Samford University

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Not to be confused with Stanford University or Stamford University.
Samford University
Logo of Samford University
Motto For God, For Learning, Forever
Established 1841
(as Howard College)
Type Private
Religious affiliation Alabama Baptist Convention
Endowment $249.5 million[1]
President Andrew Westmoreland
Academic staff 264
Students 4,833 (Fall 2013)[2]
Undergraduates 3,013 (Fall 2013)
Postgraduates 1,820 (Fall 2013)
Location Homewood, Alabama, US
Campus Suburban 180 acres (0.7 km2)
Athletics 13 varsity teams
Colors Red and Blue
Nickname Bulldogs
Affiliations Southern Conference

Samford University, founded as Howard College, is a private, coeducational university located in Homewood, a suburb of Birmingham, Alabama, United States. Affiliated with the Alabama Baptist Convention, it includes the Howard College of Arts and Sciences, Cumberland School of Law, McWhorter School of Pharmacy, Brock School of Business, Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing, Orlean Bullard Beeson School of Education and Beeson Divinity School. In the 2014 report, Samford was ranked 3rd in Southern Regional Universities by U.S. News & World Report.[3]


Bird's-eye view of the campus

Samford was founded in 1841 at Marion, Alabama, when members of Siloam Baptist Church acquired land in the town and invited the Alabama Baptist Convention to build a new Baptist school there.[4][5] They named it Howard College in honor of John Howard, known for his work in prison reform in England. Among the charter trustees in 1841 was lawyer William Parish Chilton of Talladega. The new college opened its doors to students on January 3, 1842. In 1887 the school relocated to the East Lake community of Birmingham.[6] It also ran Howard College Academy as a preparatory school at the time.[7]

Women were first admitted to Howard College in 1895, and the college officially became coeducational in 1913. One year later the school established its Teacher Education Division. In 1920 the school joined the Southern Association of Colleges. In 1927 it added its pharmacy school.

Reid Chapel

In 1961, the school acquired the Cumberland School of Law from Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee.

Under the leadership of President Harwell Goodwin Davis, the college relocated. On June 11, 1953 Howard College broke ground on its third campus in the Shades Valley just south of Birmingham. The school occupied its new campus in 1957.

In 1965 Howard reinstituted its master's degree program. This led to the college's elevation to university status on November 9, 1965. The school was renamed in honor of Frank Park Samford, chairman of the Board of Trustees and up to that time, the institution's most generous individual benefactor. (In addition, there is also a Howard University in Washington, D.C..)

The Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing, owned by the Baptist Medical Center of Birmingham, was added to the University in 1973. In 1988, the Beeson Divinity School was established through donations from Ralph W. Beeson.

The University consists of the Howard College of Arts and Sciences, Brock School of Business, Orlean Bullard Beeson School of Education and Professional Studies, School of Performing Arts, Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing, McWhorter School of Pharmacy, Beeson School of Divinity, and Cumberland School of Law.

William Self Propst Hall

On January 29, 2004, in his Founder's Day Address, then-President Thomas E. Corts announced a multi-year improvement plan called, "The Promise." He said, "Samford University will be an academically vigorous Christian university that coordinates a strong, effective educational program and encouragement of Christian belief and service, within a community that respects its individual members and encourages each to highest and best levels of performance and conduct -- academically, socially, spiritually, physically."

The plan calls for Samford to invest some $200 million to "enrich and enhance the educational experience of its students." Since June 1, 2003 more than $37 million has been contributed in philanthropic gifts toward the campaign.[citation needed]

Civil rights[edit]

As a private, segregated institution, Samford University was to some degree insulated from the activities of leaders and protesters of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and early 1960s. Birmingham was the site of demonstrations led by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and Dr. Martin Luther King to end segregation of public facilities and open city jobs to minorities. The era was marked by nationally covered protests and the deaths of four young African-American girls in the 1963 bombing of a Birmingham church.

