Posted by Philip Poole on 2010-02-26

Samford University did “exceptionally well” in attracting National Merit Scholars for the 2009-10 academic year.

Thirteen National Merit finalists enrolled as freshmen at Samford for the fall 2009 semester, outpacing all other Birmingham area universities and comparing very favorably with Samford’s other peer groups, according to R. Phil Kimrey, Samford’s vice president for enrollment management.

Samford now has 36 National Merit Scholars enrolled, including the university’s first-ever National Hispanic Merit Scholar and the second National Achievement Scholar. Eight of the 13 first-year students are enrolled in Samford’s University Fellows, a two-year-old undergraduate honors program.

“We did exceptionally well this year in recruiting, admitting and enrolling some of the top scholars in the U.S.,” Kimrey said. “This affirms our strong national reputation academically and the hard work of our faculty and staff in helping these top students make Samford their college choice. The new University Fellows program also is a major factor in attracting students seeking an academically rigorous education.”

Only about 10 percent of the nation’s four-year institutions enrolled first-year National Merit Scholars in fall 2009, putting Samford in elite company, Kimrey noted.  The National Merit Scholars program began in 1955 to recognize top high school students for their academic achievements.

Samford’s 13 scholars was the largest group among private universities in the state and among four Birmingham-area schools.  Samford was ahead of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, 9; Birmingham-Southern College, 8; and the University of Montevallo, 1.  The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, had 95, Auburn University had 64 and the University of South Alabama had 1. No other Alabama schools were listed.

Among historically Baptist universities, Samford trailed only Baylor University in Waco, Texas, with 69. Nine Baptist schools, all members of the International Association of Baptist Colleges and Universities, were on the National Merit list.

Furman University in Greenville, S.C., with 26, led six Southern Conference member schools that had National Merit Scholars, followed by Davidson College (14) and Samford.

About Samford University – Samford University is a premier nationally ranked private university deeply rooted in its Christian mission. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th oldest institution of higher education in the United States. U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 4th among regional universities in the South. Samford enrolls 5,619 students from 44 states, the District of Columbia and 29 other countries in its 10 academic units: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy, and public health. Samford also fields 17 NCAA Division I teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference.