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Introduction of the Speaker
Andrew Westmoreland, Ed.D.
President, Samford University
Good afternoon, Whitworth-and esteemed friends of Whitworth. I have traveled a long distance, indeed from another country -- Alabama -- simply to be present for this day -- this hour -- in the life of a dear friend and in the upward arc of one of America's finest Universities. What an honor it is to be here and a double blessing to offer this introduction.
You are all very bright - each one of you here today. You all learned to read many years ago and you have already had ample time to read the biography in the program and perhaps to commit it to memory. The Wikipedia version is that Dr. Taylor has done a lot of really good things, and he has done them very well to prepare himself to be your president. But I didn't travel past two time zones to tell you that.
Instead let me introduce Beck Taylor in the ways that I know him, beyond the gloss of this day. I know Beck Taylor, the high octane visionary. "Does he ever sleep," we used to ask. What's the source of that flood of ideas? Does he really send those e-mail messages at 2:30 a.m. or does he rig his computer to make it seem like he is awake? And then -- God help humankind -- he discovered Twitter! Yes, I know that Beck Taylor.
I know Beck Taylor the manager. Probably not his favorite role, but a role he plays very well, with the thought and care required to help an organization go the distance. For he knows that at the end of the day, and especially at the end of a tenure, bold vision must be accomplished by wise management.
I know Beck Taylor the scholar who loves nothing more than to throw himself into the research of his field and provide valid and useful ideas to improve lives, and then to teach all of this to his students.
I know Beck Taylor the person of faith, who thinks and prays before he speaks, who places high value on the life of the mind because it is the pure inspiration of Christ himself. I have seen his faith live and breathe and grow, and I know that it was a step of faith for him to leave and to join you.
I know Beck Taylor the family man and what a high standard he sets for all of us. He married well-wouldn't you agree? And Beck and Julie's children are the most important thing in their lives. And Whitworth, let them be a family. That will be your greatest gift to them.
And finally, I know Beck Taylor the friend. Many of you already know that person too. He is a friend for all seasons, faithful to the end. His friendships will become over time, some of the lifeblood of Whitworth. May his friendships grow as fast and deep as Kudzu on an Alabama hillside.
So, ladies and gentlemen, now it is time to recognize; now it is time to honor; now it is time to celebrate a man who no longer needs an introduction. Please welcome, with Whitworth style, the 18th President of Whitworth University, Dr. Beck Taylor.