Department of Music bids farewell to retiring faculty members

Al Wojtera (left), Jim Borling (middle) and Brenda Williams (right) will be retiring this summer

Al Wojtera (left), Jim Borling (middle) and Brenda Williams (right) will be retiring this summer

At the close of the spring 2018 semester, the College of Visual and Performing Arts will bid farewell to three long-time faculty members in the music program. Mr. Al Wojtera, Chair of the Department of Music, Mr. James Borling, Music Therapy Program Director, and Ms. Brenda Williams, adjunct piano instructor, will each be retiring from the university. Combined, the three faculty members comprise over 87 collective years of service to the department.

Professor Al Wojtera has been with Radford University since 1987. He was originally hired to develop a percussion program and direct the jazz ensemble. According to Wojtera, when he started at Radford University there was one percussion major, who also happened to be the son of the percussion instructor teaching at that time. Wojtera put in many years working to grow the program until he was named Chair of the Department of Music in January of 2009. “I was fortunate to have the Covington Center for Visual and Performing Arts come online that semester as well. The new rehearsal and performing spaces elevated our student, faculty, and guest artist performances to another level,” he said.

Wojtera is excited about the future. His wife Carolyn will be retiring this summer as well, so the two of them are planning on doing lots of traveling to visit with family and friends scattered across the country.

Upon Professor Wojtera’s retirement, Dr. Timothy Channell will take over as chair of the department. “Dr. Channell is a genuinely friendly man of integrity who has always worked with students’ best interests as his core belief. I could not have been more pleased with his appointment,” said Wojtera.

Professor James Borling is finishing up his 36th year with Radford University. His teaching focus has primarily been music therapy. According to Borling, “I teach from a model of integrative services with an emphasis on music psychotherapy.”

Borling has been very active in his field, having been engaged in the American Music Therapy Association on issues such as unification, moving to a Master’s level entry of practice, and other significant topics within the field of music therapy. He has also done work in a variety of countries training music therapists in advanced clinical methods

Borling spent many years as the program director for music therapy. When his retirement takes effect this summer, Dr. Trish Winter will become the new director of that program. “Dr. Winter is passionate and committed to the advancement of music therapy, both at the university level and nationally. This is an exciting time for the growth of this program and I am confident that music therapy at Radford University is in the best of hands,” said Borling.

When asked about what compelled him to finish out his career at the university, Borling says that he has been very happy with his role at Radford University. He attributes his lengthy tenure here with the support he has received from university leadership, along with his love of living and raising a family in Southwest Virginia.

Borling says that after retirement he will maintain his private practice in Roanoke, Virginia, but also has a bit of globetrotting in mind with plans this summer to visit Spain, Japan and South Korea.

Williams has been a part-time adjunct in the department of music for over 20 years. While her primary duties were teaching piano courses, she fulfilled a number of roles including accompanist, collaborative pianist, and class piano faculty. Incoming Department Chair Timothy Channell said of her contributions to the program, “Brenda has been an outstanding member of our faculty with over 20 years of service to the department. She is a wonderful teacher and pianist, and we wish her well in this next chapter of her life!”

Apr 25, 2018
Jason S. Hutchens, Ed.D.