Andrews University Honors Paul Hamel
Andrews University honored Paul Hamel during graduation weekend in June 1995 by naming the music building after him. He was the fifth musician in Adventist higher education to be so honored. The following comments are edited excerpts from a tribute to Hamel given at the ceremony by Dan Shultz on behalf of Andrews University music graduates.
Paul Hamel, like Carl Engel at Union College, Noah Paulin at Pacific Union College, and Harold A. Miller and J. Mabel Wood at Southern College, has earned the honor of having a music building named after him by virtue of a long and distinguished career at one institution. He, like four of those five persons, served as a chairman, providing crucial leadership at critical moments for the music program at Andrews University.
In Hamel's experience, those moments were in the thirty-five year period of unprecedented growth following the Second World War, a global conflict that, in retrospect, appears to have been the dividing line between the old and the new for many aspects of American life.
Returning veterans and the money that came with them led to a rapid expansion in Adventist colleges . . . and concerns about the quality and diversity of what they were offering. Those concerns, coupled with the demands of a quickly changing and increasingly more sophisticated society, made it imperative that these music programs improve to meet higher expectations and more challenging standards.
Prior to the war, the traditional expectations in most Adventist colleges were that the music department was to provide worship music, to entertain, and to be an effective tool for recruiting students. After the war, however, within the context of increasingly higher academic standards on our campuses, those older expectations had to expand beyond the worship, entertainment and recruitment mindset if music programs were to survive and achieve respectability within the academic community.
Hamel's career at what was then known as Emmanuel Missionary College began at that pivotal time at the end of the war. When he arrived as an assistant in the band program. He joined a parade of previous directors such as Thorpe, Shadel, Hafner, and Schram, men who would emerge as pioneers in the beginnings of Adventist college concert bands. While Hamel would continue their work in that area, he would ultimately make a more far-reaching contribution.
By the time he completed his work at Andrews University, he would have witnessed, participated in, and been a major player in creating the needed transformation in music programs in Adventist higher education. The result is a legacy in the arts that music chairs today struggle to preserve amid society's emphasis on technology.
When Hamel became music department chairman in 1955, EMC was a small college with a four-teacher music department and a program that offered one degree. By the time he retired in 1981, he had done the following:
5) Become the father figure within the circle of Adventist music chairs, admired as a gentleman, and recognized for both his accomplishments and his wisdom.
Hamel's concern for the integrity of the Andrews graduate program was evident in the quality of what was offered, the wide variety of high profile workshops and guest teachers he brought to the campus, and his willingness to work with students in arranging lessons with noted off-campus teachers or performers.
Music graduates over a period of many years have appreciated Hamel's leadership as chair of the music program at Andrews. His example in personal integrity, vision of what might be, and efforts in making real his dreams for music at Andrews stand as an inspiration and a challenge for today's music teachers and programs.