On the chilly evening of Nov. 4, students and faculty came together to celebrate Samford President Beck A. Taylor at his Inaugural Ball.
President Taylor’s Inaugural Ball is the third university-wide ball to be held at Samford University. The tradition was started in 2006 to mark the beginning of the Westmoreland administration, and a second was held in honor of Samford’s 175th Anniversary in 2016.
According to the chief of staff and assistant to the president, Michael Morgan, the Inaugural Ball is a manifestation of the strength of the Samford University family.
“This is the only massive celebration that unites all of Samford—trustees, employees, students and supporters—in one huge party,” Morgan said. “Presidential inaugurations at Samford are very rare and when they roll around this university celebrates them in grand style.”
The event began at 7 p.m. as lavishly dressed attendees mingled outside. A red carpet guided guests into an elaborately decorated Seibert Gym complete with draped cabanas, a dancefloor, and seating areas set apart by large floral arrangements and topiaries.
The sounds of Samford’s Jazz Band greeted the crowd, and played for the first portion of the evening. Grant Dalton, director of the Jazz Band, has played at many Samford events and was honored to be asked to open for the Inaugural Ball.
“I am really happy to play a small part in this inauguration of Dr. Taylor because of his love of the arts,” Dalton said. “We’ve had a great time visiting with him when he’s come to talk to the members of our various musical groups, and I think all of us in the School of the Arts are looking forward to seeing Dr. and Mrs. Taylor at our future productions.”
A little after 7:30 p.m., the crowd parted and spotlights illuminated a path as President Beck Taylor and wife Julie Taylor entered the floor for their first dance. As the presidential couple swayed to “Stars Fell On Alabama,” they were joined by their son and daughter to dance as a family.
After a few songs spent dancing with his students, President Taylor addressed the crowd and thanked everyone involved in the planning of the event, from the Inauguration Steering Committee to the workers that spent over 24 hours transforming Seibert Gym into the site of a magical evening for him and his family.
“I want to give a special thank you to everyone who has helped to make this inauguration so special for Julie and me and for this community. What I told you this morning is true: We love you, and we are glad to be here at Samford. We are glad to be Bulldogs again!” Taylor said.
For the remainder of the evening, the party band, Main Attraction, performed an electrifying set as students danced and enjoyed food catered by Samford Dining and Sodexo. According to Morgan, Sodexo sent a “strike team” of dozens of chefs from across the nation who prepped food days in advance, according to a menu approved by SGA leaders.
Toward the end of the night, the Homecoming Court was invited on stage to announce the Homecoming king and queen. This year’s winners were Song Bowers and Titus Gardner.
Bowers, a senior health sciences major, reflected on the honor of being crowned during the Inaugural Ball.
“It is a huge honor to be able to represent this amazing community that has helped make me who I am today,” Bowers said. “I am so grateful to be able to receive this outstanding gift on one of Samford’s most memorable and special nights to celebrate Dr. Taylor. What an honor!”
Her counterpart, Gardner, a senior marketing major and football player, wanted to thank his friends, family, and teammates for their support.
“First I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for placing me at Samford and surrounding me with the best friends and teammates I’ve ever had,” Gardner said. “Without the people around me I would not have been on that stage. I have a great support system behind me from friends to family. I am eternally grateful for this opportunity, especially on the president’s special day! Congrats to all who were on the court, and to Mr. and Mrs. Taylor.”
After a night of glitz and celebration, now begins a new chapter in Samford history, rooted in love.