Dr. Rodney Hopson, professor in the Duquesne University School of Education, received the 2011 Eugene P. Beard Faculty Award for Leadership in Ethics for sharing his expertise and enthusiasm with Duquesne students as well as jail inmates, residents of Pittsburgh’s Hazelwood community and the southern African country of Namibia.
The Beard Award, presented annually to a faculty member, honors those who best exemplify Duquesne’s commitment to moral and spiritual values through outstanding leadership in ethics, family life, University or community service.
From 2004-2008, Hopson has led undergraduate and graduate students from Duquesne and other schools on several trips to southern Africa as part of his course Comparative and International Education Studies in Namibia, Southern Africa. For three weeks, students promote social good while working in human rights, media, advocacy, Catholic or other institutions with non-governmental and governmental agencies in southern Africa.
Outside of the classroom, Hopson has been actively involved in his church, Ethnan Temple Seventh Day Adventist Church in Wilkinsburg, and has served as a local elder on committees related to the school and child learning center. Once a season, Hopson is part of a team that visits the Allegheny County Jail to provide a prayer service and devotionals to 30-50 male and female prisoners.
“What never fails is to see the Holy Spirit engaged in all of us, even though it’s behind prison walls where we can accentuate the hope and testimony of Jesus Christ,” Hopson said. “Always, I go looking for sharing blessings only to come out of the jail uplifted by the Spirit!”
Hopson challenges students to be more involved in ethics and in social justice, co-designing and instructing Ethics, Education and the Teaching Profession and Social Justice in Educational Settings. Some of his students—including doctoral students in the educational leadership program—attend classes and volunteer in Hazelwood, a nearby depressed neighborhood.
In a way that addresses the Strategic Plan to provide service to others, increase awareness of social justice issues and provide service, Hopson guides students into the community and has them provide services that speak to and assist the needs and interests of the neighborhood. At the same time, the students become better equipped to face the realities of teaching diverse, multilingual and multicultural populations.
“As students in our School of Education, in a University that prides itself on serving God through serving students with a rich history of serving the downtrodden, this is an opportunity for our students to make a difference by contributing to public communities, schools and relationships about which they know so little,” said Hopson, who has served as a Hillman Distinguished Professor in the School of Education.
President-elect of the American Evaluation Association, Hopson has chaired committees in the American Educational Research Association and the Comparative and International Education Society. As co-author of the book Program Evaluation Standards (3rd edition): A Guide for Evaluators and Evaluation Users, his role in the book specialized in issues of human rights, respect and social justice in evaluations.
Honored to win the award, Hopson recognizes the incredible support by the School of Education, Duquesne and his family, and plans to continue his ethics work in the classroom and community.
“This type of award only encourages me to be even more proactive in continuing this stewardship and service,” Hopson said.
Hopson, a member of the board of directors of the Council of Anthropology and Education, is an alumnus of the University of Virginia Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the Curry School of Education, and the Loomis Chaffee School.