A growing core of Samford faculty and students opposed segregation. The officers of the Samford Student Government Association challenged a segregated concert held on campus by the Birmingham Symphony by inviting as guests the student government officers of nearby Miles College,[8] an historically black school. University officials turned away the combined delegation from the concert.[citation needed]

University president Leslie Stephen Wright resisted integration, but Samford's "whites-only" policy threatened Federal student aid and institutional accreditation. Segregation by private universities was ended by the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act by the US Congress. Cumberland School of Law faced the greatest immediate risk of losing accreditation. In 1967 it admitted Samford's first black student, Audrey Lattimore Gaston.[9] The entire university proceeded with integration.[10]


William Self Propst Hall- Built in 2001, it was originally known as the Sciencenter. It is home to the Biological and Environmental Sciences Department, the Physics Department, and the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department. It was dedicated as William Self Propst Hall on March 10, 2009. Propst initiated the concept of leased pharmacy operations in Kmart stores that eventually saw 1,278 pharmacies operating in the discount chain. He served as president of the Kmart pharmacy operations for 17 years.[11]

Beeson Woods- A residential "community" consisting of approximately twenty residence halls named in honor of select members of the Beeson Family.

West Village - A community of apartment-style housing on the West end of the campus.

Dwight M. Beeson Hall - Named in honor of Ralph Beeson's brother, it houses the Brock School of Business, named in honor of Harry Brock, the founder of Central Bank of Alabama, now BBVA Compass. It is also home to the History Department and Political Science Department.

Memory Leake Robinson Hall- Houses the Cumberland School of Law, acquired from Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee.

Lucille Stewart Beeson Law Library- Connected to Robinson Hall, part of the Cumberland School of Law. Named in honor of Dwight Beeson's wife.

Percy Pratt Burns Hall- Houses Psychology and Sociology Departments and the University Ministries offices.

Mamie Mell Smith Hall- The second largest residence hall on campus with space for approximately 250 residents.

James Horton Chapman Hall- Joined the faculty of Howard College (now Samford University) where he established the Department of Religious Education at Samford in 1918. He retired in 1958.[12] This hall houses the Religion Department and the World Languages and Cultures Department.

Lena Vail Davis Hall- Largest residence hall on campus with 198 rooms and over 400 residents. Vail construction concluded in 1959.[13]

Harwell Goodwin Davis Library- The main library of Samford University. Named in honor of the first Assistant Attorney General of Alabama, serving 1916-17 until the declaration of the war with Germany. He was appointed Special Assistant Attorney General, 1919–21 and was appointed Attorney General.[14] Harwell Goodwin Davis helped expose, and bring an end the state's convict lease system.[6] He was also a president of Samford, and it was his vision to have the campus forever reflect the style of Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. The Davis Library is crowned with Samford University's iconic bell tower and Rushton Carillon.

A. Hamilton Reid Chapel- Built in the image of the first Baptist church built in the Americas.

Thomas D. Russell Hall- Home to Computer Science and Mathematics Departments. It is named in honor of the founder of the Russell Athletics clothing company.

Frank Park Samford Hall- Named after Frank Park Samford. Houses the Office of Admissions, Office of Financial Aid, the Bursar's Office, Student Records, and Office of the President.

Leslie S. Wright Center for the Fine Arts- Named after Samford's first president at the Homewood location. Houses the University's 2,633 seat concert hall.

Elinor Messer Brooks and Marion Thomas Brooks Hall- Originally it was the home to the sciences, before the construction of William Self Propst Hall. Now it houses the offices of the Howard College of Arts and Sciences, the University Fellows honors program, Classics Department, Communication Studies Department, and Technology Services.

Beeson Bridge- A pedestrian bridge that links the residence halls of Beeson Woods with the main campus

J. D. Pittman Hall- Houses a 158-person capacity dormitory and, before 2011, Student Health Services.

Dwight M. and Lucille S. Beeson Center for the Healing Arts- Houses the Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing and the Rotunda Club. The rotunda is decorated with four murals by painter D. Jeffrey Mims.

Orlean Bullard Beeson Hall- Houses the Orlean Bullard Beeson School of Education, named after the wife of Ralph Beeson.

