Call it “Graduation,” Not “Retirement,” Hodge Says, After 30-year Teaching Career
Wilson College of Textiles associate professor’s distinguished half-century at NC State will conclude in December.
These days, when Associate Professor George Hodge isn’t teaching, he’s busy cleaning out his office.
It’s no small job, after a long and distinguished tenure on the Wilson College of Textiles faculty. And it’s produced no shortage of artifacts from the past 30 years.
Floppy discs, tape decks, CDs, you name it. The discoveries have brought back memories of a career centered around working with students and introducing the most cutting-edge technology and teaching methods.
“Think about how we have evolved,” Hodge marvels, sitting in his office following a recent Monday morning class. In the earlier days of his career, he recalls, getting ahold of an optical disc cost $1,000.
“In today’s class, everybody had a laptop with them,” he says, chuckling. “Their phone was a computer. Their watch was probably a computer. And there were computer monitors on every wall.”
These moments of reflection aren’t without good cause: Next month, Hodge will finish his 30-year career at the Wilson College, concluding a three-year phased retirement—though he questions whether that last word is appropriate for the occasion.
“I’m trying to decide whether to call it retirement or graduation,” he quips.
After all, it’s not easy to say goodbye to a place he’s known for a half-century.
50 years at NC State
Hodge first arrived on NC State’s Centennial Campus as an undergraduate nuclear engineering student in 1973—50 years ago.
It was during his undergraduate years he first developed what would become an enduring reputation for “getting involved.” Hodge served as president of the undergraduate engineering student council, advocating for the student body.
Later, while pursuing his Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering, he served as president of the university graduate student association — an organization for which he’d later serve as a faculty advisor.
Over Hodge’s three-decade teaching career, he’s amassed an expertise in textile supply chain logistics, the textile industry’s intersection with computers and tech — a natural fit after his early-career experience working in nuclear supply chain logistics at Carolina Power and Light Company (later Duke Energy).
As an associate professor in the Textile Engineering, Chemistry and Science department, Hodge estimates he’s taught at least ten different courses over his tenure, sharing his knowledge of everything from supply chain management to electronic business, data mining and information quality along the way.
Among Hodge’s most lasting contributions to the college is his continual push to equip the Wilson College of Textiles and its students with the newest and best technology.
He helped start a computer-integrated manufacturing lab in collaboration with IBM, then the only of its kind at a U.S. textile school.
His work helped students gain hands-on experience using technology to manage and control machinery, while also integrating new technology-based teaching methods into the classroom.
“Wilson has always been supportive of having the latest technology in the classroom, and the latest technology in the labs for our students,” Hodge says. “And that, I think, has really been key for us.”
Hodge’s work, research and knack for getting involved has also seen him accrue an arsenal’s worth of awards, from receiving NC State’s Libraries Faculty Award in 2002 to being the college’s recipient of the Outstanding Teacher Award recipient in 1994.
He’s served on the board of the Association for Supply Chain Management, an industry trade group, and is currently vice president of professional development for the organization’s Triangle area chapter—a post he’ll also conclude come December.
An enduring love for teaching
More than any bit of research, any technical innovation or award, though, it’s clear Hodge’s strongest passion is—and always has been—his role as a professor.
“I’ve always enjoyed working with students,” he says. “Teaching has been my first love.”
It’s a passion only strengthened when students return to visit with younger generations in tow, or when they reach out for counsel while serving in a wide-ranging array of professions and roles prevalent among his former students—be it the textiles, law or tech industries.
“That’s the great thing about being a teacher. You get to be vice president. You get to be CEO. You get to be director of many companies through being the teacher,” he says, noting how the program curriculum prepares students for a wide range of opportunities.
“If you can manage the global textile supply chain, you can probably manage the supply chain for other products, not just textiles,” he says.
His passion for teaching has had a profound impact on his students — past and present.
“Dr. Hodge created an interactive learning environment that focused on solving real life situations in the textile supply chain industry,” current Wilson College of Textiles senior Colleen Sheridan says. “His class assignments and projects helped prepare me for my summer internship that has now led to a full-time position after graduation.”
“Dr. Hodge was my academic PhD advisor. What stood out for me most was his warm and encouraging nature. He was instrumental in supporting me to attend my first international conference as a graduate student. That event allowed me to understand the importance of networking and collaborating on a global platform. I continue that external engagement til date.
An active retirement planned
The post-graduate success of his students is, clearly, of the utmost pride for Hodge, particularly during this more nostalgic time— one that, likewise, has him sharing some of those artifacts from his office with today’s students, who have traded the likes of tapes and discs for cloud technology.
But he’s also looking forward, with no plans to let up on his trademark habit for getting involved.
Hodge plans to be active, spending time in North Carolina’s historical districts, hiking along the Appalachian and Mountain-to-Sea trails, and advocating for social justice and environmental issues.
“In my career I’ve done a lot with ‘add subtract multiply divide integrate differentiate,’” he says. “So I’m going to try to use that other side of my brain.”
Indeed, this will be a retirement worthy of a different label.
“I think of it as graduation onto my next endeavor; not sure what that will be,” he says. “Whatever it is, it will continue to promote the NC State Think and Do Philosophy.”