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Accomplishment and character. Those are the two words a colleague used to describe this year’s dedicatee, Dr. Grace Hargis. And Dr. Hargis’s two biggest passions — languages and missions — find their places underneath each of those descriptions.

Dr. Grace Hargis teaching her class (2014)

To recount all that Dr. Hargis has accomplished in her lifetime would fill a book. To tell what she has contributed to the University would fill pages. A few paragraphs cannot possibly do justice to a woman who has spent a lifetime pursuing and improving the talents God gave her in understanding the English language.

Dr. Hargis’s higher education began here at Bob Jones University where she studied Bible. And though she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Bible in 1960, Dr. Hargis also had enough credits at the time to have double-majored in English as well. She then pursued her master’s degree in English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, finishing in one year rather than the typical two years. While studying for this degree, Dr. Hargis discovered that she had a love for linguistics, the scientific study of language and its structure.

Dr. Hargis next spent a couple of years teaching English at BJU before leaving once again, this time to pursue her doctorate in linguistics at Indiana University from 1964 to 1966.

Yet with every accomplishment she achieved, Dr. Hargis never sought to receive glory but instead used each bit of knowledge she gained to glorify God.

Dr. Hargis also has a huge heart for missions. Drs. Ray St John and Ron Horton described Dr. Hargis as a facilitator of missions. “I don’t think she ever felt called to the mission field,” Dr. Horton said. “But her doctorate work and passion for her subject have always been steered toward the mission field.”

“Grace is a Christian professional, a superb one.” —Dr. Ron Horton

For her doctoral dissertation in linguistics, Dr. Hargis did fieldwork in the Philippines where she analyzed the Kalagan language, one of the major dialects.

In 1974, Dr. Hargis began the Missionary Linguistics Program, which she directs and teaches during the summer. through this program Dr. Hargis has helped many missionaries understand the basis of the language in the places they plan to minister.

In a tribute to Dr. Hargis, Provost emeritus Dr. Phil Smith said, “Bible translation work is alive and doing well in many countries because Grace was patient and allowed her talents to be used when the timing was right here at the University.”

Not only has Dr. Hargis accomplished great things in the past, but she is also currently committed to her students and their mastery of learning language. Dr. Hargis loves her students, and she desires for them to grow in Christ-likeness both in and out of the classroom.

Dr. Horton remarked that it is common to find Dr. Hargis counseling students one-on-one. Earlier this year, for example, Dr. Horton noticed Dr. Hargis discipling one of her students in the Dining Common.

Dr. Hargis has now served at the University for 53 years, most of that time in teaching. In every aspect of her life, through her studies, teaching, outreaches and relationships, Dr. Hargis exemplifies Christ. Dr. Horton described Dr. Hargis perfectly in a tribute to her:

“Grace is a Christian professional, a superb one.”