Published on February 7, 2023 at 7:30 a.m.  
Jody Hunt

Joseph H. “Jody” Hunt ’82 has been hired as Samford University’s next general counsel. He will begin his tenure at the university on March 1. Hunt, who was co-valedictorian of his class at Samford, received his Bachelor of Science in Public Administration from Howard College of Arts and Sciences. He went on to earn a master of arts from Florida State University in 1984 and his juris doctor from Columbia University Law School in 1989.

Most recently, Hunt was a member of Alston & Bird’s Litigation Group, having joined the law firm in 2020. Prior to that, he served as assistant attorney general for the U.S. Department of Justice where he led its Civil Division. As head of the division, which operates as the government’s law firm and is the Department of Justice’s largest litigating component, he oversaw a team of more than 1,000 lawyers representing federal agencies and administrative policies in litigation at the trial level. He also served as chief of staff to the attorney general in 2017.

He worked for the U.S. Department of Justice for 21 years, serving under both Republican and Democratic administrations. Before he was appointed as assistant attorney general, Hunt was the director of the Civil Division’s Federal Programs Branch, where he supervised the government’s efforts on high-profile litigation matters involving national security, constitutional challenges, agency rulemaking, government information, congressional oversight, and foreign affairs.

Hunt worked in private practice from 1990 to 1999 and was a law clerk to U.S. District Judge James H. Hancock of the Northern District of Alabama.

“I feel fortunate to have had a wonderful career in law, both in private practice and in public service. I have long thought I would enjoy being a part of higher education administration, and now I have a chance to do so in a legal role at a place like Samford that has meant so much to me,” Hunt said. “It is a privilege to return to my alma mater and to be in a position to help advance Samford’s mission.” 

“I am very excited to add Jody Hunt to Samford’s executive leadership team. Beyond Jody’s remarkable career and numerous professional accomplishments that will serve Samford well, I’m most excited about his deep connection to and love for all things Samford, and his strong commitment to the university’s Christ-centered educational mission,” said President Beck A. Taylor. “As Samford embarks on its next season of growth and impact, Jody Hunt will protect and serve Samford’s interests well as he serves all who love this institution. It’s a thrill to welcome him into this important role.”

This is not the first time Hunt has been employed by the university. He served as the interim director of student activities before deciding to attend law school. He was also named Alumnus of the Year in 2021.

“I have had what feels like an almost life-long relationship with Samford, which holds a special place in my heart. I care deeply about Samford’s mission as a Christian university, and I am excited for the opportunity to contribute to it,” Hunt said. “Samford is a vibrant academic community that has been blessed with outstanding leadership over time, and it is particularly meaningful to return to Samford at a time like this when there is such a sense of renewed energy and enthusiasm under the direction of President Taylor.”

Hunt is taking the position over from Clark Watson who is retiring after serving as general counsel since 2015. Watson, a graduate of Cumberland School of Law, previously served on the university’s Board of Trustees from 2003-2011, and served as its chair from 2007-2011. Like Hunt, he also clerked for Judge Hancock early in his career.

“Clark Watson has served Samford with distinction as general counsel. His extensive legal career and his service to Samford’s Board of Trustees made him the logical choice for Samford’s first general counsel,” Taylor said. “During his years in the role, Clark has not only protected and strengthened Samford’s mission, he has also expanded the role and scope of the Office of General Counsel to serve the needs of a growing and complex institution. We will all benefit from Clark’s dedicated service for decades to come.”
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.