On June 30, 2019, Beeson Divinity School’s founding dean Timothy George locked the door to the office he had designed for the last time as he wrapped up 31 years of service as dean. In contrast to yearlong festivities paying tribute to George, on that hot summer day he left his Samford University office quietly and unobserved.
George will return as a research professor next academic year after a well-earned yearlong sabbatical. But the school has one final tribute that will ensure George’s legacy at Beeson Divinity School long after he is gone.
Thanks to the generous gifts of alumni, colleagues and friends, the Timothy George Scholarship for Excellence is now fully endowed at just over half a million dollars. According to the scholarship agreement, the divinity school “will have an enhanced ability to attract top tier students who will guide, challenge and shape future generations of ministers and scholars for Christ’s church throughout the world.”
Jamie and Mary French of Birmingham gave to the scholarship because, “Dr. George has been a blessing to so many Christians through his scholarship, preaching and leadership that we want to enable outstanding divinity students to further carry the Christian message to the world.”
Beeson's new dean Douglas Sweeney gives thanks to God for brothers and sisters in Christ who partner with Beeson in the service of the church.
“Timothy George’s legacy in the theological education of pastors and laity is nothing short of immense. But so is the legacy of the board members and other friends of Beeson whose tireless service as laborers in the kingdom of God yielded the funds we needed to reach our funding goal for this scholarship," he said.
George, who felt a call to preach as a teenager, would not have been able to pursue graduate studies at Harvard Divinity School had it not been for a generous scholarship he received from the then-called Dora Maclellan Brown Charitable Trust (now The Generosity Trust). As the scholarship’s first recipient, George credits the trajectory of his life to the faithfulness and generosity of Dora Maclellan Brown, a longtime Sunday School teacher at Second Presbyterian Church in Chattanooga, Tenn.
“It seems fitting that we would seek to establish a fund in honor of Dr. George that would help other students now and in the future who have great minds and great spirits to accomplish great things for the kingdom of God,” Samford President Andrew Westmoreland said.
Now that the scholarship has reached its endowment goal, it is in the process of gestating according to university policy, with the hope that it will be awarded to its first recipient(s) within the next two years. Alumni and friends can continue contributing to the scholarship ensuring its sustainability in the years to come by giving online or contacting Carolyn Lankford, Beeson Divinity’s advancement officer.
“Despite his instinct to avoid all accolades, Dr. George understood just how life changing a scholarship can be, given his own experience as a student,” Lankford said. “Samford University could not have honored Dr. George in a more appropriate way.”