Published on April 6, 2022 by Sean Flynt  
Tyshawn Gardner
Tyshawn Gardner

Samford University has announced the appointment of alumnus Tyshawn Gardner ‘14 as associate professor in the Department of Biblical and Religious Studies and director of the department's Preministerial Scholars program. Gardner currently serves as the senior pastor of the Plum Grove Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, as the vice president for student affairs at Stillman College, and as adjunct faculty at the University of Alabama and at Samford.

"Dr. Gardner is an outstanding pastor, scholar and leader,” said Doug Sweeney, dean of Samford’s Beeson Divinity School. “We are proud that he is an alumnus of and adjunct professor here at Beeson Divinity School and we look forward to partnering with him and the Preministerial Scholars program at Samford to raise up the next generation of faithful pastors and kingdom workers."

The Preministerial Scholars program equips young ministers for personal, spiritual, and professional excellence in ministry leadership through a combination of mentoring and ministry experiences, including internships and the Samford Sunday preaching program. “Dr. Gardner's rich and extensive leadership experience in pastoral and academic contexts, his heart for the gospel and its prophetic application to our world today, his passion for mentoring ministerial students, will all enrich the teaching and mentoring of our ministerial students and others,” said department chair Roy Ciampa.

Ciampa also noted Gardner’s extensive work in the local community, which includes his founding and leadership of the Citizen Impacting Community Association, a non-profit dedicated to serving and empowering the intergenerational communities of West Tuscaloosa. “His track record of pursuing justice and racial reconciliation and of promoting unity and love in often-divided communities provides a model not just for our students but for the whole Samford community and beyond,” Ciampa said. “I can’t wait for our students to be shaped by the life and ministry of Dr. Gardner.”

“I’m excited to welcome Dr. Tyshawn Gardner to Howard College of Arts and Sciences in this role,” said college dean Tim Hall, who has had a preview of Gardner’s ability. “My wife and I have personally benefited from the ministry of one of the young people he mentored while a pastor at Plum Grove,” Hall said. “The directorship of our Preministerial Scholars program will expand his field for effective mentorship to a generation of Samford graduates. The world will be better for his mentorship and for their ministries.”

Gardner earned an undergraduate degree in business management at Stillman College. After earning his M.Div. degree at Samford's Beeson Divinity School (with the Most Distinguished Student honor for 2014) he went on to earn his Ph.D. degree in Christian Preaching at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His forthcoming book–Prophetic Radicalism: The Sacred Rhetoric of Social Crisis Preaching–continues the scholarly focus of his graduate studies. He also brings to his ministry his experience as a U.S. Navy veteran who served in Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm.

“I am thankful for the opportunity to help mold, develop and care for the brilliant students at Samford University,” Gardner said of his new role. “I view this appointment as a calling to serve and as an act of daily worship. Having been a student of [former Preministerial Scholars director] Dr. Jim Barnette, a graduate of Beeson Divinity School, and now serving with the world-class faculty at Samford is an honor. I can’t wait to help fulfill Samford’s mission and the vision of President Taylor”

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.