Dr. Phillip G. Simon: associate professor of Performing Arts

Retiring professors look back at academic careers

Sammi Verespy, Staff Writer

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Dr. Phillip Simon, associate professor of Performing Arts is retiring after teaching for 16 years.

He will not be leaving campus fully though, as he plans to stay and teach a few classes as an adjunct next year.

Simon became a teacher because of the inspiring and energizing experiences that he has had as a young adult.

“Starting around age 12, my middle school band teacher was an inspiration to me. I admire him a great deal,” said Simon. “I respected him a great deal as a person, and I wanted to emulate him. This is one of the things that drove me to it (teaching).”

Though, teaching was not always the plan. Simon originally wanted to be a tuba player but decided after his studies at Boston University and the concentrations in conducting that he wanted to go into conducting himself.

He started out his career teaching high school bands for 29 years, but then went on to the University of North Texas to get his doctorate.

“I got my doctorate real late in life, I was 53 when I went to University of North Texas to get my doctorate in conducting. I came out of there two years later with all of my coursework done and Wilkes University hired me to be the band director and a teacher of music education,” said Simon.

“When I finished my coursework at the University of North Texas, I sent out 35 applications, which is not uncommon,” said Simon. “I got a positive response from five schools. Three turned into interview roles. Wilkes was the one I was invited to interview at first. I came to Wilkes for two reasons. The first being the music education program, and a decent music major. Second, my daughter, a flutist in Philly was teaching the flute at Wilkes two to three times a week.”

The music education program was a major available when Simon first came to Wilkes in 2003. He noted this as one of his main goals when coming to the university, to teach the next generation of music educators of America.  One that he thinks he has achieved, noting that all except for a few exceptions students that he had seen through this program are still teaching music education now.

“My Wilkes experience was overwhelmingly positive. Not all of my time, not 100 percent was the best it could be, but I’ve really found a family and I’ve found a home,” said Simon. “This is the longest amount of time that my wife and I have spent in one single house, so we have found a home here. The Wilkes family and the Wilkes community has been very welcoming and very helpful to me in helping to build the band program here.”

He also noted that he is proud of the time that he has spent here.

“Wilkes has become known as a band school. Students seek this school out because even if they are not music majors, they can continue to perform in the band,” said Simon. “We have a number of students who come here for the band or the music program and stay in it for three, four, sometimes up to five or six years. I think that really says something about the caliber of the program that we have here.”

Simon closed out his interview with a few thank yous and remarks about the upcoming events for the band on campus.

“I would really like to say thank you to my faculty and the administration, especially to Dr. Leahy for the support that he (Dr. Leahy) has given me, and the support that the administration has given me.

“Also, a big thank you to the students who have been a part of the band program for the past 16 years. I think my legacy here is the students who have been a part of the band program or who have studied music with me in one way or another.”

The band program is putting on two free concerts open to the public before Simon leaves. They will be held on April 27 and 28 in the Dorthy Dickson Darte Centre.

For any questions regarding the concerts please contact the Darte Centre at 570-408-4420.

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