Serving the students of Brenau University since 1969, retired professor Jim Southerland will recount his journey from his soon-to-be-published book, “Sharecropper’s Son: A Journey of Teaching and Learning,” at the Northeast Georgia History Center this Friday.
During Brenau’s homecoming weekend activities, Southerland will host a free preview where he will read excerpts of the memoir at 5 p.m., followed by a reception at 6 p.m.
Southerland, considered the university’s “top academic officer,” is Brenau’s longest-serving professor. He retired from his professorship in 2013 after 44 years of teaching history, as well as serving as a provost and vice president of academic affairs.
Book preview and reading
When: 5 p.m. Sept. 29
Where: Northeast Georgia History Center, 322 Academy St. NE, Gainesville
How much: Free
Southerland wrote that his time at Brenau was “really the only job that I had in my professional career and the only place I ever worked in that time.”
Nearing the completion of a doctorate in history from the University of Georgia, Southerland was hired in the fall of 1969 as a faculty member before he completed his dissertation — the last remaining requirement for a Ph.D.
The memoir chronicles his life from a childhood in South Alabama, spending his youth in Columbus, his college years and the decades of service at Brenau.
“His classroom became metaphorically his shared field where he provided fruits of his teaching to the students he served while sustaining his own spirit and intellect with lifelong learning,” the synopsis of the book reads.
Southerland’s story reflects on Southern life in the mid-20th century including how his family was impacted in the aftermath of World War II, the social and political shifts during the 1960s civil rights movement and the evolution Brenau went through from a traditional women’s college to a more “complex entity.”
He also states how the death of his father, Arthur Southerland — the titular sharecropper — in 2010 motivated him to write his memoir. He started reflecting on his personal life and professional career, and he knew how many of his own stories were intertwined with those he both taught and worked with at Brenau.
“I thought that those individuals who love the university might wish to read my stories told through a chronicle of the university’s evolution from a small and somewhat provincial women’s college into Brenau University,” Southerland wrote. “The institution is based where that school has always been, on what we have come to call ‘the historic campus’ in Gainesville, Georgia, where I began and concluded my academic career.”
“Sharecropper’s Son: A Journey of Teaching and Learning” is scheduled for publication by early 2018. To pre-order the book visit www.brenau.edu/sharecroppers-son.
The Northeast Georgia History Center is located at 322 Academy St. NE in Gainesville.