Dallas – Fort Worth is one of the largest metro areas in the country and as a result, it has an excellent blend of worthwhile higher education options as well as a vibrant and diverse art landscape. It is a great city for aspiring artists trying to find careers in art and a big reason for that is because the education institutions serve as feeders for the professional world. What Dallas and Fort Worth may lack in four-year colleges, it makes up for with a well-known and reputable set of community colleges that continue to be successful and popular at educating all students, not just artists. On that note, we continue our city-to-city adventure of highlighting 15 noteworthy professors in the area. Fifteen professors is definitely not enough to highlight, but in the interest of keeping the article short(ish), we capped the list at 15.
Jim Stover, Fine Arts Professor, Richland College
Up to this point, we have never included community college professors on the list, but we recognize that is an oversight and we are correcting with perhaps the most beloved professor in the history of Richland Community College. Stover started his teaching career at nearby El Centro Community College and after six years there, Stover moved to Richland in 1972 and he has been teaching art there ever since. Stover is a fine artist himself whose work has been exhibited at the Smithsonian Institution and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from Baylor University as well as a Master’s degree in Fine Arts from Columbia University. It’s even more incredible that, in 42 years at Richland, it is nearly impossible to find a student who didn’t love taking his classes. They appreciate that he cares about their success and that he tries to make the class as interactive as possible. They also appreciate his willingness to listen to their questions and his friendly and approachable nature.
Teaching was something I backed into. When I was in College, teaching was the last thing I was looking for. I have come to realize that self expression is / helps self clarification. When I explain something I know to someone who does not know, It becomes clearer to me what I think I know. – Jim Stover
Mary Morgan, Painting Professor, Dallas Baptist University
An accomplished artist in her own right whose work has been exhibited around the globe, Morgan also excels in the classroom where students appreciate her combination of professionalism and passion for the subject. A Texas-educated woman through and through, Morgan has a Bachelor’s degree from Baylor University and a Master’s Degree from the Texas Women’s college. She has also spent most of her career in education in the Dallas-area as well, previously serving as the Art Department chair at Prestonwood Christian Academy and Trinity Christian Academy. It’s easy to understand how she has become such a successful and respected teacher when you consider her diverse range of experience teaching art in a variety of settings. Students say she knows how to push them to become better and really tries hard to help even the uninterested become better painters.
Paul Phillips, Music Professor, Southern Methodist University
At this point, Phillips is practically an institution at SMU and his work as the music director and conductor of the Meadows Symphony Orchestra in the Meadows School of the Arts is a big reason why the school’s music department has grown in prestige. A Dallas native and SMU alumnus, Phillips left Dallas to continue his education and eventually ended up earning his Master of Arts and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. He has conducted for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra, and he continues to collaborate closely with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra as well. In the classroom, students appreciate that Phillips is meticulous about what he wants and knows how to get that out of his students. Some complain that his criticism always constructive, but most students say they left his class as a better musician than when they entered.
Laura Prestwood, Design Professor, Texas Christian University
If you are going to take one of Dr. Prestwood’s Lighting or History of Design courses, you better love design, because she expects a lot from her students. Armed with a Bachelor’s degree from Meredith College, a Master’s degree from Winthrop College and a PhD from Texas A&M, Dr. Prestwood has practically lived and breathed design over the course of her impressive career. She is a registered interior designer who has worked with numerous professional organizations, given research presentations on interior design, and published papers on the subject as well. She specializes in architectural lighting design and education and also focuses on women’s studies too. She has received numerous awards not only for her design work but also her education work and while students complain about the amount of work required in Dr. Prestwood’s classes. They also understand that she is trying to help them learn and appreciate that she seems willing and patient to work with students to sort out problems.
Maxey Parrish, Journalism Professor, Baylor University
Baylor doesn’t quite count as the Dallas-area as we are sure many Dallas natives would remind us. But we made an exception because we are hardly the first folks to recognize that Baylor lifer and lecturer Maxey Parrish is a pretty good teacher. The Baylor alumnus has won a slew of awards for his teaching work, including the university’s prestigious Collins Outstanding Professor Award. After graduating from the very program he now teaches in as an undergraduate, Parrish got his Master’s degree in Education from Baylor as well. He spent the next 23 years working as a sports information director including a 20-year stint as the SID for Baylor. He also work as the Director of league and university relations for Rivals.com and has been a press officer for the U.S. Olympic Committee as well as the web editor for the BCS. Now he teaches primarily media relations classes and his students universally love him for his caring attitude, his willingness to help his students find jobs, and his entertaining stories from years in the business.
