Insider is leading band director choice


Shelby R. Chipman, Florida A&M associate professor and associate director of bands, is looking to fill the position as the marching band director.

“In my eyes, Dr. Shelby Chipman is the only candidate that qualifies for the Marching ‘100,’” said Rushed Horne, former cymbals section leader, show planning committee and dance routine committee chairman from Atlanta. “He’s the only one that knows the correct fundamentals and foundations needed to build another awesome band for the university.”

The position became available after director Julian White, who had been scrutinized since the hazing death of drum major Robert Champion, resigned in May.

Rodner Wright, interim provost and search committee chair, said the committee is looking for someone who is keenly aware of the band’s legacy.

“The band is one of the national brands of the university,” Wright said. “It provides university recognition in a variety of ways over and beyond some of the national and international accomplishments athletically and academically.”

 The role of the new band director will be to supervise and oversee the marching and pep bands. Duties will include supervising all band students’ organizations and ensembles, providing creative direction, recruiting students for membership, teaching the marching band courses and other courses as needed, planning and directing the summer high school band camp, fundraising, planning and executing the band’s travel to athletic events and other duties that have been approved by the university, and functioning as the liaison between the athletic department, the Division of Student Affairs and the department of music.

Horne believes Chipman has what it takes to fill the position.

“Chipman knows the changes that need to be made to keep hazing out,” Horne said, “and is a firm believer in doing the right thing and making the right choices.”

As the search committee examines 13 applicants, including Chipman, Wright thinks this can be a learning experience.

“This is a process and opportunity for those of us who are not connected to the band and music department to learn,” Wright said. “It’s an opportunity for us to learn more about the discipline and the way the band operates.”

FAMU’s marching band has set the standard for innovating techniques for many high school and collegiate marching band programs throughout the nation.

The next meeting for the search committee is pending.