Posted by Philip Poole on 2008-04-30

Samford University's board of trustees heard extensive reports on the university's ongoing strategic planning process and approved a proposed 2008-09 budget and several other initiatives at their regular spring meeting April 29.

Sarah C. Latham, Samford's assistant to the president and director of the office of institutional effectiveness, presented the strategic planning update. "We have taken the six goals driving the strategic plan in three strategic priorities: provide an enriched and more vibrant university experience; engage the global community in faith and service; and inspire imagination," Latham explained.

"We have used this process to develop strategies for all the academic units and divisions of the university, and you will be asked to approve a final comprehensive plan in the fall," she told trustees. "It is important for us to have a framework that pulls together all of the university's individual silos."

The process also includes updated master planning philosophies, assessment strategies and a strategic enrollment plan for managed growth of just under 5,000 students by 2013. The master planning philosophies deal with programmatic goals, facilities management, resources management, endowment, deferred maintenance and environmental effectiveness.

"We are focusing on three elements that will help us achieve these goals: being good stewards of what we already have, continuously improving our budget process and what we can do through a major fundraising campaign," Latham said.

W. Randall Pittman, vice president for university relations, gave a preliminary report on a capital campaign. Although plans still are being finalized, the campaign likely will launch publically in the fall 2008 and have a goal of more than $200 million over a five-year period. "This is more than three times the largest previous campaign the university has had," Pittman noted. "There are not many universities our size who have embarked on something this ambitious."

University officials and architects provided updates on potential renovation and expansion plans for the university center. Plans call for doubling space in the building and centralizing most student-oriented services in one building on campus. The project is expected to be central to the proposed campaign, Pittman said.

Trustees authorized the university administration to explore options for new residence facilities on campus. Plans may include replacement of Ramsay Hall and Odom Lane student apartments to build one or more residence halls to accommodate anticipated future undergraduate growth, according to Harry B. Brock III, Samford's vice president for business affairs. Design and construction of the facilities will take approximately two years.

Brock said the university is negotiating short-term options to meet current residence shortfalls caused by the recent collapse of the Ramsay Hall roof.

"As we have improved the physical environment of the campus generally, we have not always kept up with our residence facilities," said Samford President Andrew Westmoreland. "This has put us at a disadvantage at times with current and prospective students. Increasingly we have faced the challenge that we are not paying appropriate attention to residence halls. It is a matter of keeping pace with what needs to happen with our residence facilities.

"This is one of the most important things this board will do over the next year."

Trustees approved a recommendation to add a third level to a previously-approved football field house. Westmoreland told trustees that the third level would initially be a shell that could eventually provide for transition needs during campus construction and possible future expansion for athletics.

Don M. Mott, vice president for facilities, said construction will take about 11 months once funding is available for the field house.

Trustees also approved a projected operating budget for 2008-09 of about $113 million. Trustees also approved the final tuition, room and board rates for 2008-09, which includes a 7.7 percent undergraduate tuition increase and an annual technology fee approved earlier. Room and board will increase an average of about 4.5 percent. The university's fiscal year begins July 1, but new fees begin with the summer term in June.

The department of marketing and management in the Brock School of Business was renamed the department of entrepreneurship, management and marketing to reflect new academic programs now offered. New business degree programs approved include bachelor's degrees in entrepreneurship, finance and marketing and a joint bachelor's degree and master of accountancy degree consistent with American Institute of Certified Public Accountants' requirements for professional certification.

In other routine business, trustees approved the list of candidates for graduation in May and recommendations for updating the university's bond services and heard a report that the university's endowment was about $304.5 million at the end of March 2008 and that the university had received more than $17.6 million in annual gifts through March 2008.

Dean of Admission and Financial Aid R. Phil Kimrey reported that applications for fall 2008 are at a record 2,110.

New board chair Clark Watson, a Birmingham attorney, was presiding at his first meeting since being elected chair in December 2007.

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.