One of my greatest thrills as a professor is taking students to some of the world’s great art museums. Art does so much for us: It reflects not only culture and history, it shows the spirit of mankind. Our lives are enriched by such beauty, and opening that door for young people is a joy. This, of course, is what the Art Career Project does. – Maxey Parrish
Mark Rosen, Art History Professor, University of Texas at Dallas
Although it doesn’t have the same name recognition as some of the other schools in Texas, the University of Texas at Dallas is actually one of the area’s best and most well-respected universities and that is in part because of faculty like Dr. Rosen. Rosen earned three degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, including a Master’s degree and PhD in History of Art. Rosen specializes in late medieval, Renaissance and Baroque art and teaches classes in all three subjects. He has also taught classes about Leonardo da Vinci and Medieval Venice. An accomplished author with a litany of published work, Rosen is working on a book manuscript as well. In the classroom he has a knack for making his classes interesting and engaging and he is very open about his willingness to help students with questions.
Bill Crawford, Computer Graphics Professor, Cedar Valley College
A talented graphic artist and animator, Bill Crawford know spends his time as one of the lone graphic arts professors at Cedar Valley College. Crawford has his Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of North Texas where he majored in painting and drawing and specifically focused on filmmaking. Crawford’s experience working in the game industry combined with his work as a professor at the University of North Texas and now Cedar Valley College makes him the ideal professor who can blend real world experience with the more formal education experience of a degree program. The former animator and graphic artist has shown his work at festivals around the country and now helps develop graphic arts curriculum for community colleges. Students seem to enjoy his sense of humor and appreciate that he teaches to class in a way designed to ensure all of the students are learning.
Being a high school dropout and finding myself now not only a professor, but being honored like this is equally bizarre and wonderful. I am thankful to be in the position I am. I enjoy bringing what I know to my students while learning new things with them every day. Teaching, for me, is like my left arm as it is part of who I am and what I do. For me, helping a person go from one point to another is exciting and I am humbled by the whole process. I am proud to be in the company of these talented folks and thank you for this distinction. – Bill Crawford
Kimberly Carson, Architecture and Design Professor, Texas A&M University
We are admittedly stretching what constitutes the Dallas area again because College Station is closer to Austin than it is to Dallas. But the university is still less than three hours away from Dallas, which, in Texas, isn’t very far at all, and we are including it because Carson deserves a shout out. After getting her undergraduate degree in Engineering from Penn State, Carson got her Master’s degree in Architecture from Texas A&M and immediately embarked on a long architecture and design career where she got the opportunity to do things like design residential and light commercial heating/air conditionings systems and commercial space planning and interior design. She started her teaching career at her alma mater in 2002 and has since become a faculty advisor for a number of architecture/design related organizations. Her cheery disposition makes class easy to attend and her straightforward and helpful approach to teaching ensures that her students succeed in her class without too much trouble.
Christopher Dickman, Writing/English Professor, University of North Texas at Dallas
Once just a Dallas extension of the University of North Texas, UNTD became a free-standing university in 2009 and has quickly established itself as an excellent institution of higher learning. Somewhat like the university he now teaches at, Dickman is a relative neophyte. He first started teaching at UNTD after getting his PhD at Saint Louis University where he was also recognized for his teaching excellence. He specializes in composition, rhetoric, technical writing, and writing in the disciplines, and has been a featured presenter at conferences and workshops across the country. His personality sets him apart from some of the other professors and students remarked that the way he goes about presenting the information can be inorthodox but exciting. He is really only just starting his teaching career, but to have generated so much positive praise already can only be a good sign.
Sandra Glahn, Media Arts and Worship Professor, Dallas Theological Seminary
We can bet that you didn’t expect to see a professor from a theological seminary on this list but even the theological seminaries teach the arts and the Dallas Theological Seminary is no exception. The Department of Media Arts and Worship is one of the largest at the school and Glahn is one of the best professors teaching in it. A graduate of Washington Bible College; the Dallas Theological Seminary; and the University of Texas at Dallas, Glahn is one of the more accomplished religious writers in the Southwest. She has written and published nearly 20 books, she regularly blogs about Christian leadership and women in Christianity, and she is the editor-in-chief of the Seminary’s award-winning in-house magazine. Glahn draws inspiration from her personal life and it translates in the classroom, where students say she is a stern but fair grader who genuinely cares about their success and tries very hard to pay individual attention to students.
