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In Memory of Stafford Hood by Karen Kirkhart

This week, we honor the life and legacy of the great Dr. Stafford Hood: evaluator, educator, visionary, truth-speaker, and beloved husband, father, and colleague. This week’s authors pay tribute to Dr. Hood by sharing with us the ways in which he touched their personal and professional lives.

-Liz DiLuzio, Lead Curator

My name is Karen Kirkhart, Professor Emerita at the School of Social Work at Syracuse University and an affiliated faculty member of the Center for Culturally Responsive Evaluation and Assessment (CREA) at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Stafford Hood was a treasured friend who anchored me personally, professionally, and intellectually. He was genuine to the core. Personally, my strongest image of Stafford is his powerful presence, his bear hugs, his welcoming greetings, and his love of music, a great meal, and black Labs. He was always good company! And Stafford schooled me. His early writings and his historical project, Nobody Knows My Name, introduced me to Black scholars I had not previously heard of. But he also schooled me on jazz, gumbo, Omega Psi Phi, and the cultural significance of the Chicago Cubs vs. the White Sox!

Professionally, my strongest image of Stafford is his bone deep commitment to justice and tothe urgency of the work.  He spent a career moving assessment and evaluation toward equity and justice by

  • Locating evaluation and assessment in cultural contexts, inclusively defined;
  • Grounding assessment and evaluation in the daily realities of those being assessed;
  • Embracing an expanded vision of validity rather than dismissing it as a master’s tool; and
  • Enriching our appreciation of those who participate in these endeavors, especially valuing the knowledge of Indigenous scholars and scholars of color.

Stafford’s legacy is rich with both scholarship and service. He was an early Chair of the AEA Committee on Diversity Issues and made invaluable contributions to the AEA Initiative for Building Diversity Among the Evaluation Community. Stafford first articulated his vision of Culturally Responsive Evaluation (CRE) in 1998 at a festschrift for Bob Stake upon his retirement from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Stafford subsequently developed workshops and curriculum on CRE. In February 2004, he convened the RACE (Relevance of Assessment and Culture in Evaluation) Conference at Arizona State University, and I shared my evolving understanding of multicultural validity as a keynote presenter. Also in 2004, Stafford and Melvin Hall received NSF support to field test CRE as a model under the auspices of the Relevance of Culture in Evaluation Institute (RCEI). I was invited to participate, which cemented our lasting “triangle friendship”—Stafford, Melvin Hall, and me. In 2015, Stafford’s singular contribution to evaluation theory was recognized by AEA with the Paul S. Lazarsfeld Award.

Stafford relocated to UIUC in 2008 as the Sheila M. Miller Professor of Education/Curriculum & Instruction, and he founded the Center for Culturally Responsive Evaluation and Assessment (CREA) in 2011. Stafford was a master networker, building a global community of scholars and practitioners committed to CREA. He successfully convened six CREA conferences between 2013 and 2021; a seventh is planned for fall 2023.

Last October, I was invited to introduce Stafford at the CREATE (Consortium for Research on Educational Assessment + Teaching Effectiveness) conference in Asheville, NC, where he was honored with the 2022 Jason Millman Memorial Award. On the first day, he scouted out a stellar restaurant and grabbed the only available reservation—an early one that had us sprinting several blocks to the Lobster Trap. We spent a relaxed evening, talking, sharing, and strategizing to stay within the time allotted for our session. It was a very special evening. The next day, his acceptance was powerful and flawless—easily the best speech I had heard him give (and there had been many).

Stafford embraced life. He was excited about new projects, (re)settling with Denice in Arizona, and getting a new puppy. At AEA last November, he gifted me a copy of his latest book, Race and Culturally Responsive Inquiry in Education, coedited with Hank Frierson, Rodney Hopson and Keena Arbuthnot. His inscription closed with “Much love, and more work to do.” He truly saw understanding the role of culture in evaluation as a lifelong endeavor.

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

2 thoughts on “In Memory of Stafford Hood by Karen Kirkhart”

  1. Mehmet “Dali” Oztürk

    Dr. Kirkhart,
    Thank you for sharing with us the ways in which Dr. Hood touched the personal and professional lives of many.
    My friend and colleague Dr. Hood’s scholarly wisdom and his bear hugs will be missed.

    Mehmet “Dali” Oztürk

  2. Mehmet "Dali" ?ztürk

    Dr. Kirkhart,
    Thank you for sharing with us the ways in which Dr. Hood touched the personal and professional lives of many.
    My friend and colleague Dr. Hood’s scholarly wisdom and his bear hugs will be missed.

    Mehmet “Dali” ?ztürk

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