Clara  Gerhardt
Distinguished Beeson Professor
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. 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). She has contributed entries for Marriage and Divorce in America (2023) and the Encyclopedia of Family Studies (Wiley Blackwell: 2016). Other publications include earlier books, several book chapters, over 140 articles in the popular press, and a regular column for the National Council on Family Relations. She has presented at over 200 invited and peer-reviewed conferences and workshops on six continents.

As an educator, areas of expertise are psychological aspects of teaching/learning relationships, creativity in the classroom, group dynamics, active and real-life educational strategies. She has published on Problem Based Learning (PBL) and presented numerous training workshops on these topics, including in Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, and South Africa. She has been an international guest professor about a dozen times, including twice in South Korea and three semesters as Professor-in-Residence in 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.
  • 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
  • Alabama Germany Partnership: Significant Educational and Cultural Contributions Award, 2007
  • Birmingham Urban League: Promoting Multicultural Understanding Award, 2005

Recent Publications

  • Gerhardt, Clara. 2020. Families in motion: Dynamics in diverse contexts. Thousand Oaks: SAGE.
  • Nine entries: Encyclopedia of Marriage and Divorce. 2023. In press. Topics: 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.
  • Bigner, J. & Gerhardt, Clara. 2019. Parent-Child relations: an introduction to parenting. 10th ed. Pearson.  USA and international editions, plus support material. 
  • Gerhardt, Clara. 2018. South Africa:  Family life as the mirror of a society. In: Robila, Mihaela & Taylor, Alan (Eds.) Global Perspectives of Family Life Education. Springer. 
  • Five entries: Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Family Studies. 2016. Topics: Only children, Family of procreation, Globalization and families, The family circumplex model and Intergenerational relationships.
  • Contributing editor 2011 to present: Network: Certified Family Life Education in Context. Writes and edits a regular column: Perspectives. National Council on Family Relations (NCFR).


  • 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 nationally and internationally; some as plenary speaker.


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