by Teresa Dickens and Jack Brymer
BIRMINGHAM, Ala.---Samford University and Woman's Missionary Union have moved a step closer to opening a Christian Women's Leadership Center at Samford with the naming of Dr. Carol Ann Vaughn as the center's first director.
The center, which will enroll its first students in the fall of 2001, will help women prepare in a Christian context for leadership roles in church, social institutions, government and the general marketplace.
Dr. Vaughn, former history professor at Judson College in Alabama, will hold the Dr. Eleanor F. Terry Chair for Christian Women’s Leadership. The chair was established last year through the WMU Foundation with a major gift from the late Eleanor Terry's husband, Bob Terry, Editor of The Alabama Baptist. Additional gifts from national WMU and the WMU Foundation have fully endowed the chair.
Vaughn will work during the 2000-2001 academic year on program development for the center. The Huntsville native holds the bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama in Huntsville and master’s and Ph.D. degrees from Auburn University--all in history. She has taught at Judson since 1997 and has studied and provided leadership in numerous areas of women’s studies.
Samford President Thomas E. Corts said Vaughn "has an excellent academic background, as well as a caring and compassionate heart for the unused leadership capacity of contemporary church women. Samford and WMU are counting on her to implement the program and keep it focused on the most important issues."
WMU Executive Director Wanda S. Lee also described Vaughn as an "excellent choice" for directing the emerging Christian Women's Leadership Center.
"She understands the hopes and dreams of WMU and Samford for developing the leadership skills of women," said Lee. "But most of all, she has demonstrated the commitment to develop a top quality center where women can pursue the needed skills to follow God's call in their lives."
Vaughn said the center’s goal is to develop a broadly based program in which women can build their own course of study to meet their vocational needs. This could be through an advanced degree, a concurrent degree program, a concentration, or continuing education units, she said.
"We envision a unique core curriculum in Christian women's leadership to support students' individual interests in business, public policy, education, healthcare and the church," she said.
The partners in this effort will also bring a powerful dynamic to the development of the center, Vaughn added.
"Woman's Missionary Union has a wonderful legacy of cultivating and activating women's leadership," she said. "Today, WMU has some of the most talented women consultants in the country. Samford's commitment to this program says a great deal about its prophetic vision for the twenty-first century."
Corts and Lee said their commitment to the center is based on the ever-increasing role women play in the society.
"We are joining forces to create a Christian Women's Leadership Center to confront issues of significance to women and to do so from a Christian perspective," said Corts. "Women are major forces in Christian churches around the world, and many vital concerns weigh heavier upon women than men in our society."
Lee agreed, describing WMU and Samford as "perfect partners for bringing a program such as this into existence."
Eleanor Terry died July 20, 1998, from injuries sustained in an automobile accident in Durban, South Africa. A native of Vicksburg, Miss., she held bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from Mississippi College and a Ph.D. in higher and adult education administration from the University of Missouri.
She was a public school teacher, professor and administrator at William Jewell College in Missouri, and associate dean of graduate studies and assistant professor of administration at Birmingham-Southern College. In the weeks preceding her untimely death, she had discussed the directorship of the center with leaders of both Samford and WMU.
"Eleanor's life was about missions and ministry," said Bob Terry. "Whether it was as a public school teacher, a church works or a college administrator, Eleanor was about helping people. She also had a deep commitment and passion for women to be trained for leadership roles."