• Music Professor Kenny Receives the 2010 William Carrington Finch Award (Photo by Lucas Adams).
    Music Professor Kenny Receives the 2010 William Carrington Finch Award (Photo by Lucas Adams).

Kenny Sheppard, a music professor and popular local choir director, has received the 2010 William Carrington Finch Award from Southwestern University.

The award is given every other year to a full-time faculty member “for exemplary accomplishment in furthering the aims of Southwestern University.” Criteria for the award include excellence in teaching, contributions to university governance, and contributions outside the classroom. It is presented at Commencement and includes a $5,000 prize. The award is named for Southwestern’s 11th president.

Sheppard has been a member of the Southwestern faculty since 1974 and has served as chair of the Music Department two times in addition to conducting the SU Chorale. He also has served as the artistic director for Chorus Austin, has conducted the chorus for the Georgetown Festival of the Arts since it started in 2005, and has led a summer institute at Southwestern that gives choral conductors professional instruction in the great choral/orchestral works of classical music.

“Kenny has provided outstanding leadership for the music program over the years and   has guided the program to distinction and excellence,” said President Jake B. Schrum. “He embodies the student-centered approach to teaching that is the cornerstone of the   Southwestern experience, and his name has become synonymous with excellence in   choral music at Southwestern and throughout the nation.”

Sheppard received his bachelor’s degree from Hardin-Simmons University and earned a master’s degree and Ph.D. from Texas Tech University. Prior to coming to Southwestern, he had a distinguished career as a high school choral director in three school districts in   Texas. 

Sheppard lives in Georgetown with his wife, Star Varner, who is a professor of art at Southwestern. He said he plans to give some of the award money back to Southwestern and to the Georgetown Festival of the Arts.

Previous recipients of the Finch Award are Walt Herbert (1980), Weldon Crowley (1982), Ellsworth Peterson (1984), Leonard Giesecke (1986), Martha Allen (1988), Jan Dawson (1990), Robert Soulen (1992), Gwen Kennedy Neville (1994), Doug Hooker (1996), Ed Kain (1998), Vicente Villa (2000), Patrick Veerkamp (2002), Dan Hilliard (2004), Jesse Purdy (2006) and Laura Hobgood-Oster (2008).  

William Carrington Finch was a member of the faculty at Southwestern from 1941 to 1950 and served as president from 1950 to 1961. The Finch Award was made possible by a gift from his wife, Lucy Finch, and their two sons, Dr. William Tyree Finch and Dr. Richard Carrington Finch.


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