- Bob Ratterman Contributing Writer
Gifts in a season of giving are also being recognized for the past year, as two residents are being honored as Citizens of the Year, one for a gift of music and another for a gift for organization given to the community.
Bruce Murray, Miami University professor and chair of the Department of Music, provided a free series of seven summer concerts featuring the music of Beethoven this year, prompting an enthusiastic nomination for him as Citizen of the Year from Dr. Ellen Buerk.
“These concerts were the light of my summer. Oxford has never had a Citizen of the Year whose gift to the community was of time and talent in the Arts,” she wrote. “No gift could have been so perfect and complete as was his gift to us.”
Carol Hauser was also recognized as a Citizen of the Year in 2017 in appreciation for her commitment to the United Way of Oxford, Ohio and Vicinity in the face of two failed attempts to find a replacement for the organization’s executive director. She then needed to plan for the fall campaign as well as oversee a change in the accounting system.
“The highlight of the past year was after Brian (Revelee) resigned effective at the end of January, we had a search for an executive director. That person went on maternity leave after two weeks and did not want to come back,” said Jim Lipnickey, a member of the United Way Board. “Another person was hired and, after a week, decided that was not what she was looking for.”
Lipnickey explained Hauser had been elected president of the United Way board at the February annual meeting and took over operation of the United Way in the face of the lack of a director, putting in about 20 hours a week.
“No one on the board could have done what she did,” Lipnickey said.
Murray’s 2017 “Mostly Beethoven” Monday evening concert series at the Oxford Community Arts Center was a sequel to a highly popular “Mozart Mondays” series he offered in 2015.
He took a leave from his duties as professor and chair of Miami University’s Department of Music and used some of that time to prepare for the series, which Dr. Buerk said she found out about by accident.
“I stumbled on it. I was at the arts center with my grandson and heard him playing. I thought no one was at a concert, but he was practicing,” Buerk said. “We were leaving as the crowd was streaming in.”
She said he had devised the idea of the concerts in hopes of bringing Miami and the community into a closer relationship with the arts. She said she was impressed by the fact he memorized the pieces and played without music in front of him.
The effort inspired her to buy a book of Mozart sonatas, prompting her to add, “I could play them.”
Caroline Croswell, executive director of the Oxford Community Arts Center, said the audiences were larger than expected for the summertime and were appreciative of the opportunity to hear Murray’s programs.
“At that time of the year, I did not expect any audience at all. He started with 75 in the audience this year. That was a lot and it grew to 175,” Croswell said. “It was creeping up on 200 by the last one.”
She said Murray was on a sabbatical and used part of that time to prepare the programs.
“It was a great opportunity for us,” she added, then supplying a hint of what is to come. “He said he is preparing a Festival for this year. It’s all sketchy and tentative but he is planning for 2018. All his time is donated.”
Buerk said she really appreciated the gift of music Murray gave to the community through his concert series.
“He gave so much joy to my life,” she said. “I like to do anything to encourage him to do this. This is the reason I live in Oxford, Ohio.”
Hauser was thrust into a dual role with the United Way this year due to three resignations of executive directors early in 2017.
She was elected president of the board of directors at the February annual meeting. Revelee had submitted his resignation in 2016 to be effective Jan. 31. Two resignations later, the board was without a director and needing to organize for the 2017 fall campaign.
The board had hired a Community Impact Coordinator, who started early in the year to work with the director and who ended up shouldering some of the director’s duties but then, she, too moved to another job.
“Carol held the board together,” Lipnickey said. In his written nomination of Hauser for Citizen of the Year recognition, he wrote, “(A)s president of the Oxford United Way and Vicinity board in 2017, Carol has led this organization through an extremely challenging year.”
He proceeded to list the following:
• Transitioned through three executive directors
• Transitioned to a new donor tracking system
• Transitioned to an updated financial account system
• Transitioned through the hiring of a new position of Community Impact Coordinator
• This is in addition to coordinating the annual events such as the annual fundraising campaign, monthly meetings, annual audit
“Carol has been averaging 10 to 20 hours a week for most of this year as an unpaid volunteer. And as the only retired person on the board, the daily operation was carried mostly on her shoulders,” Lipnickey wrote. “Carol epitomizes why Oxford is a great place to live where we have great people who do great things on behalf of Oxford and the community.”