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Graduate Profiles

Dr. Allen Henderson

Versatile artist, teacher, arts administrator, and baritone Allen Henderson is currently Professor of Music at Georgia Southern University where he teaches voice and foreign language diction. He holds degrees from Carson Newman University (BM) where he was the outstanding graduate in music, The University of Tennessee (MM), and the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati (DMA) where his minor was in Arts Administration and he was winner of the prestigious Corbett-Treigle Opera Competition.

As baritone soloist, Dr. Henderson has appeared in concert, opera, and oratorio with the Knoxville Opera, Fort Worth Opera, Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, Tennessee Opera Theatre, Knoxville Symphony, Nashville Symphony, Naples Philharmonic, Oak Ridge Symphony, Southern Georgia Symphony, the Bach Aria Festival in Stony Brook, NY, the Chautauqua Institution, and the Beloit-Janesville (WI) Symphony. He appeared at Lincoln Center as Allazim in the CCM production of Za�de for the Mozart bicentennial. He has also appeared at the Ravinia Festival as a part of the Steans Institute Concert Series. Henderson has performed premieres of works by John Rutter, Nancy Hill Cobb, Mark Schwiezer, Richard Shepherd, and Jeffrey Wood.

A district winner and regional finalist in the Metropolitan Opera auditions, Dr. Henderson was winner of the 1995 National Federation of Music Clubs Artist Awards and since has appeared throughout the US in recitals under the auspices of the NFMC. Among his other awards are: Second Prize in the McCammon Opera Competition of the Fort Worth Opera, Second Prize in the Miami Opera Young Patronesses of the Opera Competition, Second Prize in the Opera Guild of San Antonio Opera Talent Search, winner of the vocal division of the Hemphill-Wells Sorantin Awards for Young Artists in San Angelo, Texas. and winner of numerous NATS auditions. He has also presented recitals and master classes at universities throughout the country.

As director of opera at Austin Peay State University, Dr Henderson produced full productions of Le Nozze di Figaro, Die Fledermaus, Candide, Trouble in Tahiti, Trial By Jury, and Game of Chance. In 2004 he directed the premier of A Perfect Plan by composer Seymour Barab with the composer in attendance. He has also created roles and directed premieres of the chamber operas St. Nicholas and Good King Wenceslas by Richard Shepherd and Mark Schweizer and directed the premier of Diaries by Jeffrey Wood. Dr. Henderson can be heard on the recordings of both of the chamber operas by Schweizer and Shepherd issued by St. James Press. He also can be heard on Aeolian Records release entitled Dimensions and on his world premier recording with guitarist Stanley Yates entitled Shadows featuring works by John Rutter, Michael Fink, and Castelnuovo-Tedesco.

Dr. Henderson has presented papers on his research at national and regional professional meetings including the College Music Society, Music Educators National Conference, American Choral Directors Association, Opera America Annual Conference, the Association for Technology in Music Instruction (ATMI), Technological Directions in Music Education Conference, The Preparation of Tomorrow's Conductors Symposium, the Association for Educational Communication and Technology (AECT), and the Symposium on Church Music Directions for the Twenty-first Century. He has been a consultant for the Yamaha Corporation in the vocal uses of the Disklavier.

Dr. Henderson has been the recipient of several fellowships and grants in recognition of his teaching and research. In 1993 he was selected as one of twelve university professors nationwide to participate in the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) Intern Program. In 1995, he was awarded a Tower Research Grant by Austin Peay State University to conduct research on the vocal music of John Alden Carpenter. He was recipient of grant funds from the US Department of Education to conduct training workshops for K-8 teachers on the integration of the arts and technology into the general curriculum. He has also been recipient of grants from the Tennessee Arts Commission, the Southern Arts Federation, The Marilyn Horne Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Articles related to his research have been published in the Choral Journal, Junior Key Notes, and Creator Magazine, as well as the proceedings of national conferences.

