Dr. Charles E. Sharp
Known for his dry humor and wonderful lectures, Dr. Charles Sharp was a fixture in the department for thirty-five years. To celebrate his status as a teacher, the Alumni Association awarded him the third annual Faculty Merit Award, the first non-alumnus to receive that honor. After chairing the Faculty Senate for two terms, 1980-1982, he served for six years on the select committee that brought about the transition from "General Education" to "University Studies."
Born in Arkansas during the Depression, Sharp has strong memories of his family and siblings struggling to survive with a lot of hard work and a little luck. Though just a young boy, he worked alongside his parents in the hard-scrabble cotton fields. The Sharps became "Arkies," migrating to California for a better life. Following High School, Sharp entered the work force building batteries for General Motors/Delco. Eventually, he entered Baylor University where he found his calling and a pretty young co-ed, Mary Ellen Wilson.
Dr. Sharp was lured to Southeast Missouri State College as an instructor in history teaching the required American History survey. In 1969, Sharp took a leave of absence to work on his Ph.D. at the University of Georgia with an emphasis in American foreign relations. While working on his Master's Degree at Baylor, he developed a strong interest in Asian history -- especially China. For many years he taught courses on Chinese, Japanese, and Asian history. To broaden that interest and perspective, Dr. Sharp has traveled in mainland China (1979, 1984, 1988). He has also toured the Soviet Union, Spain, Ireland, and Austria.
Along with teaching a variety of other courses, including American Diplomatic History, History of the South, Methods of Historical Research, and Historiography, Dr. Sharp also served for several years as Departmental Graduate Advisor.
During the last fifteen years, Sharp has presented papers on China and American Foreign Policy at the Institute for Asian Studies in Hong Kong, the International Association of Asian Studies, the International Society for the Comparative Study of Civilizations in Dublin, the Los Alamos International History Conference, the Southwestern Historical Association, the Japan Studies Association, and many others.
While Dr. Sharp's tenure in the department was one of the longest in the department's history, his retirement may be the shortest in memory. After a summer off, Charles Sharp was again "Professor Sharp," but not at Southeast. On August 26, 2001 Dr. Sharp boarded a plane for China where he taught the History of American Culture at a medical school in Sichuan province. "I probably won't do more than make expenses," Sharp reported, "but this is an opportunity I can't afford to miss. Who knows, If this works out I may do it again." During his four months in China, Sharp saw a side of China few in the west get to see and made, he hopes, a lasting impression on his Chinese students.
Sharp has not been back to China, but he has taken road trips all over the region.