Posted by Philip Poole on 2010-12-01

An additional graduate education program and preliminary plans for residence hall renovations were among actions approved by Samford University’s board of trustees in their winter meeting Nov. 30 in Birmingham.

The new degree program is designed to fill a critical need for teachers at the secondary level of education, according to Samford Provost J. Bradley Creed. Culminating in a master of science in education degree, the accelerated program will train teachers for grades 6-12 in seven areas: English/language arts, general science, history, mathematics, social science and Spanish. Graduates of an accredited university with a baccalaureate degree in a certifiable area can seek teacher certification through the new program, Creed explained.

Based on the university’s increased enrollment and the need for additional on-campus housing, trustees authorized the university’s administration to seek proposals for several possible capital projects. Included are renovation and expansion of Pittman Hall, currently a women’s residence facility, providing about 56 additional spaces, according to trustee Michael Dunn, chair of the board’s operations and planning committee. This is a first step toward increasing undergraduate student enrollment, he added.

Other renovations are proposed for Smith and Vail residence halls and Beeson Woods residential village. Renovations in F. Page Seibert Hall would house student health and counseling services, which would be displaced with the Pittman Hall renovations.

Trustees also gave preliminary approval to 216 December graduates, pending completion of all degree requirements.

Eric L. Motley, a vice president with the Aspen Institute in Washington, D.C., was approved as a new member of Samford’s board of overseers.

In a series of reports, trustees heard that applications for admission and paid deposits for fall 2011 entering freshmen are ahead of the record pace set for fall 2010. The university’s endowment has had an investment return of slightly more than 8 percent in the last 12 months and had a balance of about $223 million as of Oct. 31.

Controller Mike Darwin noted that the university’s net assets are up $12.5 million since the beginning of the fiscal year on July 1. Harry B. Brock III, vice president for business and financial affairs, reported that the university was on track to end the year with a positive operating margin and cash flow.

W. Randall Pittman, vice president for advancement, reported that fiscal year-to-date giving is at $7.3 million, ahead of the near-record pace from the previous fiscal year. Pittman also reported cumulative gifts and pledges of more than $104 million to “A Campaign for Samford.”

President Andrew Westmoreland told trustees that Samford’s “vital signs are good.” The university’s fiscal condition is “solid” because of good fiscal practices, applications are on the rise, physical improvements are being made to the campus and giving has held up strongly in the midst of the global economic crisis.

Westmoreland also noted increasing alumni spirit and the continued growth of the spiritual environment on campus.

John E. Bell Jr. of Birmingham and C. Thomas Houser of Huntsville were recognized for completing their trustee terms.

New trustees attending their first board meeting were Montgomery attorney J. Theodore Jackson Jr. and Birmingham business executive William J. Stevens. Both are Samford graduates.

The Rev. Mike Shaw, pastor of the First Baptist Church, Pelham, Ala., and a 1970 Samford graduate, attended his first meeting as an ex officio board member. He recently was elected president of the Alabama Baptist State Convention.

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.