Samford University has launched the most ambitious
fundraising campaign in the university’s 168-year history, with a goal of
raising $200 million over the next five years.
The campaign, several months in planning, was announced publicly on Oct.
9, with $84 million already given or pledged, according to Samford President
The campaign provides financial support for Samford’s
multifaceted, multiyear strategic plan that was approved and announced by the
university’s board of trustees in September 2008. The strategic plan and the
campaign both support the academic priorities of the university and provide for
the needs of students, Westmoreland said.
Key components of the campaign are funds for scholarships,
academic programs such as endowed chairs and professorships, annual support of
university operations and capital projects.
University administrators and campaign leadership
acknowledged the unusual economic climate in which the campaign is launching. But,
campaign leaders are convinced that the campaign can be successful.
“We are aware that these are tough economic times, and people
might ask ‘Isn’t this a strange time to be starting a capital campaign?’” said
Albert P. Brewer. Brewer, a former Alabama governor and retired Samford law
professor, is campaign chair. [watch video]
“Our needs are even greater and more pronounced now, and the
needs of our students and the opportunities that we have to minister to them
are greater now because of these [economic] circumstances. This is a time when
we must go forward with our campaign in view of those conditions. We believe
that people recognize the needs that we have, that they recognize the
importance of what we’re trying to do for our students by way of scholarships
and enhanced research and facilities here. I believe that people are going to
respond affirmatively and positively to what we’re trying to do because it is
so essential that we do it now.”
The largest campaign component, about $65 million, is
designated for scholarships. Funds would be used for existing scholarship programs,
ranging in vintage from the one-year-old University Fellows for top academic
students to the 80-year-old Samford marching band. Additional endowment would
provide new program-specific and needs-based scholarships, Westmoreland noted.
Officials said scholarship funding is critical, especially
in today’s economy, as Samford competes to attract top students.
“One very important goal of this campaign is scholarships,”
said Samford Provost J. Bradley Creed. “We want qualified students to be able
to receive a college education, which is one of the most life-changing
experiences that any human being can have. That is why a significant part of
this campaign is dedicated to scholarships to enable qualified students in need
of assistance to come to Samford and have this life-changing experience.”
In addition to scholarship funding, the campaign also will
support academic programs and faculty. About $25 million is earmarked in the
campaign for faculty enrichment and academic programs.
“As the largest private university in Alabama and one of the
top private schools in the region, it is imperative that our faculty and
academic programming reflect that status,” said W. Randall Pittman, Samford’s
vice president for university advancement.
Income from endowed academic chairs and professorships would
fund research and help to attract and retain quality faculty “to join our team
of esteemed professors,” Pittman said. Other funds would be used to support
existing or new academic programs in each of Samford’s eight academic schools.
An unusual component of the campaign is $60 million for
annual support. Most major institutional campaigns focus on capital or new
projects, but because tuition revenue alone cannot support a major university
like Samford, annual giving to support day-to-day instructional needs is
crucial, Pittman said.
“Tuition revenue is designated for instructional costs, but
ongoing operational needs are just as critical,” he explained. “A sprawling
campus requires care and maintenance. Library resources and school-based
equipment must be replaced. Continuously changing technology needs must be met.
Resources must be available for growth in student enrollment.
“Even with Samford’s prudent financial management, it is a
challenge for tuition costs to remain affordable for most students while
providing adequate funds for the university’s physical plant and other needs. That
is why annual giving is so important.”
The Cooney Family Field House for football, completed in
August, is a capital project included in the campaign, Westmoreland said. Other projects being considered are an
expanded and renovated student center, residence facilities and academic
buildings for Samford’s burgeoning student population. Capital projects will be undertaken as funding
A steering committee of volunteers, chaired by Brewer, is
assisting the university’s administration with the campaign. Other members of
the campaign cabinet are Paula Hovater, president, Public Affairs, Inc.,
Atlanta, Ga.; Eddie Miller, president, Bodine, Inc., Birmingham; Vic Nichol,
CEO, Alabama Bankers Bank, Birmingham; retired insurance executive John C.
Pittman of Birmingham; William Stevens, CEO, Motion Industries, Birmingham; W.
Clark Watson, attorney with Balch and Bingham, Birmingham; and Birmingham community
volunteer and philanthropist Elouise Williams.
Westmoreland and Brewer both anticipate strong support from
all Samford constituencies. The campaign already has been endorsed by a
unanimous vote of Samford’s board of trustees.
“One might ask why the community should be involved in or support
the Samford campaign,” Brewer said. “Samford is an integral part of this
community and proud to be a part of the community. We participate in and
provide many of the cultural activities of the community. We’re good corporate citizens. We educate the
young people of the community. So, the community has a real stake in the
success of our campaign because of what we’re doing here at Samford.”
“We need the help of all friends of Samford,” Westmoreland
added. “Certainly these goals are lofty, but they are attainable if the Samford
constituency rallies around this great cause.”