ITTA BENA, Miss. —Professor Dr. Jo A. Baldwin has been selected by Mississippi Valley State University’s Office of Academic Affairs as the 2018 Humanities Teacher of the Year.
Each year, the Mississippi Humanities Council recognizes October’s designation of Arts and Humanities Month by bestowing Humanities Teacher Awards to outstanding faculty in traditional humanities fields at colleges and universities across the state.
Affectionately known by the campus community as “Dr. Jo”, Baldwin is an English professor and director of the writing center at MVSU, where she teaches composition, literature, and creative writing and serves as Associate Editor of Fiction for “Valley Voices: A Literary Review.” She is a published writer of mainly short stories and book reviews.
“When I was told that I had received the Humanities Teacher of the Year Award, I smiled and have been smiling ever since,” Baldwin said.
As part of the nomination, Baldwin will give a presentation at 11 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 21, in the Cliff E. Williams Auditorium of MVSU’s Business Education Building.
The topic of Baldwin’s presentation will be “Student Introductions and My Social Trinity.”
Baldwin intends to connect with students on the first day of class with her introduction list. Her lecture, entitled “My Social Trinity”, is designed to inspire students to “become persons” rather than just exist as human beings. She believes personhood comes from practicing the “Golden Rule” and in willing service to others.
In addition to her position at Valley, Baldwin is an ordained itinerant elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AMEC) and is the pastor of Baldwin Chapel AMEC (named in her honor), located at 312 Tipton St. in Kosciusko.
Mindful of the separation of church and state, Baldwin said she is aware of the history of HBCUs and the power of the gospel to meet suffering and adversity head-on with the determination to manage and eventually overcome all kinds of hardships.
“At the risk of telling my age,” she said, “I attended college 25 years ago and earned a bachelor’s, three master’s and a Ph.D.”
Baldwin holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM), a master’s degree in Creative Writing from UWM, a master’s in Speech/Theatre from Marquette in Milwaukee, a Master of Divinity from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, and a Ph.D. in English from UWM. She was the first black American to earn a Ph.D. in English from UWM.
Baldwin is the author of a homiletics text entitled “Seven Signature Sermons by a Tuning Woman Preacher of the Gospel”. Published by the Edwin Mellen Press, the book explores “tuning,” as a form of preaching in the black tradition.
She also authored an award-winning theology book entitled “Bible Verses Given to Me: A Memoir”, published by the AMEC Sunday School Union in Nashville.
As a preacher of the gospel, Baldwin said she was told by a prophet that her anointing is reflected in her hair and her hands and that every time she moves to a higher level spiritually her gray hair will grow.
For more information about MVSU’s Humanities Teacher of the Year Award, contact the Office of Academic Affairs at (662) 254-3875.