If the number of jobs one person has is measured by the hats they wear, then someone had better buy Lou Tharp one massive rack to hang hers on.
Tharp is the faculty assistant, accountant, record keeper, scrapbooker, and works in the box office for the performing arts department. She also teaches a stained glass course, helps with the summer music festival, and prepares food for departmental receptions.
On April 16 Tharp was recognized for 35 years of service to the college.
It is fitting for her to be the assistant to the performing arts department because of her involvement with the arts. “It seems like I’ve always been involved in music and theater. I have been in church choir since grade school, went to Elijah rehearsals with my mom when I was younger, played in band, attended school plays and Winfield community productions, and was in the nun’s chorus in ‘The Sound of Music,’” said Tharp. “I never missed a Horsefeather and Applesauce production and participated in two, and I have enjoyed a number of productions at the Crown Uptown and Music Theatre of Wichita.”
In her 35 years Tharp has seen many interesting things. One experience which sticks out in her mind involves a streaker. “In December of ’82 I was sitting here and I saw something go by the door and it was cold outside,” said Tharp. I went out in the lobby and he was laying out in a pose and all he had on was stockings. All I could say was ‘shouldn’t you have some clothes on?’”
The streaker was later caught near the library and it was discovered that he was armed.
Some of the less shocking moments in her career include traveling with different groups in the department. She said, “Trips with the divisions have been great adventures. In March of ‘84 I went to Israel. I traveled with the choir to Germany, Switzerland and Austria in ’98, New York in March of ‘05 and Italy in ‘08.
This is something which David Gardner, assistant professor of music, says makes her more than an assistant. “It’s neat how she is so much a part of the performing arts division. She has come along with us on tours. We truly get the feeling that she is a part of our family and she’s not just the faculty assistant,” said Gardner.
She has seen many changes in her time at the college. She has been around during the terms of five Presidents of the college and four division chairs. Technology has forced her to make changes as well. “I still have my first computer which they want to take away from me,” said Tharp.
The many years have also piled on an excessive amount of information. Roger Moon, associate professor of theatre program, said, “She is a gigantic resource of knowledge. It has become almost a cliché answer to tell someone to go ask Lou if they are unsure about something.”
Gardner agrees. “One of the most amazing things about her is that she is a walking, living encyclopedia about SC and it’s great how she can provide such context and history to the decisions we need to make,” said Gardner. “She has kept marvelous records and put together scrapbooks for so many years.”
The people she works with also appreciate the way in which she handles her work. Brooke Rowzee, theatre senior, said, “No matter how much stuff she has going on, she’ll take a moment to do whatever you need her too.”
Gardner said, “She is so great about going above and beyond the call of duty. She makes home baked treats for receptions and she never complains, she just volunteers.”
When she isn’t working, Tharp keeps busy with other activities. She is involved in the Presbyterian Church, a pitch card club and is a member of a red hat group. Alongside her husband Bill, Tharp also does genealogy research for people all through the country and keeps her family’s up to date as well.
If entering online book orders, her least favorite part of her job, ever drives her into retirement, Tharp plans to finish recording obituaries for the Cowley County Museum, write a cookbook for her children, babysit and do more traveling.
Rowzee can’t imagine this happening. She said, “She is a joy for us to have and I can’t see how the performing arts department could ever survive without her.”
Service Anniversary Recognitions
Ashlee Alley, Andy Bulla, Aimee Campbell, Donna Davis, John Dupuy, Dan Falk, Pam Green, Darin Hart, Dana Johnson, Chris Smith, Amy Yan
Susan Camp, Karen Cannady, Susan Lowe, Karen Pedersen, Linda Schulz, Denise Stephens
Claudia Geer, Bobby Smith
Rich Bicker, Steve Wilke