Stephen F. Austin State University

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College of Fine Arts awards first community-established endowed professorship

April 19, 2016 - Robbie Goodrich
Dr. Charles Gavin
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - The Stephen F. Austin State University College of Fine Arts' Dean's Circle will bestow the first-ever community-established endowed professorship at SFA when the annual Dean's Awards are presented at 5:30 p.m. Friday, April 29, at The Cole Art Center @ The Old Opera House in downtown Nacogdoches.

Dr. Charles R. Gavin, professor of horn and chamber music in the SFA School of Music, is the recipient of the inaugural Dean's Circle Endowed Professorship award, which was created to recognize and honor those who "embody the qualities of the ideal professor that characterize all College of Fine Arts faculty members," according to Dr. A.C. "Buddy" Himes, dean of the College of Fine Arts.

"The award symbolizes the esteem in which all fine arts faculty are held as a result of the high level of artistry they bring to SFA, the impact their students have on the community as a result of their dedicated teaching, and the commitment they have to furthering their disciplines nationally," Himes said. "When this award is presented to an individual, it is done so in recognition and on behalf of all fine arts faculty members."

Gavin said he felt "truly humbled" to be the first recipient of the endowed professorship.

"All I have to do is walk the halls of the Wright Music Building and see so many colleagues deserving of the award," Gavin said, "and the same holds true for the faculties of the School of Art and School of Theatre. SFA is fortunate to have such a talented and dedicated faculty in the College of Fine Arts.

"Good students make teachers look good," he continued, "and I have been so fortunate to have been blessed with terrific students over my entire career. It did not take me long to realize that the best school music education programs are in the state of Texas, so why should I leave this state with such amazing band and orchestra programs.

"The success so many of my students have had and continue to enjoy is the greatest accomplishment of my career," he said.

Establishing and funding the professorship was "the realization of vision," Himes said. The Dean's Circle, which is an external support organization of community members founded in 2008, began raising funds for the endowment principal that same year. With support from the SFA Office of University Advancement, the endowment was finally completed in 2014.

"This endowed professorship is absolutely unprecedented in the College of Fine Arts as its first-ever endowed professorship," Himes said. "But what really makes it unique is that, while other colleges at SFA already have endowed professorships, this award is the first ever for any college that I know of resulting from the work of an external support advisory board of dedicated community volunteers."

Broad-based criteria made the award open to faculty of all ranks and of all fine arts disciplines, Himes said. Special emphasis was placed on candidates who demonstrated effectiveness at making their wealth of knowledge accessible to students of all levels; effectiveness in recruiting and retaining quality students; application of the concepts of cooperation, mutual support, teamwork and collaboration; and commitment to the mission of the institution.

The recipient was selected by an objective and distinguished panel consisting of two senior faculty members from each discipline - art, music and theatre - and two Dean's Circle representatives from the community.

Over the three-year term of the award, the recipient will receive a total of $15,000 above his/her base salary. The award is intended to provide the resources for all manner of professional endeavors in which the recipient may choose to become involved, Himes said.

Gavin said the award allows him to travel to important professional events in his field, such as the annual Symposium of the International Horn Society. It will also fund the purchase of new instruments, such as an alphorn and a natural horn.

The next goal for the Dean's Circle is to have at least one endowed professorship for each of the college's disciplines in art, music and theatre. This first professorship was made generic to all disciplines until the other professorships are completed, Himes said.

"This is a source of pride and accomplishment for the Dean's Circle," Himes said. "This organization draws people from the community closer to the life of the university, and it enhances the symbiotic relationship between the institution and the community.

"This award can have the effect of enhancing the entire faculty inasmuch as the recipient is a role model for all faculty," he added. "This award can become a source of inspiration and motivation to which all faculty may aspire."