Dr. Shirley Hanshaw named IHL Diversity Educator of 2016

Contact: Zack Plair

(Photo by Russ Houston)


STARKVILLE, Miss.—Shirley Hanshaw, an associate professor of English at Mississippi State University, has earned the 2016 Diversity Educator of the Year Award from the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning.

The board will celebrate Black History Month on Thursday [Feb. 18] with a ceremony in Jackson honoring university faculty and staff from colleges and universities around the state.

In addition to Hanshaw, Jonathan Pote, department head for agricultural and biological engineering, was among honorees nominated for the overall diversity award. Pote, who represents MSU’s Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine, received the Diversity Award for Excellence, along with eight honorees from the state’s other institutions of higher learning.

Hanshaw, who joined the Mississippi State faculty in 2005, teaches technical writing and African American literature courses in the College of Arts and Sciences. Additionally, she instructs MSU’s only introductory literature course focused on surveying multicultural American literature – including Native American, Asian American, Caucasian American and African American. Her goal for the course, she said, is to promote an intercultural understanding that will help facilitate a more just and equitable society based on mutual respect.

“My belief is that students are not truly educated unless they know literature from cultures outside of their realm of experience,” Hanshaw said. “We do not fear that which we know.”

A Starkville native, Hanshaw holds a bachelor’s in English from Tougaloo College, a master’s from Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and a doctorate from the University of Mississippi. She began her career as an educator at Delaware Technical and Community College, and taught at Alcorn State, The University of Southern Mississippi and the University of Mississippi before coming to MSU.

Hanshaw worked a six-year stint as a technical writer and editor for the Army Corps of Engineers’ Coastal Engineering Research Center in Vicksburg, the first African American to hold that position.

She also serves as liaison for the MSU-Tougaloo College Exchange Program, which allows students from Tougaloo to earn credit hours at MSU in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“The College of Arts and Sciences is extremely proud of Dr. Hanshaw and congratulates her on being named by the IHL as the Diversity Educator of the Year,” said R. Gregory Dunaway, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “Dr. Hanshaw has had a distinguished career as a scholar and educator. She has had a profound impact on her colleagues and students. Her work in promoting diversity and inclusivity has truly been inspirational and the academic community has been enriched by her efforts.”

Hanshaw said she considers the award confirmation of her efforts over the years that provides her extra motivation to press on.

“I am very honored and grateful to have this accolade,” she said.

The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.


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