Ralph Waldo Beeson University Center and Annex- Houses the Cafeteria, Food Court, "The Hub" Information Center, Post Office, Student Mailboxes, Office of Public Safety and Emergency Management, University Bookstore, Office or Residence Life, Student Government Association offices, Office of Student Involvement, Office of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, Career Development Center, Geography Department, Journalism Department, WVSU studio, and The Samford Crimson offices

Andrew Gerow Hodges Chapel / Divinity Hall- It was the location for a men's dorm building (Crawford Johnson Hall) before it was renovated. Dedicated in 1995, and named in honor of Andrew Gerow Hodges in 2002. Though the chapel is an original design, it was inspired by a chapel in Venice designed by Andrea Palladio. The interior of the dome contains paintings of prominent figures from Christian history, and was inspired by a passage in chapter 12 of Hebrews. It was painted by a modern Romanian fresco master named Petru Botezatu. The chapel also commemorates one 20th century Christian martyr from each of the six inhabited continents, and the sculptures portraying each of them are also the work of Botezatu.

John H. Buchanan Hall - Samford's original arts building, and is one of two buildings to be occupied by the Division of Music.

Jane Hollock Brock Hall - Named for the wife of long-time Samford trustee Harry Brock, Brock Recital Hall plays host to Samford music concerts and the SuperJazz Big Band.

Benjamin F. Harrison Theatre - The home of Samford's theater department, named after a long-time university trustee who was instrumental in securing the Daniel House in London for Samford's Study Abroad program.[15]


Board of Trustees[edit]

Samford University, as a private corporation, is wholly governed by an independent, self-perpetuating Board of Trustees. The Board appoints the President of the University, who serves as chief executive officer. The Board consists of its regular members and the President.


Andrew Westmoreland is the current President of Samford University. Appointed by the Board of Trustees, he is the chief executive officer of the university, and serves only at the pleasure of the Board. Prior to his taking office on June 1, 2006, Westmoreland served as president of Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas.

Prior to Westmoreland, the following men served as president:

President Tenure Institution
1 Samuel Sterling Sherman 1842–1852 Howard College (Marion)
2 Henry Talbird 1853–1863 Howard College (Marion)
3 Jabez Lamar Monroe Curry 1865–1868 Howard College (Marion)
4 Edward Q. Thornton 1868–1869 Howard College (Marion)
5 Samuel R. Freeman 1869–1871 Howard College (Marion)
6 James T. Murfee 1871–1887 Howard College (Marion)
7 Benjamin Franklin Riley 1888–1893 Howard College (East Lake)
8 Arthur W. McGaha 1893–1896 Howard College (East Lake)
9 A.D. Smith 1896–1897 Howard College (East Lake)
10 Frank M. Roof 1897–1902 Howard College (East Lake)
11 Andrew P. Montague 1902–1912 Howard College (East Lake)
12 James M. Shelborne 1912–1917 Howard College (East Lake)
13 Charles B. Williams 1919–1921 Howard College (East Lake)
14 John C. Dawson 1921–1932 Howard College (East Lake)
15 Thomas V. Neal 1932–1939 Howard College (East Lake)
16 Harwell Goodwin Davis 1939–1958 Howard College (Homewood)
17 Leslie Stephen Wright 1958–1983 Samford University (Homewood)
18 Thomas E. Corts 1983–2006 Samford University (Homewood)
19 Andrew Westmoreland 2006–present Samford University (Homewood)

Colleges and schools[edit]

Samford University is currently divided into degree-granting units. Each division is headed by a dean. The divisions of the university (and their current[when?] heads) are:[citation needed]

College/school Dean
Howard College of Arts and Science David W. Chapman
Brock School of Business Howard Finch
Beeson Divinity School Timothy George
Beeson School of Education & Professional Studies Jean A. Box
Cumberland School of Law John L. Carroll
Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing Nena Sanders
School of the Arts Joe Hopkins
McWhorter School of Pharmacy Michael Hogue, Interim


As of fall 2009, the last semester for which comprehensive data have been published, the university had an enrollment of 2,938 undergraduate students and 1,777 graduate and professional students.Approximately 40% of the total undergraduate student body comes from Alabama, 16% come from Georgia and 15% come from Tennessee. As a result, Samford's flavor, though leavened with students from across the United States (40 states are represented, along with 18 foreign countries), is overwhelmingly Southern.

Almost 85% of Samford's students (graduate and undergraduate) are Caucasian, and about 7% are African American. About 15% of Samford students are minorities, and 40% are male.[citation needed]


Samford's campus has moved several times during its history. Originally, Howard College was located in Marion, Alabama, a black-belt town between Selma and Tuscaloosa; it is the birthplace of Coretta Scott King. In 1887, the college moved to the East Lake community in Birmingham.

