60 Seconds with Dr. Nat Hardy - eCore Professor and Life-long Tiger

Dr. Nat Hardy is an Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies at Savannah State University. He was recently elected President of the Georgia Council of Graduate Schools, which works to build awareness of the benefits and value of a graduate degree to the students and citizens of Georgia. eCore is proud to have had Dr. Hardy as an eCore instructor since 2012. Take a minute to learn a little more about Dr. Nat Hardy.

Where did you complete your degree(s)? B.A. (English) University of Alberta, M.A. (English) McMaster University, M.F.A. (Creative Writing) Louisiana State University, M.Ed. (Higher Education Administration) Georgia Southern University, Ph.D. (English) University of Alberta.

What drew you to your field of expertise? I was always an avid reader of literature and I truly enjoyed writing. During my undergraduate degree at the University of Alberta, I switched my major from Philosophy to English because I was a much better English major than a Philosopher, this in spite of my Germanic Enlightenment roots. My English professors were also instrumental in my decision. I was very fortunate to have an outstanding undergraduate faculty mentor, prolific scholar, and exceptional teacher, Professor Jonathan Locke Hart, who also encouraged me to consider English as a B.A. major or minor. Several years later, after completing my M.A. at McMaster University, I eventually returned to the University of Alberta, where Professor Hart served as my doctoral supervisor. Under Dr. Hart’s mentorship, I was able to earn several scholarships and awards, and I was also able to complete my dissertation in a timely manner because of his vigilance to keep me on track. I truly stand on Professor Hart’s shoulders today and I am grateful for his continued inspiration, guidance, and humanity.

Why did you choose to become a college instructor? Once I began teaching at McMaster University as a graduate student, I caught the ‘teaching bug’. I quickly learned that being on the opposite of the podium was even more energizing than being a college student. I thrive on the spontaneity of teaching, as a professor has a lecture planned out, however, each class inevitably takes it own unpredictable series of twists and turns. It’s the ‘in-the-moment’ experience that I enjoy from both teaching and learning from my students; every day is a new day in the college classroom.

What do you like most about teaching online? I enjoy the flexibility and the digital medium. With teaching online I am able to get all the students to engage in the material and the discussions, because the engagement is required for the course. This is not necessarily the case in a traditional brick and mortar classroom, where students can sit at the back of the room and never engage with the class or instructor for an entire term. I also like teaching for eCore because I have the opportunity to teach students from a wide variety of universities throughout the University System of Georgia and beyond. This regional and international diversity fosters a unique and dynamic learning community that one doesn’t usually experience in the traditional on-campus classroom.

What was your most challenging subject in school, and how did you get through it? I think Symbolic and Sentential Logic was my most challenging undergraduate class. Formal logic required an abstract mode of thought that only part of my mind could ever seem to grasp. While I struggled through and passed, this class convinced me to change my major from Philosophy to English. My undergraduate institution also required proficiency in two languages other than English, thus I had to struggle with learning (and passing) both French and English courses. It was challenging at the time, but well worth it, as I have a working knowledge of two other languages.

What do you like to do in your free time? I enjoy spending quality time with my six-year-old daughter, Madeline.  I try to travel with my daughter and expose her to new cultural experiences and events. I also enjoy gardening and landscape designing when I am not teaching or being a doting father.

What’s your favorite movie of all time? That’s a tough one. Right now, I think V for Vendetta is my favorite, though I could give you a rather long list of movies I would take with me if I were stranded on a desert island.

If you had to choose a different profession, what would it be? If it weren't for my lack of scientific skills, I would have liked to have been a physician, a general practitioner, or, alternatively, if I were better at math, I would have liked to have studied architecture and become an architect as well.

If you won the lottery, what would you do with your winnings? I would open my own university and call it: “The University of So You Thought You Knew It All.”

What is something interesting about you that your students would be surprised to know? Before entering college, I lived in Northern Scotland for two years where I worked as a rough neck on an offshore drilling rig in the North Sea. I was once what they call a “North Sea Tiger” and now I am a “Savannah State University Tiger,” funny how things seem to go full circle, appropriate somehow. Although the Chinese zodiac labels me as an Ox, deep down, I know I’m a Tiger.

What advice do you have for students taking online classes for the first time? The most successful students plan ahead and work ahead. Students should post to discussions well before the deadline. Those who wait are often at a loss in discussions, as they discover and bemoan that “everything has already been said.” In literature courses, it is crucial that students ‘read’ the works we examine. The students who do poorly are the ones who fail to have read and digested the assigned readings. Don’t cut corners; do the work. My best advice: “If it is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.”


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