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April 13, 2004

Birmingham-Southern College to name plaza after retiring longtime provost

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—The outdoor plaza adjacent to the new Elton B. Stephens Science Center on the campus of Birmingham-Southern will become the Dr. H. Irvin Penfield Plaza following ceremonies Tuesday, April 20, to honor the college's retiring longtime provost.

The 11:30 a.m. ceremony in front of the Stephens Science Center will pay tribute to Penfield, who will retire May 31 after nearly 19 years as provost and dean of the college. He preceded that by about the same number of years in the classroom as a professor of political science.

The college also has established the Penfield Scholarship in Political Science.

A Birmingham native, Penfield began his BSC career in 1967 as an assistant professor of political science, rising to the rank of full professor by 1980. He became dean of the college and vice president for academic affairs in 1985. His title was changed to provost in 1996.

As the first chair of the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences, he established majors in political science and sociology. As director of the Master of Public and Private Management Program, he led a group of faculty in establishing the college's graduate program in business.

As provost, he helped write the first grant for seed money to start the Leadership Studies program. He oversaw the completion of such initiatives as the Honors Program, Foreign Languages Across the Curriculum, Latin American Studies program, and the recently implemented Foundations curriculum.

The faculty has grown in numbers—from 84 members in 1985 to 104 members today—and in diversity of academic backgrounds. Under Penfield's guidance, computers were secured for all faculty offices, while fewer than five faculty members had computers on their desks in 1985. He helped increase funds for faculty development and was instrumental in recently establishing a new faculty scholarship award.

Penfield also was instrumental in the founding of the Associated Colleges of the South, a consortium of 16 liberal arts colleges of which Birmingham-Southern is a member.

Following a sabbatical next fall, Penfield will return to part-time classroom teaching in spring 2005.

He completed his bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees from the University of Alabama.

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