Fine Arts Division Faculty

Larry Smith, Fine Arts Chair

Fine Arts Chair; Director of MBU Honors
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DMA in Choral Music, Arizona State University, 1998
MM in Choral Conducting, Texas State-San Marcos, 1986
BME in K-12 Vocal Music from Baylor University, 1979

Dr. Smith serves as Chair for the Fine Arts Division at MBU and Director of the MBU Honors Program. He 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, the 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 as Director of Traditional Worship at St. Paul’s Evangelical Church in St. Louis. Dr. Smith has directed honor choirs in Texas, California, Missouri, Illinois, and Washington and is a frequent clinician and judge for high school festivals. Most recently, he was the choral clinician and Honor Choir Director for the 2013 ACSI Northwest Musicale in Seattle, Washington. In May 2014, Dr. Smith led members of the MBU Chorale and Choral Society on their fifth European tour, performing and ministering in Austria and Czech Republic. He is currently working with other faculty members to develop a new MBU Honors program to launch in Fall 2016.

Paula Bennett, Associate Professor of Communications

Associate Professor of Communications
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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.

Cathy Benton, Professor of Music

Professor of Music; Director of MBU Ringers
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Cathy Benton serves as Professor of Music and Director of the MBU Ringers. Dr. 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. 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 several editions of Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers. She was also 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 Missouri Music Teachers Association (MMTA) and is currently serving as Missouri State Chair for the Handbell Musicians of America.

Jonathan Blackmon, Associate Professor of Music

Associate Professor of Music; Director of Worship Arts
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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.

Kasey Cox, Instructor of Communications and Theatre

Instructor of Communications & Theatre; Director of In Charactre
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Kasey Cox is a 2010 graduate of Missouri Baptist University with a degree in Musical Theatre and a 2014 graduate of Fontbonne University with a Master of Arts in Theatre. She has participated in over sixty full-length productions ranging from high school to community to collegiate to professional. Some of her favorite roles include Sally (You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown), Woman 1 (Songs for a New World), Rosie (Bye Bye Birdie), and Jo (Little Women: The Musical) She was the Artistic Director and founder of Acting Out!, Cape Girardeau, MO’s premiere theatre company, from 2013-2015 and currently serves on the board of Silhouette Productions in St. Louis. She is also an active member of STAM and EdTA and has presented at a local and statewide level. Kasey has been participating as an actor and a director in drama ministry for 16 years, training with nationally recognized ministries such as The Applied Theatre Center, New Life Drama Company, and Youth With a Mission. She has performed in churches across the country using methods ranging from scenes to human videos to Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed. She currently directs In Charactre, Missouri Baptist University’s drama ministry team, and teaches courses such as History of Theatre I & II, Drama in Ministry, Oral Interpretation of Literature, and Introduction to Theatre.

Ladd Faszold, Professor of Music

Professor of Music; Cirriculum Coordinator for the Fine Arts Division
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Dr. Ladd Faszold has degrees from Southeast Missouri State University (Bachelor on Music Education–Choral), New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (Master of Church Music with an emphasis in composition), and University of Memphis (Doctor of Musical Arts in Sacred Music–composition). He teaches courses in advanced theory, music history, 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 worked under world-renown conductors, such as Leonard Slatkin, Robert Shaw, and David Robertson, performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, and participated in several major label recordings. He is a voting member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS), which annually presents the Grammy Awards. For 30 years Dr. Faszold has conducted various churches as worship leader and choir conductor.

Mark Lawley, Assistant Professor Music

Assistant Professor of Music; Director of Choral Activities
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Mark Lawley is the Director of Choral Activities at MBU. He is also the founding and artistic director of Boys Choir of St. Louis. Choirs under his direction have given invitational performances for National ACDA, National MENC, Regional ACDA, MMEA, and the San Francisco Choral Festival. He currently serves as President for Southwestern American Choral Directors Association. He earned his undergraduate degree and certificate recital award in piano at Evangel University and a Master of Music degree in conducting at Missouri State University. He is a member of Pi Kappa Lambda, ACDA, and MMEA. In Lawley’s first year on faculty at Drury University he was recognized by two Judge White Scholars who identified him as the faculty member who had the greatest impact on their education during their freshman year. He was awarded the 2012 Faculty Member of the Year by the Student Government Association and was recognized by the Drury Women’s Soccer Team as a professor of influence. He received the 2015 Drury Faculty Member of the Year award from the Greek Association. He was the 2011 recipient of the Luther T. Spayde award and the 2011 Outstanding South Central District Director award given by the Missouri Choral Directors Association. His wife Lori is the office and housing manager for Convention Services Group for the Assemblies of God. They are proud of their three children, Devin, Drew, and Brooke.

Dr. C. Allin Means, Associate Professor of Journalism

Associate Professor of Journalism and Communications
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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.

Dr. Joy Powell, Director of Drama Productions

Director of Drama Productions; Director of In Charactre; Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts
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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 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.

Amanda Staggenborg, Instructor of Public Relations

Assistant Professor of Public Relations and Communications
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Amanda Staggenborg is an Instructor of Public Relations and communications 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.

Shane Williams, Associate Professor of Music

Associate Professor of Music; Director of Bands
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Wm. Shane Williams celebrates his premier season with Missouri Baptist University where he currently holds the post of Director of Bands.

