2009 George Barbour Award for Good Faculty-Student Relations: Terence Milligan

Dashiell Waterbury, a third-year voice major at the College-Conservatory of Music (CCM), vividly recalls the first time he met Terence Milligan. “When I first arrived at the University of Cincinnati, I was searching for a group of students that would offer me support and friendship,” Waterbury explains. “I found that, and a lot more, in the fraternity of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.” It was through Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia that Waterbury first encountered Milligan, the faculty advisor for the brotherhood.

Although Waterbury, as a voice major, would never have Milligan as a formal teacher, that did not deter the veteran faculty member from reaching out to a student in need. “This man sought me out and befriended me,” Waterbury recalls, “even though we had little chance of working together in any capacity. I was still his student and he was letting me know that he cared about my experience at college. That meant the world to a young, scared freshman.”

Going above and beyond the call of duty is simply business as usual for Milligan, this year’s recipient of the George Barbour Award for Good Faculty-Student Relations. As associate director of the Wind Studies program, conductor of the Wind Ensemble and director of the graduate cognate program in wind conducting, Milligan has served as a caring and committed member of CCM’s faculty for nearly 30 years.

Born in Austin and raised in Tulia, Texas, Milligan found his calling at a very young age. “The knowledge that I am a musician has been with me from my earliest memories,” he explains, “but by the time I was about seven, I recognized without a doubt that I was destined to spend my life in music. At the time, however, I wasn’t sure how this art would manifest itself in my life.”

That answer came in high school, when Milligan joined a local chapter of the Future Teachers of America and was presented with the opportunity to serve as a teaching aid with fifth grade beginning band classes. Bruce Cook, band director for the Tulia Public Schools, quickly recognized his natural talents and encouraged him to pursue a career in teaching, thereby setting Milligan on a path that led through baccalaureate and master’s degrees from West Texas State University and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Texas at Austin.

Milligan’s approach to teaching is notable for the student-centered perspective that he has always maintained, a point of focus that has since become one of the cornerstones of UC|21 philosophy. This trait has made Milligan a sought-after mentor amongst CCM students. Stephen Lytle, a graduate assistant in the Department of Wind Studies at CCM, explains, “Students need an advocate and every year countless numbers seek him out as a mentor, confidant and friend. Ever the professional, he is savvy to know when to praise, cajole, correct or just listen.”

Milligan’s service to the UC community transcends the traditional classroom, though. He boasts a rich history of engagement with student organizations, including his role as faculty advisor to the local chapter of the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Music Fraternity and a previous advisory role with the Honorary Band Fraternity Kappa Kappa Psi. “So many important life lessons are learned outside of the classroom through membership in organizations such as these,” he explains. “These organizations help our students grow into strong, responsible citizens who will shoulder their share of the work wherever they might be. I believe I can help focus their energy and enthusiasm into worthwhile and beneficial activities.”

These efforts have not been lost on his colleagues. Rodney Winther, director of Wind Studies at CCM, describes Milligan’s work with Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia as “an excellent example of his freely giving both time and energy on behalf of young men who are in this organization. He has guided them toward projects that enrich not only their lives but also the lives of other CCM students, as well as the greater Cincinnati community.” A fraternity fundraiser organized by Milligan to benefit the work of Lighthouse Youth Services, an agency providing social services to children, youth and families in southeastern Ohio, is but one example of this expert guidance.

Integrally involved in both the music education and wind studies programs at UC, Milligan is a previous recipient of CCM’s Distinguished Teacher Award in 1996 and 2006, as well as the Outstanding Teacher Award presented by the Honors Scholars Program in 2003. Despite a career filled with recognition, Milligan remains humble. “I teach alongside wonderful and remarkable colleagues, and each of them merits an award such as this,” he suggests.

What seems like a daunting number of responsibilities to some is a reward in and of itself for Milligan. He explains, “My constant inspiration comes from the students, the faculty and staff at CCM and across the university. The intellectual and creative capabilities of these remarkable people, collectively and individually, continue to inspire me to new heights. I am a vastly better person—every day—because of them.”

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