Ouachita Baptist University will honor Mary Shambarger, professor emerita of music, at the fourth annual Stepping Up for Ouachita luncheon on Friday, Nov. 8 at Chenal Valley Country Club in Little Rock. The luncheon will begin at 12 noon, preceded by a reception at 11:30 a.m.
“Stepping Up for Ouachita provides scholarships for women,” said Nicole Herndon, an OBU development officer and coordinator of this year’s event. “As a private Christian institution, Ouachita relies on those who believe in our mission – to provide its students with a first class education from a university that consistently is ranked by U.S. News and Forbes magazines among the top schools in the nation.”
“Raising funds and awareness for females to be educated at Ouachita is very important since more than half of our students are women,” added Terry Peeples, OBU vice president for development.
Shari Edwards will serve as chair for this year’s Stepping Up for Ouachita event. Edwards, who attended Ouachita from 1981 to 1984, was a piano major, a member of the EEE women’s social club and a member of the Ouachi-tones. She graduated from the University of Arkansas in Little Rock in 1985 with majors in public relations and journalism.
Edwards serves as the Advisory Board chair of Ouachita’s Pruet School of Christian Studies, serves on the Women’s Enrichment Ministry Team of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention and teaches children’s choir at Park Hill Baptist Church in North Little Rock. She and her husband, Andy, a 1983 Ouachita graduate, are the parents of three sons: Jake, a 2013 OBU graduate; John, a junior at Ouachita; and Jason, age 14.
“This event is very dear to me,” Edwards said. She noted that her decision to attend Ouachita was based on the scholarship funds she received.
In addition to providing scholarship support, Stepping Up “serves to honor an outstanding Ouachita woman who has shown leadership, integrity, grace and faith over the years,” Edwards said.
This year’s honoree, Mary Shambarger, began serving in Ouachita’s Department of Music in 1966. A native of Morrilton, Ark., she earned a Bachelor of Music degree from Louisiana State University and a Master of Music degree from the University of Arkansas.
Upon her arrival at Ouachita, she formed and directed the Ouachi-Tones, an all-female choral ensemble that performed around the United States and abroad, serving as ambassadors for Ouachita. In 1991, she restructured the group and formed the Ouachita Sounds, an ensemble involving both women and men that remains active today.
“Leading that choral group has become one of my biggest legacies at Ouachita,” Shambarger said. “Even though it’s been many years, we still have a big, close bond today.” To pay tribute to that legacy, the Ouachita Sounds will perform at the luncheon.
Throughout her more than 30 years of service at Ouachita, Shambarger held a variety of positions. She served as chair of the Applied Music Department and coordinator of voice. She also served as the Arkansas governor of the National Association of Teachers of Singing and was Ouachita’s representative for the Arkansas Women of Higher Education.
“For over 30 years, she devoted herself, her time and her incredible talent investing in the lives of countless students,” Edwards said.
Shambarger retired in 1998 as the Lena Goodwin Trimble Professor of Music. That same year, the Mary Shambarger Competition for Singers was established and continues to be held on Ouachita’s campus each February.
“Ouachita meant so much to me,” she reflected. “It was a job I loved; I loved going to work.”
Shambarger currently lives in Bentonville, Ark., near her daughter, Susan, and son-in-law, Dr. Steve Goss (both OBU graduates). She has two grandsons, Chad and Jake. She is an active member of First Baptist Church of Bentonville.
Tickets for the 2013 Stepping Up for Ouachita luncheon are $125 each with a limited number of tickets still available. For more information about attending or serving as a sponsor of this year’s event, contact email@example.com or (870) 245-5169.
By Taylor Tomlinson