The college—and now University—is presently located approximately 5 miles (8 km) south of downtown Birmingham in Homewood, Alabama's Shades Valley area. The campus lies along Lakeshore Drive in Homewood, just 2 miles (3 km) from Interstate 65.

Besides its lush lawns and well-maintained gardens, Samford boasts a distinctive example of Georgian Colonial style architecture found in the United States. Samford's uniform style, based upon Colonial Williamsburg, was the vision of President Harwell Davis when he moved the campus to the Shades Valley area in 1953-55.

Student life[edit]


Students participate in organizations like Habitat for Humanity to facilitate service learning.

According to Samford officials, co-curricular involvement is an important aspect of a total education. Because of this philosophy, Samford students are encouraged to select from more than 100 honors, religious, professional, educational, service and social student organizations. These groups, overseen by the Office of Student Involvement, offer Samford students an opportunity to explore their interests with like-minded individuals.

Samford's diversity of programming runs the gamut from a student-led group of Oxfam America, a social justice organization, to the Samford Young Life chapter, an Evangelical Christian group.

Greek life[edit]

As of fall 2010, 33% of the undergraduate student body was affiliated with one of 9 social Greek organizations. Specifically, 29% of men were members of fraternities and 34% of women were members of sororities.

The local chapters are supported by active alumni bases that continue to involve former active members in both the life of the social organization and the life of the University. Many members of Samford's administration, along with several notable alums, were members of Greek organizations.


The fraternities represented on campus are:

Fraternity Chartered locally
Lambda Chi Alpha 1911
Pi Kappa Phi 1925, 1991
Sigma Chi 1872, 1984
Sigma Nu 1879
Sigma Phi Epsilon 1930 (closed since 2010)
Alpha Phi Alpha 2004
Alpha Tau Omega 2014


The sororities represented on campus are:

Sorority Chartered locally
Alpha Delta Pi 1910
Alpha Omicron Pi 1995
Delta Zeta 1924 (closed since 2004)
Zeta Tau Alpha 1964
Kappa Delta 1968 (closed since 1985)
Phi Mu 1924
Chi Omega 1963
Delta Xi Phi 2012
Delta Sigma Theta 1995
Alpha Kappa Alpha 1988
Delta Delta Delta charter pre-dates 1910 but exact date unknown (not currently active)

Samford also has chapters for Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, the social fraternity for men of musicianly character; Delta Omicron; Gamma Sigma Sigma, a service sorority and Alpha Phi Omega Co-ed Service Fraternity. These chapters are not affiliated with the Interfraternity Council or Panhellenic Council.

Student housing[edit]

All undergraduate students (with some exceptions) are required to live on campus until the age of 21 to the extent that on-campus student housing facilities can accommodate them.

Approximately 66% of undergraduates -— freshmen, sophomores, and many juniors -— live on campus. Many senior undergraduates also live on campus, and those who do not often join the graduate and professional students in living near campus. Consequently, student life at Samford is heavily intertwined with campus life.[citation needed]

Erskine Ramsay Hall[edit]

On Sunday March 9, 2008 at 3:58 PM Ramsay Hall suffered structural damage. Rafters supporting the roof collapsed unexpectedly. Residences heard a series of loud "shots" minutes before the roof collapsed. Campus safety responded promptly alerting fire departments and structural engineers. President Andrew Westmorland helped students the first night by providing a $100 gift card to each resident in order to purchase necessities until personal belongings could be recovered from the dormitory. All residences were reassigned dorm rooms the following week. The building has since been removed and new West Campus apartments (completed in 2013) provide students housing.[16]


There are several media outlines at Samford, with administration, faculty, and students producing different publications.

Inside Samford is the official newsletter of the university administration and faculty. Published ten times each year, it does not publish opinion.

