Fall 2001
Vol 18 No. 3

Burst of Energy

Amazing Discovery

Heart of Teaching

Tool Shed Development

Evolution of a Seal

Samford Ranks Fifth

Class Notes


Samford Standards High, So Is Ranking

"Not only the cheapest but probably the worst college in the English-speaking world," was the unflattering way famed economist, John Kenneth Galbraith, once described his college. He was neither first nor last to evaluate a college or university. Annually, about 15 million families try to determine the worthiness of individual colleges and to choose one which is best for them, which can they afford, to which can their son or daughter gain admission?

The public hungers to know what criteria to use in assessing institutions of higher education. As the public attempts to differentiate between colleges, they have grown to be more alike over the years. What most sets institutions apart, and makes them truly different from one another, is their mission. So, a university like Samford, with a distinctive Christian mission along with avowed academic rigor, has deliberately chosen a mission, a style, a modus operandi that makes it identifiably different in the marketplace of 3,500 institutions.

Some years ago, a prominent higher education scholar suggested that most colleges followed one of three models: (a) the resource model, assuming that institutions that tended to charge a lot and spend a lot were probably good; (b) the reputation model, hypothesizing that institutions with big sports programs, wide name recognition, and high profile were probably best; (c) the student development model, based upon the idea that a university should be judged by how it helps students develop, assuming that a university should help shape the future life of the student in beneficial ways. Of the three models, Samford University concentrates on student development--helping each student reach for worthy goals, and seeking to make a measurable difference in the student's life, intellectually, spiritually, socially, physically.

Thus, it was again a great compliment that U.S. News & World Report magazine ranked Samford University among the top institutions in the South, the one Alabama institution ranked among the top five in its category. U.S. News & World Report may not have a perfect system, but it has refined its criteria considerably, and listened carefully to higher education experts and to the public in efforts to make the system even more reliable. It appears to be the most successful ranking format yet devised.

Universities deal with individual persons--varied, unpredictable, with great potential--always making them difficult to assess. But the distinctive mission of a university establishes its identity and character, and readily allows a student to decide whether the institutional mission is in synch with the student's goals and objectives in life. At Samford, we are thankful for outstanding students and faculty who value a university that does not apologize for high standards of personal conduct and behavior, that promotes academic vitality and encourages Christian belief . . .

. . . and still is ranked among the best in the South!

Thomas E. Corts