As the Lenoir-Rhyne campus community says goodbye to another school year, it also says goodbye to cherished friends and co-workers who are saying farewell to extraordinary careers.
After 29 years in the music department at LR, longtime dean and music professor Dan Kiser, DMA is retiring.
"Dr. Kiser has been a tireless advocate for the LR bands and has been the driving force for shaping the music program into the vibrant program it is today," said LR music program coordinator Christopher Nigrelli, DMA. "He had a keen vision for what our music program could become, and his work has been critical in where our growth has occurred.
"His mantra of, 'Whatever we are going to program, it is going to be excellent' has set the high standard that also made the marching band's return such a success."
A native of the Midwest, Kiser earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Southern Illinois University before earning his Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Illinois at Urbana in 1987.
He spent seven years as a member of the music faculty at North Dakota State prior to joining LR in 1992. Since that time, the music program at the university has grown by leaps and bounds.
"I'm most pleased in both the quality of performance and number of participants the band program has had in those 29 years," he said. "When I arrived, our first wind ensemble concert had 31 players, more than half of whom were paid community members. While last year was challenging because of COVID, we had 51 LR students in the wind ensemble performing fall and spring concerts."
A driving force behind the return of the Spirit of LR Marching Band after a 25-year absence, Kiser also taught a variety of disciplines such as brass methods, instrumental conducting, music education and theory. Prior to his 12 years as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, he conducted the pep band, brass ensemble and pit orchestra.
He leaves as the longest-serving director of bands in LR history.
Joining Kiser in retirement is longtime administrative assistant Beverly Hefner who has served in various roles since joining LR in February of 1977.
"I had no earthly idea I would be here this long," Hefner said. "But I finished my degree while I've been here, and I've enjoyed it here."
Initially a part-time assistant for the chaplain, Hefner moved into a full-time role working for the assistant to the president. She's also worked with the graduate department, religion program and the College of Arts and Science before finishing her career with the music department working with Kiser.
"When I first came over to this department, there were computer programs I had no knowledge of and if it weren't for him, I never would have made it," she said. "He helped me learn some of these things. He was truly understanding, and I appreciate it."
A lifelong Newton resident, Hefner said she looks forward to spending more time working on her flower gardens and traveling.
Lenoir-Rhyne Faculty and Staff Retiring
- Jeffrey Wright, Ph.D. earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Rhode Island, and he earned his Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut in Storrs before joining LR in 1989. He served as an O. Leonard and Helen S. Moretz Professor of Economics. He was known as one of the Bears' biggest fans, regularly attending more than 100 LR athletic events each academic year.
- Gabriele Weinberger, Ph.D. earned master's degrees in English and French from Regensburg University in Regensburg, Germany, in addition to a master's and Ph.D. in German from Ohio State University. Weinberger joined LR in 1989 and has taught German, French and English in that time. A published author, she has regularly presented at national and international conferences. She taught at Cornell University prior to joining LR.
- Molly Duggan received her bachelor's degree from Virginia Tech, two master's degrees and her doctorate from Old Dominion prior to joining LR in 2012. Duggan coordinated LR's leadership programs. She also created the first fully online program for the university.
- Janet Matthews retired from LR after more than 22 years of service leading conferences and events. Matthews was a three-time finalist for the Jeff Norris Award, which is presented annually to the non-teaching Employee of the Year.
- Debra Templeton earned her doctorate in education from the University of Georgia in 2004, and she is retiring after serving as the director of institutional research and assessment since 2014. Templeton spent 24 years on active and reserve duty as a military police officer in the United States Army, retiring with the rank of Colonel.
- Teresa Norris, Ph.D. came to LR in 2004 as a professor in the occupational therapy department. In her time with the university, Norris taught classes, coordinated field work and served on various committees. *
- Charlotte Williams joined LR in the 90s after working in the mayor's office in Chicago. She served as a coordinator for the Bachelor of Arts in human and community services program, as well as associate dean for engaged and global learning. Williams was elected to the Hickory City School Board for multiple terms and served on various community boards and organizations. *
*Denotes retirees from the 2019-20 academic year.