Samford University

From Bhamwiki
(Redirected from Howard College)
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Samford University logo.png

Samford University is a private, coeducational, Baptist-affiliated university located in Shades Valley, on Lakeshore Drive in the City of Homewood. The school was founded as Howard College in Marion in 1841 and moved to East Lake in 1887, before building a new campus in the 1950s. In 1965 the school was re-named "Samford University" to honor benefactor and trustee Frank Park Samford.

Samford has a student enrollment of approximate 5,509 for the 2017-2018 academic year. In 2007, Samford was reclassified from the master's degree institutions in the U.S. News & World Report rankings of America's Best Colleges to the doctoral research university category, the only private institution in Alabama so ranked. [1]


The "Old Main", Main Building for Howard College at East Lake

Howard College was approved in November 1841 by the Alabama Baptist State Convention, meeting in Talladega. It was chartered on December 29 of the same year by the Alabama Legislature and opened the following month in Marion. The name was chosen to honor British social reformer John Howard, though he had no direct connection to the college or its founders.

On the night of October 15, 1854, a fire broke out in the college's building, destroying it and resulting in the death of one student and Harry, an enslaved man owned by the college's president. Harry worked as a janitor at the college and according to Samford history and folklore insisted on waking all the boys to save them from the fire before he left the building. He died from injuries sustained when he jumped from a top floor window. The stairs were blocked by fire.

After the fire, the college rebuilt on a new site now occupied by Marion Military Institute.

In 1887 the school, with six faculty members, relocated to the East Lake area of Birmingham between 77th Street and 78th Street facing Underwood Avenue (which is now 2nd Avenue South). Then-president I. T. Murfee decided not to move with the school and instead founded the Marion Military Institute on the former Howard campus. The new campus welcomed its first class of 157 students to temporary quarters on October 1, 1887 and began in earnest to construct a suitable campus.

The central part of Howard's campus was dominated by the Old Main building, completed in 1891, which backed up to 4th Avenue South. An elliptical path was inscribed in the main quadrangle with the large Sherman Oak occupying a privileged spot near the center. Berry Field was constructed behind the Old Main for athletic contests. Other buildings on the East Lake Campus included Riley Hall and its annex, Renfroe Hall, Montague Hall, Townes Hall, Science Hall, Causey Gym, an amphitheater, bookstore, post office, and the "Pine Lodge".

Women were first admitted to Howard College on a provisional basis from 1895 to 1897. 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 and in 1927 it added a pharmacy school.

In 1951, the school acquired the Cumberland School of Law from Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee.

Under the leadership of President Harwell Goodwin Davis the college looked to relocate again and on June 11, 1953 Howard College broke ground on its third campus, on land deeded to it by Jefferson County in Shades Valley just south of Birmingham. The school moved into its new campus in 1957. That fall it celebrated its largest-ever enrollment with 1,825 students on campus.

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 to that time, the institution's most generous individual benefactor, because there was already 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 2020 it was renamed the Moffett & Sanders School of Nursing. In 1983 Samford acquired the Daniel House a study centre in London, England. In 1988, the Beeson School of Divinity was established through donations from Ralph Beeson. In 2008, the School of Business was named Brock School of Business in honor of retired banker Harry Brock Jr.

On January 29, 2004, in his Founder's Day Address, then-President Thomas E. Corts announced a multi-year improvement plan called, "The Promise." Corts said that, "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 formally closed on September 30, 2007. Since June 1, 2003 more than $55 million was contributed in philanthropic gifts toward the campaign by Samford alumni and friends. In 2022 the university received a $100 million bequest from the estate of Marvin Mann (class of 1954). Of that, $5 million was earmarked for the Frances Marlin Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership, with the remainder going into an endowment to fund scholarships.

In 2023 an independent study conducted by the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Alabama found that Samford University provided a $453.3 million economic impact to the state of Alabama.


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

Besides its lush lawns and well-maintained gardens, Samford boasts one of the most distinctive examples of Georgian style architecture 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. The campus's centerpiece and most iconic building, the Harwell Goodwin Davis Library is named in his honor.

Today, that vision is maintained in each new building project, even if the project in question would not have been possible in the time-period of the style (as with the Hanna Arena).

The Quad on the central campus is framed by two iconic chapels. A.H. Reid Chapel at the east end and Andrew Gerow Hodges Chapel at the west end.

In 2015, Samford purchased the adjoining campus of Southern Progress with its modern tree-surrounded buildings. This now serves as the home of Samford's College of Heath Sciences.

In 2022 Samford's Office of Spiritual Life cut ties with "Guest Ministry Organizations," including campus organizations affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Episcopal Church, that had adopted LGBTQ-affirming stances.


Board of Trustees

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 is comprised of its regular members and the President. By its own by laws the Board requires all its members to be Baptists, but since 2017, they do not all have to be residents of Alabama.


Beck Taylor 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.

Since the 1930s, Samford's president has kept residence and entertained at a series of President's Homes.

See List of Samford University presidents for a complete listing.

Colleges and schools

Samford University is currently divided into several degree-granting units, each headed by their own dean.

