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Dean, Howard College of Arts and Sciences

Samford University
Birmingham, Alabama
Salary commensurate with experience.
Posted Date
Dec 26, 2022

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ZRG has been engaged to recruit a Dean of Howard College of Arts and Sciences for Samford University, the 87th oldest institution of higher learning in the United States, Samford University is a globally engaged teaching and research university rooted firmly in its vibrant Christian mission.


The mission of Samford University is to nurture individuals in their development of intellect, creativity, faith, and personhood. As a Christian university, Samford fosters academic, career, and ethical competency while encouraging social and civic responsibility and service to others.

Samford University is a premier nationally ranked Christian university. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and enrolls students from 42 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and 22 countries.

Samford is the top-ranked university in Alabama in national rankings by The Wall Street Journal. U.S. News & World Report ranked Samford as one of the best universities for undergraduate teaching, ranking 37th in the nation. Samford also ranked 97th nationally for best value and remains the best value for a college education in Alabama. It ranked 136th overall among all national universities by U.S. News & World Report. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford first in the nation for student engagement. Samford is ranked 34th in the nation among private universities and 115th among all public, private, and liberal arts colleges and universities analyzed for Kiplinger’s Personal Finance’s Best College Values list.

Samford offers numerous undergraduate and graduate/professional degrees through 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy, and public health.

Among Samford’s 53,917 alumni are more than 60 members of the U.S. Congress, eight state governors, two U.S. Supreme Court justices, one Secretary of State, four Rhodes Scholars, multiple Emmy, and Grammy award-winning artists, two national championship football coaches, and recipients of the Pulitzer and Nobel Peace prizes.

The university fields 17 varsity sports—eight men’s and nine women’s—that participate at the NCAA Division I level in the Southern Conference. Samford’s athletic teams earned a 99% Graduation Success Rate (GSR) by the NCAA in 2020, placing Samford 1st in the nation among all colleges and universities in the NCAA Division I level. Samford has an annual economic impact of $424.8 million on the state of Alabama.


Samford University was founded as Howard College in 1841. Rev. James Harvey DeVotie advocated naming the college after the 18th-century philanthropist John Howard. Taking his name not only preserved the original liberal arts identity of the institution when it was founded but also the spirit of service that Howard’s life exemplified.

Later renamed Howard College of Arts and Sciences (HCAS) in 1965, it is the oldest and largest of Samford’s 10 schools, and it is also home to the majority of the university’s faculty and students. The college houses 13 departments, approximately 120 faculty members, and 20 administrative employees. Nearly 900 undergraduate and graduate students choose from more than 40 majors and one graduate program.

HCAS faculty also provide a vast majority of Samford undergrads with a liberal arts foundation through its general education and core curriculum programs, which are directed, supported and primarily taught by HCAS faculty. Courses at Samford are generally four credit hours, and the standard course load for faculty is 24 credit hours.

HCAS collaborates closely with the Fellows Program, with the School of the Arts and with the following eight professional schools, which are all characterized by their liberal arts foundations: the Orlean Bullard Beeson School of Education, the Beeson Divinity School, the Brock School of Business, the Cumberland School of Law, the School of Health Professions, the Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing, the School of Public Health, and the McWhorter School of Pharmacy.


Samford University seeks an exceptional leader to serve as Dean, Howard College of Arts and Sciences for Samford University in a Christian university environment. This is an exciting opportunity to lead an elite professional college within a prestigious private university, located within a thriving metropolitan area in a temperate and beautiful natural environment. With the leadership of President Beck Taylor, the University has adopted a new strategic plan, Fidelitas: Faith and Future.  This plan is built around eight themes:  Academic Distinction, Student Engagement, Employee Elevation, Faith Formation, Community Celebration, Athletic Success, Financial Stewardship & Strength, and Global Influence.

The next Dean of Howard College of Arts and Sciences will continue Samford’s tradition of academic excellence by charting the future of the school in a time of significant change when traditional models of education are being tested and new opportunities for innovation exist. The new Dean will work with faculty and staff to articulate a vision of excellence for a range of programs.

