Published on November 18, 2013 by William Nunnelley  

Samford University family studies professor Clara Gerhardt has received the 2013 Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE) Special Recognition Award from the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR). The award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated exceptional effort in promoting the CFLE designation or program.

Dr. Gerhardt, who has taught in Samford's Orlean Bullard Beeson School of Education since 1998, was recognized at the CFLE annual conference in San Antonio, Texas, Nov. 7.  She is a current CFLE, and has maintained active status and membership in NCFR since 1997.

Gerhardt serves as contributing editor of the CFLE newsletter and writer of "CFLE Perspectives," a regular column for a NCFR publication. She is also on the Academic Program Review Committee, which reviews university programs for inclusion of CFLE-related course work.

Dr. Kristie Chandler, chair of the Human Development and Family Life Education department, said Gerhardt deserved the award due to her collaborative approach to research and focus on students.

"She has invested countless hours preparing students for professional work," Chandler said. "She guides them through their duties at their internship site, reinforces the ethics behind their work, and instills in them a sense of professionalism."

Gerhardt supports student work by encouraging research, and uses her writing and editing skills to mentor them through the publication process. Over the years, several of her students have published their work.

CFLE members focus on healthy family functioning with the goal to teach and foster knowledge and skills to enable individuals and families to function optimally, according to the NCFR website. To receive the national award, prospective winners must be nominated and then reviewed and selected by the NCFR Advisory Board.

Though Gerhardt is the recipient of the award, she credits her students for their role in this honor. "Our students turn us into the professors we are," she said. "I have become more competent because my students challenge me - they turned me into a family life educator."

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. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 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 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.