For administrative purposes, the schools of pharmacy, nursing, health professions, and public health are known collectively as the College of Health Sciences

Student life

As of fall 2010, the university had a total enrollment of 4,715, made up of 2,938 undergraduate students and 1,777 graduate and professional students. This was a new enrollment record, surpassing the previous one of 4,658 set in 2009.

As of fall 2010, approximately 46% of the total student body comes from Alabama, 14% from Georgia, 12% from Tennessee, and 6% from Florida. [2] Figures from 2008 stated that just over 85% of Samford's students are caucasian, and about 7% are African American. About 10% of Samford students are minorities, and 40% are male. [3]

The largest annual event in student life is Step Sing, a dance and singing competition held near the beginning of the spring semester.


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 Amnesty International, a human-rights activist organization, to the Samford Young Life chapter, an Evangelical Christian group.

Greek life

As of fall 2007, 32% of the undergraduate student body was affiliated with one of 12 social Greek organizations. Specifically, 23% of men were members of fraternities and 36% 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 Sigma Chi (first chartered on campus in 1872, rechartered 1984), Sigma Nu (1879), Lambda Chi Alpha (1911), Pi Kappa Phi (1925, 1991), Sigma Phi Epsilon (1930, 1997), Kappa Alpha Psi (1998), Alpha Phi Alpha (2000), Beta Theta Phi (2022), Phi Gamma Delta (2024).

The sororities represented on campus are Alpha Delta Pi (1910), Phi Mu (1924), Zeta Tau Alpha (1933), Chi Omega (1963), Alpha Kappa Alpha (1989), Alpha Omicron Pi (1995), Delta Sigma Theta (1995), Delta Delta Delta (2016), Kappa Delta (1968-1985, re-established 2023). [4]

Student housing

Unmarried undergraduates 20 years of age and under are required to reside in university housing, unless they live at home with a parent or guardian. As Samford's enrollment has grown, the university had not been able to accommodate all the students who wished to live on campus, and had had to house younger students in housing further from the quad that was designed for upper-class students.

In December 2023 Samford announced a "Samford Horizons" plan to construct a new first-year residence hall with 513 beds by fall 2025. The new building complements the existing Mamie Mell Smith Hall and Lena Vail Davis Hall to form a "Freshman Commons" served by an expanded North Parking Deck.

As part of the same plan, it announced it would build two upper-division residence halls with a total of 140 beds. The overall Horizons plan enabled the university to once again house 3/4ths of its traditional undergraduates on campus, at an estimated to cost of $188 million.


Publications at Samford include:

  • Seasons, the alumni magazine, published quarterly by the Office of Communication.
  • The Belltower, the online publication for alumni and friends, published once per month during the summer and weekly during the academic year by the Office of Communication.
  • Inside Samford is the newsletter for university employees, published ten times each year by the Office of Communication.
  • The Samford Crimson, the student-run, campus-wide newspaper. With a circulation of 4,000, it is available free to all students and is distributed at key locations on campus.
  • Cumberland Law Review [5] 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 [6], also published by the Cumberland School of Law, which is a national journal focusing on developments in trial law, technique, and practice.
  • The Beeson Journal is published annually by the Beeson School of Divinity.
  • International Journal of Pharmacy Education and Practice is a peer-reviewed internet based journal published by the McWhorter School of Pharmacy.
  • The Local, previously Exodus magazine is published by journalism majors from Samford's Howard College of Arts and Sciences.



Main article: Samford Bulldogs

Samford's intercollegiate athletics teams are nicknamed the Bulldogs, and the team is represented by a costumed bulldog called "Spike". The school's colors are red and blue.

Samford fields teams in 17 varsity sports (8 men's and 9 women's) [8]. Men's sports include football, basketball, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, cross-country, golf, tennis and baseball. Women's sports include soccer, basketball, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, cross-country, golf, tennis, softball and volleyball. Beginning in 2008, the school will become a member of the Southern Conference, which is headquartered in Spartanburg, South Carolina. From 2003 to 2007 Samford was a member of the Ohio Valley Conference, based in Brentwood, Tennessee.

Samford plays their home football games in 6,700-seat Seibert Stadium. Home basketball games are played in the 5,000 seat Thomas E. and Marla H. Corts Arena of the Pete Hanna Center.

Pete Hanna Center

The Pete Hanna Center opened in 2007. The 132,000-square foot multipurpose facility was the largest single construction project in Samford history. The 5,000-seat Thomas E. and Marla H. Corts Arena for basketball and volleyball is the centerpiece, with a capacity of 6,000 for concerts, graduation ceremonies and other programs with floor seating.

Griffin Stadium

In the spring of 2000, the Bulldogs baseball team opened its newly-remodeled Joe Lee Griffin Field. Renamed Joe Lee Griffin Stadium, the 1,000-seat facility, constructed in Samford's Georgian-Colonial style, is complete with the baseball offices and locker room housed in the facility. A newly-constructed pressbox was used for the first time in the 2008 season.

Other facilities

Notable alumni and faculty

Samford University graduates number more than 50,000 in 164 years. Today, the Alumni Association counts more than 27,000 graduates among its membership. Some of those who have achieved particular note are:

External links