Mr. Williams has guest conducted in Europe with the Zapadocesky Symphonic Orchestra of the Czech Republic and the United States with the St. Louis Philharmonic, the Illinois Symphony, the Kirkwood Symphony, the Gateway Chamber Orchestra, and the Compton Heights Concert Band. As a professional musician, he has performed with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra (noted performances at Carnegie Hall), the Illinois Symphony, the Nashville Symphony, the Joffrey Ballet, Ice Capades, Moody Blues, the Elvis Show, the Three Irish Tenors, Opryland USA, Burt Bacharach, Roger Williams, Dionne Warwick, Tommy Tune, and many others. Mr. Williams was a featured guest artist with the Equinox Players for the Women in the Arts Conference featuring the music of contemporary composer, Beth Denisch. He has served on the faculty of the Masterworks Music Festival for 14 years.

Mr. Williams holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education from Austin Peay State University, a Master of Music degree in Percussion Performance from the St. Louis Conservatory of Music and a Master of Music degree in Conducting from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He is currently completing his doctoral work in Instructional Leadership.

His previous conducting posts include Conductor of the Dayspring Festival Orchestra, Music Director/Conductor of the Alton Summer Chamber Series, Music Director of the Sangamon Valley Youth Symphony, Music Director/Conductor of the Young Peoples Concert Orchestra, Associate Conductor of the Alton Symphony, and Resident Conductor of the Award-winning St. Louis Brass Band. He is a regular guest conductor, performer, clinician, and adjudicator within the region. Symphonic Orchestra.

Part-Time Faculty


Kristen Frost, Adjunct Instructor of Voice

Adjunct Instructor of Voice, Director of Opera Theatre
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Kristen Frost, Soprano, has performed more than 50 works as a guest soloist under the baton of such notable conductors as Nicholas McGegan, Harry Christophers, Hans Vonk, Amy Kaiser and John McDaniel. She has been a featured soloist with the St. Louis Symphony in Handel’s Messiah, Faure’s Requiem at the Cathedral Basilica, Handel’s Israel in Egypt, Haydn’s Heiligmesse and Mass in Time of War, Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion and Christmas Oratorio and Holiday Pops Concerts. She has also performed with the St. Louis Symphony and Chorus at Carnegie Hall. Ms. Frost has soloed with Elgin Symphony, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Bach Society, Masterworks Chorale and From the Garden Live series among others. Recording credits include Faure’s Requiem with Tower Chorale, Joy for Every Age (Oxford University Press) and Gloria! Christmas with the Bach Society. She is a recipient of the 2013 American Prize National Finalist Award, two prizes from the Metropolitan Opera National Council, the Verna Ross Orndorff Career Grant, Artist Presentation Society and Pi Kappa Lambda Awards. She recently sang the Dew Fairy in Hansel and Gretel and La Prima Cercatrica in Suor Angelica with Northwestern University. Favorite leading roles include Adele, Gilda, The Countess, Miss Silverpeal and Fiona in Brigadoon. Ms. Frost holds a M.M from Southern Illinois University and a B.M. from Millikin University with further studies at Northwestern University. She has served as a master teacher and adjudicator for NFMC and ISMTA and has been published in Classical Singer magazine.

Jason Stahr, Adjunct Instructor of Theatre

Adjunct Instructor of Theatre

Jason Stahr is entering his 30th year of working in professional theater. His list of professional credits include that of designer, director, actor, and playwright. He has his MFA in Theatre from Lindenwood University. Currently, Jason is the Director of Operations and Stage Services at the Touhill Performing Arts Center. He has also been the scenic designer for many MBU Theatre productions, including The Diary of Anne Frank, West Side Story, The Crucible, Guys & Dolls, and Les Miserables. Jason is an adjunct in the Theatre Department and teaches classes such as Stagecraft, Stage Management, Theatre Media, and Stage Makeup.

Michael Sust, Adjunct Instructor of Voice

Adjunct Instructor of Voice

Michael Šust studied voice, piano and composition at the National Conservatory of Music in the Czech Republic and in the United States where in 1997 he earned his doctoral degree from Boston University. During his earlier operatic career, he performed in opera theaters and concert halls in Central Europe, Canada, in the eastern states of the U.S. and in Texas. Most recently he appeared as Javert in Les Miserables as well as Elijah in Mendelssohn’s oratorio as a part of the Missouri Baptist University fine arts productions, sang Melchior in Amahl and the Nightvisitors with the Messiah Project in Springfield, MO, and in Handel’s Messiah with the Arkansas Philharmonic Orchestra of Fayetteville, AR. He has toured extensively in central Europe as a singer and conductor and had the honor of performing for the Czech President, Vaclav Havel as well as the former U. S. President, George H. W. Bush. He is the founder and director of the Czech Symphony Project, a Christian non-profit organization facilitating international exchange for Czech and American music students for the past 20 years. His greatest passion is teaching and proclaiming God’s Word; he is currently the Senior Pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel St. Louis.

Bert VanderMark, Adjunct Instructor of Art

Adjunct Instructor of Art

Bert VanderMark is an adjunct instructor of Art Appreciation at MBU. He received a formal BA/MA from the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague, the Netherlands, and an MFA in Fine Arts and Graphic Design from Washington State University, Pullman, Washington. He has extensive teaching experience in Graphic Design and Illustration techniques, and has been on the faculty at both Washington University and Webster University.

Bert VanderMark is the founder, President and Creative Director of Studio Montage in St. Louis, Missouri. Studio Montage creates innovative graphics with unique treatments both photographically and typographically for educational book products in need of strong visual appeal. Visual Parables, a ministry of ACT Artists in Christian Testimony International combines the powerful teaching of Christ’s parables with an understanding of the importance of visual communication, encouragement and spiritual discernment during this critical time of visual warfare and world media.