Published on July 30, 2014 by Philip Poole  

Samford University’s trustee executive committee approved a major technology upgrade, new faculty and new programs, among other actions, during a July 29 meeting in Birmingham. The executive committee meets between regular meetings of the full board of trustees.

The $1.8 million technology infrastructure upgrade will support current and future needs, provide Internet threat protection and allow for continued network growth, according to Harry B. Brock III, Samford’s vice president for business and financial affairs. The upgrade will include “industry-leading equipment,” Brock said. Funding for the upgrade will come from student technology fees.

Trustees granted degrees to the estimated 122 who anticipate completing degree programs at the end of the summer session. Following a longstanding tradition, trustees prayed for the graduates as part of their approval.

New faculty members include:

Christson Adedoyin, associate professor of social work. He has been assistant professor at East Carolina University since 2012 and earned his doctorate at the University of Kentucky.

Donald E. Bradley, associate professor of sociology. Bradley has a doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin and most recently was associate dean at East Carolina University.

Michael Carey, assistant professor of journalism and mass communication. He anticipates completing his doctorate this year at Ohio University, where he has been a graduate assistant since 2010.

Michael Crouch, professor of pharmacy. Crouch is new dean of McWhorter School of Pharmacy and had been executive associate dean at East Tennessee State University. He received his doctorate from the Medical University of South Carolina.

Brad Diamond, assistant professor of music. Diamond earned a doctor of musical arts at the University of Cincinnati. He had been an assistant professor at the University of South Florida since 2008.

Ashley George, assistant professor of communication studies. She received her doctorate at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, where she had been clinical instructor since 2012.

Celeste Hill, assistant professor of human development-family life education. Hill has been a part-time lecturer since 2005. She has four degrees, including her doctorate, from the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa.

Eleanor Howell, professor of nursing. Howell is new dean of the Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing and most recently was nursing dean at Creighton University. She earned her doctorate at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Kathryn Kauffman, instructor of art and the Warner Foundation manager. She has a master’s degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and has been a part-time lecturer in art and art history at Samford since 2011.

Sandra McMichael, instructor in nursing and clinical coordinator. She has been a part-time lecturer since 2011 and earned a master of science in nursing degree from Troy University (Ala.).

Laura Promer, instructor of communication sciences and disorders. Promer was founder and director of Communication and Reading Therapies. She received her master’s degree from the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa.

Jean Roberson, instructor of social work. Roberson has been a team leader and ministry consultant for Woman’s Missionary Union since 2007. She earned a master of social work degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Karen Thatcher, associate professor of communication sciences and disorders. Since 2001, Thatcher has been assistant professor at Ball State University, where she earned her doctor of education degree.

Lydia Thurston, assistant professor of physical therapy. Thurston has been a physical therapist at Birmingham’s Kirklin Clinic since 2013. She earned her doctorate in physical therapy from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Frankie Wallis, associate professor of nursing. Wallis anticipates completing his doctor of nursing practice degree from Samford later this year. Most recently he has been executive director of nursing at Baptist Medical Center-South in suburban Birmingham.

Paul Wiget, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry. Wiget earned his doctorate at the University of New Mexico and had been a postdoctoral teaching and research scholar at Villanova University since 2012.

Monique Witherspoon, assistant professor of educational leadership. She earned her doctor of education degree from Gardner-Webb University and had been executive director of Girls, Inc., in Birmingham since 2010.

Trustees appointed four to endowed positions: Alyssa Di Russo, Whelan W. and Rosalie T. Palmer Professor of Law; Joseph Snoe, Whelan W. and Rosalie T. Palmer Professor of Law; Crouch, Fred E. McWhorter Dean of Pharmacy; and Howell, Ralph W. Beeson Dean of Nursing.

Three new degree programs were approved. A new elementary education major with a concentration in Christian education and missions is designed to give students a “broad, multidisciplinary approach to Christian education in the context of a local church or mission field,” according to Associate Provost Nancy Biggio.

A new minor in medical ethics was approved in the philosophy department. The program promotes the study of the ethical foundations of medicine and health care through an interdisciplinary study of philosophy, theology, literature and ethics, Biggio said.

A western intellectual tradition interdisciplinary minor in the University Fellows honors program will allow students to continue studying the various disciplines in the Fellows’ western intellectual tradition sequence.

Trustees approved a contract with Sodexo, Inc., as the university’s new food service provider.

This is the university’s first change in food service provider in 11 years. The contract includes renovations to dining facilities and other improvements. 

In a series of reports from university officials, trustees heard that the university is on track to end the recently completed fiscal year with a positive operating margin, pending completion of the annual audit. The university’s endowment had a market value of $277.5 million as of June 30.

Fall enrollment is on track for another record, according to R. Phil Kimrey, vice president for student affairs and enrollment management. Summer enrollment also exceeded summer 2013 totals.

W. Randy Pittman, vice president for advancement, reported that “A Campaign for Samford” had received $198.3 million in gifts and pledges from more than 17,000 donors. The $200 million campaign is scheduled for completion by Dec. 31.

The next full meeting of the board of trustees is Sept. 4-5 in Birmingham.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 66th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 104th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,683 students from 47 states and 19 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference, and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.