History of Samford University

Chartered as Howard College in 1841, the school survived two fires, the Civil War, a century of financial turmoil and two relocations to become one of the region's top universities. From its meager beginnings in Marion, Alabama, with only 31 students, Samford is now home to more than 5,000 students on a beautiful Georgian-Colonial style campus in Homewood, Alabama.

 
Marion campus

1841 Incorporation

The Alabama Baptist State Convention established a college for men, naming it Howard College in honor of John Howard, an 18th-century English social reformer.
 
East Lake Campus

1887 Move to East Lake

In a controversial decision spurred by racial, economic and rural/urban tensions, Howard College relocates from Marion to East Lake, starting the year with 83 students.
 
Anna Judge

1896 Coeducation

Anna Judge becomes Howard's first female graduate. Co-education was thereafter suspended for "lack of proper facilities" Five other women were admitted between the years of 1895 - 1896.
 
Accreditation Article

1920 Accreditation

Gained membership in and accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
 
Homewood Campus

1957 Move to Homewood

The campus relocates from the aging East Lake campus to Homewood. Construction of the Georgian-Colonial buildings began in 1953, with the first building dedicated in 1955.
 
Cumberland Law School

1961 Law School

Samford acquired the historic Cumberland School of Law, established in 1847 in Lebanon, Tennessee.
 
Name change to Samford

1965 Name Change

Howard College attains university status and renames itself in honor of insurance executive and longtime trustee Frank Park Samford, Sr. The Howard College of Arts and Sciences retains the original name.
 
Elizabeth Sloan Ragland

1967 Integration

Audrey Gaston becomes the first full-time African-American student, enrolling in Cumberland School of Law and graduating in 1970. In 1969, Elizabeth Sloan becomes the first African-American female to live on campus. She moved into Vail Hall and graduated in 1973.
 
International Students

1984 International Study Programs Expand

Purchased the London Study Centre, located in the heart of London; later renamed Daniel House in honor of the Daniel family. Samford has a nationally-recognized international studies program that spans six continents.
 
US News & World Report ranking

1990 Top 10 in Academics

Samford attains ranking in the top 10 in its category by U.S. News & World Report, a position it retains to this day. More recently, Samford was recognized as the top university in the state of Alabama in rankings published by Forbes Inc., The Economist, and The Wall Street Journal/ Times Higher Education. Samford continues to be nationally-ranked for academics, affordability and value by numerous prestigious publications and rankings.
 
SoCon

2008 Move to SoCon

Samford begins competing in the storied NCAA Division I Southern Conference where it has accumulated 26 conference championships and has seen 20 athletes drafted into professional sports.
 
CHS Angel

2013 College of Health Sciences

Samford announced the formation of the College of Health Sciences, incorporating the historic Ida Moffett School of Nursing and McWhorter School of Pharmacy with new Schools of Health Professions and Public Health. In 2016 the college moved into renovated facilities in the former headquarters of Southern Progress Corporation purchased by the university in 2014.
 
Master Plan

2017 Campus Master Plan

The university adopted a comprehensive, updated campus master plan that will provide for the physical and academic needs of the university for several decades. The plan is being supported by a multiyear, $300 million fundraising campaign.