When a man like Hardin-Simmons University’s Lawson Hager retires, it’s easy to count the mileage.
Hager has spent 38 years on staff at the university’s School of Music and Fine Arts, eight of those as director of the school’s flagship Cowboy Band and another nine as dean of the department.
But it’s a bit harder to measure the impact on students, faculty and the school as a whole.
At one of his recent retirement send-offs, Hager got a peek into just how much he’s meant to the Hardin-Simmons music program. As a goodbye present, he received a scrapbook filled with notes from students past and present, friends and colleagues. There was more goodwill stuffed into that scrapbook than Hager could ever have imagined.
“You don’t think that you make that much of an impact on some people,” said Hager, 66.
Between his stint as the Cowboy Band director and his rise to the dean’s seat in 2002, Hager taught a variety of music courses at the university. He said he has worked with students in every instrumental field except for voice and piano, including one time helping a percussion student to prepare for his recital.
“He probably taught me more than I taught him,” Hager said with a laugh.
But it’s a telling fact for a man whom colleagues say always put students first.
“He’s Mr. Hardin-Simmons,” 14-year colleague Charles Coltman said, flat-out.
“A lot of people know Hardin-Simmons through him,” said piano professor Mark Puckett, who has spent 25 years at the university with Hager. “When they think Hardin-Simmons, they think of Lawson.”
Puckett remembers the first recital he directed at the university. It was his big chance to show the community what he was capable of doing, and he had some nerves coming into it.
But before he even arrived at the recital hall, Hager was there, helping to set up the lights and make sure that everything was in order for Puckett’s debut.
“He steps in and he gets things done,” Puckett said.
Having also attended the school as an undergraduate, Hager has spent close to two-thirds of his life as a member of the Hardin-Simmons family. Moving on won’t be easy.
“I’m happy but a bit apprehensive,” Hager said. “What do you do in the future? I’ve been here more than half my lifetime.”
His successor will be Robert Brooks, a former Hardin-Simmons faculty member who last worked at Dallas Baptist University.
As for Hager, he and his wife, Jane, plan to continue attending Hardin-Simmons recitals and supporting the school as best they can. Otherwise, the notoriously early riser will have to find a way to fill his time as a newly minted retiree.
“I don’t want to get bored,” Hager said.
Tags: 38 Years, Years
Posted in On-line Music | No Comments »