Posted by Philip Poole on 2005-12-15

The Samford University board of trustees will meet Jan. 10 to consider a recommendation to elect Andrew Westmoreland as Samford's next president. Westmoreland currently is president of Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark.

Trustees were notified of the special called meeting by board chair William Stevens of Birmingham. Under Samford's bylaws, the board of trustees has ultimate authority for electing the University's president.

If elected, Westmoreland will succeed current Samford President Thomas E. Corts. He would be the University's 18th president in its 164-year history. Corts, Samford's president since 1983, announced in April his plans to retire by the end of the 2005-06 academic year.

Westmoreland would become Samford's president on June 1, 2006. Other transition plans will be determined by the trustees in the Jan. 10 meeting, Stevens said.

The 48-year-old Westmoreland emerged in late November as the leading candidate following a six-month national search that yielded more than 140 nominations.

The 18-member presidential search committee earlier presented Westmoreland as the leading candidate in a series of meetings with three constituent review panels and other key leadership.

"The feedback received from the review panels was overwhelmingly positive and affirmed what the search committee discovered about Dr. Westmoreland," said search committee co-chair H. Hobart Grooms Jr., a Birmingham attorney and Samford trustee. "Respondents stated that they felt Dr. Westmoreland was a wonderful and more than capable candidate to lead Samford into the future."

Search committee co-chair Albert Brewer, a former Alabama governor and retired Samford law professor, added that respondents also praised Dr. Westmoreland's "leadership skills, views on academic freedom, thoughts on the balance of faith and learning, interpersonal skills, student development philosophies, focus on consensus building, humor, development and fundraising, and ideas related to what Samford must do to continue to be best it can be."

Westmoreland has been Ouachita's president since 1998. Earlier he served more than 19 years in various administrative capacities at Ouachita, including executive vice president and vice president for development. As vice president for development, he directed two campaigns that raised $68.7 million for the University. More recently, Ouachita just completed a campaign that had raised more than $62.5 million since 2002.

As president, Westmoreland also has continued to teach a political science course each semester.

If elected as Samford's president, Westmoreland will be moving to a larger university. Ouachita enrolls about 1,500 students annually in its undergraduate programs, compared to Samford's more than 4,500 undergraduate and graduate students. Ouachita is one of two colleges affiliated with the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, and Samford is one of three institutions affiliated with the Alabama State Baptist Convention. The university was ranked 5th among regional comprehensive colleges in the South by U.S. News & World Report in its most recent rankings, while Samford was ranked 3rd among master's level universities in the South.

Westmoreland is a Batesville, Ark., native and graduated from Ouachita in 1979. He earned a master's degree in political science from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, and a doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

His wife, Jeanna, is dean of Ouachita's School of Education and chair of the Arkansas Board of Education. They have one daughter, Riley, a high school sophomore.

Related link:

  • Ouachita Baptist University


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.