Posted by William Nunnelley on 2006-05-31

As Dr. Andrew Westmoreland assumes the presidency of Samford University June 1, he brings a vision for the school's future that will continue to be shaped by Samford people and Samford alumni.

"I want Samford to be as strong as it can be, but I want to arrive at a shared vision with all stakeholders," he said. "Ideally, our people will have shared ownership of the vision we adopt."

Dr. Westmoreland succeeds Dr. Thomas E. Corts, who retires May 31 as president of Alabama's largest private university. President of Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark., since 1998, Westmoreland will be Samford's 18th president, but only the fourth since 1939.

"I do not plan to arrive June 1 with a chisel in hand and begin to carve 'the Westmoreland vision' on the university's facade," he said recently.

"I have ideas, to be sure, but I also have questions. I want to hear from Samford alumni and people in Birmingham about how they can help us and how they can be helped. We will develop a measurable plan of progress for the future."

The new president suggested three things that are part of his vision for Samford--community involvement and service, making a Samford degree the best degree that can be found, and continuing to build on the Samford's good name.

He told a group of Samford alumni he is looking forward to his move to Birmingham.

"I can't know the answer yet to the questions that will confront us, but I look forward to working with you to build the future," he said.

Westmoreland will hit the ground running, attending a meeting of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions committee on boards and commissions in Montgomery Thursday, June 1, and the annual spring meeting of the Ohio Valley Conference, Samford's athletic conference, in Nashville, Tenn., Friday, June 2.

He will be busy meeting with Samford people during the early summer, but also will travel to several speaking engagements. He will speak June 5-6 at the Association of Southern Baptist Colleges and Schools meeting in Charleston, S.C., and June 15 at the Samford Business Network meeting in Nashville.

He will travel to China the week of June 19 to address the opening assembly of the Consortium of Global Education meeting at Qingdao University, Shandong, China. Westmoreland is outgoing chairman of the consortium.

Westmoreland was elected to succeed Dr. Corts in January. Samford Board of Trustees Chairman Bill Stevens noted that the new president "brings an outstanding record of academic leadership," and described him as a highly effective administrator and "a proven fundraiser."

Westmoreland was executive vice president and vice president for development before becoming president of Ouachita. He directed two campaigns that raised $68.7 million while serving in the development post. During his presidency, the Arkansas school completed another campaign that raised $62.5 million.

A Batesville, Ark., native, Westmoreland is a 1979 graduate of Ouachita. He joined the Ouachita staff after graduation, working in various capacities of administration before becoming the school's president eight years ago.

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.