Chris Crenshaw presented the Themis Award for his contributions to Southern Miss Symphony – Picayune Item


Dr. Chris Crenshaw, Senior Associate Vice President for Planning and Facilities Management at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM), received the Themis Award at the opening concert of the Symphony Orchestra’s 102nd season Thursday, September 30.

The award is presented annually at the orchestra’s opening concert to an outstanding Southern Miss administrator, teacher, staff member or other person who has contributed to the success of the orchestra and its members.

The Themis Prize is named after the Greek goddess divine law and order; she was the Titan who made sure things were done in an honorable way. She presided over the oldest oracles and first instructed humanity in the laws of justice, morality and good governance.

She was also Zeus’ first counselor, sitting next to him and advising him on the precepts of divine law and the rules of fate. She is the personification of the order of things established by divine law, custom, oracle, equity and divine decree.

“This orchestra, the School of Music and this whole university have all benefited from Chris’ work here,” said Dr. Colin McKenzie, director of the USM School of Music. “His work touches everyone in this institution. His name is never in the spotlight, and he prefers it that way, but there isn’t a single thing happening on our campus that Chris’s efforts don’t touch and support.

Of particular note is Crenshaw’s role in the aftermath of the 2013 EF4 tornado that devastated the front part of the Hattiesburg campus. The buildings housing the Music School were all directly affected, two of which were demolished. The Leech House, which housed the Orchestra’s offices, has been reduced to rubble.

As manager of the physical factory, Crenshaw had to oversee hundreds of projects created by the destructive tornado, including finding a new location for the orchestra. The entire music school had to be moved immediately.

Crenshaw oversaw the movement of over 200 classrooms to other campus buildings and created what was affectionately known as “Twister Town,” a 16-caravan campus in a parking lot north of the campus that housed music desks, classrooms and studios. After just two short weeks, the School of Music was back to normal and the rest of the campus was on the mend. As part of the takeover, Crenshaw oversaw the transformation of the first floor of the Marsh Fine Arts Building into a magnificent new office and rehearsal space for orchestral, opera and musical theater programs.

Crenshaw’s friend Dr Alan Lucas of Oak Grove Family Dentistry and son of USM President Emeritus Dr Aubrey K. Lucas presented the award.

“The Southern Miss Symphony Orchestra couldn’t do what it does without someone with Chris’s expertise, experience, sense of dedication and willingness to help,” said Dr. Michael Miles , director of orchestral activities. “He always went above and beyond the call of duty, with skill and grace. He most deserves this year’s Themis award.

Previous winners of the Themis Prize include Dr. Harold Luce, Dean of the College of the Arts 1987-1996; Dr Peter Ciurczak, director of the School of Music, 1988 – 1998; Dr Aubrey K. Lucas, university president, 1975-1995; Sidney J. Gonsoulin, Associate Vice-President, Student Affairs; Dr Susan L. Steen, Director of International Education; Mr. Jerry Wren, Utilities Team Leader, USM Physical Plant; Mr. Tom Dungan, Events and Logistics Coordinator of the USM Symphony Orchestra; Dr. Mike Lopinto, Assistant to the Dean of Arts Administration and School of Music’s Public Relations / Marketing and Events Coordinator; Mr. David Williamson, Director of Financial Aid; Dr Stanley Hauer, professor emeritus; and Rusty Rollison, director of show facilities.

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