After more than 22 years of teaching at The University of Texas at Arlington, Associate Professor Dr. Rick Bogard begins the fall semester as chair of the Department of Music. The Cabot, Ark., native attended the University of Central Arkansas and moved to Texas in 1977 to work on his master’s at Baylor University. After a short stint as a high school band director, Bogard returned to high education, teaching and working on his doctoral studies at the University of North Texas.
COLA Communications Coordinator James Dunning sat down with Bogard to talk about his career, the growth of the music department at UT Arlington and where he hopes to lead a growing number of students and world-class faculty.
Q: You initially pursued music education and band directing before switching gears to become a college trumpet instructor. What changed?
A: When I got to college [Baylor] and took a look at what it was like to be a college trumpet teacher… that struck my interest more than band directing. Ensemble teaching and conducting is a very different animal. And it involves a variety of instruments and getting students to master them. Applied teaching, or the teaching of any one instrument, is where you have to be a professional yourself. You have to practice a lot yourself and develop your own skills, and then try to help your students to the same. It’s a totally different focus.
Q: You taught junior college classes and served as a teaching fellow at UNT before coming to UT Arlington. How much has changed since you became a Maverick?
A: When I came here in 1990, there were a lot of faculty members who had been here a long time. Now, I am amongst the four or five faculty members who have been here the longest. Of course, the university has grown considerably since then, as has the Department of Music. We’ve grown in size and quality; we’ve enlarged our faculty and the quality of our faculty. The number of majors, the quality of our music students, the ensembles, the programs have all grown. We’ve added two different master’s degrees and a handful of bachelor’s programs. So there’s been a lot of growth and expansion.
Q: What does a music department mean to a university?
A: Music is a very visible part of any university because our students are performing regularly on campus and off campus. So is our faculty. I think the visibility of a music program is second only to sports. There are preconceptions people have about our university. We’re still viewed by many people as “that little school over in Arlington.” And I think a lot of people in the area don’t realize we’re as large as we are, both in terms of the university and the music department. People are surprised sometimes to find we’re as big as we are and we have as many activities and opportunities as we have.
Q: How does the music department at UT Arlington compare to other schools in the region?
A: We’re very competitive. We have lots of great programs, ensembles, faculty, students… We are in a very active area for high school musicians. There are great high school band, jazz and choir programs in this area. We’re in a great location to recruit and develop our program further just based on that. We have lots of competitors in the area: TCU, SMU, and of course, the largest school of music in the country, North Texas. So we have our work cut out for us, just getting our message out and recruiting.
Q: Faculty has worked hard over the past few decades to make the necessary changes to make UT Arlington a top-flight music school. How has the program improved?
A: We’ve seen good growth in the quality of our ensembles. Our ensemble conductors are second to none. I think our applied faculty, the people who teach privately, are excellent. The combination of those two… we can offer students as good an education as can be found in the state of Texas.
Q: So, as chair, where do you go from here?
A: I have lots of ideas. Ideas on development and expansion and growth and visibility. I would like to see us expand into the arts district in Dallas. We’ve got a brand new opera hall in Dallas, the Meyerson [Symphony Center], and there’s a new performance hall coming that’s city-owned. I would like to expand and do performances there to expand the visibility of the music department. We want people to know that we’re here.
With a lot of schools, sports bring visibility. With the building of the College Park Center, our visibility will increase in the area. I want music to accompany that. We do 200 performances yearly in Irons Recital Hall. Everything from student performances to faculty performances to orchestra, jazz, band, choral… all kinds of things. So, we’re really busy.
Q. As you consider the next few years, what is the biggest need your department is facing?
A: The biggest need we have is for a larger concert hall. If you were to take a poll of our faculty and students about the things we most need, a concert hall would be at the top of that list. Irons is a great recital hall. I’ve had the opportunity to play in lots of halls around the country and around the world, and I love playing in Irons. As a solo musician doing a trumpet recital, I love Irons. It’s a great acoustic space. If you put a larger group in there, it’s simply not big enough to hold the sound and the dynamics. Our jazz groups can’t perform in there, it’s simply too small. It’s a very live hall. It’s a great solo and chamber hall, but we need something bigger. With the CPC being built across campus and athletics moving out of Texas Hall, we’re anticipating what the next moves will be to get more use of Texas Hall. But we would love to have our own concert hall.