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FROM THE COLLEGES: UMobile honors Roger Breland; MC math prof honored; Carey music therapy students aid camp

Today’s From the Colleges includes news from:
University of Mobile
Mississippi College
William Carey University

UMobile music school named for Roger Breland

MOBILE, Ala. — The University of Mobile has named its school of music the Roger Breland School of Music in honor of one of contemporary Christian music’s early leaders and a member of the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.

The tribute reflects the impact Breland has had on the growth of the university’s school of music, which he joined in 2002 as artist-in-residence, becoming executive dean in 2003 and later vice president.

Under Breland’s influence, the music program embraced both classical and contemporary Christian training, added academic majors, created 22 ensembles to provide students with practical performance experience, presented concerts worldwide, and established the Christmas Spectacular concert attended by more than 8,000 annually and broadcast internationally.

The music school grew from 45 music majors, with 60 participants in choir and four vocal or instrumental ensembles to 227 students who now major or minor in music and perform in at least one of the 22 ensembles.

Under Breland’s leadership, the university also founded its 8Eighty Records recording label, built a professional recording studio on campus and created the School of Worship Leadership.

“Dr. Breland’s emphasis on excellence is at the heart of the music program he envisioned and was instrumental in building at the University of Mobile,” said UMobile President Dr. Mark Foley, who tapped Breland to lead the program.

The Baptist-affiliated university’s board of trustees approved the naming of the school of music for Breland, who was surprised with a presentation March 2 during choir practice in the Bergdolt Choral Hall, and students gave Breland two standing ovations.

“For more than four decades, Roger Breland has been a mentor to young Christian musicians,” Foley said, citing Breland’s 31-year career as founder and director of TRUTH, one of the first internationally successful contemporary Christian recording and performing groups.

Breland was instrumental in launching the careers of Christian musicians and former members of TRUTH such as Steve Green, 4Him, Avalon and Russ Lee. TRUTH traveled 3 million miles, performed 10,000 concerts in 26 countries, made 60 albums and involved 400 musical artists. The Gospel Music Association inducted Breland and TRUTH into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2000.

Most recently, Breland is credited with launching the music careers of Veritas, a male vocal group that started as the University of Mobile ensemble Shofar. The UMobile graduates currently are on tour with five-time Grammy Award winner Sandi Patty.

Prior to starting TRUTH with his wife Linda in 1971, Breland served as minister of music and youth at Spring Hill Baptist Church in Mobile.

Michael Catt, pastor of Sherwood Baptist in Albany, Ga., noted on his Facebook page that it was a “brilliant decision by President Mark Foley to recognize one of the greatest leaders in music in America.”

UM student Ashton Elizabeth Lewis wrote on her Facebook page, “There are thousands of people in this world that can say that they were touched by Dr. Roger Breland! I’m one of them…. Sir, thank you for your amazing life, for using it to reach young people to make a difference in this world, and for devoting it all to the God that you serve! I will never forget these words for the rest of my life… ‘Little means much when you place it in the Master’s hands!’ You never said you had it all, but you gave what you had to Christ and He did a work beyond all imagination!”

Another student, C.J. Mcleod, posted: “I am so happy to say that I am a part of what is now called Roger Breland School of Music! Roger Breland, you inspire me indirectly every day! I still remember what you said the first time I sang for you. You said, ‘Well, it wasn’t the best, but it was good.’ Others may take that as a negative thing, but I saw it as a reason to attend UM and learn to be excellent! You saw potential in me and I thank God for you, sir!”

Mathematics association honors MC prof Tommy Leavelle

CLINTON, Miss. — Mississippi College mathematics professor Tommy Leavelle has been honored by the Mathematical Association of America’s Louisiana-Mississippi section with its 2016 Distinguished Teaching Award.

Members of the Baptist-affiliated college family say the honor is well-deserved; whether he’s teaching algebra, trigonometry, calculus or elementary statistics, Leavelle remains passionate about his subject.

Receiving the award at the MAA meetings on the LSU-Shreveport campus in late February came as a surprise for Leavelle.

“I see it as a recognition of years of interactions with students and that helped me develop into the teacher I am today,” said Leavelle, who holds a doctorate from the University of North Texas and is highly regarded by his academic colleagues in the region.

“Tommy Leavelle is one of MC’s legendary faculty members whose keen intellect, cheerful disposition and pedagogical skills have enlightened, entertained and engaged MC math students for more than two decades,” said Ron Howard, vice president for academic affairs. “This recognition by his peers is richly deserved.”

William Carey music therapy students work Rocky Creek campers

HATTIESBURG, Miss. — William Carey University music therapy students assisted with Camp Rocky Creek, a one-day camp for clients of Pine Belt Mental Healthcare Resources in Marion County, Miss.

Under the direction of assistant professor of music therapy Jim Pierce, Carey students were paired with PBMHR clients to participate in various activity groups, including arts and crafts, music and movement, music self-expression and music games.

Pierce said the Feb. 6 activities harnessed the intrinsic nature of music to engage clients and provide cognitive, social and psychological stimulation.

“These goal-oriented sessions targeted physical exercise, memory recall and opportunities for social skills and self-expression,” Pierce said. “Everyone also eats together, which allows the students to understand people beyond the client’s diagnosis.”

At the conclusion of the camp, participants received a client-produced T-shirt printed by Pine Belt Graphics in Hattiesburg, which employs several of the clients.

“This camp is filled with much excitement for everyone involved,” Pierce said. “Students walk away with a better understanding of how to work and relate to individuals with intellectual disabilities … and clients have fun while learning important social skills.”

The camp, now in its 24th year, was originally hosted on the property of Ellisville State School until the campsite was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Camp activities were organized for years by Paul Cotten, a music professor at Carey who retired in 2014. Garland King, a clinician with Pine Belt Mental Healthcare Resources, has worked with the camp since 1993.

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