Eastern New Mexico University has proudly elected a new dean for the College of Fine Arts, Dr. Jeffery Gentry, who will be starting his new position in the fall of next semester. In preparation of his arrival, Dr. Gentry has answered a few questions in hopes of giving students the chance to know a little more about him.
Where did you grow up? What are some of your favorite memories there?
"Born in Denver, Colorado, but I mainly grew up in Montana. Playing for my dad’s Little League baseball team was a great memory. Mom was the scorekeeper. And we had two fun little dogs that enjoyed our long vacation trips. (Everywhere is a long way from Montana.) Our older dog was so smart she knew when we were going on a trip. She’d sit on top of my sister’s suitcase and smile-pant with glee."
What are some of your hobbies?
"Long-distance running is my sport, attending the fine arts, playing football in the yard with my 9-year-old daughter, family time. Oh and I enjoy karaoke if anyone’s interested."
What is something you have always wanted to try do, but haven’t gotten the chance yet?
"Visit Italy with my wife. That’s next on our list."
Who was your hero growing up?
"Floyd Little, Denver Broncos. He’s still my hero even in his senior years. This man completed high school, but his teachers just passed him along because of football. He could barely read and write. So he buckled down on his academics, graduated from Syracuse with a double major, and later completed a law degree at the University of Denver. All while being a 3-time All-American and NFL Hall-of-Fame running back. After football he became a successful business owner and academic administrator. What an inspiration."
What are some of your favorite aspects of the arts?
"The way they blend and complement each other on a continuum. Singers become great speakers because of their poise and breath support. Actors become better musicians due to their ability to focus. I’m also a big fan of amateur performance. My wife and daughter are both learning piano and I get to experience their growth. It’s beautiful to hear."
How did you get started in education? What about being an educator initially interested you?
"I started school with first grade and never left. I’m finishing my 94th semester in-a-row! School didn’t really turn me on until college, but on day-one I was hooked. As an instructor I enjoy challenging students go to farther than they think they can. In administration, I love solving problems and helping people achieve their goals."
What are you most excited about for each department in the College of Fine Arts?
"What ties all four departments together is their balance. Each program combines liberal arts education and applied production, which so attracted me to the College of Fine Arts in the first place. You’ll see me at art-show openings, theatrical productions, concerts, and film and broadcast screenings. These public performances neatly crystalize student learning in fine-arts theory and practice. And by the way they are enormously entertaining. When I interviewed last month I was able to take in The Pirates of Penzance. Great performances all around."
What is your first action as Dean of the College of Fine Arts?
"Pick up my keys and start listening. I have much to learn about ENMU but great people to learn from. Rather than “run” the college, my aim is to serve the students, faculty, and staff. So listening is the first step, I think."