UNCG’s School of Music, Theatre and Dance (SMTD) recently honored five of its most accomplished alumni in the school’s second Distinguished Alumni Awards.

On Thursday, Nov. 5, the school welcomed back to campus costume designer Susan E. Mickey ’76, music librarian John Shepard ’71, professor of viola and violin Dr. Michael Hall ’00 and retired music educator Barbara Geer ’88, while recognizing the late Dr. Jan Van Dyke ’89 for her contributions to the dance community and UNCG’s dance department.

“For decades, the performing arts disciplines at UNCG have been recognized as among the best in the nation,” said SMTD Dean Dr. Peter Alexander. “Hundreds and hundreds of our performing arts graduates have gone on to have major success. Being selected to receive a Distinguished Alumni Award is therefore a true mark of distinction.”

Over the course of the two-day homecoming, the four alumni had a chance to sit down and talk about how their experiences at UNCG have shaped their careers.

“My base here at UNCG is one of the best foundations an artist can have,” said Mickey, who now serves as a professor of costume design at the University of Texas. “It was deeply rooted in scholarship and intellectual rigor, but it was truly an artistic experience and a place to grow as an artist.”

For Hall, an assistant professor of viola and violin at VanderCook College of Music in Chicago, the return on investment was almost immediate.

“Two weeks after my graduation … I received a phone call (from VanderCook) asking me to come in for the interview. The day after that, I was hired,” he said, adding that the incredible turnaround was in large part due to the national reputation of SMTD.

While Shephard originally came to UNCG to study to be a composer, he ended up taking a different path after graduation, serving in the music division of the research libraries of the New York Public Library from 1972 to 2004.

“I did not end up being a composer, but I got a phenomenal music education nevertheless,” said Shephard, who is now curator of music collections at the Jean Gray Hargrove Music Library at the University of California, Berkley.

Geer, the former president of the National Association for Music Education, has traveled to 44 states and China over the course of her career, advocating for music education.

“Everywhere I’ve been, people know the reputation of UNC Greensboro’s School of Music, (Theatre and Dance). That makes me feel proud.”

In a world where there is increased focus on the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, are the arts still relevant? The answer was a resounding yes.

“Do you really think that we can have too many artists in the world? … That is folly,” Mickey said. “You cannot produce a cultivated citizen without the arts.”

For more information about SMTD, visit performingarts.uncg.edu.


Story by Alyssa Bedrosian, University Relations