VALDOSTA – After 40 years of teaching, encouraging and mentoring students of all ages and backgrounds, Dr. Shirley Hodge Hardin, Valdosta State University Director of African American Studies and Professor of English, will celebrate her tenure in academia by “Paying It Forward” at a Retirement Banquet scheduled for Saturday, January 16, 2016, at VSU’s Student Union Ballroom. This event will facilitate the establishment of an academic scholarship for VSU students.
A product of the Early County School System, Hardin realized the importance of education at an early age and the importance of knowing “from whence ye came.” Encouraged by her parents, Freddie and Susie Hodge of Jakin, GA, as well as her public school teachers and older siblings, Hardin completed a B.S. Degree in English from Albany State College. She subsequently received an M.A. and a Ph.D. in English from the Florida State University, graduating among the top 5% of her class with the aid of scholarships and fellowships.
“I have never had to search for a job,” she claims, “but have always been recruited, even when I wasn’t thinking about employment.”
Hardin credits her spirituality – her relationship with God – as having kept her focused and successful, in and out of the classroom: “I have always felt a sixth sense, the ability to look beyond human frailty, academic deficiency, and social ineptitude to see the potential for greatness and encourage that in an individual.”
Dr. Hardin taught developmental English for one year at her alma mater, Albany State College, and then was recruited to Valdosta State in the fall of 1976. Her many academic accomplishments include being promoted to full professor in English, serving as the academic director of African American Studies, and coordinating HEROES Institute (Helping Everyone Receive Optimum Educational Success), a USG Board of Regents co-sponsored African American Male Initiative (AAMI), which involved a successful four-year academic partnership between VSU and 25 Valdosta High School ninth grade African American males.
A member of several professional organizations, including the National Association of African American Studies and Affiliates, Dr. Hardin has authored scholarly articles, attended summer institutes, and presented over 60 academic workshops and professional conference papers on black women writers, black experiences in America, African literature, Afrocentricity, pedagogy, and multiculturalism and diversity in the US. She has also published inspirational poetry and has two major works in progress (Love and Laugh: The Collected Poems of Shirley H. Hardin and Us Somethin’ Special: Four Generations of Southern African American Women’s Voices).
Over the years, Dr. Hardin has generously given her time to several community agencies, institutions, and outreach ministries (educational, social, civic, and faith-based) in the Valdosta and Lowndes County area. She has also given over 60 public lectures, speeches and keynote addresses throughout the continental United States. A committed member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. (a national public service organization) for 43 years, Hardin served as primary, secondary, or university liaison advisor to the VSU Theta Tau Chapter for over 25 years and is a member of the Valdosta Alumnae Chapter of DST, earning local, regional and national service awards.
Hardin’s academic awards are indeed numerous, including three University System of Georgia Board of Regents committee appointments, over 30 funded academic grants (VSU Faculty Development and Instructional Improvement, VSU Scholarship, VSU Strategic Focus, Georgia Humanities Council, the National Endowments for the Arts, and the USG Board of Regents), the “Valdosta/Lowndes County Educator of the Year,” and the “2015 Lifetime Achievement Award in Education and Community Service” presented by the phenomenal VSU Media Arts Geniuses, a student organization whose mission is to skillfully showcase VSU student and faculty talent.
Tickets are $125 for VIP seating, $50 for general seating, and $25 for VSU students. VIP tables are available for $1,000. Participants who purchase a VIP ticket or table are invited to a photo reception with Hardin at 6 p.m. in the VSU Student Union.
For more information about Paying It Forward: The Retirement Celebration and Scholarship Banquet for Dr. Shirley Hodge Hardin Saturday, January 16, 2016 – 7:00 PM, visit Valdosta State University.