Nugent to remain interim band director

by Karl Lang

Jay Nugent will be the interim band director again next year, due to Andy McMahan’s request for another year off to finish his doctorate.

Nugent was originally slated to take over McMahan’s spot as the band director for only one year. However, McMahan decided to take another year off to obtain his doctorate degree from the University of Minnesota, and Simpson’s Music Department asked Nugent to stay on.

Professor of Music Maria DiPalma, chair of the music department, said the decision was logical.

“Because Andy was on leave last year, we already have a replacement for him, Jay Nugent,” DiPalma said. “He happens to be a Simpson alum, and he’s been a very successful high school band teacher throughout Iowa. He has had some college level teaching, and seemed to be an obvious fit.”

The traditional process of hiring someone to fill in for a teacher on leave is a series of interviews, but the college didn’t go through that process in Nugent’s case.

“He’s already here,” DiPalma said. “He’s already been evaluated through the appropriate channels. It’s a little bit different situation than a ‘normal’ situation. Jay brings some very special things to the program because he has taught in Iowa for so many years, he has a lot of connections [within the community]. He brings a lot of experience to the position.”

Nugent said he’s excited about being asked to return again next year, because it gives him another year to work with the students and faculty.

“They [the students] have worked really well for me,” Nugent said. “I think, probably, last spring they wondered ‘well, what are we going to do now?’ and they didn’t know who I was. They have been very receptive of me. I think they’re very loyal to Andy, and liked him a lot but they have been very receptive and professional with me, and I would say the reaction has been good. I have been pleased by that.”

Many people said Nugent is doing a good job as the director even though his position is short-term.

“He’s kind of in a tough position,” sophomore Lucas Iburg said. “He’s replacing a guy that has been here a couple more years than he has.”

Nugent is focusing on getting more students involved in the band, and according to junior Paige Webb, it’s working.

“I think he is working very hard to bring change to the program,” Webb said. “He wants to get more people involved.”

Both students and professors in the Music Department are happy with the decision to keep Nugent as the interim director for another year.

“I think he has done a great job this year,” DiPalma said. “It also creates continuity with students. Some students would have had a different band director every year for three years, and that’s not very positive for the program.”

Iburg said while a few students may complain, Nugent is the right person to direct the band for another year.

“For an interim director, he does a good job,” Iburg said. “He deserves to be here, but I mean, people are going to have different opinions about him. It’s just hard to have someone for a short-term basis. You’ve got to have someone [who’s] good for the job, basically.”