The first verb in the best-selling book of all time is “created.” And for those of us whose largest investment is in the invisible, imagination is indispensable. – Sandra Glahn
Randall Garrett, Art Professor, El Centro College
Garrett is another excellent example of the type of high-quality programs and high-quality faculty that community colleges, especially ones in the Dallas area, are able to attract. Garrett earned his Bachelor’s degree in Studio Art from West Texas State University and just seven years later he got his Master’s degree in Studio Art from the University of North Texas. Almost immediately after earning his Master’s degree, Garrett became a public relations officer for a local gallery and he has been working in galleries ever since. He started as an adjunct faculty member at El Centro College in 1998, the same year he started as the Gallery Director at nearby Richland College. While he still teaches at El Centro College and Richland, he has since moved over to become the Gallery Director for El Centrol College while also maintains his status as Gallery Director of Plush Gallery in Dallas. Needless to say, the man knows his art, and he does a good job of translating that knowledge into the classroom as well. Garrett encourages interaction between the students and also between him and the students and it makes the class more fun. His feedback is almost always positive and he encourages his students to ask questions and express themselves. Students don’t just like his classes, they love them.
Amanda Allison, Art Education Professor, Texas Christian University
There are some professors who have given back to the art community with their works and there are some professors giving back with their teaching, but Dr. Allison is doing both and then some. An assistant professor of art and coordinator of the Art Education program, Dr. Allison taught art in everything from private schools and universities to centers for adults with disabilities and hospitals during her time as an educator. Her research even includes supporting art teachers who help students with disabilities. She joined the TCU faculty in 2006 and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Art Education from Louisiana State University, a Master’s degree in Art from Northwestern State University, and a PhD in Art Education at the University of North Texas. She isn’t just teaching the next generation of artists, she is teaching the next generation of art teachers and professors. Oh and her students really like her ability to do that, calling her one of the most passionate and dedicated professors they have ever had. She tries to build a sense of community in her classroom and students say she is always willing to help or explain something if need be.
Myra Woodruff, Dance Professor, Southern Methodist University
Not everyone gets to have a sweet title like “Professor of Dance”, but Woodruff has earned it through the years. A Texas native, Woodruff went all the way to New York to get her Bachelor’s degree from New York University where she was a very bright student. Since then she has juggled her time between working as a member of dance companies, taught dance at places like Florida State University and the prestigious Rudra Bejart ballet school, and choreographed works for dance companies. She has practiced her craft around the globe and was actually the first full-time modern dance teacher in the history of the Rudra Bejart ballet school before moving to SMU in 2004. To have worked as a professional dancer and to have taught dance for so many years helps Woodruff make an impression on her students. They recognize her knowledge and passion for the subject and appreciate that she is able to combine a no-nonsense teaching approach with a desire to see all of her students succeed. The number of dancers and artists she has helped influence is probably too high to count at this point.
James Behan, Art Professor, Mountain View College
A graduate of the University of Dallas with a Bachelor’s degree in design and a graduate of SMU with a Master’s degree in painting, James Behan is as talented and well-rounded an artist as they come. His particular focus at Mountain View College is on drawing and painting. As an instructor, he encourages collaboration and group work in his classroom so that students can learn to work together, learn from each other, and learn to cooperate on assignments. His classes are also lively and engaging and his students seem to really take to his approach, as most consider him one of the better professors they have ever had. His effort in helping students succeed does not go unnoticed and his knowledge for the subject and incredible ability to relate that to his students in an understandable way is what helps make him such an excellent professor and helps put him on this list.
Kyle Lemieux, Theater Professor, University of Dallas
You didn’t think we were going to forget about one of the largest and most well-known private institutions in the city did you? They have many deserving professors but Lemieux’s innate ability to challenge and motivate his students helps set him apart. He is a university alumnus having received his Bachelor’s degree there before moving on to earn a Master’s degree from the University of California, San Diego. Now he is comfortably ensconced as an associate professor and chair/director of the University Theater. His theater credits are impressive in their own right as he developed and appeared in C-R-E-P-U-S-C-U-L-E which became the Tony Award-winning 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and he has earned production credits for a number of his works, including A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Machinal. He is the founder of the Dallas Actor’s Lab and a panelist for the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs. Most importantly, he is an excellent professor who works his students hard but also cares individually about their success in the class. He is always willing to help and his in-class demands, students admit, does help them become better students of theater.