In fall 2022, Samford launched a new initiative called the Innovation Fund to promote creativity among its academic and cocurricular programs. The effort is funded through an allocation of $1 million annually, and accepts proposals from faculty, staff and students who have innovative concepts that will advance the university's mission and strategic plan.
During its first year, the Innovation Fund received numerous proposals through an extensive application process. From these initial applicants, three concepts were selected to receive two years of funding, which began July 1, 2023.
One concept selected was a new London study abroad and professional development experience for Master of Accountancy (MAcc) students. Through the funding, international program fees are removed, and marketing dollars are allocated to encourage enrollment from other institutions. The inaugural trip to London in July aligns with Fidelitas, the university's new strategic plan, by supporting the goals of academic distinction and global influence. The once-in-a-lifetime opportunity allowed students to immerse themselves in the culture, history and professional atmosphere of one of the world's most dynamic cities.
While there, students met with executives at the international headquarters of Google, Coca-Cola, Amazon, Lloyd's Insurance and Ernst & Young. They participated in workshops focused on networking, personal branding and transferring internationally with an accounting firm, experienced numerous cultural excursions, and had the unique opportunity to connect with several Samford alumni. For the Master of Accountancy program, the university's investment is already paying off, as student enrollment for the fall 2023 semester exceeded previous years.
Cam Pearce, instructor of accounting, said, "The Innovation Fund made our first immersive London experience possible for the MAcc students. The trip, filled with visits to worldwide business headquarters, professional development and international service experiences and camaraderie, has already proven to attract even more students to our highly successful graduate program."
In addition to funding this initiative, the university selected two additional projects to support through the Innovation Fund. A joint project between Academic Affairs and Enrollment Management will rejuvenate continuing education programs led by a new Office of Continuing Studies, and the construction of a new collaborative space will allow individuals or groups to separate from campus while remaining in the heart of it.
"The Innovation Fund is about empowering our people to think entrepreneurially and strategize about how we can reinvent ourselves," said Colin Coyne, vice president for finance, business affairs and strategy. "I'm very proud of these innovative projects that are underway, and I look forward to seeing how they impact Samford's bright future."