Ouachita Baptist University will host a reception honoring two members of the music faculty, George Keck and Mary Worthen, from 3:30-4:30 p.m. May 4 in Ouachita’s Walker Conference Center.
“Dr. Keck’s impact, not only on the Division of Music but the university, has garnered him the respect of his colleagues and his students,” said Dr. Scott Holsclaw, dean of OBU’s School of Fine Arts. “He has supported and actively promoted the liberal arts tradition at Ouachita through his involvement in numerous interdisciplinary programs during his tenure.”
Since starting at Ouachita in 1969, Keck has served as professor of music, chair of applied music, chair of music history and literature, chair of the division of music and coordinator for the Ouachita/Peking Faculty Seminar at Peking University in China. He has served on every faculty committee at the university and was recently named professor emeritus of music.
Keck earned Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees in piano performance from the University of Arkansas, and earned his Ph.D. in musicology from the University of Iowa.
“Personally, he has been a mentor and friend through the years,” Holsclaw added, “and I am blessed to have worked alongside him as his colleague.”
“Dr. Keck pushes his students,” said Xavier Lagunas, a junior musical theatre major from Arlington, Texas. “He challenges us to recognize music by listening, and as a musician you should know this stuff.”
Lagunas also said Keck is “not only a professor; he is a mentor. … I could just go in and talk to him and he would listen.”
Worthen also has built a reputation as a strong mentor to her students during her years at Ouachita. After teaching at Ouachita as a graduate assistant and part-time instructor in the early 1980s, she taught full-time for several years before moving away from Arkadelphia in 1992. She rejoined the faculty in 2002 and was promoted to assistant professor of music in 2005.
“Mrs. Worthen’s unselfish commitment to Ouachita, but more importantly to her students, is her greatest legacy at this institution,” Holsclaw noted. “She has given countless hours to produce outstanding concerts and to encourage and develop her ‘kiddos,’ as she calls them. Mary Worthen truly embodies the Ouachita mission, and her students love her and work hard to make her proud.”
Worthen, who holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Oklahoma Baptist University and a Master of Music Education degree from Ouachita, has served in various roles in the Division of Music over the years including accompanist, assistant professor and mentor to many students throughout the department.
Alexis Pace, a sophomore musical theatre major from Sugar Land, Texas, has been a member of Women’s Chorus, which Worthen directs. “In Women’s Chorus … she’s good about getting us prepared,” Pace said. “She is just so full of cheer, and her smile spreads sunshine.”
“I have been fortunate to work alongside her,” Holsclaw added. “She is one of the most encouraging people I know, and her gift for bringing light into any room she enters shows her great love of people. She has been an incredible asset to the university.”
The Wednesday afternoon reception is open to the general public as well as Ouachita students, faculty and staff. For more information, contact Phil Hardin, assistant to the president, at (870) 245-5405.
By Breanne Goodrum