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UWRF music professor leads department, fights cancer

April 1, 2010

Associate professor of music Hilree Hamilton has returned home after recently receiving treatment for cancer at the University of Minnesota Medical Center-Fairview in Minneapolis, Minn.

Hamilton teaches music education methods courses to music education and elementary education majors. Hamilton also teaches world music, class piano, music appreciation, and supervises student teachers, according to the UWRF music department Web site.

Hamilton is a great asset to the music department, according to her colleagues.

“Dr. Hamilton is a wonderful teacher and colleague, and has helped made music education the great major it is and why so many students come here. She has been a driving force here at UWRF,” Gail Olszewski, lecturer of music, said.

“She cares so deeply about her students, and regularly goes above and beyond her job description to help them learn and succeed, and to really prepare them for the challenges of the real world,” Roger McVey, assistant professor of music, said.

“Dr. Hamilton is the point person for the College of Education and creates the bridge between music and education,” Kristin Tjornehoj, associate professor of music, said.

“Most recently Dr. Hamilton led the department to our National Association of Schools of Music accreditation process.  Dr. Hamilton is dedicated, diligent and detailed.”

Hamilton also has a good sense of humor, according to her colleagues.

“We seemed to be around school the same time quite a bit, and joked a lot about how we spent more time together than with our families.

This segued into us calling each other work-husband and work-wife, respectively.

When we disagreed on departmental issues or when things got too serious between us, she insisted on getting a work-divorce. She knows how to laugh at herself and get others to laugh,” Thomas Barnett, associate professor of music, said.

“She is fearless about trying out new things, whether it’s a dance or a song or a style of music she’s never done before, she has no problems getting up in front of anybody and just going for it,” Patrick O’Keefe, lecturer of music, said.

“I’ve seen her do this, and it’s always a joy to behold. We can all learn from that.”

Hamilton is very devoted to her work and takes the time to help her colleagues.

“In 2001 Dr. Hamilton and I were the new music faculty,” Barnett said. “As with any new job, getting to know how the system works takes some time.

I was always knocking on her office door asking for help.

She is an incredibly resourceful person.

If she did not know the answer, which I don’t remember ever happening, she would find it out.

And the best thing is, she never makes me feel threatened or intimidated by her knowledge, and always treats me with respect.

Believe me, I bug her a lot, and she is always patient with me.”

Hamilton has been a music educator for 38 years. Hamilton started her music career in 1972 as a music teacher at Shawnee Mission Schools in Kansas.

Then in 1974, Hamilton moved to teach at Valley Middle School in Apple Valley, Minn. From 1982 to 1996, she was a music teacher for Chaska Public Schools in Chaska, Minn.

During that time she also was an adjunct professor at Hamline University, UW-Eau Claire, State University of New York-Potsdam and the University of Minnesota.

From 1993 to 1999 Hamilton was an adjunct professor at the University of St. Thomas. Hamilton started teaching music at UWRF in 2000.

She started off as a lecturer and then moved into her current assistant professor position in 2001.

Hamilton has received recognition for her accomplishments in music education.

In 1987 she received the District Coordinator of the Year award for her work in coordinating the Very Special Arts Festival in Chaska, Minn.

In 1999, Hamilton’s dissertation was nominated for dissertation of the year award at the University of Minnesota. Hamilton has also received many grants for further research and developing programs over the years.

Hamilton is currently continuing in-home medical care.

She welcomes calls and visits from friends and colleagues, according to an e-mail sent by David Milne, the music department chair. Hamilton can be contacted at home via her cell phone: 651-336-5336.