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Samford University Timeline of Major Accomplishments During the Presidency of Thomas E. Corts

Posted by William Nunnelley on 2005-04-14

1984--Samford Purchases London Study Centre. More than 8,000 students have studied at Samford's address in central London, now called Daniel House. The former bed-and-breakfast hotel was bought to serve as the focal point of international programs that touch five continents.

1984--Football Returns and Women's Athletics Begin. Samford breathed new life into its intercollegiate athletics program by resurrecting football, dormant since 1973, and adding women's athletics. By 1991-92, Samford football reached the national playoffs in NCAA Division I-AA.

1986--Computer Intensification Begins. Recognizing the significance of personal computers early, Samford provided every faculty member with a PC in 1986-87. By 1993, more than 1,000 PCs were available in 14 student labs. Later, residence halls were wired for PCs.

1986--Beeson Woods Begins. Construction of the first five units of the residential village marked the first new housing construction in 25 years at Samford. Beeson Woods, which featured apartment-type units, ultimately grew to 12 buildings for 500 students.

1987--Samford Celebrates 100 Years in Birmingham. Samford observed its first century in Birmingham by opening Centennial Walk.

1988--Healing Arts Center Completed. The Dwight and Lucille Beeson Center for the Healing Arts provided a much-needed home for Samford's Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing. The domed structure also houses the Rotunda Club and classical art featuring healing themes.

1988--Beeson Divinity School Opens. A generous gift by Ralph W. Beeson made possible the first divinity school to be opened on the campus of a Southern Baptist university. Over the years since, other Baptist universities emulated the trend begun by Samford.

1988--PARCA Established. To fill the need for an independent, nonpartisan fact-finding body for public policy in Alabama, Samford helped establish the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama. Former Alabama Governor Albert Brewer was the first executive director.

1990--National Magazines Discover Samford. U.S. News & World Report began listing Samford in its annual selection of America's Best Colleges. It has done so every year since (current ranking: fifth in the South). Other magazines such as Money, Peterson's, The Princeton Review and Barron's Profiles of American Colleges also ranked Samford high.

1990--Beeson Provides Titanic Estate Gift. Samford benefactor Ralph W. Beeson, who died in the fall of 1990, left Samford $54.8 million, at the time one of the largest gifts ever to an American university. A titanic figure in Samford history, Beeson and his family donated more than $100 million to Samford in all.

1991-1992--Samford Celebrates 150th Birthday. Chartered in 1841 and opening its doors in early 1842, Samford celebrated its sesquicentennial with a two-year observance highlighted by former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's visit April 7, 1992.

1994--Trustees Vote for Charter Change. Samford Trustees voted to elect their own members. The action was taken to protect the University, while intensifying its commitment to Baptist and Christian principles. The University enjoys a covenant relationship with the Alabama Baptist State Convention, which continues its generous support of Samford.

Mid-1990s--Campus Expansion Continues. Beginning in 1993, Samford modernized and refurbished Davis Library, which included Hudnall Library, a major addition. In 1995 Divinity Chapel and Lucille Stewart Beeson Law Library were added. Total cost of these structures: $25 million. In 1998, the Children's Learning Center was completed with major support from Memphis philanthropist Paul Piper. Divinity Chapel was named for longtime Trustee Andrew Gerow Hodges in 2002.

1997-2002--Foundations Show Confidence in Samford. In 1997 Samford received a $1 million grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts to implement problem-based learning (PBL) techniques into undergraduate studies. Pew awarded a $750,000 follow-up grant in 2000. In 2002 the Lilly Endowment Inc. awarded Samford two grants of $2 million each to establish a Resource Center for Pastoral Excellence and to set up Programs for the Theological Exploration of Vocation.

1999--Samford Makes The Big Dance. The Samford men's basketball team made the first of two consecutive trips to the NCAA post-season tournament, earning the school national exposure.

2000--Education School Recognized Nationally. U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley presented the first National Award for Effective Teacher Preparation to Samford's Orlean Bullard Beeson School of Education and Professional Studies.

2001--Lucille Beeson Leaves Millions for Scholarships. Lucille Stewart Beeson, a generous donor during her lifetime, left Samford what was believed to be the largest scholarship gift in Alabama history, $10 million to establish the Dwight and Lucille Beeson Exceptional Scholars Program. The scholarships encourage top Alabama students to study and reside in their state. She also left another $1 million in scholarships to the Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing.

2001--Sciencenter Opens. Samford opened its largest academic building, a 90,000-square foot structure to house the biology, chemistry and physics departments. Costing $29 million, the center houses 35 labs, Alabama's largest planetarium (100 seats) and a medicinal plant conservatory. Every undergraduate takes at least one class in this building.

2003--Rogers Named Teacher of Year. Validating earlier recognition of the Samford education school, graduate Betsy Rogers of Leeds, Ala., was named National Teacher of the Year by President George W. Bush. Rogers holds four degrees from the Samford education school.

1983-2005--Endowment Grows to $258 Million. Samford endowment stood at $8 million in 1983. An aggressive investment program, coupled with generous gifts and the development of Samford's Lakeshore property adjacent to campus, spurred dramatic endowment growth through the '90s. Today, the endowment stands at $258 million.

2004--Samford Issues The Promise. The Samford Board of Trustees approved sweeping initiatives underscoring the school's commitment to offer "a vigorous academic experience, remain loyal to Christian beliefs, and continue as a friendly, caring community. " Dr. Corts described the initiatives as "a promise for all Samford generations." Included are provisions for increasing the enrollment and endowment, additional scholarships and professorships, a new recital hall and arena/fitness center, and other features.

1983-2005--Corts Awards 17,000 Diplomas. Dr. Thomas Corts personally has signed and presented more than 17,000 diplomas to Samford graduates over his 22 years as president. Samford's 17th president has served longer than any current Alabama university president.

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