Under the leadership of Provost Michael Hardin, the Office of Academic Affairs oversees ten different schools across the campus, including liberal arts and professional degree programs. Many of the graduate and professional programs are offered via hybrid and distance education formats. In Fall 2021, Samford had a total enrollment of 5,758.

The new Dean will have the opportunity to build partnerships and programs, identify opportunities that will advance the school and the University.

The Dean leads an administrative team currently comprised of two associate deans, one assistant dean, and thirteen department chairs.  Within the University, the Dean serves as a member of the Deans’ Council. The Dean functions as a university leader and colleague in discussions around strategic issues such as recruitment, enrollment, and institutional investment. The Dean is expected to be a fair and active advocate for the full range of departments, programs, employees, and students in the Howard College of Arts and Sciences.


Opportunities and Challenges:

Moving forward, the Howard College of Arts and Sciences faces a range of opportunities and challenges that grow out of its size, impact, and centrality to the University’s identity and mission as a liberal arts university with professional programs. Those opportunities and challenges are as follows:

Leadership Opportunity: Working synergistically with university leadership as Dr. Taylor initiates a new strategic plan for Samford, the new Dean will lead the school in the development of a new long-term strategic plan designed to chart future success; this effort includes focusing on degree programs that meet the demands of society, the workplace and anticipate future trends in education; Diversity: Samford University has traditionally faced challenges in recruiting minority students, faculty, and staff, despite ongoing efforts to create an inclusive, welcoming environment; most recently Samford has made very intentional and significant advancements towards diversity including the development of the Task Force on Racial Justice; the new Dean will need to prioritize recruitment of a diverse student and faculty population by emphasizing Samford’s Christian Mission, and its dedication to diversity through the implementation of its Diversity Action Plan;

Fundraising: Samford has a powerful network of dedicated supporters; participating in outreach and fundraising will be a priority for the new Dean.

Addressing these challenges will require a dean with long-term vision, broad intellectual interests, energy and creativity, an open-minded approach, an innovative spirit, the ability to form collaborative partnerships within and beyond the University at all levels, and the willingness to take on challenges that will affect the future of the School and University.


The University seeks a candidate of exceptional leadership and vision to lead the school.  The successful candidate will have the reputation, stature, and credibility to attract strong faculty and students and to garner resources to strengthen the school and enable the achievement of its vision.

The Dean will focus on articulating the core mission of the Howard College of Arts and Sciences while also stimulating progress and innovation. The Dean will be a builder of partnerships and collaborations, an inclusive, visibly involved, and inspirational leader who will find and strengthen connections and bring others into creative dialogue. The Dean will be a passionate advocate for the school, a leader who embraces diversity, catalyzes ideas, creates positive energy, engages others to find solutions, and manages change skillfully.

Candidates must demonstrate evidence of wholehearted support of Samford's Christ-centered mission, the abilities to manage people, to make difficult choices, to understand opportunity costs, and to collaborate with various teams. Commitment to diversity is necessary.

Criteria for the position are as follows:

A terminal degree in one of the areas within the Howard College of Arts and Sciences from an accredited institution; A distinguished record of academic achievement that resulted in the achievement of the academic rank of tenured full professor; The breadth of vision and academic experiences necessary to represent all areas of the school; Demonstrated commitment to high-quality creative scholarship, research, teaching, and diversity as important components of academic excellence and the mission of a private Christian university; At least five years of demonstrated strategic leadership, organizational management experience, and innovative transformation in an academic setting; Demonstrated capacity to build relationships and to operate in a collaborative manner within the college and university;

  • Demonstrated ability to oversee budget and financial planning and to strategically manage a large, complex budget;
  • Demonstrated success in external fundraising, development/external relations with the necessary energy and ability to work effectively with donors, alumni, and other constituents in resource development and advancement.
  • Demonstrated ability to articulate a compelling vision of faith and learning and to lead faculty toward excellence in the integration of the two.
  • In addition, the preferred candidate will demonstrate the following qualities and characteristics:
    Evidence of a commitment to promoting faculty and student success; Success in advancing diversity and inclusion among faculty, students, staff, and external stakeholders; Personal and professional integrity, fair and just decision making, keen intellectual capacity and creativity, strategic focus, ability to set priorities and make tough decisions, ability to operate within a complex environment and to collaborate with multiple stakeholders; Exceptional collegiality as reflected in a commitment to an environment of shared governance and participatory decision-making; Exceptional management skills, including financial, administrative, and team-building skills; a commitment to transparency; and a strong sense of fiscal accountability, along with experience leading to successful accreditation efforts; Exceptional communication ability to include listening skills, a passion for communicating the vision and mission of the school, and the ability to interact with all constituents across all levels; an open and transparent approach to communication; An entrepreneurial and innovative attitude and orientation; a vision for the use of information technology in the school and experience with innovations in distance learning and new pedagogies;
  • A high degree of energy, optimism, enthusiasm, and excitement about the possibilities for the Howard College of Arts and Sciences, and a strong belief in its excellence.


