News & Events
Professor Emeritus Emmett Sams Dies at 92
The following is the message conveyed by President Lunsford to the Mars Hill College community this morning (April 3, 2013):
It is with profound sorrow that I inform the Mars Hill community that Professor Emeritus Emmett Sams passed away last evening at his home. In the last few weeks Professor Sams had experienced more critical health issues and was in the care of his family and Hospice. Many of you are aware that the college faculty had approved the administrative recommendation that he be awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. This action was approved by the Board of Trustees on March 16, 2013.
Hundreds of students at Mars Hill over the decades were blessed to be taught and mentored by Mr. Sams. I am in awe of his dedication and service to the college, Mars Hill Baptist Church, and the larger community. Effective Wednesday, April 3, 2013, we will lower the MHC flags to half staff for a week-long period of time in honor of our friend and colleague Emmett Sams.
Specific memorial arrangements will be announced when available.
Mr. Sams attended Mars Hill College from 1937 to 1939 and went on to receive his bachelor’s degree from Western Carolina University. He received his master’s from George Peabody College and studied at Cornell University, N.C. State University, and the University of Kansas. His teaching career began at the high school level before he joined the Mars Hill College faculty in 1947. He remained at the college until his retirement in 1993, and continued to be a regular presence on campus through his remaining two decades. Professor Sams was the first recipient of the college’s Gibbs Outstanding Teaching Award, in 1980, and received the W.W. Rankin Award for excellence in mathematics education in 1984 from the North Carolina Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
In addition to his teaching duties, Mr. Sams served the college as tennis coach in 1950 and 1951, and was the time and score keeper at home basketball games from 1950 until 1980. He was elected to the Mars Hill College Athletics Hall of Fame in 2000.
In 2007 Mr. Sams was selected as an Alumnus of the Year. At his induction ceremony, the following statements were offered:
"It is a rare occasion when Mars Hill College honors one of its retired faculty members as Alumnus of the Year. But Emmett Sams was a rare faculty member whose love and devotion to Mars Hill College defined his adult life."
"Mr. Sams excelled in the classroom. He had great expectations for each student. It is true that many of the more than 13,000 students he taught required little out of class help. But there were also many who needed the individual attention and expert diagnosis that Emmett Sams provided. Indeed, there is a long list of his former students who went on to enjoy outstanding careers in medicine, law, business, finance, and education. Some of these students entered Mars Hill College with little academic confidence. More than a few of these individuals have explained to me the central role that Emmett Sams had in their academic achievements."
April 3, 2013