category: Faculty Emeriti - In Honor Of

Patricia Harrelson

Professor Emerita of Music Education

Patricia Harrelson

Professor Patricia B. Harrelson (1941-) attended Cool Springs High School before graduating from the North Carolina School of Arts in 1968 with a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance. With a full graduate assistantship, she went on to earn a master’s degree in vocal performance from Converse College in 1972 before later taking doctoral studies from Florida State University.

Before coming to Gardner-Webb, she was a director of church music at Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church and First United Methodist Church, both in Forest City. Harrelson joined the Gardner-Webb music faculty as a teacher and vocal coach in 1972.

Harrelson said, “Success is helping others find and develop their God-given talent(s) to be used for the purpose of bringing to life and sharing with others, through teaching and/or performance, the art of music. Giving to them has been a fulfilling gift to me. My students taught me more, I think, than I ever could have taught them. I have been blessed.”

Harrelson is remembered by faculty, staff and students at GWU as one who cared about her colleagues and students and one who was and is loyal to Gardner-Webb University. “I am grateful for the opportunity to have shared in a part of the lives of many who studied and worked at this fine institution,” she said.

Harrelson retired in 2012 after four decades of teaching in Gardner-Webb’s music department. During a ceremony recognizing her years of service, she was inducted into the “Faith, Service, and Leadership Hall of Fame,” an honor reserved only for faculty with at least 40 years of service to Gardner-Webb. At Harrelson’s induction, GWU President Dr. Frank Bonner said, “A symbolic phrase we often use to describe a great teacher’s influence on students is that she ‘helps them find their voice.’ Well, as one of her colleagues once said, Patricia Harrelson has been doing that quite literally for decades.”

Concerning the Hall of Fame itself, Bonner also said to the staff and faculty in attendance, “Each member of this distinguished Hall is a champion and an exemplar of faith, service, and leadership, and, as such, they are the keepers of a legacy that is now ours to further and protect.” During the ceremony Harrelson was presented with a letter awarding her full professor status, a gesture of appreciation for her years of excellence in teaching.

Professor Harrelson made her home in Ellenboro after retirement.

Source: Personal interview—Matt Renfer, 2014

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