Published on May 4, 2023 at 8:30 a.m. by Morgan Black  
Photo credit: Kristi Jones
Photo credit: Kristi Jones

Samford University’s Frances Marlin Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership exists to advance moral development, human flourishing and Christlikeness through research, training and practice within the Samford community and beyond. After a nationwide search, J. Caleb Clanton has been selected to lead the center as its new director and serve as the Mann Family Professor in Ethics and Leadership.

Clanton will join the Samford community from his current role as the Distinguished University Chair in Philosophy and Humanities and professor of philosophy at Lipscomb University. Prior to that, Clanton held faculty appointments at Pepperdine and Vanderbilt Universities. He holds a doctorate and master’s degree in philosophy from Vanderbilt University and a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

“It is a special honor to step into this role at Samford and to help facilitate Mr. Mann’s vision for the center: to strengthen lives for moral inquiry, for virtuous character, and for contribution to the common good,” Clanton said. “I look forward to joining the wonderful work taking place at Samford.”

As director, Clanton will manage the strategic operations of the Mann Center, as originally envisioned by beloved alumnus and donor, Marvin Mann ’54.

Established in 2008, the center is named in memory of Mann’s wife, Frances Marlin Mann. Following his vision, the center's programs reflect the lessons of respect, integrity and virtuous living that came to be hallmarks of his own personal and professional development.

The vision of the center is that it will reach Samford students, the university and the world by:

  • Producing and disseminating research that contributes to the body of knowledge in virtues, moral and ethical development.
  • Equipping faculty to recognize virtues, moral and ethical tenets in curriculum and teaching and inviting them to become exemplary in these components of their work.
  • Evaluating how virtues, moral and ethical values cultivated at Samford lead to flourishing lives.

In addition to his role as the director of the Mann Center, Clanton will hold a faculty appointment as professor of philosophy in the Department of Classics and Philosophy in Samford’s Howard College of Arts and Sciences.

J. Michael Hardin, Samford provost and vice president of academic affairs said, “I am honored that Dr. Clanton has accepted the call to become the next director of the Frances Marlin Mann Center. His experiences and his international scholarship focusing on moral philosophy, philosophy of religion, history of philosophy and classical American philosophy make him an ideal candidate to lead the vision Mr. Marvin Mann had for the center when it was first established.”

In the university announcement of Clanton’s selection, Hardin also gave thanks to the leadership of Anna McEwan, dean of Samford’s Orlean Bullard Beeson School of Education, for chairing the nationwide search which provided such impressive candidates to consider for this vital role.

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 66th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 104th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,683 students from 47 states and 19 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.