Making a listing of memories and impressions is quite a broad-reaching task. I will limit things by selecting brief impressions in three areas: people, events and the campus.
Coming to the HBU campus for an interview in the summer of 1981 was one of the most important and memorable events in my life. (Many thanks to Dr. Ann Gebuhr!) I met many people on that day whose personalities made quite a first impression:
Dr. Robert Linder–strong sense of energy, expertise and candor.
Dr. Ed Tapscott–great warmth, clear Christian faith.
Dr. Robert Reid–wonderful openness and immediate friendship.
President William Hinton–During my interview, I felt an unusual awareness of a strong personality, a simultaneous gentle “gruffness” along with great kindness. He was not intimidating, but it was clear who was in charge. Afterward, I was left feeling honored that HBU would place faith in my abilities and personhood by hiring me.
In the following early years, I would meet many people who earned my respect and admiration. Among them: Dr. E.D. Hodo, Dr. Don Looser, Dr. Jim Taylor, Dr. John Alexander, Eloise Zapalac (who was succeeded by Anthony Martin in the bookstore) Dr. Jim Massey, Dr. Ruth DeHart, and many other wonderful people. Clearly, it has been a long line of excellent colleagues and students (past and present) who make HBU an institution of excellence. It has been a wonderful thing to serve as music professor for 35 years with such outstanding colleagues in my area, past and present.
Perhaps my most memorable events would be hurricanes. As a transplanted northerner, I had no experience with these storms. Hurricane Alicia in 1983 was a rude awakening. Allison (TS), Rita, and Katrina all caused major problems to the Gulf coast. Ike, however, caused extensive damage to campus and necessitated the moving of the entire School of Music into both Atwood I and every nook and cranny of the Morris Cultural Arts Center. My office was a converted dressing room, and it stayed that way for several years until we were able to move back into the Brown building.
One significant area to me concerns the transformation of the HBU campus. It has been a treat to watch as, one after another, new buildings and facilities are added to our beautiful campus. I watched as Atwood II was constructed. I recall playing intramural flag football on the field surrounded by a running track which no longer exists. I remember Dr. Hodo promising to build the MCAC before he would retire, a promise which he kept. I recall President Sloan addressing the faculty shortly after his arrival about what needed to happen: “We need a new art building!” Shortly after that, the UAC was built.
The most important thing to mention here, however, is the students. My professional life at HBU is most fulfilling and meaningful when I meet graduates and former students who are now out working in the professional world, making a living with the skills and knowledge they gained here. I remember meeting a young student named Saleim Kahleh at intramural bowling and remain friends to this day. I remember a student named Dorothy Smith who worked so hard to get her degree; I almost burst with pride when she walked at commencement. Recently, I had a most enjoyable experience in my ongoing capacity as music director at Mission Bend UMC. We did a choral concert with a brass/percussion ensemble. I was able to assemble an all-HBU group of musicians, including graduates and students ranging from the 1980s to the present. It was quite a thrill. I have been blessed in my life to be able to do what I set as a goal for myself at the age of 15: to teach music in college. It is truly the students that make it all worthwhile.