Samford University's board of trustees approved five new faculty members and degree candidates from summer among actions at a Sept. 7 meeting in Birmingham.
New faculty members include:
Amy Branyon Bigham, associate professor of nursing. She had been clinician assistant professor of nursing at the University of Alabama. She earned her doctor of nursing practice degree at the University of South Alabama (USA) and other graduate degrees from Mississippi University for Women.
Megan Mileski, instructor of nursing. Mileski has bachelor's and master's degrees in nursing from Samford and had been a labor and delivery nurse at the University of Alabama-Birmingham.
Sean Slattery, instructor and debate coach. He had been assistant debate coach and a teaching assistant at Wake Forest University, where he earned a master's degree in communication.
Rachel Hutchins Thomas, assistant professor of pharmacy practice and drug information specialist. Thomas received her doctor of pharmacy degree from Samford and has been a drug information resident for Samford's McWhorter School of Pharmacy since 2011.
Stephanie Wynn, associate professor of nursing. Wynn also has a doctor of nursing practice degree from USA and had been a clinical assistant professor at the University of Alabama.
All appointments are effective with the fall semester.
Trustees approved 112 candidates for graduation who received completed degree requirements at the end of the summer session. Samford Provost J. Bradley Creed reminded trustees that approving degree candidates was "one of the most important things the board does."
The purchase of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity house was approved. Harry B. Brock III, vice president for business and financial affairs, told trustees that although the house sits on the campus, the physical dwelling was owned by the fraternity. Part of the proceeds from the purchase will fund a scholarship endowment. There are students living in the house this year and the office of Greek life has relocated there.
A new licensing policy was approved to "appropriately promote and protect the university's name and other trademarks." The university has contracted with an external vendor to assist with licensing, Brock said.
Trustees also approved nearly 400 members of community and professional advisory boards for various academic programs.
The 2011-12 fiscal year audit was approved. The university ended with a positive operating margin for the fourth consecutive year.
In his report to trustees, Samford President Andrew Westmoreland noted what he called some of the "headline" issues. He commended faculty and staff for working on strategies to meet enrollment and financial goals in spite of economic pressures, increasing regulatory burdens and an "erosion of trust" in higher education.
"At Samford, we will be people who keep our word, do what we say we will do, and always keep the best interests of our students in mind," he said.
Student recruitment and retention are "our single largest driver," he added, and will continue to be a major focus.
"I have challenged our people to help me find new ways to deliver higher education, and Samford should be at the forefront of helping others in our business in higher education," he said. "We must find new and better ways to provide high quality at a reasonable price that is focused on student learning."
Westmoreland said he was "very encouraged, optimistic and grateful" because of all the good that he sees at Samford. "Our people come to work every day committed to doing the best they can and receptive to new and innovative ways of doing business. How can I be discouraged with all of that going on?"
The next meeting of the board is Dec. 4 in Birmingham.