Samford University has received a $2 million grant from
Lilly Endowment Inc. of Indianapolis, Ind., for programs that enhance the school's
efforts to prepare a new generation of leaders for church and society.
The grant will support a five-year program that "integrates more intentionally
Samford's distinctive Christian mission and faith resources into its institutional
life and into the lives of its students," according to Dr. Randy Todd,
Classics department chair and director of the project.
The program will encourage students to reflect on how their faith commitments
are related to their career choices and what it means to be "called"
to lives of service, said Dr. Todd.
"The program also will provide opportunities for students to explore the
rewards and demands of Christian ministry and consider a career as a minister,"
The grant is provided through an Endowment initiative called Programs for
the Theological Exploration of Vocation. The programs are designed "to
identify and nurture a new generation of highly talented and religiously committed
leaders of church and society," according to the Endowment. It provided
grants to 39 schools in the initiative.
Todd noted that the program would enable Samford to coordinate the efforts
of various programs and departments into an overall strategy for helping students
relate their faith to their choice of vocations.
The initial phase will focus on helping students explore faith and their life's
"mission" in a context that provides both support and challenge. The
next phase will provide opportunities for students to clarify their vocation
through "missions" of service and work.
The program will target three areas: academic, student and community outreach.
Activities in these areas will include:
Academic--Faculty and staff development, new courses and
course revisions, local and regional symposia on mission and vocation and an
international colloquium on the Baptist heritage and higher education scheduled
for London, England.
Student--Expansion of new-student orientation, peer mentoring,
student ministry and mission programs, apprenticeships in local congregations
and a summer institute for high school students.
Community outreach--Providing enhanced campus worship, university
service projects, alumni mentoring programs, vocational reflection retreats
for alumni and adults and service learning projects in rural Perry County, Alabama,
and urban Birmingham.
"This is a great opportunity for us to do some profound thinking and
substantive planning about our work as professors involved in teaching and research
at Samford," said Todd.
Samford received an earlier planning grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. of $49,072
to develop the program.
Also this fall, Samford received a separate $2 million grant from Lilly Endowment
Inc. to establish a Resource Center for Pastoral Excellence to encourage spiritual,
physical, social and intellectual renewal among church leaders.
Founded in 1937, the Endowment is a private foundation that supports its founders'
wishes by supporting the causes of religion, community development and education.