Samford University alumni began 2011 Homecoming weekend celebration Friday, Oct. 28, with a special worship service and a banquet honoring some of their own.
The banquet recognized Alumni of the Year Joe McDade, Class of 1961, and Mark Davidson, Class of 1992; and Outstanding Young Alumna Kitty Rogers Brown, Class of 2001.
Prior to the event, alumni and students gathered in Reid Chapel for a service of worship, scripture and song featuring the Samford Chorale and A Cappella Choir.
At the banquet, McDade, a retired minister from Montgomery, Ala., was cited for his devoted attendance of concerts, lectures and other events, and his financial support, which includes establishing a scholarship by his home church, Pintlala Baptist. He has supported all Samford sports, and also led the 50-year reunion class of 1961 in establishing a Legacy scholarship for students.
“Joe shares his passion for Samford with alumni, friends, students, faculty and staff, and really anyone who will listen,” said Alumni Association president Keith Herron, Class of 1986. “He is a role model alumnus, and Samford’s world and the world in general are better because of Joe McDade.”
Davidson is a longtime alumni volunteer and former alumni association president, “who truly enjoys uniting and connecting the Samford community,” said Herron, noting that the honoree invests in Samford with both his time and resources.
Herron recalled how Davidson had been gratified with the way Samford prepared him for Ivy League graduate school. At Samford, he said, “Mark found what he was looking for and so much more, and today his investment in his alma mater has helped to increase homecoming participation and fellow alumni involvement.”
Davidson is director of investments at Cornerstone Investment Management and Consulting, Inc., in Mobile, Ala. He and his wife, Lynn, have three children, Pape, Cam and Claire.
Brown, a Samford history graduate who earned a law degree from the University of Alabama, is a member of the Birmingham law firm, White Arnold & Dowd, P.C.
“Kitty’s commitment and love for Samford is obvious to all who know her,” said Herron, citing her work on several key Alumni Association boards and as chapter advisor to Chi Omega sorority. “Kitty was actively involved in the classroom and beyond as a student, and her dedication to her alma mater continues today.”
Brown and her husband, Tucker, are parents of twin sons, Richmond and Stephen. She is the daughter of Samford alumni Jama Davis Rogers, M.A. ’76, and Bob Rogers, J.D. ’76, of Russellville, Ala.
Samford president Dr. Andrew Westmoreland presented a special alumnus award to former Samford music faculty member Dr. Bill Nugent who, he said, made “a great contribution to our school spirit that still reverberates today.”
Dr. Nugent, who does not hold a Samford degree, became only the fifth recipient of the school’s honoris causa honorary alumnus designation.
Nugent, explained Westmoreland, was hired in 1957, the first year classes were held on the Lakeshore campus, to be director of bands for then-Howard College. The Southern Methodist University graduate inherited only a small ensemble of musicians, but within a year, he grew the marching band to more than 100.
As athletic teams competed without a rousing fight song, Nugent came to the rescue by composing the spirited fight song that Samford still uses today.
Nugent went on to a distinguished career in higher education, including posts as chancellor at the University of Arkansas, provost of West Virginia University, and vice president of the University of Nebraska system.
He will serve as grand marshal of the homecoming parade on Saturday morning.
Alumni Association Annual Giving Board vice president David Spurling, Class of 1998, recognized the 2011 Challenge of the Classes honorees for their financial support of their alma mater.
Honored classes were: Class of 1942, highest percent participation; Class of 1961, highest amount contributed; and Class of 1970, highest number of donors. Advisory board members McDade and Rev. Howard Goodwin accepted the awards on behalf of their classes of 1961 and 1970, respectively.
Class reunion leaders McDade, Herron, and Brown, were were also commended for their efforts to organize homecoming gatherings for their classes.
Earlier on Friday, members of classes of 1961 and earlier gathered at the home of President Westmoreland and his wife, Dr. Jeanna Westmoreland, for the annual Golden Bulldog Brunch. More than 100 guests enjoyed visiting with long-ago roommates, teammates and friends.
The Lockmiller awards, given each year to recognize the male and female graduate present from the earliest class, went to Ellen Barton, Class of 1936, and Frank Donaldson, Class of 1947.
Barton, of Locust Fork, Ala., has not missed a Golden Bulldog brunch since she attended her 50th anniversary reunion in 1986.
Donaldson, of Birmingham, is a retired FBI agent, U.S. attorney and Cumberland law professor.
Brunch goers sang an enthusiastic “Happy Birthday” to faithful homecoming attendee and Alumni Association 1952 class agent Joe Goode, who celebrated his 82nd birthday on Friday.