Published on May 13, 2022 by Kameron Brown  
dean mcewan speaking

Samford University’s Orlean Beeson School of Education continues its legacy of character development in higher education by co-sponsoring the first in-person Character Convening Conference at Perdido Beach Resort in Orange Beach, Alabama. The two-day event included three keynote addresses and several breakout sessions.

Eighteen institutions from across the United States participated in the conference. Samford partnered with Lipscomb University, the University of Alabama and the University of Tennessee with support from the Hope Institute, the Kern Family Foundation and to plan and develop the event.

After years of not prioritizing character education, school administrators and teachers are once again finding value in promoting character, leadership, citizenship and social-emotional learning.

“By the time students get to higher education, they are refining their character traits,” said Kara Chism, assistant professor of instructional leadership. “Our job is to help them in this process as well as to provide practical wisdom so that students can make positive decisions when faced with situations they have never encountered,”

Orlean Beeson School of Education has long been engaged in the work of character education through its partnership with the Hope Institute, but it was at a Character Convening Conference in Boston where the need to bring this event to the southern region was realized.

“As we interacted with one another we discovered we were all working to infuse our schools of education with character infused leadership,” said Chism. “We could learn from each other and learn together. The idea was born to have our schools of education meet to share ideas and to learn.”

The event’s keynote speakers included Marvin W. Berkowitz, co-director of the Center for Character and Citizenship at the University of Missouri-St. Louis; Arthur Schwartz, president of; and David Ian Walker, director of the Center for the Study of Ethical Development at the University of Alabama. Each focused on a different areas of character implementation in higher education. 

Each breakout session afforded guests the opportunity to learn and participate in discussions about practical wisdom, fostering core values, forming virtues and leading with character. Breakout sessions were led by representatives from the four host universities and the Hope Institute.

The 4th annual Character Convening Conference is planned for Sept. 25-27, 2023, at the Bryant Conference Center in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

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.