Published on December 5, 2012 by Philip Poole  

Changes in the employee pension plan and several academic programs were among significant actions approved by Samford University's board of trustees in their regular winter meeting Dec. 4 in Birmingham.

Trustees approved a revision of the pension plan, effective Dec. 31, from a defined-benefit to a defined-contribution plan. The soft-freeze provides that there will be no change in benefits for current employees but new employees hired after Dec. 31, 2012, will be eligible to enter a new 403(b) plan.  This action is designed to "reduce volatility, decrease liability, provide significant future cost reduction and set the stage for the elimination of risk" related to defined-benefit plans "while providing a competitive retirement plan for new employees," according to Harry B. Brock III, Samford's vice president for business and financial affairs. The changes follow an indepth study that included trustees, administration and representatives from both faculty and staff.

Trustees also approved about 250 candidates for graduation on Dec. 15, pending successful completion of degree requirements. "This is something that all of us consider to be the most important thing you, as trustees, do," said Samford President Andrew Westmoreland. In what has become a tradition, trustees paused to pray for the new graduates.

A change in nomenclature was approved for the adult degree program to Samford University Evening College. The change is needed to better market the program and more accurately reflect program offerings, according to university officials.

A new Center for Children, Law and Ethics was approved in Cumberland School of Law. It replaces the Center for Biotechnology, Law and Ethics. The new center will work collaboratively with organizations and individuals to "further the welfare and best interests of children locally, nationally and internationally." David Smolin, Harwell G. Davis Professor of Constitutional Law, will be center director.

The bachelor of music in church music degree was renamed the bachelor of music in music and worship to better reflect current trends in church music. University officials said the number of courses and credit hours in music and worship will be increased from current levels.

Matthew J. Mazzei was elected assistant professor of strategic management in the business school, effective with the fall 2013 semester. Mazzei has two graduate degrees from the University of South Florida and anticipates completing his doctorate at Auburn University in 2013. He previously was director of information technology for Raymond James Tax Credit Funds, Inc., St. Petersburg, Fla.

The four officers were re-elected: Birmingham business executive William J. Stevens, chair; Huntsville attorney Rod Steakley, Huntsville, Ala., vice chair and executive board chair; Birmingham physician Lev H. Bragg, secretary; and Birmingham banking executive Vic Nichol Jr., assistant secretary.

Calera, Ala., businessman Warren Bailey, retired Alabama Power executive Robert Holmes and retired Birmingham bank executive Rick Horsley were recognized for completing their board service.

New trustees participating in their first meeting were Linda Bachus, former Samford adjunct faculty member, Birmingham; Gary Fenton, senior pastor, Dawson Memorial Baptist Church, Birmingham; John King Jr., associate director, Birmingham Baptist Association; Mary Shaw, public school music teacher, Pelham, Ala.; and Zeke Smith, executive vice president, Alabama Power Company, Trussville, Ala. John Killian of Bessemer, who recently was elected Alabama Baptist Convention president, was recognized as a new ex officio board member.



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.