As an arts administrator, he served as chair of music departments at Austin Peay State University and Georgia Southern University. After serving as a regional governor and being elected national secretary/treasurer of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, Henderson was recently named Executive Director of NATS. As Executive Director, Henderson leads the work of the worlds largest professional association of voice teachers, supervising a talented staff in promoting continuing education for voice teachers; publishing a recognized scholarly journal, Journal of Singing; and promoting voice education among a wide array of constituencies, from recreational singers to voice educators and medical doctors. He is a member of numerous professional organizations including the American Choral Directors Association, National Association of Teachers of Singing, Phi Kappa Phi, Pi Kappa Lambda, Music Educators National Conference, and the National Opera Association. An honorary member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, he is also creator of the Austin Peay State University All-State Preparation Workshop. In his first teaching position, he was assistant professor of music at Oklahoma Baptist University, Shawnee, Oklahoma where he taught voice and was director of the OBU Chapel Choir.

Active in community affairs, Henderson was named one of 40 individuals under 40 making a difference in Middle Tennessee by the Tennessean. He served on the organizing board of the Tennessee Preservation Trust and helped organize Tennesseans for the Arts. He served several terms as President of the Montgomery County Historical Society and during his tenure was responsible for many structures being added to the National Register of Historic Places, as well as the running of the historic Clarksville L&N Train Station. He also was a board member of the Downtown District Partnership in Clarksville, a mayoral appointed board charged with the redevelopment of downtown Clarksville following a devastating 1999 tornado.

As a church musician, Dr. Henderson has served both full and part-time as a minister of music at churches in Oklahoma, Ohio, and Tennessee and currently serves as Director of Music at the historic First Presbyterian Church in Savannah, Georgia where he directs a full program of musical activities including a respected artist series. He has published articles in Creator Magazine and currently serves on its editorial board. He is also active as clinician at various clinics, camps, and conferences.

Mary McDonald

Mary McDonald is a multi-talented musician from Knoxville, Tennessee. In addition to her work as a composer, arranger, producer, pianist, and organist, she was a sacred choral editor for The Lorenz Corporation for nearly twenty years and currently serves as the organist for Central Baptist Church in Knoxville. Her music and talents have blessed choirs and congregations across the country for more than twenty-five years.

Mary is the composer of more than 600 published choral anthems, several Christmas and Easter cantatas, and numerous keyboard collections, and still serves as an editorial consultant for Lorenz. She is also active as a choral clinician, traveling throughout the United States conducting workshops and concertizing. Her unique blend of heart, hands, and humor, combined with a wide range of writing and performing styles, keep her in constant demand. One of Mary's greatest joys has been serving as accompanist for the Tennessee Men's Chorale since 1985. In 2000, Mary served as the first woman President of the Southern Baptist Church Music Conference. She is currently on the board of the John Ness Beck Foundation and is a member of the American Guild of Organists (AGO) and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP).

Mary is a 1978 graduate of Carson-Newman University. She and her husband, Brian, a Knoxville architect, have been married for more than thirty years and have two children: Bethany K. and C.A. Smith are their daughter and son-in-law, and Chris and Hope McDonald are their son and daughter-in-law.


Dr. Maurice A. “Mo” Ottinger initially served as Director of Budget Integration and Analysis, and now serves as Director of Budget Execution for the United States Missile Defense Agency (MDA), with principal duty at the Wernher von Braun Complex on Redstone Arsenal, adjacent to Huntsville, Alabama. MDA’s mission is to develop and deploy a layered Missile Defense System to defend the United States, its deployed forces, allies, and friends from missile attacks in all phases of flight. MDA spans 14 time zones with more than 8,000 military, civilian, and contract personnel.

