The Samford Crimson recently learned that Samford University President Andrew Westmoreland has been recovering from COVID-19. As we near the anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, we reached out to Westmoreland to ask about his recovery, his perspective of the virus, the pandemic and how the university has been working to keep students safe and on campus so far.
Crimson: We know that you contracted COVID several weeks ago. Have your experiences with having the virus and recovering from it changed any of your perspectives?
Westmoreland: Yes, to some extent. I’ve actually been more grateful for the protections we’ve put in place on campus. I contracted the virus near the end of the holidays and I have no idea where I was exposed, but from reviewing all my activities during that period, I must have come into contact with it at one of a handful of local stores. I’ve been careful to mask and wash, so the fact that I got the virus is a further indication that it can strike under the best of circumstances. With the many protections on campus, we’re generally less likely to come across the virus here than in the community at large.
Crimson: It has been almost 11 months since we first encountered the changes associated with COVID at Samford. What are your thoughts regarding these past 11 months?
Westmoreland: Like everyone else, I have become tired of the fact that our protective procedures this spring are almost an exact duplicate of those for the fall. However, our people are consistently seeking the best answers for keeping us safe and continuing with operations, to the best of our ability. I’m hopeful that, as the spring term progresses, conditions will improve. This is a marathon, not a sprint, but hopefully we are exponentially closer to the finish line.
Crimson: So how is your recovery from COVID going?
Westmoreland: Fortunately, I had a very mild case with no fever and few symptoms. However, because it was a mild case, I simply isolated myself at home and then pursued a regular schedule of work. Consequently, because I failed to take COVID seriously, my recovery is taking a long time. I tested negative more than two weeks ago, but the effects of the virus are lingering. My advice to any person who contracts the virus is to curtail as many activities as possible and pursue needed rest.
Crimson: Does it seem strange to be retiring while everything is in such a state of flux?
Westmoreland: Yes, a bit, but I think I am handling it well. I love this place and our people and the experiences of COVID have only increased the poignancy of that affection. I’m genuinely excited about turning over the key to Samford Hall to a new president soon. I’ll continue to be associated with Samford in a “grandfatherly” way, supporting but staying completely out of the way of the new president. Life is good.