Posted by William Nunnelley on 2004-01-29

Samford University today announced plans to add endowed professorships and scholarships, build new buildings and renovate old ones, increase the size of its student body and grow its endowment.

The plan is part of a sweeping initiative approved by the University's Board of Trustees to chart Samford's course for the next decade. Outlined by President Thomas E. Corts in an address to students and faculty, it also underscores the University's commitment to offer "a rigorous academic experience, remain loyal to Christian beliefs and values, and continue as a friendly, caring community."

These commitments were approved as part of the plan by Trustees to state "the bedrock elements of Samford University's identity and mission," said Dr. Corts. He described the commitments as a "promise" for all Samford generations.

"A University is intended to stretch beyond the lifetimes of any of us," Corts said at the opening convocation of the spring term. "Renewing itself, it does not grow old, does not retire, never finishes its course. We have the satisfaction of passing the torch to our successors who will perpetuate its distinctive mission.

"Our generation must leave Samford even better than we found it," he added.

Toward that end, Corts outlined specific parts of the initiative approved by Trustees after months of study. The plan, he said, would "define Samford 's future." Some high points include:

- An increase of 400 in the undergraduate student body, bringing overall enrollment to 5,000 with about 70 percent being undergraduate. Samford's current enrollment is 4,440.

- Living space for the increased number of resident students at a cost of about $10 million.

- At least $20 million in additional endowed scholarships. "We want outstanding students who are motivated to serving others, and to making the world better -- including students with modest means and those from other parts of the world," said Corts.

- Minimum of 20 additional endowed professorships.

- Endowed lectureships for each of Samford's eight colleges.

- An instrumental music and recital hall for the School of Performing Arts. Samford offers a full orchestral program including instruction in strings, woodwind, reed and percussion, an orchestra and marching band.

- Arena and fitness/wellness center.

- Renovation of Brooks Hall to serve as a home for the Howard College of Arts and Sciences. Every Samford undergraduate takes core courses in arts and sciences.

- Renovation of Beeson University Center, Robinson Hall law building, Pittman residence hall and Dwight and Lucille Beeson Center for the Healing Arts, along with re-plumbing and re-wiring of other older structures.

The price tag for new programs and facilities could be as much as $200 million, Corts said.

"Samford is today launching a new effort," he said, "more specifically, defining its future. It is intensifying its public presence and more extensively portraying itself to the public, and aggressively gathering resources, both short-term and long-term.

"These are not plans that will be accomplished in weeks, or even a couple of years," he said. "We cannot rest on the achievements of recent years and simply fade into the sunset. We must boldly grasp the destiny within Samford 's reach. And seriously implementing well-thought plans, and well-funded objectives, will give Samford a running leap into the future."

The reaction of donors and potential donors to specific goals will help determine the order in which projects are completed, said Corts. "All the needs are immediate," he said.

Samford officials expect the instrumental music and recital hall for the School of Performing Arts to be one of the early projects completed, although no timetable was announced.

"Samford holds a unique place in Alabama's milieu," Corts noted. "It is the largest private university or college in the state. It has consistently been ranked among the top Southern universities in its peer group. It has the only private accredited law school and private accredited pharmacy school in the state. It is among the top employers in metro 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. 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.