Biography of Nayef H. Samhat

President Nayef Samhat

Nayef H. Samhat, the 11th president of Wofford College, is a native of Detroit, Michigan. He holds a B.A. in international affairs from The George Washington University's School of International and Public Affairs, a master's degree in international affairs from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in political science from Northwestern University.

Samhat came to Wofford in July 2013 after serving as provost and professor of political science and international studies at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. Prior to his time at Kenyon, he was the Frank B. and Virginia B. Hower Associate Professor of Government and International Studies and an associate dean at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky.

Since taking office at Wofford, Samhat has led the college through:

  • Two strategic visioning processes, including the latest to address justice, equity, diversity and inclusion on campus.
  • A record $470 million comprehensive fund-raising campaign, including endowment growth of over $250 million (the total is now more than $400 million).
  • The renovation or construction of 11 campus facilities.
  • The re-evaluation of the general education curriculum.
  • Increased engagement with the Spartanburg community, including new initiatives in Spartanburg’s northside neighborhood.
  • SACSCOC reaccreditation.
  • New marketing and branding initiatives as well as many other plans, programs and grants designed to build community, boost sustainability, champion the liberal arts and enhance the educational experience for students.

He serves on the executive committee of the Annapolis Group of Liberal Arts Colleges, the SACSCOC Board of Directors and the IES Board of Directors. Past national service includes the Council of Independent Colleges and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) boards of directors, as well as serving on the NCAA Division I board of directors and the NCAA board of governors, including service on the NCAA Division I Presidential Forum and as a mentor for the NCAA Pathway Program.

Samhat’s academic interests include international relations theory, international political economy and the politics of the Middle East, especially international relations in the Middle East. He has contributed articles, papers, reviews and essays on these and other topics. Samhat is also a staunch advocate of the liberal arts educational experience and has been a national presenter, panelist and commentator on the subject.

Samhat is married to Prema Samhat. They have three daughters, Alia, Jehan and Leila, three grandsons and a granddaughter.

Essays, Papers + Speeches