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Hendrix College Director of Bands Moderates Panel Discussion on Diverse and Inclusive Programming

Dr. Gretchen Renshaw presents at ASBOA’s All-State Music Conference

Renshaw James panel discussion leader.jpgCONWAY, Arkansas (February 26, 2024)—Hendrix College Associate Professor of Music and Coordinator of Assessment Dr. Gretchen Renshaw last week served as moderator of and participant in a panel discussion titled “Building Empathy and Belonging Through Diverse and Inclusive Programming” for an audience of middle and high school band and orchestra directors from across Arkansas.

The panel discussion was part of the Arkansas All-State Music Conference, hosted by the Arkansas School Band and Orchestra Association (ASBOA). ASBOA selected Renshaw to lead a conversation about this relatively new topic because of her work on building more diverse and inclusive programming for the Hendrix Wind Ensemble—work that was enhanced through her recent Odyssey Professorship, “Diverse Voices in Music,” a three-year professorship that enabled Renshaw to focus on centering the voices of musicians and composers from underrepresented backgrounds in the world of music for wind band.

In addition to Renshaw, panelists included:

  • Dr. Thomas Dempster, associate dean for arts and humanities at the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts in Hot Springs;
  • Hendrix student Andrea Ortega ’24, an English major and current member of the Hendrix College Wind Ensemble; and
  • Anthony Wyrick, band director at Parkview Arts and Science Magnet High School in Little Rock.

The session sought to help develop awareness of the impact and importance of diverse and inclusive programming in the state’s secondary schools, discuss potential obstacles, and offer guidance for directors interested in submitting music for inclusion on the Arkansas Required Music List.

“This is one of the first times a session on the topic of diversity and inclusion has been presented at this conference, and I was honored to be asked to lead this discussion,” Renshaw said. “The panelists were excellent and provided a variety of meaningful perspectives about how diverse and inclusive programming can really build a sense of belonging for every student in an ensemble, regardless of their background. This work of creating inclusive spaces is important in any classroom – music or otherwise – and I am so grateful to have been able to bring this conversation to such an important conference in our state.”

About Hendrix College

Founded in 1876, Hendrix College is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges and celebrated among the country’s leading liberal arts colleges for academic quality, engaged learning opportunities and career preparation, vibrant campus life, and value. The Hendrix College Warriors compete in 21 NCAA Division III sports. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. Learn more at  

“… Through engagement that links the classroom with the world, and a commitment to diversity, inclusion, justice, and sustainable living, the Hendrix community inspires students to lead lives of accomplishment, integrity, service, and joy.” —Hendrix College Statement of Purpose