Samford sees continued progress with new programs, new facilities

Samford sees continued progress with new programs, new facilities

Samford University in Birmingham begins its 176th year during some of the most historic progress in university history. The addition of new degree programs, anticipated record enrollments and major campus improvements will greet students as they return to campus in August. Undergraduate classes begin Aug. 28, but many graduate and professional programs begin earlier in the month.

The university continues to be the highest nationally ranked private institution in Alabama and among the best Christian universities in the U.S. Samford also has been ranked for academics, affordability and value by U.S. News & World Report, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, The Economist and The Wall Street Journal, among others.

As Samford has grown and prospered through the years, it has never wavered from the mission and vision of its Alabama Baptist founders, and the university continues to fulfill that mission in its traditional academic programs as well as in programs that support the work of Alabama Baptist churches and the global community the university now serves.

“We value the relationship we have with Alabama Baptists, and it is a privilege to serve our churches and friends by educating your students and by providing other opportunities that further the kingdom of God,” said Samford President Andrew Westmoreland.

Ministry Training Institute

Samford’s Ministry Training Institute (MTI) offers educational opportunities in ministry training and biblical studies.

Our courses are conveniently delivered both online or through our vast extension network. Samford is committed to providing the most affordable and accessible education to our students.

The institute provides online certificate programs in pastoral leadership, worship leadership and student ministry. First fall term classes begin Aug. 22 and second fall term classes begin Oct. 24.

On-site extension classes are offered throughout the fall at 26 sites around the state.

“Last year the Ministry Training Institute enjoyed a phenomenal year,” said Kevin Blackwell, assistant to the president for church relations and MTI coordinator. “Our final numbers included 1,560 enrollments, five new extension locations and 90 students received diplomas and certificates at our spring commencement. This new year we are adding an advanced diploma and five new courses to our curriculum as well as a new extension site at the Hamilton County Baptist Association in Chattanooga, Tennessee.”

Lay Academy of Theology

One of Samford’s most popular programs is the Lay Academy of Theology coordinated by Beeson Divinity School.

Four non-credit classes taught by Beeson faculty members are being offered during the fall term and are designed for laypersons who want to explore Bible and theology topics.

“Six of Twelve: Nahum to Malachi,” taught by Mark Gignilliat, is a study of the Minor Prophets. Six Monday evening class sessions begin Sept. 25 and end Oct. 30.

“Divine Signs: God’s Fingerprints in all Reality” explores signs of divine glory in nature, science, law, history, sports and love. Taught by Gerald McDermott, the six Tuesday evening sessions begin Sept. 26 and end Oct. 31.

“Theology of Hebrews,” taught by Sydney Park, will meet for six Thursday evenings beginning Sept. 28 and ending Nov. 2.

“The Household of Faith: What Every Believer Should Know About the Church” will meet from 1–3 p.m. on Thursdays beginning Sept. 28 and ending Nov. 2. The course will be taught by Doug Webster.

More information, including registration, is available at

Community engagement

Giving back to the community always has been a hallmark of Samford University. Last year, Samford students contributed 972,192 hours of service in missions, ministry and other opportunities around the world.

“Community engagement is simply part of the university’s DNA,” said Drayton Nabers, director of Samford’s Frances Marlin Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership. “The experiences of students when engaged in community work will stay with them for a lifetime.”

With more than 295 courses that integrated community engagement as an academic component, the university worked with hundreds of community partners and other nongovernment organizations around the world that span initiatives in the arts, ministry, athletics, youth services, education and legal fields, environmental justice, and the health care industry, to name a few.

One of the newest partnerships is with New Rising Star Baptist Church, Birmingham, led by Pastor Thomas Beavers, a Samford alumnus.

The eight-week New Rising Star Academic Enrichment Camp in July involved more 100 children in an academic enrichment program developed by the American Baseball Foundation that utilizes sports to engage students in an effort to limit summer learning loss.

The camp included a field trip to Samford’s campus for 85 pre-K through eighth-grade campers. Campers enjoyed a fun-filled field day on the university’s quad with activities, lunch in the cafeteria and a show in Christenberry Planetarium. Rising sixth through eighth graders also participated in a campus tour from two Samford student guides.

“This field trip was a great way to open Samford’s gates to one of our community partners and we hope to provide more opportunities like this,” said Allison Nanni, director of community engagement for the Mann Center.

More improvements coming

Samford welcomes 19 new faculty members for the 2017–18 academic year. New academic programs are being added in law, health sciences and divinity, including several cross-discipline joint degree programs.

The university also has begun implementing a multiyear campus master plan that represents the first major update to the plan since relocation to the current campus 60 years ago. Renovations are underway in several academic buildings and iconic Reid Chapel, and a new residence facility will open for the fall semester.

Part of the master plan includes infrastructure updates that will save the university an estimated $1.65 million annually in energy savings over the next several years. New energy-efficient windows and lighting already have been installed in many buildings, and others will be completed in the months ahead. (Samford)


Key fall events at Samford

• Aug. 29 — Opening Convocation of the 176th anniversary academic session, 10 a.m., Wright Center

• Sept. 6 — An Evening of Worship with Ragan Courtney and Cynthia Clawson, 6 p.m., First Baptist Church, Birmingham

• Sept. 8 — Tonight at the Wright presents the Gaither Vocal Band, 7 p.m.

• Sept. 28–Oct. 1 — Family Weekend

• Oct. 1 — Samford Hymn Sing, 2 p.m., First Baptist Church, Birmingham

• Nov. 2 — Davis Lecture featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning author Dan Fagin, 7 p.m., Wright Center

• Nov. 10–12 — Homecoming

• Dec. 7 — Choral Vespers: Lessons and Carols, 5:30 p.m., Hodges Chapel

For more information on these and all events at Samford, visit