Samford University

Samford University is a private Christian university in Homewood, Alabama.[4] In 1841, the university was founded as Howard College.[5] Samford University is the 87th oldest institution of higher learning in the United States.[6] The university enrolls 5,619 students from 44 states and 30 countries.[7]

Samford University
Former name
Howard College
MottoFor God, For Learning, Forever
Endowment$302 million (Fall 2018)[1]
PresidentAndrew Westmoreland
Academic staff
Students5,619 (Fall 2018)[2]
Undergraduates3,535 (Fall 2018)
Postgraduates2,084 (Fall 2018)
Location, ,
United States
ColorsBlue and Red[3]
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division ISouthern Conference


19th century

In 1841, Samford University was founded as Howard College in Marion, Alabama.[8][9] Some of the land was donated by Reverend James H. DeVotie, who served on the Samford Board of Trustees for fifteen years and as its President for two years.[10][11] The first financial gift, $4,000, was given by Julia Tarrant Barron and both she and her son also gave land to establish the college.[12] The university was established after the Alabama Baptist State Convention decided to build a school for men in Perry County, Alabama. The college's first nine students began studies in January 1842 with a traditional curriculum of language, literature and sciences.[13] In those early years the graduation addresses of several distinguished speakers were published, including those by Thomas G. Keen of Mobile, Joseph Walters Taylor, Noah K. Davis and Samuel Sterling Sherman.[14] In October 1854, a fire destroyed all of the college's property, including its only building.[13][15] While the college recovered from the fire, the Civil War began.[13] Howard College was converted to a military hospital by the Confederate government in 1863.[15] During this time, the college's remaining faculty offered basic instruction to soldiers recovering at the hospital.[13] For a short period after the war, federal troops occupied the college and sheltered freed slaves on its campus. In 1865 the college reopened. Howard College's board of trustees accepted real estate and funding from the city of Birmingham, Alabama in 1887.[16]

20th century

In 1913, the college became fully and permanently coeducational. Howard College added its School of Music in 1914 and School of Education and Journalism the following year. The college introduced its Department of Pharmacy in 1927. At the time, it was the only program of its kind in the Southeastern United States.[17] During World War II, Howard College hosted a V-12 Navy College Training Program, allowing enlisted sailors to earn college degrees while receiving military training.[13][18] The number of veterans attending the college after the war boosted enrollment beyond capacity. In result, the college was moved to the Shades Valley in Homewood, Alabama. The new campus opened in 1957.[19] In 1961, the college acquired Cumberland School of Law, one of the nation's oldest law schools.[20] In addition to the law school, Howard College added a new school of business and reorganized to achieve university status in 1965.[13] Since the name "Howard University" was already in use, Howard College was renamed in honor of Frank Park Samford, a longtime trustee of the school.[13] In 1973, the university acquired Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing.[21] Samford University established a study center for students to study abroad in Kensington, England in 1984.[22]

Civil rights

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. 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,[23] a historically black school.

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.[24] The entire university proceeded with integration.[25]

21st century

Dr. Andrew Westmoreland was appointed president of the university in 2006.[26] That year, the Jane Hollock Brock Recital Hall was dedicated as part of the university’s fine arts complex. A new soccer and track facility opened in 2011, part of a decade-long expansion of new athletics facilities that included a tennis center, a basketball arena, a football field house and a softball stadium.[27] For the 2012–13 academic year, the economic and fiscal impacts of the university on Alabama were $335.21 million, 2,438 jobs, $8.5 million in state income and sales taxes, and $4.7 million in local sales tax. In 2013, the university established a new College of Health Sciences, including Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing, McWhorter School of Pharmacy, the School of Health Professions and the School of Public Health.[28] The university announced the construction of a new facility to house Brock School of Business that year. In 2014, the West Village residence complex opened. That December, the university purchased the adjacent headquarters of Southern Progress, a subsidiary of Time, Inc., that houses the College of Health Sciences.[29][30]


University rankings
Forbes[31] 169
Times/WSJ[32] 170
U.S. News & World Report[33] 137
Washington Monthly[34] 277

Samford, a Christian university,[35] offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs, with 170 undergraduate majors, minors and concentrations.[7] The university is divided into the School of the Arts, Howard College of Arts and Sciences, Brock School of Business, Beeson Divinity School, Orlean Bullard Beeson School of Education, Cumberland School of Law, Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing, McWhorter School of Pharmacy, School of Health Professions and School of Public Health. The faculty-to-student ratio at Samford University is 1:13.[36] Approximately two-thirds of the university's classes have fewer than 20 students.[7][36]


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 university is now located approximately 5 miles (8 km) south of downtown Birmingham in Homewood, Alabama's Shades Valley along Lakeshore Drive in Homewood, just 2 miles (3 km) from Interstate 65. It is built in the Georgian Colonial style based on Colonial Williamsburg as envisioned by President Harwell Davis when he moved the campus to the Shades Valley area in 1953-55.

