Published on April 11, 2022 by Morgan Black
Following a nationwide search, Blake Hudson has been named dean of Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law, Provost J. Michael Hardin announced today. The appointment is effective July 1, 2022.
A proven leader in legal education, Hudson will join the Samford and Cumberland communities from his current position as the Samuel T. Dell professor of law and director of the Environmental Land Use and Real Estate Law Program at the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law.
Samford President Beck A. Taylor said, “I warmly welcome Professor Hudson and his family to the Samford community. His expertise and vision for the future of legal education will be a tremendous asset to our campus community and I look forward to working with him to enhance the invaluable impact of our Cumberland School of Law.”
Hudson’s appointment follows the leadership of Henry C. “Corky” Strickland who has served as Cumberland School of Law’s dean since 2014.
“I am thrilled to join Cumberland School of Law and work with the faculty in continuing the important work of educating future lawyers,” Hudson said. “Dean Strickland’s leadership has been instrumental in shaping the law school into what it is today, and I thank him for leaving the school on such a strong footing. I look forward to working with him and other faculty, staff and students to make sure that Cumberland’s strengths—such as its nationally ranked trial advocacy program—remain top notch while also developing new, innovative legal education programs to meet the demands of an ever-evolving legal landscape.”
Hudson teaches courses related to property, environmental and natural resources law. His research focuses on the intersection of land use law, policy, and planning with natural resource management, with particular emphasis on the role of forest management in combating climate change and the implications of land development for sustainable natural resource management.
His research has also centered on the complex role of private property rights and government institutions as solutions to common dilemmas and how federalism and constitutional structure have the potential to both complicate and resolve land use and natural resource management issues at the state, federal and international levels. He has published over 30 articles in legal and peer reviewed academic journals, 10 book chapters and three books.
In addition to ranking 10th in the nation for trial advocacy, Cumberland School of Law ranks 4th in the nation for best quality of life. Hudson made special note of this attribution which emphasizes the law school’s well-known friendly and collegial environment.
“Cumberland is such a special community because not only are we teaching students how to practice law, but how to be upstanding citizens carrying out Samford’s mission,” he said. “That is, to ‘act justly, love mercy and walk humbly’ (Micah 6:8). One of the things that became clear to me during my visits to campus is just how strong of a community Cumberland is, from the administration to the faculty and staff to the students.”
Hudson grew up in Grove Hill, Alabama. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in biology and history, with minors in prelaw and political science, from the University of Montevallo. He graduated with high honors from Duke University School of Law and received a Master of Environmental Science and Policy from Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment. Prior to joining UF Law, Hudson held faculty roles at Stetson University College of Law, the Louisiana State University (LSU) Law Center and LSU’s College of the Coast & Environment, and the Houston Law Center. Before entering academia, he practiced at the law firm of Baker Botts in Houston.
The dean’s search committee was led by Douglas A. Sweeney, dean of Samford’s Beeson Divinity School, and Judge Karon O. Bowdre, a two-time Samford graduate and former member of the Board of Trustees.
Provost Hardin 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 Professor Hudson has accepted the call to serve as the next dean of our Cumberland School of Law. His experience in legal education and his desire to further Samford’s mission and values will serve our university and students well as he takes on this role. We look forward to this next chapter of growth under his leadership.”
In recognizing Cumberland’s 175th anniversary that is being celebrated in 2022, Hudson said, “That is a remarkably deep history. I am happy that we all get to work together to make sure Cumberland remains a pillar of legal education for many years to come.”
Hudson is actively engaged in his home church, regularly teaching adult Sunday school classes, playing guitar in the worship team band, and coaching Upward basketball. He is married to Eliza Rhoads Hudson, a 2003 Samford alumna, and they have two sons, Campbell (10) and Ridley (7).
“My family is so happy to join the Samford community,” he said. “My wife graduated from Samford and looks forward to reinvesting time and energy into its community service programs. Our sons already have experience, and a lot of laughter, wiping away Mr. Beeson’s tears after it has rained on his statue, and say they most look forward to rolling down the hills on campus. And, of course, I am coming home, having grown up in south Alabama and attending the University of Montevallo. So, on a professional and personal level, we couldn’t be happier.”
Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 37th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 97th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,758 students from 48 states and 22 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference, and ranks 3rd nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.