Published on July 31, 2012 by Philip Poole  

Samford University's trustee executive committee approved 10 new faculty appointments during a regular meeting July 31 in Birmingham.

New faculty includes: 

Lisa Battaglia, assistant professor of world religions. Battaglia has a bachelor's degree in religion from Duke University, master's degrees from the University of Alabama and Vanderbilt University and a doctorate in religion from Vanderbilt. Since 2010, she had been a visiting professor of religion at Mount Holyoke College (Mass.). 

Tarsha Bluiett, associate professor of teacher education. Bluiett has been assistant professor at the University of Montevallo (Ala.) since 2009. She has two degrees from Montevallo and the education specialist and doctor of philosophy degrees in elementary education from the University of Alabama. 

Rachel Lee Cohen, assistant librarian. Cohen has been a curatorial and public services graduate assistant the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where she earned master's degrees in theater history and library and information sciences. She also has a bachelor's degree in English literature from Southern Oregon University. 

Peggy Connell, assistant professor of education. Since 2004, Connell had been chief academic officer for the Muscogee County (Ga.) school district. She earned master's and education specialist degrees in guidance and counseling from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and a doctorate in educational research and psychology from the University of Alabama. 

Joel Davis, assistant professor of music. A Samford graduate, Davis earned master's and doctorates in music composition from Claremont Graduate University (Calif.) He had been teaching at Claremont and The Master's College (Calif.). 

Heidi Emanuel, instructor of nursing. Emanuel has been on the adjunct clinical faculty at Samford since 2011. She has bachelor's and master's degrees in nursing from Samford. 

Jennifer Hoyt, visiting assistant professor of history. Since 2005, Hoyt has been a teaching assistant at the University of Texas, Austin, where she earned master's and doctoral degrees in history. 

Jeffery Leonard, assistant professor of religion. Leonard had served as an adjunct professor at Samford since 2007 and also was a teacher and Bible department chair at Birmingham's Briarwood Christian School. He has a doctorate in near Eastern and Judaic studies from Brandeis University (N.Y.). 

Pilar Murphy, assistant professor of pharmacy. Murphy has a doctor of pharmacy degree from the University of Arkansas and had been psychiatric pharmacy resident at the Veterans Administration in Tuscaloosa, Ala., since 2011. 

Elizabeth Yost, assistant professor of sociology. Yost has a doctorate in medical sociology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She was an assistant project manager for the National Institutes of Aging and the National Institutes of Health from 2009-11. 

In a series of reports from administrative units, trustees heard a preliminary report that the university ended the 2012 fiscal year with an operating surplus. Final totals will be available when the annual audit is completed. The 2012-13 budget is projected to be about $141 million.

The first building in the new west campus residential village is still on schedule to open for the spring 2013 semester, with the other two buildings set to be ready for the fall 2013 semester.

Total annual gifts for the 2012 fiscal year, which ended June 30, were $17.8 million, and gifts and pledges to "A Campaign for Samford" have passed the $138 million mark.

The next full meeting of the board of trustees will be Sept. 6-7 in Birmingham.

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.