Posted by Sean Flynt on 2007-08-08

The Alabama Power Foundation has given Samford $225,000 to support a growing undergraduate research program. The gift was announced today at a luncheon honoring students who took part in that program this summer, working with faculty on advanced research projects ranging from ancient literature to genetics.

William Johnson, president of Alabama Power Foundation, and Robert Holmes, senior vice president for Ethics and Business Practices for Alabama Power Company, presented the gift, which creates the Alabama Power Foundation Research Fellows fund at Samford. In addition to supporting the current undergraduate research program, the fund also will support the Samford Scholars Initiative, to be launched in 2008. That program will combine traditional liberal arts courses with innovative classroom instruction, international travel and discipline-based undergraduate research.

David Chapman, Dean of Samford's Howard College of Arts and Sciences, noted that the U.S. is losing its traditional edge in research, with an increasing number of advanced degrees leaving the country with the foreign students who earned them here. He said Samford's program can help restore that edge by helping its undergraduates prepare for the intensive one-on-one work with faculty experts that characterizes graduate programs at large, research-oriented universities.

Samford president Andrew Westmoreland assured the undergraduate researchers that they would be grateful for that experience when, as graduate students, they confront a problem and think, "I've been here before".

Welcoming representatives of Birmingham-area businesses to the luncheon, Westmoreland also suggested that Samford's distinctive front gates aren't intended to keep young scholars cloistered in esoteric study. "Our view," he said, "is that those gates ought to swing wide open into the community so that we can be engaged in the life of the community and support the community in every way we can."

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.