Published on April 30, 2021 by Sean Flynt  
Jonathan Bass, Andy Milstead and Annie DeVries
Jonathan Bass, Andy Milstead and Annie DeVries

Samford University’s Howard College of Arts and Sciences presented its annual Dean’s Awards during the college’s last faculty assembly of the 2020-21 academic year.

Spanish professor Andy Milstead earned the college’s Teaching Award during a time of extreme teaching challenges. His scholarly interests have long included technology in language learning and internet-based learning, and he was able to maintain his own excitement for his subject and engage and inspire his students as he shifted to a mix of remote and in-person courses during the COVID-19 pandemic. College dean Tim Hall said that one of the students who nominated Milstead for the honor described him as a “fantastic facilitator of classroom discussion” who enriched his understanding of Spanish literature, another of the professor’s academic specialties.

The Research Award went to history professor Jonathan Bass in recognition of his critically acclaimed and influential research on the American civil rights movement. In addition to his most recent book, He Calls Me By Lightning, and the now-classic Blessed Are the Peacemakers, Bass is the author of two forthcoming books. He also is incorporating his research into new Samford courses aligned with the college’s commitment to racial justice, including The African American Experience in the United States from Emancipation to the end of the Civil Rights Era, offered for the first time this spring.

Another Samford history professor engaged with issues of social justice, Annie DeVries, earned the Advising Award. Senior advisee Max Lattermann said DeVries helped him feel connected to campus life while he was studying from his home in Germany for most of the pandemic, and helped him manage the complexities of a double major. “I know that I have someone I can reach out to at any time,” he said. Senior Hannah Atchley recalled that Devries helped her “walk through the pains of academic, spiritual and emotional growth,” especially as she wrestled with the idea of women in ministry during DeVries’ Women and Religion course. “She gently pointed me toward larger questions and reminded me of God’s character,” Atchley said. In class, Atchley added, DeVries “always taught the hard truth of history, but never left it in the hard, cynical places of our stories." Instead, she said, DeVries “believes in the good in humanity, and finds a path for unity and understanding through the details of people’s personal experience."

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.