Founding Director

John C. Knapp(2)

John C. Knapp, Ph.D.

Founding Director, Frances Marlin Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership

University Professor

Mann Family Professor of Ethics and Leadership

John C. Knapp, Ph.D., served as founding director of Samford University’s Frances Marlin Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership until his appointment as president of Hope College on July 1, 2013. Located in the office of the provost, the university-wide center supports teaching and research in the university’s eight schools, offers a variety of co-curricular learning programs, and is a valued resource for the professional community.

Before joining Samford, Dr. Knapp was Professor and Director of the Center for Ethics and Corporate Responsibility at Georgia State University’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business, the fifth largest business school in the United States. The center was established under his leadership in 1993 (as The Southern Institute for Business and Professional Ethics) and grew to become a leading educational resource for leaders seeking to strengthen ethics and integrity in organizations. The programs he led during this period were attended by more than 20,000 executives and managers from hundreds of corporations, governmental agencies, non-profits and professional firms.

Internationally known as a speaker and seminar leader for professional organizations, he contributes to public understanding of ethics through frequent interviews with such media as The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Sports Illustrated, Entrepreneur, National Public Radio, Financial Week and Bloomberg News Service. In 2003 he was appointed by the Governor of Georgia to develop principles of ethical governance and lead training sessions for gubernatorial appointees, including the boards and senior officers of more than 50 state agencies.

Dr. Knapp frequently speaks to public and university audiences about the moral purposes of higher education, and recently has been invited to speak internationally in Egypt, England, Lebanon, North Korea, South Africa and Switzerland. He has directed several retreats for college and university presidents, including The Oxford Conclave, held regularly at England’s University of Oxford, and the Stellenbosch Seboka on Higher Education and Ethical Leadership, a gathering of university leaders from throughout Southern Africa.

His books include For the Common Good: The Ethics of Leadership in the 21st Century (Praeger, 2007); Leaders on Ethics: Real-World Perspectives on Today’s Business Challenges (Praeger, 2007); and The Business of Higher Education (ABC-CLIO, 2009), three volumes examining how universities cope with pressures to strengthen accountability and efficiency. His newest book is How the Church Fails Businesspeople (and What Can Be Done about It) (Eerdmans, 2011), a practical study of the relationship of faith and work. In 2013 Palgrave Macmillan will publish his forthcoming book, Ghostwriting and the Ethics of Authenticity.

Dr. Knapp’s scholarly work was recognized in 2009 when he was named a fellow of the Caux Round Table; in 2007 with his induction into the Martin Luther King Jr. International Collegium of Scholars at Morehouse College; in 2001 with the Georgia Governor's Award in the Humanities; and in 1995 with Columbia Theological Seminary's Florrie Wilkes Sanders Prize in Theology. He has been an adjunct Professor of Ethics at Columbia Theological Seminary, teaching courses in the doctoral program, and earlier was Senior Scholar and Professor of Ethical Leadership at Kennesaw State University.

He is a member of the editorial review board of Journal of Business Ethics and a charter member of the board of Clemson University's Robert J. Rutland Institute for Ethics, home of the International Center for Academic Integrity. He has served on the boards of Alabama Humanities Foundation; Georgia Humanities Council; Society for Human Resources Management, Atlanta; Public Relations Society of America, Georgia; Georgia State University Foundation; and Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Earlier, he had a successful career in business, gaining extensive management experience for more than a decade as president of a corporate communication firm. During this time, Atlanta Business Chronicle twice recognized him as the region's leading crisis management consultant; Business Atlanta (now Georgia Trend) selected him for its list of the "40 Under 40" most successful young executives; and Outstanding Atlanta Foundation named him one of the “Ten Outstanding Young People of Atlanta". As a consultant he has helped leading corporations, professional firms, universities, governmental agencies and medical providers address a wide range of sensitive issues, including product safety, work-force reductions, sexual harassment, racial discrimination, overseas labor policies, environmental impact, worker safety, executive misconduct and workplace violence.

Dr. Knapp earned the Doctor of Philosophy degree at the University of Wales, United Kingdom, where he was an Honorary Visiting Lecturer; the Master of Arts, with distinction, at Columbia Theological Seminary; and the Bachelor of Science at Georgia State University where he was elected president of the student body. He and his wife Kelly have five children.



Drayton Nabers, Jr.

Brooks Hall, 227A


C. Cameron Collins 
Program Manager
Brooks Hall, 227B

Mitzi Lafferty  
Administrative Assistant
Brooks Hall, 227
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 The Frances Marlin Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership emphasizes the indispensable connection between ethics and good leadership in business, government, social services and the classic professions. Much of the center’s work is at this vital nexus of ethics and leadership. 

Frances Marlin Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership
800 Lakeshore Drive
Birmingham, AL 35229
205-726-4634 or Cameron Collins, Program Manager