts, Brock School of Business, Orlean Bullard Beeson School of Education and Professional Studies, Cumberland School of Law, Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing and McWhorter School of Pharmacy. Samford's Beeson Divinity School held its commencement Dec. 3.