Student demographics

In 2018, Samford University enrolled 3,535 undergraduate and 2,084 graduate and professional students.[2] Students from 44 states and 30 countries attend Samford,[7] with 66 percent of the undergraduate student body coming from outside the state of Alabama.[37] 97 percent of all May undergraduate alumni were employed or enrolled in graduate school or in internships within six months of graduation from 2013 to 2015.[38][39] 81 percent of May 2015 graduates completed an internship during their time at Samford.[40] During 2015, Samford students completed 716,902 hours of community service.[7]


The university fields 17 varsity sports and participates in the NCAA at the Division I level as a member of the Southern Conference.[37] Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, tennis and indoor and outdoor track and field. Women's sports include basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, indoor and outdoor track and field, volleyball and equestrian.

In the NCAA's 2013 report, Samford student-athletes achieved an average Academic Progress Rate of 990, the highest in Alabama.[41] It marked the eighth consecutive year that Samford has been a leader in APR measures, beginning in 2005 when it placed 7th in the nation in the inaugural ranking.[41] The university is one of only 61 schools to have received an NCAA Public Recognition Award for academic excellence in the past eight years.[42]

In late 2015, Samford's athletics teams were ranked first in Alabama and the Southern Conference for Graduation Success Rate by the NCAA with an average score of 99%. Eleven teams posted perfect scores.[43] The football team’s score of 98% is tied with Princeton and Columbia for the highest score among Division I-FCS programs, making Samford one of the highest ranked universities in Division I athletics.[44]

The Bulldogs have won 37 conference championships since joining the Southern Conference in 2008.[42] In the last 15 years, 25 Samford baseball players have been selected in the Major League Baseball Draft, and five Bulldog football players have been chosen in the National Football League Draft.[42] Past student-athletes include national-championship football coaches Bobby Bowden[45] and Jimbo Fisher[46] All-Pro defensive back Cortland Finnegan,[47] NFL standouts James Bradberry (Carolina Panthers), Michael Pierce (Baltimore Ravens) and Jaquiski Tartt (San Francisco 49ers), and baseball’s Phillip Ervin, who has had success with the Cincinnati Reds.

Notable alumni

The university has more than 51,000 alumni, including U.S. congressmen, seven state governors, two U.S. Supreme Court justices, four Rhodes Scholars, multiple Emmy and Grammy award-winning artists, two national championship football coaches, and recipients of the Pulitzer and Nobel Peace prizes.[48] Some notable alumni include:

Politics and government

Arts and letters



  • Bobby Bowden, head football coach, Florida State University (1976–2009), national champion (1993, 1999); College Football Hall of Fame (2006)
  • Marv Breeding (1952), MLB player
  • Cortland Finnegan, player, National Football League— Tennessee Titans, St. Louis Rams, Miami Dolphins (2006–14); Carolina Panthers (2015); Pro Bowl (2009)
  • Jennifer Pharr Davis, record-setting long-distance hiker and author
  • Jimbo Fisher, head football coach, Florida State University (2010–2017), national champion (2013); Texas A&M University (2018–present)
  • Sam Goldman, former NFL player
  • Slick Lollar, former NFL player
  • Michael Pierce, current NFL player for the Baltimore Ravens (2016–present)
  • Travis Peterson, European FIBA player
  • Marc Salyers, European FIBA player
  • Corey White, player, National Football League—New Orleans Saints (2012–2014); Dallas Cowboys (2015–present)
  • Jaquiski Tartt, player, National Football League—San Francisco 49ers (2015–present)
  • James Bradberry, NFL player for the Carolina Panthers (2016–present)
  • Phillip Ervin, MLB player for the Cincinnati Reds (2017–present)
  • Devlin Hodges, NFL Quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers (2019–present)



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  2. "Samford Announces 10th Consecutive Record Enrollment". Samford University.
  3. Samford Brand Identity Standards (PDF). April 1, 2019. Retrieved June 20, 2019.
  4. Dawn Kent Azok (February 25, 2014). "Samford University purchases Homewood office building". Retrieved December 31, 2014.
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  6. "Samford University by the Numbers". Archived from the original on 2015-09-24. Retrieved December 31, 2014.
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  9. 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.
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  11. Mitchell Bennett Garrett, William R. Snell, Janet Snell, Sixty Years of Howard College, 1842-1902, Howard College, 1927, p. 19
  12. Flynt, Wayne (1998). Alabama Baptists: Southern Baptists in the Heart of Dixie. Tuscaloosa, Alabama: University of Alabama Press. pp. 58–59. ISBN 978-0-8173-0927-5.
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  19. "Then and Now". Retrieved December 31, 2014.
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  21. "History". Retrieved December 31, 2014.
  22. "Timeline of Major Accomplishments During the Presidency of Thomas E. Corts". May 2005. Archived from the original on December 31, 2014. Retrieved December 31, 2014.
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  24. Flynt, Wayne Flynt (2011). Keeping the Faith: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives. University of Alabama Press. p. 116. ISBN 0817317546.
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  55. "About Bubba Cathy". Chick-fil-A.
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