Having led teams in Egypt and on college campuses, Dawn McCormack becomes the first female dean of Samford University's Howard College of Arts and Sciences, effective July 1, 2023. Selected from a nationwide search, McCormack’s appointment follows the leadership of Timothy D. Hall, who has served as the college’s dean since 2016.
McCormack will join Samford after holding numerous leadership positions at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU). For nearly four years, she has been the associate dean of MTSU’s College of Graduate Studies. In this role, she improved the college's operations and customer service and helped increase enrollment numbers by 26% in 2020. She also served as interim co-director and then director of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.
Before that, she was an assistant and then associate dean at the College of Liberal Arts from 2014 until 2019. While holding these positions, she also served as the director of the Master's in the Liberal Arts program and interim director and chair of Global Studies and Human Geography.
She said, “I am honored to join Howard College of Arts and Sciences. The college plays a fundamental role in providing all undergraduate students with a high-quality liberal arts-based education. I look forward to joining the Samford University family of faculty, students and alumni and contributing to the mission of this nationally recognized Christian institution.”
McCormack earned her B.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. She is an Egyptologist and has led numerous archaeological excavations. She said these experiences sparked her passion for teaching and leadership.
"I have been to Egypt around 25 times," she said. "As I worked with research teams and eventually led them, I realized that teaching was important to me. I also loved the administrative/leadership parts of my projects. I hired large teams of local villagers, had a house staff, managed my research team, worked with various Egyptian authorities, and managed my budget, among many other, often unpredictable tasks that would emerge."
McCormack, dedicated to student success and High Impact Practices, believes her experiences as an Egyptologist and in higher education will contribute to the college's growth. Her leadership style centering around character, responsibility and respect stems from her Christian faith.
"Holding these core values helps me create a positive work environment where my role is to work through issues, listen to stakeholders and provide the framework for faculty, staff and students to achieve their goals and feel a sense of community," she said. "I identify and value people's strengths and work with them to contribute to the mission in a way that is fulfilling and specific to them."
When announcing McCormack’s selection, J. Michael Hardin, Samford provost and vice president for academic affairs said, “Our nationwide search brought us many qualified candidates to consider for this important position. I’m grateful for every committee member who dedicated their time to this search, and I’m honored Dr. McCormack has accepted the call to serve as the first female dean of Howard College of Arts and Sciences. Her global liberal arts experiences and devotion to leadership in higher education, coupled with a shared passion for Samford’s mission and values will serve our university and students well as she takes on this role. We look forward to this next chapter of growth for Howard College under her leadership.”