Published on July 6, 2020 by Leighton Doores  
Clara Gerhardt1

Samford University’s Board of Trustees has approved the nomination of Clara Gerhardt for the endowed position of Distinguished Professor in Orlean Beeson School of Education. Gerhardt succeeds Charlotte Freeman in the role, who retired in May 2020.

Gerhardt has been a tenured full professor at Samford since 2007 and is a world-recognized teacher-scholar in the field of family studies. She is a licensed clinical psychologist, marriage and family therapist, and certified family life educator who completes up to 30 hours of continuing education annually in order to maintain three licenses. Gerhardt is the author of three textbooks and numerous book chapters including many in the International Encyclopedia of Family Studies.

“Although she has received numerous awards, honors and recognitions at the state, national and international level, Dr. Gerhardt is an unpresuming professional who prioritizes teaching and making personal connections with her students and colleagues,” said Dean of Orlean Beeson School of Education Anna McEwan.

Gerhardt says she is honored to follow in Freeman’s footsteps as Freeman has always been her role model. They met in 1993 when Gerhardt immigrated to the United States from South Africa, and they discovered they had a shared passion for combining psychology and education. Gerhardt credits Freeman’s compassion, strength and courage for guiding her along in her professional journey.

"For my immigration journey to include this honor was wholly unanticipated, and it feels as if I have been enveloped with the best academia has to offer, and continues to give to all of us who have made higher education our calling,” said Gerhardt. “I love our country and our fellow Americans more than words can express. I can only be the professor I am because of the incredible colleagues we all share, because of the students who touch our lives so deeply and turn us into the teachers we are meant to be.”
 
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.