Dr. David Chapman first came upon the name of Samford University,
he imagined "a sleepy little college that wouldn't be
too interested in change."
That was in the late '80s, when Chapman was coordinating a
Writing Across the Curriculum project at Texas Tech University.
What caught his attention was Samford’s desire to develop
a broad program of writing itself.
"Recognizing an opportunity to develop a model writing
program, he joined Samford in 1990 as English professor and
director of the Writing Across the Curriculum Program. He
found Samford "anything but sleepy." Rather, he
said, the school worked aggressively to improve its curriculum.
think we must be one of the most dynamic institutions in the
country," Chapman said in June. "We were one of
the first universities to apply total quality management tools
to higher education. We implemented an ambitious program of
writing that continues to have an impact on our students.
We have made major changes in curricula-both in general education
and in the majors. We have become a national leader in problem-based
learning. We are also making some major strides in using service
learning in courses across the campus.”
Chapman became dean of the Howard College of Arts and Sciences
this summer. He had served as associate dean since 1996 and
director of the Co-neXus core curriculum since 1997. Samford
Acting Provost Joe O. Lewis described Chapman as "a guiding
force in the development and implementation" of the innovative
core program. The new dean also has been a leader in Samford’s
Problem-Based Learning Initiative.
At larger universities where faculty are research driven,
Chapman was dismayed at the “take a number” approach to education.
faculty are committed to quality undergraduate education,"
he said. "We try to think about what students need as
a foundation for their college experience. This led to a series
of interdisciplinary courses that stressed the interconnections
of literature, history, philosophy, art, music, etc. With
these courses as a foundation, students can then go to explore
more specialized subject matter in various majors."
Chapman, right, accepts the mantle of arts and sciences
leadership from Rod Davis.
of his goals are to pursue the use of PBL, to enhance
student opportunities for study abroad and to emphasize
service learning to encourage involvement in community
native of Tulsa, Okla., Chapman is a Phi Beta Kappa
graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He holds the
M.A. in modern letters from the University of Tulsa
and Ph.D. in English from Texas Christian University.
Chapman is the author of numerous journal articles and
two books on writing techniques. He is also collaborating,on
books about communication arts and PBL.
Davis Proudest of Hiring
11 years, Dr. J. Roderick (Rod) Davis '58 stepped down August
1 as dean of Samford's Howard College of Arts and Sciences.
The alma mater that he says served him so well and for which
he developed such affection as a student drew him back over
a decade ago to serve in return.
since I was a student here, I have had an irrational affection
for this school," said the Albertville native, who began
his Samford journey on the old East Lake campus and earned
his degree in the first graduating class on Lakeshore Drive.
Davis credits Samford-it was still Howard College during his
student days-with providing excellent instruction, especially
in his major field of English."I had several unusually
dedicated and challenging eachers who masterfully introduced
me to most of the major texts in the field and had me write
critical papers about them, on which they gave back such helpful
critiques that I was well prepared for graduate school,"
His academic credentials validate that assessment. Davis earned
the M.A. degree from Boston University (1960), the M.Div.
degree from Yale University (1963) and the Ph.D. in English
from Columbia University (1973).
Davis spent 20 years teaching at Rutgers University and John
Jay College of City University of New York before returning
to Samford as dean in 1990.
Davis believes one of his greatest accomplishments is the
faculty he has hired in the past 11 years, which he believes,
has markedly raised the academic level of the college. "Helping
to bring to this campus so many first-rate new people to strengthen
the institution has been the accomplishment I have enjoyed
the most," he said.
Samford’s future, Davis said, is as great as its vision, commitment
and resources can create.
will never be a mass-market institution, but we can continue
to develop into a major influence in private higher education
that will continue to help leaven the loaf,” he said.
Davis remains at Samford as professor of English. He does
so in the belief that arts and sciences is in good hands,
those of former Associate Dean David Chapman.
"I cannot imagine anyone bringing to this office a stronger
commitment to academic excellence," Davis said."
is exceedingly intelligent, houghtful, creative, articulate,
energetic and amiable. He has had years of experience as an
outstanding teacher here and elsewhere.