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John Handy Named Vulcan Materials Morehouse Faculty Member of the Year for 2012-13


Economics professor John Handy keeps saying he is ready to retire, but each day he realizes one thing.

“I just can’t do it,” Handy said with a laugh. “I just can’t leave the classroom. I’ve been teaching for more than 40 years. I just love teaching.”

That dedication is just one of the reasons Handy was given the Vulcan Materials Company Teaching Excellence Award as the Morehouse Faculty Member of the Year for 2012-13.

Handy is the ninth person to win the award.

“In recognition of outstanding contributions to undergraduate education, student learning and campus life, the Vulcan Material Company and the Georgia Independent Colleges Association are pleased to present their teaching excellence award to…one who is a scholar, author, proposal writer and program director, community volunteer, who has been leading on many fronts and teacher of hundreds and hundreds and hundreds who sing his praises the world over,” said Anne Watts, associate vice president for Academic Affairs.

A Bronx, N.Y. native, Handy has been at Morehouse for 25 years, starting in 1978 when he directed the Manpower Human Resources Program. He also started a college preparatory program for high school juniors and seniors.

He left Morehouse to work at Clark Atlanta University, where he and then-president Thomas Cole started one of Atlanta’s first community development corporations, the University Development Corporation. That group spearheaded residential and community development in the Atlanta University Center area.

Handy came back to Morehouse in 1992 to become chair of the economics department, a post he held until 2007. Handy hired his successor – his former student, Gregory Price.

Handy has continued to be active nationally and locally in community development activities.

“The reason I got into economics in the first place was because I was interested in community economic development,” he said. “I was always interested in housing development and housing opportunity.”

Though he isn’t a Morehouse graduate, Handy’s family has deep ties to the Atlanta University Center. His mother grew up in a house that still stands behind Davidson House. His uncle was former
president Hugh Gloster’s classmate. And the females in his family all went to Spelman.

But what keeps Handy at Morehouse are the students, especially those who come back after establishing successful careers to say thank you.

“There’s nothing better,” Handy said. “That makes me feel like I’ve done something or accomplished something. There’s no other field where you can get that. It’s like hitting a home run.”

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