Posted by Philip Poole on 2005-10-10

Samford University honored a long-time trustee and donor Oct. 9 with the dedication of the Boyd E. Christenberry Planetarium in the University's Sciencenter.

Speaking to a standing-room-only audience, Samford president Thomas E. Corts said he and the University "have been looking forward to this day for a long time. This is a wonderful place that deserves to have its own name and recognition, and I am pleased that my dear friends are being honored in this great way.

"This man represents so much of what we prize and so much of what we seek for young people at Samford."

"If my mama were here today, she would be the most surprised," Christenberry said.

Christenberry, a retired executive with Alfa Insurance Corp. in Montgomery, is a life trustee at Samford. The son of sharecropper parents from rural Perry County, Ala., Christenberry rose in the ranks of senior executive management in the Alabama Farm Bureau Insurance Co., now known as Alfa. At the time of his retirement in 1993, he was executive vice president for marketing.

Christenberry has served as a trustee since 1978 and was chairman for four years. He and his wife, Sara, have been married for 54 years and are active members of Montgomery's First Baptist Church. A son, William, serves on the University's board of overseers and two college-age grandchildren are current students.

"There are many colleges and universities in this country, but there is only one Samford," Christenberry said in response to the naming. "Today, Samford is recognized in this community, in this state and in this nation as one of the finest institutions of its kind."

Citing many of the University's significant achievements in recent years, Christenberry said, "In my judgment, one of the strongest reasons [Samford] has succeeded is because people like to invest in something that is making a great contribution to society and to the Lord's kingdom."

The Christenberry Planetarium is the largest such teaching facility in Alabama and one of only six in the United States.

"This scientific place is also a sacred place," Corts noted. "If you want to see a declaration of the glory of God, you only need stand outside and look upward. This place is part of what it takes to provide a strong liberal arts preparation for our students. The Christenberrys have provided a gift for all time."

Other speakers included William Stevens of Birmingham, current chairman of Samford's board of trustees, and George Atchley, planetarium director.


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.