Westmoreland nominated for Samford presidency

Posted: 12/20/05

Westmoreland nominated for Samford presidency

By Greg Warner

Associated Baptist Press

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (ABP)—Andrew Westmoreland, president of Arkansas Baptists’ Ouachita Baptist University, has been nominated to become president of Samford University in Birmingham, Ala.

The Samford search committee will recommend Westmoreland during a special meeting of trustees Jan.10, the university announced Dec. 15.

Westmoreland was chosen from among 140 nominees, the search team said. He visited the Samford campus Dec. 6 to meet with three constituent panels—faculty/staff, students and alumni/donors—as well as university leaders.

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

In a Dec. 1 e-mail to Ouachita faculty, staff and students, Westmoreland said he became “open to the possibility” of the Samford presidency in late October, after several conversations with the committee. After prayer, he said, he realized “this move might be best for all concerned.”

“The matter is in God’s hands,” he added. “I cannot explain what God is doing here, but I have surrendered.”

If elected, Westmoreland would complete the presidential carousal at three of the largest Baptist universities. On Dec. 2, Mercer University in Macon, Ga., elected as president Bill Underwood, interim president of Baylor University. Underwood was a leading candidate for the Baylor presidency before removing his name from consideration. Trustees of the Texas Baptist school in Waco elected Nevada educator John Lilley as president Nov. 3.

Samford’s next president will replace Tom Corts, who is retiring after 23 years. The 164-year-old university, affiliated with the Alabama Baptist Convention, reports 2,882 undergraduate students, 1,558 graduate students and 264 faculty members.

Westmoreland, 48, has served his entire career at Ouachita, in Arkadelphia, Ark. President since 1998, he has been an administrator at the Arkansas Baptist school for more than 19 years. He is best known for his successful fund-raising for the 1,700-student school, including two campaigns that raised more than $60 million each. He served as vice president for development until 1995, when he became executive vice president.

Search committee co-chair Albert Brewer, a former Alabama governor and retired Samford law professor, praised Westmoreland’s “leadership skills, views on academic freedom, thoughts on the balance of faith and learning, (and) interpersonal skills,” among other qualities.

A graduate of Ouachita, Westmoreland received a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1979. He earned a master’s degree in political science from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and a doctorate in higher-education administration from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

A native of Batesville, Ark., Westmoreland is married to Jeanna Westmoreland, associate professor of education and dean of Ouachita’s School of Education. The Westmorelands have one daughter, Riley Elizabeth.

In addition to his duties as Ouachita president, Westmoreland serves as professor of political science and education. He is the author of Leading by Design, published in 2005.

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