Fine Arts Division Faculty

Smith.Larry-website-photoLarry Smith, D.M.A., Professor of Music; Fine Arts Chair

Dr. Larry Smith directs the MBU Chorale, Chamber Singers, and Choral Society, and Conducting Seminar.  He completed his Doctor of Musical Arts in Choral Music from Arizona State University, received his Master of Music in Choral Conducting from Texas State-San Marcos, and earned his Bachelor of Music Education in K-12 Vocal Music from Baylor University.  Dr. Smith served pubic schools in Ft. Worth, Texas and Fullerton, California before embarking on his college teaching career in 1990.  He also sang professionally with the Oregon Bach Festival Chorus, Musica Viva of San Bernardino CA, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra Chorus, and the Phoenix Bach Society (now the Phoenix Chorale). He has been a worship leader for churches in Texas, California, Arizona, Oregon, and currently serves at Southwest Baptist Church in St. Louis.  Over the years, Dr. Smith has directed honor choirs in Texas, California, Missouri, Illinois, and Washington and is a frequent clinician and judge for high schools around the Midwest.  Most recently, he was the choral clinician and Honor Choir Director for the ACSI Northwest Musicale in Seattle, Washington.  In May 2014, Dr. Smith will lead members of the MBU Chorale and Choral Society on their fifth European tour, performing and ministering in Germany, Czech Republic, and Poland.


Paula Bennett, M.A., Associate Professor of Communications, 314-744-5350

When Professor Bennett teaches Broadcast Media courses she is drawing upon her 26 years of engineering experience with KSDK, Channel 5—St. Louis.  In addition to her work at KSDK, Ms. Bennett has assisted with the production of St. Louis baseball, football, and hockey broadcasts. She also did freelance work on a PBS television series.  Besides overseeing Timeline, Professor Bennett supervises the University’s production studio and video projects.   She holds a bachelor’s degree from Louisiana State University and a master’s degree from the University of Southern Mississippi.


benton,cathy_HeadshotCathy Benton, D.M.A., Professor of Music, Director of MBU Ringers

Cathy Benton is an Associate Professor of Music at Missouri Baptist University in St. Louis, Missouri where she teaches piano and ear training, in addition to directing the MBU Ringers. Dr. Benton performs as a soloist and accompanist on the piano, organ and harpsichord and has been an adjudicator and clinician for numerous keyboard festivals and workshops. She is currently organist/pianist at Kirk of the Hills Presbyterian Church in St. Louis. Dr. Benton was honored for her achievements in teaching by being included in the fifth, sixth, eighth and ninth editions of Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers.  In 2001 she was awarded the Emerson Excellence in Teaching Award. Dr. Benton is a member of SLAMTA, MMTA, MTNA, National Guild of Piano Teachers, the Handbell Association of Greater St. Louis, the Handbell Musicians of America, and NAfME. She is the Immediate Past President of the St. Louis Area Music Teachers Association (SLAMTA) and the President of the Missouri Music Teachers Association (MMTA).  Cathy Benton has a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Murray State University, a Master of Music degree in Piano Performance from Webster University, and the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in piano performance from UMKC.


blackmon,jonathan_Headshot Jonathan Blackmon, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Music; Director of Worship Arts

Dr. Blackmon serves as Associate Professor of Music and Director of Worship Arts at Missouri Baptist University in St. Louis, Missouri.  In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Dr. Blackmon directs the MBU ministry groups and oversees the Worship Arts program.  Prior to his appointment at MBU, he taught at Houston Baptist University in Houston, Texas, and in the School of Church Music at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.  Dr. Blackmon holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance from Howard Payne University, a Master of Music degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Church Music and Worship, also from Southwestern Seminary.  Dr. Blackmon has served in music ministry in various churches for 20 years and has a passion for church music and worship that is biblically-based and pastoral in nature.  He holds memberships in the International Council of Ethnodoxologists (ICE), the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS), Society for the Arts in Religious and Theological Studies (SARTS), and American Choral Directors Association (ACDA).  Dr. Blackmon has presented research papers at several major conferences, is active as a public speaker, and has published several articles in print and online journals.


Ladd Faszold, D.M.A., Professor of Music
Dr. Ladd Faszold has degrees in choral music and composition from Southeast Missouri State University (BME), New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (MCM), and University of Memphis (DMA). He teaches courses in advanced theory, music history, Church Music, and composition. He is a composer of choral, chamber, and orchestral works. Twice local orchestras have performed his symphony, London, 1940. Dr. Faszold performs with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra Chorus. With this ensemble he has performed a large body of choral/orchestral works with world-class conductors, such as Leonard Slatkin, Raymond Leopard and Robert Shaw. For 30 years Dr. Faszold has conducted various church and community choruses.


means,callin_Headshot C. Allin Means, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Journalism and Communications, 314-744-7602

Dr. Means brings more than 25 years of experience to his teaching position at Missouri Baptist University, including 12 in the newspaper business followed by 13 in higher education. After graduating from Baylor University in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in radio/TV/film, Means did nearly everything in the newspaper business from reporter to editor, and all points in between, before going back to school and earning his master’s degree from the University of West Florida in 1998. After teaching and directing journalism programs at Morris College and Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Means went back to school and earned his doctorate in mass communication from the University of Southern Mississippi, where he also taught journalism courses. Dr. Means went on to teach and conduct research at Baylor University before joining MBU in fall 2011. Teaching journalism is Dr. Means’ passion and he is glad to be at a Christian university that cultivates learning and faith.


Joy Powell, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Theatre, Director of Theatre Productions

Ms. Powell joined the MBU faculty in 2006.  She also serves as the Worship Leader for Third Baptist Church, Granite City, IL.  She received her B.S. in Musical Theatre Performance at Ball State University, her M.A. in Theatre from Lindenwood University, and is currently pursuing her PhD in Theatre at University of Missouri-Columbia.

Her favorite directing credits at MBU include Fiddler on the Roof, Steel Magnolias, The Diary of Anne Frank, Little Women, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Other directing credits include Big River (SIUE), The Music Man (SIUE), and Peter Pan (Spotlight Productions). Some of her favorite performances credits include Ensemble in Aida (MUNY), Ensemble in Oliver! (MUNY), Sister Mary Hubert in Nunsense I & II (SIUE), Sonia in Godspell (SIUE), Chiffon in Little Shop of Horrors (SIUE), Georgia in Curtains (Kirkwood Theatre) and as a collaborator/performer in the cabaret shows Two Tables for One (MBU) and Like Totally 80s (Lemming Armada and MBU) as well as several concerts at the Sheldon Concert Hall.


wokurka,amanda_Headshot Amanda Staggenborg, M.A., Assistant Professor of Public Relations and Communications, 314-744-5365

Amanda Staggenborg is an Assistant Professor of Public Relations at Missouri Baptist University.  Her research areas of interest are corporate public relations, media strategy, media law, organizational communications, crisis communications and social media ethics.  She was nominated for the 2013 Kemper Award for Excellence in Teaching.   She is a member of the Public Relations Society of America, the International Public Relations Association, the International Association of Business Communicators, the Central States Communications Association and St. Louis Women in Media.  Her experience includes the Missouri Division of Tourism and St. Elizabeth Academy and has consulted for several St. Louis organizations. She proudly directs the Communications Media Talk, which features prominent communications professionals in the St. Louis region.