Posted by Bill Nunnelley on 2008-08-18

Samford University has a multiplicity of strengths, two great opportunities to strengthen itself for the future, and several areas that, while showing some progress, are still in need of work.

This was the message Samford President Andrew Westmoreland shared with faculty and staff in a State of the University address Monday, Aug. 18. He spoke at the opening of Samford's preschool faculty institute in Wright Center on the campus.

Dr. Westmoreland listed Samford strengths as a competent, caring faculty and staff, a beautiful campus, a good name coupled with a great mission as a Christian university and "a plan."

Growing the enrollment to 5,000 students and successfully completing a $200 million fund-raising campaign are its top potential opportunities, he added.

"One of our strengths is a strategic plan that enables Samford to create and sustain an environment for learning and professional development, and to advance excellence in teaching," he told more than 500 faculty and staff members.

"The strategic plan also cultivates a climate of scholarship and creative activity, nurtures a vibrant community of Christian faith and service, promotes intercultural and international understanding, and promotes the practice of stewardship to ensure that resources are strong for present and future generations."

The increases in enrollment and completion of a major campaign would strengthen Samford immeasurably for the future, Westmoreland told faculty and staff. He said Samford would ask its Board of Trustees in September to approve the campaign, which would be the largest by far in Samford history. If approved, the campaign would launch formally Oct. 24-25, Samford's Homecoming weekend.

Westmoreland noted that some areas, while showing improvement during the past year, are still below the University's expectations. Two of these are alumni giving and the effort to achieve more racial diversity, he said. Alumni giving rose from 10 per cent to 11 percent last year, while the percentage of minority students in the freshman class increased from eight percent to 12 percent.

"We also want to get past a fiscal framework in which we have to spend every dollar of income every year," he added. This, he noted, would enable Samford to avoid such practices as deferring maintenance on its physical plant.

Improving faculty and staff salaries is another area in which Samford seeks improvement, he said.

Westmoreland thanked the faculty and staff for their caring support during his more than two years as president. He likened the Samford community to a team, quoting Romans 12 in saying, "Just as each of us has one body with many members . . . so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us."

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.