Published on December 14, 2023 by Neal Embry  
Le Ann

Over the last 16 months, Beeson Divinity School has said goodbye to two staff members and a longtime professor.

Sharon Head, who served as enrollment and admissions associate, retired in August 2022, followed by Paul House, a former associate dean and professor, after the 2022-23 school year. Le-Ann Little, former administrative assistant to the dean, retired in the fall of 2023.

Le-Ann Little

A Samford alumna, Le-Ann Little always cherished her time at the university. While at Samford, she attended Shades Mountain Baptist Church, which was led at the time by Charles Carter, a longtime Samford trustee and Baptist pastor. She also met her husband, Jeff, at Samford.

Seeking part-time work that would allow her to spend more time with her young children, Little heard of a job opening at Samford. She began serving in the office of former Samford President Thomas E. Corts before transitioning to Beeson to work full-time as the faculty secretary, which later turned into a role as assistant to the founding dean, Timothy George.

“It was one big team, much like it is now,” Little said. “Everybody worked together. The students were smart and were being mentored and taught to go live what God had called them to do and to minister in the way He had designed and created them to do.”

Little spent 23 years at Beeson, helping faculty, staff and students every day. The work was “a lot of everything,” she said.

“My friendships with faculty, staff and students have been so rewarding,” Little said. “My life has been blessed because of them.”

In her retirement, Little said she’s enjoying her hobbies, participating in the daytime activities at her church, spending time with friends and family and keeping in touch with some of Beeson's faculty members and staff. She still tunes in on Tuesday mornings to hear Beeson’s weekly chapel services.

Paul House

Paul House had known of Beeson since its founding in 1988, but it wasn’t until he taught two summer courses at the school in 2001, while he was a full-time professor at Wheaton College, that he set eyes on the place that would be his home for nearly 20 years.

In 2004, House became the associate dean at Beeson, serving in that role for six years before becoming a full-time professor, focusing on Old Testament studies.

Students and faculty at Beeson were “solid Christians with a desire for service,” House said.

While a majority of the faculty were Baptists at that time, House said it was George’s desire to hire a more interdenominational faculty, in keeping with his founding vision.

“Dr. George was always a good standard-bearer for the school,” House said.

Paul House

In his time at Beeson, House saw the addition of chapel services, followed by a community lunch. Community at that time was “assumed, not seen to,” he said, something that has changed over the years.

Shifting to a cohort-style approach to academics helped foster a sense of community for students, he said, rather than a more “free-form” approach to the school’s curriculum.

“There’s almost nowhere (else) you could go that would have the community aspect written into the fabric of the school,” House said.

House recalled his role overseeing junior and senior faculty with fondness, as well as seeing alumni serve the church in “communities large and small,” doing, at times, “unheralded work.”

In his time at Beeson, House said God taught him the importance of “wholeness” in life and in ministry.

While he has retired from classroom teaching, House said he is continuing to write and is completing a volume in the “Preaching the Word” commentary series on the minor prophets, as well as writing a commentary on Daniel for the Pillar commentary series. He’s also working on a biography of Fritz Onnasch, an associate of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s. House still teaches at his church and stays busy taking care of three generations of his family.

Sharon Head

Sharon Head spent eight years at Beeson as the enrollment and admissions associate and looks back on her time with great joy.

“I look back on my eight years there and think it really was a gift of the Lord,” Head said. “I loved my students. I loved getting to know the students." 

Being at Beeson allowed Head to “avail (herself) to deep waters” theologically, joining in conversations with students, faculty and staff, and taking part in lectures facilitated by Beeson. She saw firsthand the difference Beeson had on its students.

“Beeson encapsulates a God who is so much deeper, broader, richer, fuller in the variety of people who seek to know Him and love Him and grow together,” Head said.

Sharon Head

Head came to Beeson in 2014 during what she called a “midlife re-evaluation.” As her last child graduated from high school that year, she knew she wanted to grow and not remain stagnant, desiring to expand her world outside of her church and her children’s school. She knew, however, that whatever work she ended up doing needed to have a Christian mission.

Susan McNabb, who worked in the associate dean’s office, was a close friend of Head’s and told her about the job opening, which was an “answer to prayer,” Head said.

“That’s where I felt the Lord led us,” Head said.

In her first semester, Head remembered Yannick Christos-Wahab, a student who came from the United Kingdom and also held Nigerian citizenship. Since he didn’t know anything about Thanksgiving, Head hosted many members of that fall cohort at her house, and repeated the tradition each of the four years they were at Beeson, she said.

“I loved walking a journey with the students at a time in their life of theological education prior to going into ministry that is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Head said. 

Being able to encourage students not to separate head knowledge from heart knowledge and to help them grow in their walk with the Lord was a joy, Head said.

“There is just no greater joy than to walk through the joys and the hardships with other people,” Head said. 

Since retiring from Beeson, Head has started working with Women Business Leaders ministry, which provides small group Bible study leaders to workplaces for studies, mentor groups and more, while also providing fellowship opportunities for women in the workplace. Head said her time at Beeson prepared her well for that role, as the ministry serves women from various denominations.

Editor’s Note: Longtime Old Testament professor Allen Ross retired at the end of the fall 2023 semester. We will feature him in the 2024 Beeson Magazine, along with Robert Smith, Jr., who will retire at the end of the 2023-24 academic year.

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.