2017 Faculty Hall of Fame
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Faculty Hall of Fame 2017
Associate Professor of Art, Music and Theatre Arts Eric Abbott discovered his passion for the theatre arts during his youth in the small town of Hershey, Nebraska. A father in the military took Abbott, his mother and four brothers across the United States. Inspired by the Broadway show “Chorus Line” and a dedicated high school theatre teacher, Abbott set off to study his passion in 1979 at St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas. He then earned two degrees from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the first a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1985 and the second a Master of Fine Arts in Costume and Makeup Theatre Arts in 2000. A well-traveled educator, Abbott has lived in Nebraska, California, Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Delaware, Michigan, Louisiana, Virginia and currently Oklahoma throughout his childhood and extensive career.
Although Abbott is capable of fulfilling a variety of theatre jobs, including acting, directing and interior and scenic design, his true passion lies in costume and makeup design, which is reflected in his career. Working in film, television, theatre and radio, Abbott created an impressive résumé prior to coming to Cameron in 2009. He taught at the University of Delaware, his alma mater St. Edwards University, Austin Community College and Catawaba College in North Carolina. In Austin, he also freelanced as a costume designer and constructor, providing costumes for films including “Spy Kids 2,” Spy Kids 3” and “American Outlaws” and for the Austin Musical Theatre’s productions of “Oliver!” “Oklahoma!” and “Jesus Christ Superstar.” In addition, he worked independently in Salisbury, North Carolina and as a costume designer at both the Summer Repertory Theatre in California and the Florida Studio Theatre.
As a CU professor, Abbott takes on various roles; he teaches a range of theatre courses, typically is the costume designer or makeup and hair designer of the department’s theatre productions and supervises students’ work on the productions. Active on campus and in the community, Abbott sponsors Alpha Psi Omega (the National Theatre Honor Society) and the CU Society for Creative Anachronism (CUSCA), the medieval and renaissance club, serves on the Lawton Arts and Humanities Council and has worked with the local Blue Moon Productions and the Lawton Community Theatre in an effort to further the arts in Lawton.
Abbott said his spontaneous job gives him the opportunity to work in all aspects of theatre and research another passion, history, with productions taking place in various time frames, from the Shakespearean to the modern era.
“My job is never the same,” he said. “It’s constantly changing and morphing. It plays to all of my interests.”
Abbott encourages his students with simple advice:
“If you don’t try,” he said, “you’re never going to know whether or not would succeed. You’ve got to go out and give it a shot. You get this degree, try to use it. You can always change in the future. There’s nothing saying you have to do this for the rest of your life. There’s nothing saying that you have to never come back to Lawton. We want people to go out and try and see what they can accomplish because I think that’s how dreams are made. If you’re always scared to leave, then you may never take the chance, and that chance is what you might need to take.”
Faculty Hall of Fame 2017
Now in his sixteenth year of teaching at Cameron University, Computing and Technology Instructor Dave Smith is more ecstatic than ever about his role in higher education. He boasts many titles, to include educator, farmer, author, retired Commissioned Officer in the United States Army, second degree black belt of martial arts and the one he likes the most: grandfather. A Greer, Oklahoma native, Smith attended the University of Arizona, where he received a Bachelor of Science in Biology Education in 1977. After graduating, he worked in Arizona as a public school teacher until 1980 when he joined the U.S. Army.
Smith’s military career spanned two decades in which he served as an analyst, a leader, a trainer and a manager. While stationed in Berlin, he witnessed the Berlin Wall destruction in 1989; pieces of the wall Smith picked up as a souvenir now adorn his CU office. It was in Berlin that he advanced his education once again, this time with a Master of Science in Systems Management through the University of Southern California in 1992. Upon retiring from the army, Smith returned to Oklahoma and to teaching.
Actively involved on campus, Smith established an Endowed Lectureship for the Department of Computing and Technology, facilitated the Department of Business internship program for two years and co-sponsors the CU student chapter of the Association of Information Technology Professionals. More recently, his instruction of a capstone course in which students work together to develop computer software to be used by local clients, such as the Lawton Police Department and Comanche County Memorial Hospital, is receiving attention in the community. The spring semester class is creating software for the United States Department of Defense at Fort Sill, familiar territory for Smith.
As an instructor, Smith aims to produce employable students who are capable of taking on high-paying jobs. For him, seeing former students land such roles is fulfilling.
“I love to be able to say ‘That’s my student,’” he said. “I had a little hand in that. They had a lot of hand in that because I’m just a facilitator. They’re the real reason that they’re there. It was their drive – their determination to get somewhere.”
To ensure students grasp lesson material, Smith employs an open-door policy at his office, providing his students with the opportunity for one-on-one meetings and extra help. Smith said the best part is seeing the “light bulb” go on in a student’s head when they understand a new concept.
“If we can’t make something work,” he said, “we’ll work on it together until we get it to work.”
Smith said he loves Cameron University, and although he will be eligible to retire soon, he doesn’t plan to. He attributes his positive experience at the institution to the ability to work closely with students and the bond he shares with his colleagues, who stroll together on campus daily in a ritual Smith cherishes.
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