J. Michael Hardin, PhD
Provost and Vice President, Professor of Quantitative Analysis

Dr. Hardin came to Samford University in July 2015 from the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, where he served as the Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration dean. Dr. Hardin had previously served as Culverhouse’s senior associate dean, associate dean for research, director of the University of Alabama’s NIH Alabama EPSCoR Agency and director of Culverhouse’s Institute of Business Intelligence.

Dr. Hardin’s service as a Culverhouse professor of quantitative analysis, business and statistics was widely credited for establishing the University of Alabama as an internationally known resource in the field of data analytics. His Culverhouse career followed his numerous administrative and faculty appointments at the University of Alabama in Birmingham in biostatistics, biomathematics, health informatics and computer science.

Dr. Hardin holds a Ph.D. in Applied Statistics from the University of Alabama, M.A. in Mathematics from the University of Alabama, M.S. in Research Design and Statistics from Florida State University’s College of Education, B.A. in Mathematics from the University of West Florida, B.A. in Philosophy from the University of West Florida and M.Div. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He is an ordained Southern Baptist minister.

This avid advocate for the liberal arts is also a leading scholar in analytics and knowledge discovery, big data, data visualization, data warehousing, machine learning, statistical classification models, data management and collection methodologies, research design, information and biostatistics. He is an instructor and consultant for the SAS Institute in the areas of business analytics and time series analysis. He has served as a Scholar in Residence for Loyola University, Visiting Professor at Ireland’s Trinity College, and is a member of numerous professional associations, including the Biometric Society and the Institute of Mathematical Statistics. Dr. Hardin is a Fellow of the American Statistical Association (ASA), one of only four in the state of Alabama. ASA Fellows, nominated by member peers for outstanding contributions to statistical science, represent only one-third of one percent of the organization’s worldwide membership.

Dr. Hardin has authored or co-authored more than 150 papers in various journals, edited numerous professional journals, authored multiple book chapters, presented more than 250 abstracts at national meetings and given more than 150 invited lectures or talks. For 25 years he served as a National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant reviewer and participated as Investigator or co-Investigator on more than 100 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/NIH-funded projects. He has served as a consultant for other national healthcare and financial organizations and was among the inventors receiving a U.S. patent licensed to MedMined, a Birmingham-based firm dedicated to controlling hospital infection rates and improving patient care.

Dr. Hardin has served on more than a dozen professional, civic and philanthropic boards, ranging from the Business Council of Alabama to the Alabama Symphony Orchestra. He and his wife Anna Kathryn have two married children.


Samford University is located in picturesque Homewood, Alabama, 10 minutes from downtown Birmingham. Birmingham is the centerpiece of a thriving region and state that embraces the spirit of innovation, progress, and growth. Home to global leaders and performers in medical research, banking and automotive industries, the city is known as one of the nation’s most livable. Here you find one of the country’s top academic medical centers and some of the foremost health care centers in the world, along with nationally ranked public high schools and some of the best private education in the nation. Nestled amongst its 99 historic neighborhoods is a vibrant downtown, a world-class culinary scene and more green space per capita than any other city in the nation. Residents of the region enjoy a variety of amenities, including one of the finest art museums in the nation, a 122-acre zoological park, and multiple urban green spaces including a 67.5-acre botanical garden. Family members of all ages find here the elements that contribute to a safe and enjoyable lifestyle.


