Clara  Gerhardt
Distinguished Beeson Professor, Character Scholar in Residence
Orlean Beeson School of Education
Human Development and Family Science
128 Orlean Bullard Beeson Hall

Dr. Clara Gerhardt is a Distinguished Beeson Professor at Samford University. She is also the Character Scholar in Residence for the School of Education. Professionally she is a licensed clinical psychologist and a licensed marriage and family therapist. She authored several textbooks. Families in Motion concerns family dynamics in diverse settings, (SAGE: 2020). This book was selected for inclusion in SAGE Knowledge, a high-quality digital platform for international library access. Parent-Child Relations is in its 10th edition (Pearson: 2019). Other publications include earlier books, book chapters, encyclopedia entries, 140+ articles in the popular press and a regular column for the National Council on Family Relations. 

Areas of expertise in Education concern infusing principles of character into the curriculum, psychological aspects of teaching/learning relationships, creativity in the classroom and group dynamics. She has published on Problem Based Learning (PBL) and presented training workshops in England, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, and South Africa. She has been an international guest professor about a dozen times, including in South Korea and the Samford Daniel House in London.

In leadership roles she served as department chair and two terms as chair of the State Board of Examiners in Psychology. For this service to the people of Alabama she twice received The Governor of the State of Alabama Certificate of Appreciation. Dr. Gerhardt is the product of three continents, speaks five languages fluently, and has traveled extensively.

Degrees and Certifications

  • PhD Psychology, University of Pretoria, South Africa
  • MBA Business Administration, Samford University
  • DTE Graduate Diploma of Tertiary Education: University of South Africa (UNISA)
  • MA Clinical Psychology, University of Pretoria
  • BA Triple Major: Psychology, French and German (Cum Laude), University of Pretoria
  • Licensed Psychologist (Clinical)
  • Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
  • Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE)

Awards and Honors

  • Distinguished Beeson Professor: Endowed position Orlean Beeson School of Education, Samford University, 2020 to present.
  • Character Scholar in Residence for the School of Education, 2022 to present.
  • Professor of the Game: Homecoming 2021, Samford University.
  • National Council on Family Relations, Certified Family Life Educator National Award, 2013
  • The Governor of the State of Alabama: Certificate of appreciation for valuable service to the people of Alabama, recognized leadership, dedication, and professionalism, 2013 and 2008
  • Alabama Board of Examiners in Psychology: Recognition for Outstanding Service, 2013 and 2009
  • Orlean Beeson School of Education & Professional Studies: Outstanding Scholarship Award, 2012

Recent Publications

Google Scholar Citations

  • Gerhardt, Clara. 2024. Choosing the high road: Practicum, ethics and career. Cognella (Under contract).
  • Gerhardt, Clara. 2023. One food basket at a time: Addressing food insecurity. Case study in Chapter 20. In: Clinger, James, Handley, Donna & Hassett, Wendy. Local Government Administration in Small Town America. Taylor & Francis.
  • Contributor: Marriage and Divorce in America. 2023 (Bloomsbury). Nine entries: Marriage and immigration, International marriages, Marriage and diversity, Dating pre-1950's, Paradigm shifts in dating, Parent education programs, Relocation and marriage, Shared custody, Religion and marriage.
  • Gerhardt, Clara. 2022. Handing down the faith: How parents pass their religion on to the next generation. Book review of the work of Smith, Christian & Adamczyk, Amy. In: Christian Scholar’s Review. July 15.
  • Gerhardt, Clara. 2020. Families in motion: Dynamics in diverse contexts. Thousand Oaks: SAGE.
  • Bigner, J. & Gerhardt, Clara. 2019. Parent-Child relations: an introduction to parenting. 10th ed. Pearson.  USA and international editions, plus support material. 
  • Network: Certified Family Life Education in Context.  National Council on Family Relations (NCFR). 2011 - 23. Contributing editor and columnist.

International Presentations

  • McEwan, Anna, Gerhardt, Clara & Chandler, Kristie. 2024. Character infused leadership models to create systemic change in education. Jubilee Center Conference, Oxford University, England.
  • Gerhardt, Clara, Chism, Kara & Newton, Jodi. 2023. Infusing virtues and character education into curriculum, internship, and practicum experiences. Jubilee Center Conference, Oxford University, England.
  • Presentations at over 200 invited and peer-reviewed conferences and workshops, some as plenary speaker.


  • Delta Phi Alpha
  • Phi Kappa Phi
  • Kappa Omicron Nu