It’s not an easy decision to leave behind your work from the past decade, but it’s one Marshall University Band Director Steve Barnett felt was right for him. He will be honored at a reception at 2 p.m. Friday, May 9, in the Smith Hall Atrium on the Huntington campus.
Barnett publicly announced his resignation as the face of the Marching Thunder on April 29, explaining that the opportunity to move into another area of music education and also the need to help his 80-year-old mother manage two farms in his hometown of Humboldt, Tennessee, prompted the move. After 35 years as a band director, Barnett accepted a position with Amro Music based in Memphis.
“I will be able to serve and help many students, band directors and schools in the West Tennessee area, which is where I grew up,” Barnett said. “And over the next years of my mother’s life, I know that she will need me to help her.”
College of Arts and Media Dean Donald Van Horn said Barnett’s announcement was a sad day for the university and for him, personally.
“I have known few people in higher education who have had such a positive influence on so many students, and Marshall has been fortunate to have Steve for these past 11 years,” Van Horn said. “He has meant so much to so many students – it is really quite remarkable.
“More than the music he has directed over the years, it is the quality of student that he has helped shape,” Van Horn said. “His ensembles are widely recognized as the finest Marshall ambassadors, and that is a tribute to his character. That is his true legacy he leaves for Marshall.”
Dr. Richard Kravchak, School of Music and Theatre director, echoed Van Horn’s sentiments, saying Barnett went above and beyond being just a colleague.
Kravchak was new to Huntington in early 2013. Fresh off the plane from California, he wasn’t sure how he was going to unload all of his things with a parrot and dog in tow. Kravchak said Barnett arranged for band students to meet him and help him unload his trailer.
“That was very indicative of the man he is,” Kravchak said. “I could not have done it without the assistance of the students Steve had arranged. He made me feel so welcome.”
Barnett said the band program he and others built at Marshall brings him the biggest sense of accomplishment from his tenure.
“I am most proud of the culture that we have created emphasizing good citizenship, positive attitudes and a family atmosphere in which everyone is welcomed and feels like they belong,” Barnett said. “I cannot thank all of the students and band staff, past and present, and the administrators enough for all they have done to make the band what it is today and to represent the university with such pride and dignity.”