As Geography and Sociology students twist and turn through the twisted halls of Ingalls, a special memorial room waits with open arms to embrace any student grieving over the loss of the late Professor Hugh Floyd.
Floyd began his career as an educator at the University of New Orleans in 1970 before joining Samford in 1993, serving as the chair of the department of sociology until 2014. On Jan. 10, 2023, Floyd passed away after a brief illness. He is survived by his wife, Paula, and his two adult children, Ryan and Stephen.
The memorial room in Ingalls Hall was arranged by his co-workers and friends in the geography and sociology department to help those who knew Floyd share memories and commemorate him. In addition to a table bearing Floyd’s favorite snacks and a box for hand-written cards to his family, a whiteboard stands in the room listing some of Floyd’s favorite things – social justice, hot tea and his students – as well as some common expressions he favored, lovingly dubbed “Hugh-isms.”
A corkboard displays index cards that share favorite facts and memories about Floyd. A handwritten note reads, “Dr. Floyd, what I would give for just one more meandering story! My life is better for knowing you. I miss you. -Keri.”
Pictures taped to the wall depict students gathered around Floyd at various events over the years. One such photo features a former student of Floyd’s, Samford alumni and sociologist Jonathan Coley. In a printed screenshot of a tweet tacked underneath the photo, Coley claims that Floyd had such a profound impact on him during undergrad that Coley dedicated his first book to him.
“I’m so grateful for the impact he had on my life and on the lives of many others. Samford will certainly not be the same place without him,” Coley tweeted.
The director of sociology, Professor Theresa Davidson, worked with Floyd for 17 years and shared that the primary motivation for the memorial room was to offer faculty, and especially students, a place to express their emotions after such an unexpected loss.
“How many people (their) age have known people as they were dying? That’s kind of a hard thing to process. So, we’re hoping that the memorial room will help students,” Davidson said. “Obviously, he’s gone, so it’s not really for him. It’s for us; to come together in community, share memories, support each other, hold each other up. That’s what it’s for.”
On a personal note, Davidson added that Floyd was a source of wisdom and advice whenever she had questions. During the years they worked together, Floyd was a constant pillar of support for faculty and students alike.
“He was a committed sociologist, a compassionate therapist, a social justice warrior, and one of my best friends,” Davidson said.
In addition to the memorial room, the department of geography and sociology will host a Mardi Gras celebration of Floyd on Feb. 21. Floyd began his career in New Orleans and carried a special love for the city, so faculty members will continue his tradition of bringing in a king cake and celebrating Mardi Gras in style. All students, faculty, alumni and members of the community that wish to celebrate Floyd are invited to attend.