Special Collection Treasures
Published on February 17, 2017 by Jennifer Taylor
Students adhering Samford card decal

Students Buddy Huey, Bill Pendergrass, Doug Gardner and Murray Howard show off Howard College and Samford University Logos

Before there was a vote, arguments for a new name for Howard College were being heard across campus. President Leslie Wright advocated for a change by noting the school had long ago become a university in all but its name. The process of becoming a university had begun when the division of Pharmacy was added in 1927. Other graduate and professional programs followed. Since a Howard University already existed in Washington, a new name was suggested to honor long-time Chairman of the Board, Frank Park Samford.

Sizemore letter.
Rights: Special Collection, Samford University Library.

In an April 1964 letter of support, Dean Margaret Sizemore asked,

"When are we going to change our name? I would like to cast a vote for Samford University! We wouldn't have to change our Alma Mater except for one word."

In May of 1965, the Board of Trustees voted unanimously to recommend a name change for Howard College. At that time, as an Alabama Baptist entity, the recommendation needed to be delivered to The Alabama Baptist State Convention during the next annual meeting in November.

After the trustees' recommendation was made public, murmurs of discontent began to be heard across the state. The name Howard was loved and respected by many alumni and Baptists. There was a strong sentimental connection to the Howard name. For that reason, it was decided the name Howard would remain a part of the university as the title for the School of Arts and Sciences.

One of the primary supporters for the Samford name change was former college president, Harwell G. Davis. He said, "Without question, Mr. Samford has been Howard's greatest individual financial supporter. However, the devotion of his time, his efforts, and his influence in the interest of the college has probably been worth even more…Samford is an esteemed name with several generations marked by outstanding service to their fellowmen."

A great debate followed. But, on November 9, 1965 with a vote of 593 to 512, the Alabama Baptist State Convention changed the school's name to Samford University.

Newspaper clipping, Samford University a reality.

Governor Wallace signed the new charter on Nov. 9, 1965.

The plan for the implementation of the new name was to be a gradual transition. The name of the school was to stay Howard through the remainder of the academic year. For the winter and spring sports, the athletic jerseys would still read Howard College. As supplies were needed, such as letterhead and bookplates, the new name was to be implemented. But, media outlets across the state immediately began using the new name. The school soon became known as Samford University. Public recognition speed up the transition. Samford University class rings and car decals were available by January 1966. At the 125th Founders Day celebration in March, a new logo was introduced that merged the two academic seals.

Students adhering Samford card decal

Logo introduced at the 125th Founders Day celebration

In September 1966, classes began at the institution officially recognized and known as Samford University for the new academic year.


  • SCAV 1065 VM 26667, Lew Arnold Collection, Samford University Library, Special Collection Digital Collections
  • Samford Vertical File, Name Change
  • The Wright Years, manuscript written by Dr. Lee Allen
  • 1966 Entre Nous, available at the library and online