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Hammond Retires After a Quarter Century on Bison Hill

July 20, 2011

Hammond came to OBU from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark., where he served as chairman of the church music department. Following the legendary Dr. James D. Woodward as dean, Hammond oversaw expansion of the College of Fine Arts in several areas and initiated the "Friends of the Arts" program to encourage support among alumni and friends of OBU. During his tenure, the College of Fine Arts has become more diverse and is much more than a music department.

"We have a vibrant art and graphic design division, excellent theatre and telecommunication programs, and many different music programs of study to fit today's profession," Hammond said. "I am pleased that the orchestra has existed now for 10 years with professional string principals. As a town-and-gown ensemble, it is comprised of 50 percent OBU students, and faculty and fine musicians from as far as a 50-mile radius. Music education remains our largest professional program, and the church music options are much more diverse. We will have choral scholarships for the first time starting in the fall."

In addition to his duties as dean, Hammond has taught courses on church music, music history and fine arts. He said he has cherished working with the students and faculty because the real satisfaction in his job comes from facilitating the teaching-learning process. In return, OBU graduates report how they have been successfully prepared for whatever field or endeavor they enter.

"OBU has always provided a balance of professional preparation, critical thinking and writing skills, and Christian growth," Hammond said. "Our students make a difference because they can stand on equal footing with their peers and show Christ through their personal lives."

Serving as dean of a fine arts college is not all work and no play, and Hammond recalled several creative performances through the years.

"There have been some very outlandish M&Ms concerts," he said. "I especially remember a band performance with floor polishers and vacuum cleaners. The Theatre for Young Audiences productions have always been hilarious, especially as I've sat with the school groups."

He also has witnessed landmark performances. He said the production of "A Streetcar Named Desire" advanced OBU Theatre and set the stage for further growth. The oratorios, conducted by world-renowned choral directors, remain highlights of his time as dean.

"Hanging of the Green has become a community-wide event that begins the Advent season for many of us," he said, noting his personal favorite annual event. "As it has evolved over the years, each presentation takes on a different theme. It is worthy of a wider audience; my desire has always been to produce a PBS show that could be aired nationwide."

During his tenure, Hammond has published a variety of articles on such subjects as "Hymns and Hymnody in Revivalism," "The Christian Lyre and Its Influences on American Hymnody" and on shape-note hymnody in America. He has served as managing director for the Oklahoma Alliance for Liturgy and the Arts, program chair for the Da Vinci Institute, an evaluator for the National Association of Schools of Music and chairman of the board of trustees for the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art in Shawnee. He is a member of the Program Review Advisory Board of the Commission on Teacher Preparation for Oklahoma.

His wife, Anne, also is retiring from her role as an associate professor of English and language and chair of the Language and Literature Division in the College of Arts and Sciences. However, they both will teach OBU courses in the fall, and they will stay involved at First Baptist Church in Shawnee where he has served as a deacon, trustee and choir member, among other roles including interim minister of music.

The Cincinnati natives never thought of living west of the Mississippi. After 13 years in Arkansas, Oklahoma struck them as having a more Midwestern feel. Hammond said they have greatly enjoyed the renaissance that has taken place in Oklahoma City in recent years. In the near future, they plan to stay in their adopted home of Oklahoma, although they welcome the opportunity to travel in their newfound freedom called retirement.