Published on April 24, 2018  
leslie carlisle

Position:  Benefits Coordinator, Office of Human Resources 

Working at Samford since 2008 

Bonus fact:  Prior to her current role, Carlisle worked in the Orlean Beeson School of Education where she was named outstanding staff member in 2011. 

What is your favorite thing about your job?  The people! I love the sense of family and community that is a hallmark of this campus. As I’m still learning the depth of benefits, everyone has been understanding and allowed me the time needed to find answers for their questions. The support and encouragement of one another is uplifting, and I can’t imagine working anywhere else. 

What is one thing your colleagues may not know about you?  I’m terrified of birds. From a tiny hummingbird to the hawks that frequent campus, I fear them all. When I was a child, my cousins had a parrot that would always nip at my finger or pull my hair, making me wary of birds in general. As a teenager, watching The Birds by Alfred Hitchcock pushed me over the edge. I have lived with a completely irrational fear for 40 years. I shudder every time a flock flies overhead. 

What is your favorite activity outside of Samford?  I love to go antiquing. I can spend hours rummaging through a flea market with no particular item in mind. When I do find something that interests me, I enjoy the process of refurbishing old things. 

How did your background prepare you for your current role at Samford?  While I had no previous experience specific to benefits, I hope that my years at Samford prior to this position helped prepare me. I have learned to appreciate the culture of Samford, giving me insight to expectations. Obtaining my master’s degree, for which I’m extremely grateful, gave me an understanding of policy and organization. This role is focused on policy implementation and application, and I believe the work involved in my master’s program gives me a starting foundation for the position. 

What, specifically, does your job involve?  Coordinating benefits for employees is the base of my job description. This starts with getting new employees enrolled in benefits and continues through helping our retirees when the have questions about their continuing benefits. I work with insurances, pensions, 403(b) plans, [Family Medical Leave Act], employee tuition benefits and the new Wellness program. In addition to working with employees, I serve as the contact for the vendors that provide these benefits. 

What is the biggest challenge you face in managing the breadth of Samford’s benefits program?  The breadth of the benefits creates its biggest challenge, in that it can be difficult to stay focused on any one issue. On a day-to-day basis I may be working on reports for audits, answering phone calls from retirees and preparing FMLA paperwork for an employee with an emergency. It is easy to reach the end of a day and not know if I’ve completed anything I’ve started. This is challenging for me personally, in that I love to check off a list when I’ve finished a task. 

What is the best piece of advice you were ever given and by whom?  That’s an easy one! “Pray about it” is the soundest advice I’ve ever received, and it consistently comes from my mom. She is the best example of a godly woman in my life, and I am challenged by her steadfast faith.


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. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 66th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 104th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,683 students from 47 states and 19 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.