Page 5 - 'Southern Magazine - Summer 2012

summer 2012 / 3
hen the 2011-12 academic
year began last August, I
was, in essence, a
freshman—brand new to the
Birmingham-Southern College
Just like a bright-eyed teen, I went
through my first year on the Hilltop
full of excitement and curiosity
eagerly soaking in as much of
college life as possible. I needed
to experience every aspect of what
makes BSC special—the connections
between faculty and students inside
and outside the classroom, the
extracurricular activities, and what
it’s like to eat and live on campus.
I spent several hours each day just
walking about … I ate at least one
meal a day in the Caf … I dropped
in on classes unannounced … my
office door was open every morning
at 7 so students could find me if
they needed advice or had concerns.
My wife, Zandi, and I even spent
our first semester living alongside
students in a residence hall. I met
with alumni wherever and whenever
I could. We talked about our hopes
and aspirations for Birmingham-
Southern. I learned who they
are, what they do, and the unique
experiences that will forever tie them
to the Hilltop.
What I found this year reinforced
what drew me to Birmingham-
Southern—the knowledge that the
genius of this unique place is in its
people. Our faculty are world-class
and educating our students is their
No. 1 priority; our students are not
only talented but compassionate and
committed to improving the lives
of others; our staff work tirelessly
to care for our students; and our
alumni are the best at what they do
and credit Birmingham-Southern for
who they have become.
But that is not all. What our
college has accomplished in the
past year is inspiring. Last fall,
our faculty introduced a new and
innovative general education
curriculum that equips our students
with the skills and perspectives
sought by employers and graduate
schools. We hosted prominent
speakers, from former White House
Chief of Staff Andrew Card to FedEx
CEO Fred Smith to award-winning
pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Ben
Carson. Our students excelled in
their studies, traveling to Qatar to
lead a United Nations peace forum,
presenting nuclear physics research
at a national conference, and
taking top honors for an original
music composition. They devoted
themselves to service, raising money
for and giving their time to help
tornado victims, fight cancer, stop
child abuse, and feed the homeless.
They displayed their talents in
recitals, plays, musicals, and art
exhibits on campus and across the
South. They played their hearts
out: our scholar-athletes, in their
first year of eligibility for conference
championships and postseason
play, won three SCAC titles on one
weekend and sent four teams and
numerous individuals to NCAA
Division III postseason competition.
They dominated our conference’s
and division’s academic honors,
and all of our varsity sports teams
posted winning records this year!
Tiarra Goode won two national
championships in track and field,
and Bruce Maxwell was named the
best baseball player in all of NCAA
Division III and was the 62nd player
drafted in the 2012 Major League
Baseball Draft!
In early May, I attended my first
Honors Day. As I listened to our
students showcase their scholarly
and creative works for the campus
community, I recalled my first
communication to parents in
spring 2011. I wrote then that the
youth of today will be the leaders
of our nation for a majority of this
century. Folks, let me tell you that
we are in good hands! On May
I participated in my first BSC
Commencement, where I had the
honor of presenting 338 graduating
seniors with their diplomas. It
was especially meaningful to see
them begin the transition from
Birmingham-Southern to the next
phase of their lives. Many left us
with prestigious scholarships to
the nation’s best medical, law,
professional, and graduate schools,
and others with notable job offers …
all prepared no matter where their
journeys may take them.
This coming fall, another
outstanding group of young men
and women will join our student
body … as academically talented
as ever … sharp and articulate …
ready to distinguish themselves as
BSC students. We are expecting
about 350 new first-year students
when school starts August 29—a
remarkable 17 percent increase over
last year’s class. There aren’t many
colleges and universities in the
country … if any … that can boast
such dramatic improvement in one
year. Thank you for continuing
to sing the praises of the BSC
experience to prospective students
and parents, encouraging them to
visit campus, and referring to us any
students you feel would be a good