Published on November 28, 2023 by Scarlet Thompson  
Provost Mike Hardin

Dr. Mike Hardin came to Samford University in July 2015 with a dream.

“I wanted to learn how to do life together as Christians, challenge ourselves intellectually and still maintain a strong sense of faith,” said the university’s Provost, who recently announced he will be stepping down in June.

Through Hardin’s nine years in the role, he has done just that.  He recalls the recruiting of “many incredible faculty” as an accomplishment of his tenure but credits the whole university for the feat. Hardin believes initiatives that combined faith and learning have been the most impactful on that group, like the Faculty Success Center and many of the spiritual formation efforts conducted by his office.

“So many times, it’s been pitted that you can’t be an intellectual and a Christian at the same time, but the truth is you can be both,” said Hardin. “I am really proud of the work we’ve done to navigate through that and to ask questions about what it really means to be a Christ-centered university.”

Asking those questions and looking at the answers come naturally to Dr. Hardin, who is a leading scholar in analytics and knowledge discovery, data visualization, and data management and collection methodologies. Before coming to Samford, Hardin served the University of Alabama as a Culverhouse professor of quantitative analysis, business, and statistics. He holds a PhD in Applied Statistics from the University of Alabama, MA in Mathematics from the University of Alabama, MS in Research Design and Statistics from Florida State University’s College of Education, BA in Mathematics from the University of West Florida, BA in Philosophy from the University of West Florida and MDiv from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also an ordained Southern Baptist minister and is one of only four American Statistical Association Fellows in Alabama.

After decades in leadership roles, Hardin will leave his post to take a sabbatical and then return to the Samford classroom in January 2025. He says he can’t leave a place that’s so special to him.

“I still feel so inspired and in awe of our faculty and staff when I know what they could do in other places, but they’ve chosen to serve God through their vocation here. That’s inspiring to me and lives deep in my heart,” said Hardin.

The search for Hardin’s replacement started in October with the appointment of a search committee and the hiring of consultants CarterBaldwin. Chairs of that committee, Samford University President Beck A. Taylor and Chair of Faculty Senate and Professor in the McWhorter School of Pharmacy Dr. Angela (Dee) Thomason, have released a survey and hosted open listening sessions since the start of that search.

“What I appreciate most is Dr. Hardin’s unwavering commitment to Samford’s Christ-centered educational mission, and his efforts to hire, retain and support faculty members and other academic leadership who strengthen that mission and who invite students to the intersection of Christian faith and learning,” said President Taylor. “I’m prayerful God will provide exactly the right person to succeed Dr. Hardin; someone who will support Samford’s continued ascension among the best Christian universities in the country.” 

Dr. Hardin is hopeful too, for his successor to share the dream he has had since setting foot on Samford’s campus.

“We light fires. The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be lighted. I hope we find someone who every day is thrilled to learn something new – all while doing it and serving God.”

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.