Alumni Board awards announced

Alumni Board winners (clockwise from upper left):  Lawrence McFarland, Dr. Lance Nielsen, Patricia Raun, Desiree Bartels, MarySue Harris and the Rev. Stephen Griffith.
Alumni Board winners (clockwise from upper left): Lawrence McFarland, Dr. Lance Nielsen, Patricia Raun, Desiree Bartels, MarySue Harris and the Rev. Stephen Griffith.

The Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts Alumni Board has selected the recipients of this year’s Alumni Board Awards. The awards will be presented at the College’s Honors Day Dinner on Saturday, April 22. The dinner is by invitation only.

The Alumni Achievement Awards honor alumni from each academic area of the college who have demonstrated outstanding achievement and overall professional excellence.

The Alumni Achievement Award in Art, Art History & Design will be presented to Lawrence McFarland (M.F.A. 1976). McFarland is professor emeritus from the University of Texas at Austin, where he taught from 1985 until 2013. He was awarded the first William and Bettye Nowlin Endowed Professorship in Photography in 2003. McFarland received his B.F.A. in photography from the Kansas City Art Institute in 1973 and his M.F.A. in photography from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in 1976, where he was awarded the Woods Fellowship. Since then, he has received three National Endowment for the Arts Visual Artists Fellowship Grants over three decades. He also was honored with a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in 2010-2011. McFarland concentrates on landscape photography and has exhibited nationally and internationally.

The Alumni Achievement Award in Music will be presented to Dr. Lance Nielsen (B.S.E. 1991, M.M. 1998, Ph.D. 2011). Nielsen is the Supervisor of Music for Lincoln Public Schools where he supervises all music programs K-12. Prior to becoming an administrator, Dr. Nielsen taught for 23 years in both public schools and higher education. His teaching appointments included Associate Professor of Music at Doane University and instrumental music teacher at Lincoln East High School, Norris Public Schools and Kimball Public Schools in Nebraska. He continues to serve as an adjunct professor for Doane University teaching online music courses. He is currently North Central Division Immediate Past-President and Chair of NAfME Professional Development Committee and has served as President of the Nebraska Music Educators Association, NAfME National Tri-M Chair and NMEA Chair of Band Affairs. He serves on various boards including the Lincoln Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Hixson-Lied Performing Arts College Alumni Board.

The Alumni Achievement Award in Theatre and Film will be presented to Patricia Raun (B.F.A. 1982). Raun is professor of performance and voice at Virginia Tech University, where she has taught since 1986. She served as director of the School of Performing Arts from 2004-2016. Her primary goal is to promote positive transformation by developing healthy and varied voices—both literal and figurative—in individuals, institutions and communities. Currently her research focuses on the use of the tools of the theatre to develop communication skills in science and technology professionals—helping them discover ways to be more direct, personal, spontaneous and responsive. She has recently founded and chartered the Center for Communicating Science at Virginia Tech. Through the Center for Communicating Science, Raun will use her energy as a theatre professor to re-focus on finding ways that performance tools can help scientists, scholars, health professionals and others develop their abilities to communicate and connect.

Two Awards of Merit will be presented. The Award of Merit honors those who have made contributions to the College, but who are not necessarily alumni of the college, and who have demonstrated continued interest in the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts.

The first Award of Merit will be presented to the Rev. Stephen Griffith. Griffith has supported the arts in Lincoln and specifically the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film for more than a decade. For the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film, he is currently a volunteer member of the University Theatre Critics Panel and the non-university member of the Grants, Awards and Scholarships Committee. To further support the students, Griffith has established the Stephen C. Griffith Johnny Carson School Support Fund, through the University of Nebraska Foundation, to assist students as they pursue travel to conferences, internships and competitions. A lifelong Nebraskan and a long-time advocate on social justice issues, Rev. Griffith has been a pastor of United Methodist congregations in Nebraska since 1978, most recently for 13 years as Minister to the Community at Saint Paul United Methodist Church in Lincoln.

The second Award of Merit will be presented to MarySue Harris. A long-time Glenn Korff School of Music philanthropist, Harris has established the MarySue Harris School of Music Fund and the MarySue Harris Piano Scholarship Fund. She has also regularly contributed to the Lied Center Piano Series Performance Fund. All three of these funds have had a profound effect on the lives of many students and faculty in the Glenn Korff School of Music. In addition to providing our best pianists with scholarships, Harris’s generosity has also had a profound impact on our piano inventory. Hixson-Lied Professor of Piano Mark Clinton and Marguerite Scribante Professor of Piano Paul Barnes have both had their Steinway B’s from their teaching studios rebuilt. The MarySue Harris Music Fund was also used to purchase two new Yamaha grand pianos.

The Student Leadership Award is presented to students who have proven to be true leaders through their scholarship, talents, service and dedication. This year’s award will be presented to Desiree Bartels, a senior performance and directing and management major in the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film.

Additional faculty, staff and student achievement will be celebrated at the Honors Day celebration. A full listing of award winners will be available on our website in April at