MACON – Penfield College Professor of English Dr. Margaret Eskew received the Joe and Jean Hendricks Excellence in Teaching Award at Mercer University’s Macon commencement in May.
The Hendricks Award recognizes a full-time teacher who best exemplifies the qualities that distinguished Joe and Jean Hendricks as teachers and mentors to generations of Mercer students. These include challenging and inspiring teaching in and out of the classroom, active engagement of students in the process of learning, discovery and leadership, as well as caring mentoring to motivate students and junior faculty to achieve their highest aspirations.
“Dr. Eskew continues to astonish us with her distinctive understanding of teaching and learning,” said Dr. Priscilla Danheiser, dean of Penfield College. “Students, faculty and staff members who work alongside her as colleagues every day feel so privileged to have the opportunity to observe her in action, to learn from her, and to see and experience the remarkable outcomes that result from her passion, her expertise and her commitment. She is indeed an innovative and master teacher.”
Dr. Eskew earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of New Orleans and her Master of Arts in German literature from Tulane University, where she began her teaching career and later served on the faculty. She went on to earn her Ph.D. in linguistics from Georgetown University, where she also taught courses in German language and German women writers and served on the faculty of the Georgetown Summer School in Trier, Germany.
In her current appointment as professor of English in Penfield College, she serves Mercer’s working adult learners. She previously directed the University’s English Language Institute in Macon.
In addition to Mercer, Georgetown, and Tulane, Dr. Eskew worked in historically black universities for almost three decades, primarily Dillard University and Xavier University of Louisiana. At Dillard, she initiated majors in German and Japanese studies and was founding director of the Summer Intensive English Program for Kwansei Gakuin University. At Xavier, she developed and directed the Center for Intercultural Studies and designed its expansion to the Center for Intercultural and International Studies, for which she and a co-worker established study abroad opportunities at 18 universities around the world.
She has won numerous awards, such as the Innovations in Teaching Award co-sponsored by Mercer and Vulcan Materials Co., for excellence in teaching and innovative practices in student learning environments and recognition for the language programs she founded and directed.
Dr. Eskew’s research centers on the World War II era and the linguistic and cultural analysis of propaganda. She authored The Syntactic Preferences of Adolf Hitler, published by Peter Lang, and served as publishing editor of two recent books by author Dodie Cantrell-Bickley – The Reason of Fools and A Reason to Fear.
She was also faculty mentor and editor for two collections of student writings titled Regeneration: A Journal of Creative Writings; a children’s book written and illustrated by then-student Yvonne Gabriel titled Chico The Polar Bear; a book titled Light in Dark Places by philosophy and religion professor emeritus Dr. Duane Davis; a book for those suffering from trauma, titled Gold Stone, written by Dr. W. David Lane and Dr. Donna E. Lane and illustrated by Gabriel; and a children’s book titled Mr. Tuck and the 13 Heroes, the true story of the integration of the first school in Henry County, Georgia, a three-generation collaboration by religion professor emeritus Dr. Colin Harris, author Dr. John Harris of Furman University and illustrator Sophie Harris, an art student at Furman.
Dr. Eskew’s ongoing research includes preparation for publication of a 1947 manuscript describing the trial of executed Japanese General Yamashita; a translation into English of Jack Iwo’s Göbbels Erobert die Welt; and a revision of international banker Pierre Ferrand’s autobiographical account of his family’s journey from Nazi Germany through Paris and eventually to the U.S. She combines her research in race relations with the investigation of totalitarian language in the examination of Nazi cinema that used black American prisoners of war in Nazi films.
She also meets regularly with student writers, several of whom have their own books in progress.
“Being selected for this award is a very humbling experience, especially when I look at the tremendous gifts my colleagues exhibit on a daily basis. I thank my students, my colleagues and my dean for the parts they played in my selection. They have all shaped the teacher I am,” said Dr. Eskew. “To paraphrase the title of Robert Fulghum’s popular book, ‘All I Really Needed to Know I Learned from My Students.’ To come into honest conversation with my students about the realization of their dreams and their awareness of their place in the world energizes me every day. Historian Arnold J. Toynbee observed, ‘The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play.’ When my students and I look up and discover that we were all so engaged in our work that the time of departure has already passed, we know that we have blurred those lines.”
The Joe and Jean Hendricks Excellence in Teaching Award, which carries a $5,000 stipend, is named for two of Mercer’s greatest teachers, who are legendary at the University for their dedication to students and for their ability to engage students in transformative learning and discovery.
Dr. Jean Hendricks, a 1942 graduate of Tift College, earned her Ph.D. from Florida State University, served as chair of the Department of Psychology in the College of Liberal Arts, and was the beloved dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in Atlanta.
Dr. Joseph Hendricks, a 1955 graduate of the College of Liberal Arts, earned his Ph.D. from Emory University and taught for 32 years in the First-Year Seminar program, which he and his wife were instrumental in creating. He also founded the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies in the College of Liberal Arts and taught for years in the Department of Christianity in the College of Liberal Arts.
About Penfield College of Mercer University
Penfield College of Mercer University, established as the College of Continuing and Professional Studies in 2003, is committed to serving non-traditional learners and currently enrolls more than 1,300 students. Undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs are offered to working adult learners seeking professional advancement into leadership roles in and beyond their communities. Educational programs provide students with distinctive, multidisciplinary programs that integrate theory and practice. The College offers general education and elective courses for various colleges and schools at Mercer. Another initiative called the Bridge program transitions students enrolled in Mercer’s English Language Institute and other international students to undergraduate programs throughout the University. Areas of study include organizational leadership, counseling, human services, human resources, informatics, criminal justice leadership, nursing preparation, liberal studies, psychology, communication, homeland security and emergency management, and healthcare leadership. Programs are offered on Mercer’s campuses in Atlanta and Macon, as well as multiple regional academic centers in Douglas County, Henry County and Newnan, and online. To learn more, visit penfield.mercer.edu.