An expansive new academic program, record enrollment and athletics championships were among Samford University's top news stories during 2013. While there were many outstanding achievements and announcements during the year, these are the top stories as determined by the university's news staff:
#1 - Samford Launches New College of Health Sciences
In what was described as the most ambitious academic initiative in 50 years, the university announced plans for a new College of Health Sciences that would incorporate the existing Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing and McWhorter School of Pharmacy with a new School of Health Professions and School of Public Health. Launched in fall 2013, the new college also includes a Center for Faith and Healing.
#2 - Samford Sets Another Enrollment Record
Samford topped 4,800 students for the first time with the fall 2013 semester, the fourth consecutive year of record enrollment. The total of 4,833 also included a record freshman class of 755.
#3 - Samford Rises to 3rd in the South
When U.S. News & World Report announced its annual college rankings in September, Samford had moved up to 3rd among regional universities in the South, continuing a decades-long tradition of ranking in the top tier of its peer group. Samford also received high national rankings for study abroad and affordability during the year.
#4 -- Samford Archaeological Dig in Israel Uncovers Unfamiliar Jewish Village
Samford garnered major national attention in late summer with the news that a team led by faculty member James Strange had uncovered a previously unknown Jewish village as part of the university's annual archaeological expedition in Israel.
#5 - Cooney Pledge Makes New Business Building Possible
In April, Samford announced plans to build a new facility to house the Brock School of Business. A pledge of "at least" $12.5 million from Birmingham business executive and Samford alumnus Gary Cooney will be "a catalyst that allows Samford to begin construction of the new building," said university officials when the plans were announced. Construction is set to begin in early 2014.
#6 - Samford Receives Major Grants
In a summer full of news about grants, Samford's Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing received more than $1 million as part of a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to provide loans for students who want to be nursing educators. It was the largest of several grants awarded to Samford in what ultimately may be a record-setting year for grants received by the university. Grants are funding research or programs in such diverse areas as worship, biodiversity, neural evolution, pastoral leadership, preaching and pharmaceutical compounding, among others. (Public announcements about some additional significant grants was pending as the year ended.)
#7 - Samford Sets Fundraising Records
In July, the university announced that it had reached $172 million in gifts and pledges toward the multimillion dollar, multiyear "Campaign for Samford." The total came during the university's 172nd anniversary year. By Nov. 30, the total had exceeded $183 million. With 13 months remaining to reach the $200 million goal, it already is the largest fundraising campaign in Samford history.
#8 - Football Claims First-Ever Conference Championship
With a dramatic, last-second win over Elon University on Nov. 23, the Samford Bulldogs claimed their first-ever football championship with a share of the Southern Conference crown. The team received an at-large bid in the NCAA Division 1 playoffs for the first time since 1992. Also, the men's tennis team won the Southern Conference tournament championship in April and represented the conference in the NCAA tournament.