Samford University has reached an historic milestone in its multi-year, multi-million dollar "A Campaign for Samford."

In early July, gifts and pledges to the campaign reached $172 million in the middle of the university's 172nd year of existence. A more than $1 million grant for the university's graduate nursing programs provided the funds to push the total past the historic figure.

The $200 million campaign is scheduled for completion by Dec, 31, 2014. The university closed the fiscal year on June 30 with more than $125 million in cash and cash equivalent gifts and outstanding pledges of about $46.8 million to the campaign, according to W. Randy Pittman, Samford's vice president for advancement.

The campaign already exceeds the highest fundraising campaign total in university history, Pittman said, despite the global economic difficulties in the last decade.

"At the beginning of the campaign, we all envisioned raising substantial dollars to build endowments for scholarships and for new buildings on the campus," he said.  "Thankfully, our donors remained faithful during the recession. When I think of the magnitude of the gifts we received during the downturn in the economy, I can only say 'thanks be to God'.  No other explanation is adequate."

Pittman noted that 16,040 different donors have made gifts to the campaign since it was launched in October 2007.

The largest donor, to date, is the Alabama Baptist Convention Cooperative Program, the funding plan for the affiliated churches in the statewide organization of Baptists. Samford has an historic relationship with Alabama Baptists that dates to the university's founding in December 1841. Alabama Baptist campaign gifts totaled more than $28.6 million as of June 30.

Sixteen donors have given or pledged more than $1 million to the campaign, Pittman said, including six estate gifts. The largest of the estate gifts came from the late Frank Samford Jr., and his wife, Virginia Samford Donovan.

Pittman also noted that the campaign had received gifts as small as $1 from several current students "as they start what hopefully will be a lifetime of support for their alma mater."

In addition to the annual Samford Fund, the campaign has received more than $44 million for scholarships and about $32 million ifor academic programs and faculty enhancements. Capital projects include new residence facilities, Barbara Drummond Thorne Hall in the new West Village complex, the Cooney Family Field House, the J.T. Haywood Field House and the Samford Soccer and Track Stadium. Fund-raising is underway for a new building for the Brock School of Business, with construction tentatively scheduled to begin late this year.

"The campaign goal is within sight," Pittman said. "Because we have generous and supportive alumni, parents, students, employees and friends, I have every confidence that we will be able to attain the goal. And, students will benefit for generations to come because of it."

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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.