Posted by Philip Poole on 2006-02-03

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.--- A four-member transition committee has been appointed to coordinate the presidential leadership change at Samford University.

Board of trustees chair Bill Stevens appointed two other trustees and a University staff member to assist him on the committee, which has begun to work with president-elect Andrew Westmoreland and retiring president Thomas E. Corts on transition plans leading to the leadership change on June 1.

Committee members include trustees Vic Nichol, president of Alabama Banker's Bank, Birmingham, and W. Clark Watson, Birmingham attorney. Sarah C. Latham, Samford's director of institutional research, will serve on the committee as campus liaison. Latham, Stevens and Watson served on the presidential search committee that recommended Westmoreland to the board of trustees.

The committee will work with Westmoreland and Corts on transition logistics, Stevens said, while including other administrators, faculty, staff, students and University constituents in the process. The transition subcommittee was part of the presidential search process approved by trustees in April 2005 when Corts announced his retirement plans.

Westmoreland will spend a limited number of days in Birmingham before June 1, Stevens said, primarily meeting with University administrators and leaders of key constituent groups. Westmoreland will remain president of Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark., through May, and has "extensive responsibilities there to complete" before becoming Samford's president, Stevens added.

"These visits will help Dr. Westmoreland to identify transition needs and to develop transition plans for after June 1," Stevens said. Corts has agreed to be available for transition consultation for several weeks after his retirement as president on May 31.

Since Westmoreland's election by the board on Jan. 10, transition activities have centered on basic logistics, Stevens explained. The committee and University staff have been working on such details as setting up e-mail, scheduling and other administrative details, as well as immediate needs of the Westmoreland family such as housing and moving plans.

The committee will be working with University leaders to gather pertinent materials and information that will be helpful to Westmoreland during the transition, Stevens said.

Westmoreland already is receiving invitations to speak and to represent the University, Stevens said. "Dr. Westmoreland is a gracious individual, and it is his hope and the transition committee's desire that he accept as many of those invitations as possible. But, we want to develop an orderly transition process and schedule for him as Samford president that does not overwhelm him or the University's calendar."

The University has established a transition Web site,, to provide updates about the transition process. In a Feb. 3 e-mail to Samford faculty and staff, Westmoreland said he wants to use the site for feedback from the Samford community and to "help me get my mind and my heart around this great institution."

Westmoreland and Stevens both emphasized that additional transition plans will be announced as they are finalized.

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.