Published on October 16, 2012  

A journalist who covered the Civil Rights movement and Watergate scandal and a communications specialist who became the first director of the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N. C., have been named to the Samford University department of journalism and mass communication Wall of Fame.

The late Tim Robinson, who covered Watergate as the U.S. District Court reporter for The Washington Post, and Wayne Atcheson, who was named to the Billy Graham post in 2006, were inducted into the Wall of Fame during Homecoming activities Oct. 13. Selection to the wall is considered the highest honor the Samford department can bestow on a graduate, according to Dr. Bernie Ankney, department chair.

Both honorees worked their way through Samford and graduated in 1964. Robinson then earned a master's from American University and Atcheson a master's from the University of Alabama.

Robinson, a native of Walker County, Ala., worked on the state desk of the Birmingham Post-Herald and on weekends at United Press International (UPI) while attending Samford. These assignments opened the door for him to cover one of the historic chapters of American history, the Civil Rights movement.

His old friend and colleague from UPI, Al Benn, recalled that Robinson got a national exclusive during his civil rights coverage--the only photograph of the Rev. James Reeb being taken to the hospital after being beaten by white thugs in Selma., Ala. Reeb was a 38-year old white Unitarian minister from Washington, D.C., who was part of a civil rights protest in Selma. He died two days after the attack.

Robinson joined The Washington Post as assistant city editor in 1969 and shifted to the courts beat in the early '70s. He was named a Ford Foundation Fellow to Yale University in 1978 and completed a second master's, specializing in law. Back at The Post, he wrote a column for lawyers.

Robinson left The Post in 1982 to edit the National Law Journal in New York City, and later edited another legal publication, the Los Angeles Daily Journal.

Robinson died at age 58 in 2003 following complications from surgery. Samford's Timothy Sumner Robinson Forum, which has brought nationally known journalism speakers to campus and provided an annual two-week summer fellowship to The Post for Samford journalism students, is named in his honor.

Atcheson, the son of a preacher from Clanton, Ala., worked his way through Samford handling sports information for the school. Among the sports he covered were Coach Bobby Bowden's Samford teams of the early 1960s. Bowden described him as "a fine young man, very bright and very personable, and always willing to help out." Atcheson also funded his master's at Alabama by working for the UA sports information office.

Atcheson became interested in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes as a student, and worked for the national offices of the organization for 12 years in the 1960s and '70s. Later, he wrote a history of the FCA's first 40 years, one of six books he has written over the years.

Following a short stint with the University of Richmond, Atcheson was hired by University of Alabama football coach Ray Perkins to direct sports information for the nationally prominent program. Atcheson worked for 20 years at Alabama in sports information, producing award-winning publications, and Tide Pride, the nation's most successful donor program for athletics.

He then joined the international Jerry Jenkins Christian Writers Guild of Colorado Springs, Colo., in 2003 as admission manager.

Atcheson said he was surprised when he was asked to interview for the Billy Graham Library post in 2006 at age 63, when many of his friends had retired, but was excited when he got the job. "My evangelism upbringing fits well there," he said. He said he had given more than 500 tours of the Graham facility since, including one to his old friend Bowden recently. "That job fits him like a glove," said Bowden.
Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.