Two Over the Mountain residents were recently honored for their service at Samford University.
Longtime Samford University professors Gretchen S. McDaniel and Lowell C. Vann, both of Hoover, received top university awards Jan. 28 during an especially memorable opening convocation for the 2014 spring semester.
Snow flurried outside Samford’s Wright Center as J. Bradley Creed, Samford provost and executive vice president, welcomed students and predicted that the 10 a.m. convocation would be memorable “if only because of the weather.”
Within an hour, however, the rapidly deteriorating–and unexpected–weather situation would cause the university to close at 11 a.m. and remain closed through Jan. 31.
But before the university closed, McDaniel and Vann were honored by their colleagues, and each received a $1,000 cash prize.
McDaniel, a 17-year veteran of Samford’s Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing faculty, received the George Macon Memorial award
for outstanding performance as a teacher and counselor.
Vann, whose teaching tenure at Samford began in 1970 and includes 36 years as art department chair, received the Jennings B. Marshall Service award for significant and sustained service contributions to the university.
During the awards presentation, Creed noted that McDaniel is highly regarded as a “consistent source of knowledge, guidance and encouragement for students as they learn the intricacies of the research process and related statistical measures.”
Many of her students go on to present and publish research done under her guidance, he said.
“Her willingness to give of herself both personally and professionally epitomizes what it means to be called to teach,” said Creed, adding that McDaniel often works late into the evening to accommodate the schedules of students at bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels.
McDaniel holds bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in nursing from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
The Birmingham native is designated as a National League for Nursing Certified Nurse Educator.
During Vann’s Samford tenure, Creed said, the art educator established new programs in graphic design and interior design that continue today and has taught in virtually every art discipline offered at the university.
“His international courses in art laid the foundation for the present study-abroad program and piloted the possibilities for general education courses at the Daniel House,” said Creed, referring to Samford’s residence program in London. Vann guided 18 alumni and friends’ trips to England, Scotland, Ireland, Italy and France.
Vann, a Samford graduate, holds a master of fine arts degree from the University of Alabama and a doctorate degree from Florida State University. The Cullman native, who also is pastor of Rocky Ridge Baptist Church, is known widely for his chalk art presentations in churches and other venues.
The two honorees were among several hundred Samford employees and commuter students who were stranded on campus on Jan. 28 due to hazardous road conditions throughout the Birmingham metro area.
Samford provided food in the campus dining hall and assisted with many other needs. Impromptu musical performances and movie showings helped the captive residence hall students and unexpected guests pass the time.
McDaniel said she did not leave campus until two days after the snowstorm hit.
“We were well taken care of with the cafe food,” said McDaniel, who slept in the nursing skills lab and was joined by several family members also caught in the snowy predicament.
Vann and his wife, Mira, who had attended the convocation, were also stranded until the afternoon of Jan. 30.
They were grateful, he said, for the food and campus camaraderie as well as the makeshift foam mattresses that were unearthed in the theater department.
“It was a memorable week,” Vann said. “Really, it was kind of fun.”