This week's High's Hero Award recognizing people who are making an eternal difference goes to Dr. Richard Goode. Richard is a history professor at Lipscomb where he has served since 1989.
Four years ago Goode got the idea of conducting undergraduate liberal arts classes at the Tennessee Prison for Women for college credit. In addition, the inmates would take the classes alongside Lipscombís traditional students. He envisioned offering up to 18 hours of courses for each group of inmates. He saw the idea become reality when he founded Lipscombís L.I.F.E. Program at the prison in 2006.
From the Lipscomb website: Americaís criminal justice system tends to dehumanize the incarcerated. Mainstream society, for example, seldom sees the inmates, and thus develops certain perceptions. Many of these presumptions are false. When we all get in a room together, we see the humanity of one another. The campus students begin to realize we arenít all that different, and the women at the prison are eager for human contact and interesting conversation. As together we reframe our concepts of community, we are all enlightened and challenged.
The program allows the inmates to not only earn college credit they can use upon release, but it expands their relationships and gives them an emotional touchstone while incarcerated. The traditional students get just as much out of the program, as their perspectives are changed and molded by their experiences studying alongside the prison inmates and getting to know them.
There are currently 35 inmates enrolled in the program with plans to add another 10 in the near future.
Richard is also an author. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading a collection of writings by Will D. Campbell that Goode helped assemble last year. It's entitled Writings on Reconciliation and Resistance.
Whether it's at Lipscomb, at the prison or through literary works, Dr. Richard Goode is making an eternal difference.