Posted by William Nunnelley on 2002-12-16

Samford University has received a $2 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. of Indianapolis, Ind., for programs that enhance the school's efforts to prepare a new generation of leaders for church and society.

The grant will support a five-year program that "integrates more intentionally Samford's distinctive Christian mission and faith resources into its institutional life and into the lives of its students," according to Dr. Randy Todd, Classics department chair and director of the project.

The program will encourage students to reflect on how their faith commitments are related to their career choices and what it means to be "called" to lives of service, said Dr. Todd.

"The program also will provide opportunities for students to explore the rewards and demands of Christian ministry and consider a career as a minister," he said.

The grant is provided through an Endowment initiative called Programs for the Theological Exploration of Vocation. The programs are designed "to identify and nurture a new generation of highly talented and religiously committed leaders of church and society," according to the Endowment. It provided grants to 39 schools in the initiative.

Todd noted that the program would enable Samford to coordinate the efforts of various programs and departments into an overall strategy for helping students relate their faith to their choice of vocations.

The initial phase will focus on helping students explore faith and their life's "mission" in a context that provides both support and challenge. The next phase will provide opportunities for students to clarify their vocation through "missions" of service and work.

The program will target three areas: academic, student and community outreach. Activities in these areas will include:

Academic--Faculty and staff development, new courses and course revisions, local and regional symposia on mission and vocation and an international colloquium on the Baptist heritage and higher education scheduled for London, England.

Student--Expansion of new-student orientation, peer mentoring, student ministry and mission programs, apprenticeships in local congregations and a summer institute for high school students.

Community outreach--Providing enhanced campus worship, university service projects, alumni mentoring programs, vocational reflection retreats for alumni and adults and service learning projects in rural Perry County, Alabama, and urban Birmingham.

"This is a great opportunity for us to do some profound thinking and substantive planning about our work as professors involved in teaching and research at Samford," said Todd.

Samford received an earlier planning grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. of $49,072 to develop the program.

Also this fall, Samford received a separate $2 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to establish a Resource Center for Pastoral Excellence to encourage spiritual, physical, social and intellectual renewal among church leaders.

Founded in 1937, the Endowment is a private foundation that supports its founders' wishes by supporting the causes of religion, community development and education.

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. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 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.