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Ouachita’s Westmoreland nominated as Samford president

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP)–The nomination of Andrew Westmoreland as the next president of Samford University will be acted on during a special trustee meeting Jan. 10. Westmoreland currently is president of Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark.

If elected, Westmoreland will succeed Thomas E. Corts, becoming the Baptist-affiliated university’s 18th president in its 164-year history. Corts, Samford’s president since 1983, announced in April his plans to retire by the end of the 2005-06 academic year.

If elected by Samford’s trustees, Westmoreland, 48, would assume the presidency on June 1. Other transition plans will be determined by the trustees in the Jan. 10 meeting, board chair William Stevens of Birmingham said.

In a six-month national search that yielded more than 140 nominations, Westmoreland emerged as the leading candidate in late November after the 18-member presidential search committee had presented him in a series of meetings with three constituent review panels and other key leadership, according to a university news release.

“The feedback received from the review panels was overwhelmingly positive and affirmed what the search committee discovered about Dr. Westmoreland,” search committee co-chair H. Hobart Grooms Jr. of Birmingham said. “Respondents stated that they felt Dr. Westmoreland was a wonderful and more than capable candidate to lead Samford into the future.”

Search committee co-chair Albert Brewer, a former Alabama governor and retired Samford law professor, added that respondents also praised Westmoreland’s “leadership skills, views on academic freedom, thoughts on the balance of faith and learning, interpersonal skills, student development philosophies, focus on consensus-building, humor, development and fundraising, and ideas related to what Samford must do to continue to be best it can be.”

Westmoreland, Ouachita’s president since 1998, earlier served more than 19 years in various administrative capacities at the university, including executive vice president and vice president for development. In the latter post, he directed two campaigns that raised $68.7 million. Ouachita has just completed a campaign that raised more than $62.5 million since its launch in 2002. Westmoreland also has continued to teach a political science course each semester at Ouachita.

If elected as Samford’s president, Westmoreland will be moving to a larger university. Ouachita enrolls about 1,500 students annually in its undergraduate programs, compared to Samford’s 4,500-plus undergraduate and graduate students.

Samford is one of three institutions affiliated with the Alabama State Baptist Convention, while Ouachita is one of two colleges affiliated with the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.

Westmoreland is a Batesville, Ark., native who graduated from Ouachita in 1979. He earned a master’s degree in political science from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, and a doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

His wife, Jeanna, is dean of Ouachita’s school of education and chair of the Arkansas Board of Education. They have one daughter, Riley, a high school sophomore.

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