Samford University's presidential search committee began narrowing a list of potential candidates at an Oct. 14-15 meeting in Birmingham. The committee is searching for a successor to current Samford President Thomas E. Corts, who has announced plans to retire at the end of the 2005-06 academic year.
To date, the 18-member committee has received 136 nominations, according to committee co-chair Hobart Grooms Jr., a Birmingham attorney and Samford trustee. Nominations were received "from all regions of the country, as well as faculty, staff, students, alumni and other friends of Samford," Grooms said.
Every nominee was contacted by the committee, and many submitted letters of interest. The search committee has narrowed the original list "to those candidates who seem best suited to lead Samford at this critical point in its history," Grooms said. The committee has begun to notify candidates of the committee's progress.
All committee members reviewed candidates' administrative experience, scholarly publication, participation in professional organizations, fundraising abilities, leadership and faith life. "The pool has included several very impressive candidates who have achieved a lot in their careers thus far," Grooms said. "We have evaluated each candidate, keeping in mind Samford's mission as a faith-based university."
The committee will narrow the list again at the next meeting Nov. 11-12. At that time, the committee "will become better acquainted with the remaining candidates through conversations," according to committee co-chair Albert Brewer of Birmingham.
The pool of candidates "represents a diverse group of institution types and regions of the country," Brewer said. This national participation "reflects Samford's reputation" and supports the committee's original charge from the University's board of trustees to conduct a national search, added the former Alabama governor.
Since the committee's last meeting in August, the co-chairs and committee secretary Sarah Latham have contacted national higher education leaders for input and to seek names of possible candidates. The committee also sent letters to current Samford students inviting nominations.
The committee has continued to rely on input from earlier discussions with the chair of the Samford's Faculty Senate, president-elect of the Staff Advisory Council, Student Government Association president and the executive director of the Alabama State Baptist Convention. In addition, Latham noted, several constituents have shared thoughts and concerns through letters and e-mails sent to the committee.
Although the committee has begun to "significantly narrow" the candidate pool, the committee will still receive names of viable candidates for consideration, Latham said.
The committee still has not set a definite time frame for completing its work, Brewer said. "The committee is consciously aware of the stated date given by President Corts for his retirement, but the committee wants to ensure that the process works fully so that the best candidate is selected."
The process affirmed by the board of trustees provides for candidate review by panels representing faculty, staff, students, alumni and other key constituents, and the committee plans to include that review in its process at the appropriate time, Brewer added.