Published on March 26, 2021 at 2:12 p.m. by Morgan Black  
Elizabeth Sloan Ragland
Elizabeth Sloan Ragland

Samford University has announced the Ragland Scholars program, a four-year cohort experience for leaders among Samford’s multicultural student body.

The program is named for Elizabeth Sloan Ragland who was the first woman to integrate campus housing at Samford in 1969. Ragland, who had a warm heart and a bright spirit, was a viable part of campus as a leader and student and went on to be a woman of influence in her community.

The Ragland Scholars program was created to cultivate academic and social support for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) entering Samford. In memory of Ragland, the program aims to orchestrate an intentional community designed to connect multicultural student leaders with an enhanced Samford experience.

“I’m excited about this new opportunity for minority students at Samford,” said J. Michael Hardin, Samford’s provost and vice president for academic affairs. “Through the hard work of our Office of Admission and our Office of Diversity and Intercultural Initiatives, and many others who contributed behind the scenes to establish this program, future students will be blessed with a truly unique Samford experience.”

Ragland Scholars, selected through an interview process, will be prepared to succeed. Scholars will commit to maintaining a 2.0 GPA in their course work and will play an active role in furthering diversity initiatives on campus.

As a part of their overall experience, students will participate in several unique programs on campus including IMPACT (Inspiring Minorities to Pursue Academics and Community Together), Cultural Arts and Cultural Perspectives courses, and a Foundations course, all spearheaded by Samford’s Office of Diversity and Intercultural Initiatives. In addition, cohort members will be awarded a competitive scholarship, intentional learning communities, peer-to-peer mentoring, priority class registration and multicultural experiential learning opportunities.

“Through this program, we can make a huge impact on the academic experience of our multicultural students,” said Denise Gregory, assistant provost for diversity and intercultural initiatives. “These students will have a built-in community that will provide encouragement and support for each as they walk through their college experience together.”

Jason Black, assistant vice president for enrollment management and dean of admissions added, “I believe the creation of this program will have a positive impact on our minority recruitment initiatives. Many areas of campus collaborated to build the Ragland Scholars program with a student-centric mindset. I am grateful for my friends and colleagues in the Office of Diversity and their commitment to student success.”

The first Ragland Scholars cohort will be announced in spring 2021 for the 2021-2022 academic year.

Learn more about the program

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.