Samford University students will find new facilities, faces and academic opportunities when they arrive on campus in late August. The most visible changes are the result of an unusually busy summer.
"We run this race each year, but the summer seems to be shortened, and the time we have to refresh and renew the campus compresses," observes Samford President Thomas E. Corts. "In our 160 year history, there has never been a summer like this one."
"We have had millions of dollars of projects underway in a race against time. Now it looks as though completion of the renovated kitchen and dining facilities, and the new science center are in view. A lot of other projects still have to come together before we welcome students back," he said.
Some 800 freshmen and other new students will join 3,710 returning students for the fall semester.
The eagerly awaited $27 million science building will be open when classes begin on Aug. 27. Located opposite Reid Chapel, the new facility houses the biology, physics and chemistry departments. It includes a planetarium, conservatory, administrative offices, classrooms, and more than 35 labs. The three and one-half story building will be dedicated in late October during Homecoming weekend.
Beeson University Center's kitchen and dining hall areas have undergone an extensive $6 million transformation. A new east entrance will provide easy access to the dining area, which is freshly equipped with new flooring, ceiling, lighting, furniture, and serving and eating configurations.
A $1.3 million renovation to Smith Hall, which houses 195 male freshmen, features new air conditioning, bath fixtures, paint, ceiling and other enhancements.
Wright Center Concert Hall is being renovated and painted. The massive project, which includes plaster repair, will be completed in October.
New administrators include associate provost Dr. J. Bradley Creed, arts and sciences dean Dr. David Chapman, business dean Dr. Carl Gooding, nursing dean Dr. Nena Sanders and Cumberland School of Law dean John Carroll. Twenty other new faculty members will join the Samford teaching ranks this fall.
Samford's School of Music and theatre department have combined to form a new School of Performing Arts, which will offer two new majors in musical theatre.
Under the new alignment, the School of Performing Arts is comprised of a division of music and a theatre department. Dr. Milburn Price, dean of the former School of Music, is now dean of the School of Performing Arts and chair of the division of music. Dr. Don Sandley, chair of the former speech communication and theatre department in Samford's Howard College of Arts and Sciences, is now theatre department chair.
The former Department of Religion and Philosophy is now two departments: the Department of Philosophy, Dr. Dennis Sansom, chair; and the Department of Religion, Dr. Sigurd Bryan, chair.
The Department of History and Political Science is now two departments: the Department of History, Dr. John Mayfield, chair; and the Department of Political Science, Dr. Fred Shepherd, chair.
Freshmen will participate in several activities that will introduce them to campus life. For the first time, new students were given a summer assignment to read a chapter from Paul Loeb's Soul of a Citizen. Following a morning discussion session, they, along with faculty and staff volunteers, will undertake community service projects.
Loeb, a specialist on the psychology of social involvement, will speak at a convocation on Sept. 11 in Reid Chapel. The public is invited.
All students can participate in a new program in which they will meet with faculty members in small group sessions designed to spur theological thought, personal reflection and spiritual growth.
Samford football kicks off with a home game against Chattanooga on Aug. 30 at 7 p.m. in Seibert Stadium. The Bulldogs' game against Tennessee Tech at 11 a.m. on Sept. 15 will be televised on Fox Sports South. All games will be broadcast on WVSU 91.1 FM.
Samford's 160th anniversary will be a recurring theme throughout the year. Founded by Alabama Baptists in Marion in 1841, the school has grown from a student body of nine Alabama men to its present enrollment of men and women who hail from 39 states and 26 foreign nations.
A new pictorial history, 160 Years of Samford University, written by alumnus Sean A. Flynt, tells the Samford story largely through vintage photographs from the school's three campuses in Marion, East Lake and Homewood. Published by Arcadia Publishing, the book is available in bookstores for $19.99.
Fall activities include Homecoming observance Oct. 26-28. The weekend will conclude with a special 2 p.m. Sunday service at Ruhama Baptist Church, which was attended by many students when the school, then Howard College, was located in East Lake.