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E.C. Hancock retires after 41 years at PJC

Published or Revised September 06, 2005

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E.C. Hancock is excited about this gift, a road atlas he was given by one of his co-workers during Tuesday’s reception at PJC. He said he will be mapping out his next hunting trip.

After more than four decades of teaching biology to thousands of students at Paris Junior College, Emory Charles (E.C.) Hancock is retiring.

The popular instructor, who also served as division chairman of the Math and Science Department, is going to spend more time on the farm and with his grandchildren. His retirement is effective Aug. 31.

A reception for Hancock and his wife, Jimmye, who is also leaving PJC after 36 years as an instructor, director, and dean of instructional support, was held in the McLemore Student Center Ballroom Tuesday.

Co-workers, friends and former students wished the couple well as they visited for much of the afternoon.

“It’s been a wonderful career for me, and I have always enjoyed my students,” Hancock said. “Retirement has been on my mind for quite a while, and I think now is the time to enjoy my family and some hobbies - one of which is hunting.”

Hancock, who started teaching biology at PJC in the fall of 1964, estimates that he has taught more than 15,000 students during his 41-year tenure. During one period of growth at the college, he taught a class of 100 students in the theatre.

When PJC opened its nursing program in 1968, biology, microbiology, anatomy and physiology (A&P), and nutrition classes were in demand. Hancock was there to teach and direct these programs.

“It was a busy time, and we had students in Paris, Clarksville, Honey Grove and Mount Pleasant wanting classes so they could enter the nursing program,” he said. “We started many new classes and taught extra classes (overloads) to meet the demand for the courses - the same as we have done in recent years.”

Sandra Chadwick, a retired PJC nursing program instructor and supervisor and retired nurse, was one of Hancock’s students in 1969. She said she was in the second nursing school class at PJC.

“He was a great teacher and a good friend and coworker,” she said. “He was again my teacher when I attended UT-Tyler to earn my bachelor’s degree. He was teaching pathophysiology for Tyler at the PJC campus. We had a long association and, as a teacher, he will be missed.”

In addition to teaching biology, Hancock became chairman of the department 30 years ago and started several math classes along with the biology and nutrition courses required for nursing students.

“There were times when I taught in Paris during the day, and then went to Mount Pleasant or Honey Grove to teach classes,” Hancock said. “It was a challenge, but there are a lot of good memories that have come from those times of growth.”

Hancock set up a museum of natural history at the Honey Grove Center where PJC classes were taught in the community for many years.

With so many former students out there, Hancock sees and talks to many of them. They include doctors, nurses, engineers, business leaders, teachers, college professors and many others.

“We have had many outstanding students in the department, and I enjoy hearing from them,” he said. “One of the joys and highlights of the job, I guess, is seeing students go out and do well - and come back and tell me about their experience. That is satisfying.”

One of those students is Becki Norment, physician assistant (PA). She said Hancock has helped many people achieve a successful nursing career.

“I started in 1975, and over a period of 25 years Mr. Hancock helped me with my education,” Norment said. “When I went back to school to take refresher courses as I progressed in my nursing career, he always spent extra time to make sure I knew the subject.”

Norment, a PA in Dr. Gordon B. Strom’s offices in Paris, said she credits Hancock with making her education process easier.

“Mr. Hancock and PJC were here, so I didn’t have to leave town, and it fit into my work schedule,” she said. “He has been an asset to the PJC Nursing Department, and his concern and care for students made entry into nursing a little more endurable.”

Hancock, a graduate of Roxton High School, received his bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry from East Texas State University (now Texas A&M University - Commerce). He earned his Master of Science degree in biology from Texas A&M - Commerce and did post-graduate work at Sam Houston State University and Texas A&M - Commerce. He was a graduate assistant professor of biology while earning his master’s degree.

Hancock completed the United States Marine Corps Officer Training School at Quantico, Va., and spent two years teaching in the Atomic, Biological and Chemical Warfare School.

Hancock said he and his wife decided the military wasn’t for them, and left to become teachers. Hancock taught two years at Arlington Junior College (now UT - Arlington), two years in Grand Prairie High School and two years at Bonham High School before starting his long career at PJC.

He received many accolades from students and fellow instructors while at the college. Students nominated him for Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers three times, and each time he was selected, the last in 2004-2005.

Hancock was named Outstanding Educator of America in 1974-75.

Paris Junior College faculty members introduced the PJC Master Teacher Award in 1981-82, and the first instructor to receive the annual recognition was Hancock.
Duncan McMillan, owner of Anthony Signs in Paris, an engineer and a former student of Hancock, said he isn’t surprised at the popularity of his best friend.

“I know that on his birth certificate it says Emory Charles, but in his case, E.C. should stand for ‘encyclopedia,’” McMillan said. “He is the smartest guy I have ever known. I feel like I am doubly blessed to have had him as a teacher and as a friend for over 35 years. He’s the best hunting buddy anyone could ever have.”

Hancock said he has enjoyed his teaching career, but he is ready to enjoy those hunting trips.

“There have been a lot of changes and a lot of growth at PJC since I arrived here 41 years ago,” Hancock said. “I came to PJC when there were 400 students, and now as I retire there are over 4,000 students. There is still a lot of teaching to be done for thousands more students, but it’s time for me leave that to someone else. I wish the very best to the instructors and to the students who will continue to fill the classrooms at PJC.”

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