Other media at Samford include:

  • The Samford Crimson, the student-run, campus-wide newspaper. With a circulation of 4,000, it is available free to all full-time, undergraduate students and is distributed at key locations on campus.
  • The Belltower, the official online news source of the University administration, published once per month during the summer and weekly during the academic year.
  • Seasons, the alumni magazine, published quarterly.
  • WVSU-FM (91.1), a 500-watt FM radio station that serves the southern portion of the Birmingham area.
  • Cumberland Law Review[17] whose members are selected by write-on from the top 15% of the Cumberland School of Law's first-year class to write articles and comments on newly decided cases and recently passed laws.
  • The American Journal of Trial Advocacy,[18] also published by the Cumberland School of Law, which is a national journal focusing on developments in trial law, technique, and practice.
  • Keeping Faith is a newsletter for Alabama Baptists about current events at Samford University. It is produced by the Office of Public Relations and published regularly in The Alabama Baptist newspaper.
  • Samford Business is a semiannual publication of the Brock School of Business, produced by the Office of University Communications.
  • PBL Insight is the newsletter for the Beeson School of Education's Center for Problem-Based Learning, published by the Office of University Communications.
  • Exodus magazine is published by journalism majors from Samford's Howard College of Arts and Sciences.
  • ENGAGE magazine is a student run publication that was started in the fall of 2005. ENGAGE serves to encourage students to examine the relationship between faith, culture and vocation. Students are encouraged to contribute by writing and designing and it is made available to all students at key areas around campus when it is published twice a semester.
  • Samford University Library: Special Collection: The papers of C.H. Spurgeon – The collection contains galley proofs and hand written sermon notes from 1879 – 1891.
  • "The Headless Platform" is a student run publication made independently on Samford's campus much to the chagrin of the faculty and staff. The Headless Platform provides an unconventional view of Samford life through satire and humor and is produced whenever the writers are the least lazy.


Main article: Samford Bulldogs

The university's athletic teams are known as the Bulldogs. Samford participates in NCAA at the Division I (Football Championship Subdivision football) level as a member of the Southern Conference. The university fields 17 varsity sports, eight men's sports: baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, tennis, as well as indoor and outdoor track & field; and nine women's sports: basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, indoor and outdoor track & field, and volleyball.[19]


The Samford University Alumni Association counts more than 27,000 graduates among its membership. Some notable alumni include:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ As of June 30, 2009. "U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2009 Endowment Market Value and Percentage Change in Endowment Market Value from FY 2008 to FY 2009" (PDF). 2009 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments. National Association of College and University Business Officers. Retrieved March 9, 2010. 
  2. ^ "Samford Announces Record Fall Enrollment > News > Samford University > Birmingham, Alabama". Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  3. ^ "Samford University - Best College - US News". Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  4. ^ Harris, W. Stuart (1991). Heritage of Perry County. Marion, Alabama: Perry County Historical and Preservation Society. pp. 70–92. 
  5. ^ Wilson, Mabel Ponder (1973). Some Early Alabama Churches. Marion, Alabama: Alabama Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. pp. 134–144. ISBN 978-0-88428-029-3. 
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^ Thomas, Grace Powers (1898). Where to educate, 1898-1899. A guide to the best private schools, higher institutions of learning, etc., in the United States. Boston: Brown and Company. p. 3. Retrieved August 17, 2012. 
  8. ^ Flynt, Wayne Flynt (2011). Keeping the Faith: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives. University of Alabama Press. p. 113. ISBN 0817317546. Retrieved December 2013. 
  9. ^ Flynt, Wayne Flynt (2011). Keeping the Faith: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives. University of Alabama Press. p. 116. ISBN 0817317546. Retrieved December 2013. 
  10. ^[dead link]
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Lena Vail Davis Hall". Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  14. ^ "Alabama Department of Archives and History: Alabama Attorneys General--Harwell Goodwin Davis". Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  15. ^ "Ben F. Harrison Dies; Samford Theatre Bears His Name > News > Samford University > Birmingham, Alabama". Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Cumberland School of Law". Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  18. ^ Cumberland School of Law – About the Journal
  19. ^ "Athletics". Retrieved January 20, 2012. 
  20. ^ "Wil Haygood, "A Path All His Own For Eric Motley, the Measure of a Man Isn't His Politics", The Washington Post, 11 Jun 2006); Page A01". Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  21. ^ "Thomas, Lee Emmett". Louisiana Historical Association, A Directory of Louisiana Biography ( Retrieved December 29, 2010. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 33°27′57″N 86°47′32″W / 33.46570°N 86.79214°W / 33.46570; -86.79214