A Seventh-day Adventist Organization

Georgia Hodgkin, nutritional superhero

Georgia Hodgkin, EdD, associate chair of the department of nutrition and dietetics at Loma Linda University School of Allied Health Professions.

To say that Georgia Hodgkin, EdD, inhabits a very busy world is a bit like noting that windmills tend to go 'round and 'round.

“During the school year, I come in at 7:00 a.m.,” she reports, “and tend to leave around 7:00 p.m.”

Hodgkin has been something of an institution at Loma Linda University School of Allied Health Professions since she first checked in to the organization back in 1978. Her current official title of associate chair of the department of nutrition and dietetics barely hints at the size and scope of her responsibilities or her influence on the world of nutrition.

Perhaps the most prolific author in the school’s history, Hodgkin has written upwards of a dozen chapters in popular books on vegetarian nutrition—including the second and third editions of Pediatric Nutrition in Chronic Diseases and Developmental Disorders, published by Oxford Press, and the eighth and ninth editions of Fundamentals of Respiratory Care, by Mosby Publishers. She has also edited many other publications including volumes II and III of the popular Apple a Day vegetarian cookbook, which have sold more than 40,000 copies. In addition, she has participated in dozens of research studies related to nutrition and health.

One of the highlights of her career occurred a few years ago when she got a call from a prominent pediatrician at Massachusetts General Hospital asking permission to quote from the diet manual she edited for the SDA Dietetics Association. “Certainly you can quote our book,” she told him. She has subsequently been recognized as a world authority on vegetarian nutrition since the fifth edition of the Pediatric Nutrition Handbook was published by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2003.

Back in March 1997, Hodgkin organized Loma Linda University’s presentation on “the Adventist advantage” at the Third Annual International Conference on Vegetarian Nutrition, which was held here on campus.

“The California Food Guide had never acknowledged protein from anything but meat,” she recalls. “They asked Loma Linda University to contribute a chapter on vegetarian nutrition. I wrote it. They were also looking for groups of people to do demonstrations on vegetarian nutrition.” Apparently, they asked the right person.

The hyperkinetic Hodgkin shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Currently in her 39th year at the school, she teaches a number of popular classes, assists students with career decisions, and advocates tirelessly for nutritional accountability. Last year, when popular nutritionist Joel Fuhrman, MD, lectured on nutrition at Loma Linda University Church, Hodgkin and her students attended the event and dissected his every statement in class the following day. She later contributed a rebuttal of many of Fuhrman’s claims in an article published on the campus news website. Here is a link to the story: http://news.llu.edu/wholeness/capacity-crowd-turns-out-hear-joel-fuhrman-md-talk-about-nutrition

But despite how impossible it may seem for anyone who maintains such a time-consuming and vigorous career, Hodgkin also enjoys an active personal life.

“I have 10 grandchildren within eight miles of my house,” she reveals. “Therein lies my social schedule—basketball games, piano recitals, oboe recitals, volleyball games; all the things wherein grandkids can entertain grandma.”

As she contemplates the future, Hodgkin sees retirement coming up “one of these days.” No definite plans now, but the overachiever with the laconic wit will probably find plenty of things to occupy her time. It would hardly be appropriate for someone with her native North Dakotan work ethic to just sit around doing nothing.

“I ought to do gardening,” she says. “My poor plants are gasping for water. They’ve not only turned brown, they’ve turned black! I live in a house across the street from a vigorous gardener. There are really gorgeous plants in his yard, but it doesn’t seem to have rubbed off on me.”

The other thing Hodgkin has been thinking about lately as she contemplates the future is how she can leave a legacy at the school she loves with all her heart.

“My vision since 1978 has been to have a wood base with a crystal Swarovski apple sitting on my desk,” she jokes. “But actually, the university is in my will. I signed a paper for Natalie Kopp, who unfortunately is no longer here. It was a bequest.”

Kopp, who was an officer in the Loma Linda University Health philanthropy department, was one of Hodgkin’s closest friends. Last year, she and her husband moved across the country where she accepted a position as assistant director of development at Harvard University.

“When the Hodgkin dies,” she reveals, “the university will get a gift. Such a scrawny little amount that it’s not worth mentioning. It should be much more.

“But our students pay so much in tuition that I thought this might be a slight help,” she continues. “Plus, I actually thought our students might like to have a scholarship available for those with financial exigencies. Our department is well-equipped. We have a new kitchen, computers, and textbooks. It seems unfair to students to leave here with $75,000 to $80,000 in debt and to earn what dietitians earn. If we can prevent some of that indebtedness, it would be a good thing.”

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Individuals interested in exploring ways to support the programs of Loma Linda University Health are invited to contact the Office of Planned Giving online at http://www.llulegacy.org or by phone at (909) 558-4553.