All conversations and applications are held in strictest confidence and should be submitted directly to   

Inquiries and questions concerning this search should be directed to ZRG Partners for additional information and a meaningful conversation regarding this role. We look forward to sharing greater detail with you regarding this remarkable opportunity. 

ZRG provides our client companies with best-in-class hiring process grounded in fact-based measurements and information. We believe finding the best people for a role involves closely matching exact skills and attributes of candidates to the highly specific needs of our clients. Our entire process is built around providing a superior level of quality candidates to our clients who fit the specifications clearly. To accomplish this, we utilize our patented Z Score hiring process, which provides for improved hiring results and better fits for candidates and employers. To this end, our interview process with our client has been carefully discussed and will include:

  1. Initial confidential conversation with ZRG Partners Presentation of list of candidates to Client for approval      Green light from Client to proceed to Round 2 with selected candidates Completion of application materials including the Christian Mission Statement Zoom or Face-to-Face interview with the Search Committee Face-to-Face Interview with key members of the management team to confirm match and culture fit Finalists will then complete Z Score On-line assessment process to compare individual behavioral and intellectual traits to our hiring database for similar positions we have filled. At this stage, it will take a candidate about 60 minutes to complete an on-line assessment process to help everyone ensure this is the right role and fit (skills, management style, and culture) Final decision made and offer presentation from Provost Hardin
  2. Begin a transformational career with Samford University.


ZRG Partners has been engaged by Samford University on this critically important search.  ZRG Partners is a global talent advisory firm that is changing the way organizations proactively recruit talent. ZRG’s data-driven approach to executive and professional search has been changing the way clients consider how to attract top talent. The company’s digital Zi platform combines talent intelligence, candidate insights, and process improvement to dramatically deliver executive searches quicker and with proven better results.  


Managing Director


Gene Head is a Managing Director specializing in Higher Education leadership and Global Non-Profit. Strategic leadership and economic development are major specialties of his work. Through dogged determination and a relentless pursuit of strategic alignment, his search work has included leading 200+ searches (Chancellors, Presidents, VP’s, Deans). His clients include the University of California System, the University of Alabama System, the University of Texas at Austin, the United Nations, the International Justice Mission, Fuller Theological Seminary, Compassion International, and the Berkeley National Laboratory.

Throughout his career, he has purposely studied and prepared executive leaders in a variety of capacities, advising and consulting in numerous practice areas including high potential leadership development, succession planning, and large-scale organizational appraisal and evaluation. An expert in sustainable transformation, his client work focuses on enterprise-wide change initiatives, C-level development, and building high-performing, strategically aligned executive teams in Higher Education and Global Non-Profit. The number of repeat clients in his portfolio attests to his work. Through collaborative efforts within Higher Education, corporate, and healthcare organizations, as well as the U.S. Departments of Education, Energy, Agriculture, and Commerce, He works to advance a jobs-driven economy throughout the country.

Gene received a Bachelor of Science in Management from the Brock School of Business at Samford University where he serves on the Advisory Board. He enjoys serving on several Non-Profit boards including one focused on missions and economic development within Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Malawi.

Senior Associate


Stephanie has over 20 years’ experience in executive recruitment and specializes in the Higher Education, Non-Profit and Healthcare sectors.

With her expertise in C-Suite recruitment, Stephanie regularly leads and conducts searches for President, Provost, CFO, CEO, COO, CNO, CMO, CHRO, and Vice President/Dean levels. Stephanie is known for taking a partnership approach with her clients in a manner which engenders trust.

Stephanie graduated with a BS in Nursing from Texas Christian University.



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Except as specifically exempted by federal law requirements, Samford University does not unlawfully discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, national or ethnic origin, disability or age in the administration or application of its educational programs and policies, admissions policies, employment policies, scholarship and loan programs. Consistent with its Christian mission and organizations, Samford is exempt from the religious provisions of Title VII pursuant to 42 U.S.C. Sections 2000e-1(a) and 2000e-2(e)

The University seeks and prefers employee applicants of the Christian faith and offers competitive salaries with a generous benefits package.  Applicants must be authorized to work in the United States, as Samford will not sponsor any employment visas for this position. Samford University embraces diversity in their faculty, students, and staff and encourage applications from those who would add to the diversity of our academic community.  



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