Mo is a Distinguished Military Graduate (1984) and Distinguished Alumnus (2011) of Carson-Newman College (Jefferson City, TN), where he earned a Bachelor of Music (magna cum laude) in Music Education and received The President’s ROTC Award for Military Excellence. He has served on Carson-Newman University’s School of Religion Advisory Board continuously (by joint invitation of the President and School Chair) since its establishment in 2011. Mo is a fourth-generation C-N student and both of his children are fifth-generation; one graduating from C-N and the other attending a college-credit program while in high school.
Mo served as a US Army officer for 30 years, over 27 of which were in full-time active duty status, taking one Reserve duty assignment to complete PhD coursework and residency requirements before resuming his active duty career. He served, trained, studied, and/or taught in a wide variety of Active Army, Army Reserve, sister service, and allied units and schools, as well as on the Joint Staff at the Pentagon, and received promotions on first consideration to every grade thru colonel. His assignments as a colonel included Senior Military Assistant to the Joint Staff Comptroller; Deputy Director, G-8/Resource Management, Headquarters, US Army Installation Management Command (at that time in the National Capital Region); Director, Department of Defense Organization, Planning & Strategy/Faculty Instructor, Seminar 5, Department of Distance Education, US Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania; and Director/Deputy Chief of Staff, G-8 [Senior Financial Manager], Headquarters, US Army Reserve Command, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
After his Army retirement, Mo served a tour as a Navy Civilian (GS-15) as Comptroller/Chief Financial Officer of Fleet Readiness Center East aboard US Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina (working with both Marines and Sailors), followed by a tour as a Civilian Airman (NH-IV Tier 2) serving in multiple leadership positions with the Strategic Plans, Programs, Requirements, and Assessments Directorate of Headquarters, US Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. In early 2019, Mo accepted MDA’s offer to return to Redstone Arsenal (his first duty station as an Army lieutenant) in an NH-IV High Critical Acquisition Position, taking leadership duties that have since divided between two such positions.
In 2001, Mo completed both his PhD in Education (Higher and Adult Education emphases) from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville and his MBA from Syracuse University, with 4.0 GPAs in both degrees. He has also earned the Master of Strategic Studies from the US Army War College (Resident Class of 2006), as well as the MS in Administration from Central Michigan University (1986), which included courses transferred from Florida Institute of Technology and Georgia State University.
Mo’s post-Senior Service College military and government education includes the Canadian Forces College’s Canadian Security Studies Programme, the US Army War College’s Senior Leader Seminar, the US Naval Postgraduate School’s Senior Leader Seminar, the US Air University’s Defense Financial Management and Civilian Personnel Management Courses, the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Leadership Symposium, and MDA’s Leadership in Action: Leading in a Dynamic Environment course.
Mo’s professional designations include Certified Defense Financial Manager (CDFM), American Society of Military Comptrollers, and US Department of Defense Financial Management Certification Level 3 (DFMC3).
Mo’s major permanent awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, seven awards of the Meritorious Service Medal, two awards of the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the Joint Meritorious Unit Award, the Army Superior Unit Award, the Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge. He has also received both Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and Assistant Secretary of the Army (Financial Management and Comptroller) Financial Management Awards. Other achievements and honors include the Syracuse University Chancellor’s Award for Public Service (Program Class Award) and the Headquarters, Fort McPherson, Georgia Commander’s Award for Community Service (“Family of the Year” award for service to the Chapel in religious education, music ministry and outreach). Mo has served in well over a dozen military chapels and local churches throughout his career as a music, youth, or other lay leader, deacon, and/or Sunday school teacher. 

Mo is a Life Member of Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, Disabled American Veterans, American Veterans (AMVETS), the Military Order of the World Wars, and the Reserve Organization of America; and is a regularly-renewing member of the National Eagle Scout Association, The American Legion, and the American Society of Military Comptrollers.

(Current as of 24 July 2020)


Olivia Ellis

Olivia Ellis has a joy for sharing music, both as a performer and a teacher. She is currently Assistant Professor of Piano at Bryan College where she teaches applied piano, music theory, piano ensemble, piano pedagogy, and piano literature. In her role at Bryan, she also coordinates the group piano program and is the faculty liaison for the Bryan College community music school. Previously, she taught at Randall University in Moore, Oklahoma.

Olivia has been invited to adjudicate for piano competitions and give master classes and recitals in the southeast region. She enjoys teaching students of all ages and has presented lectures at local, state, and national events on a variety of pedagogical topics, including: the piano music of Clara Wieck Schumann, duets by standard composers for students, intermediate piano music by Franz Liszt, incorporating improvisation into group piano, and teaching music to the visually impaired. Olivia is very active in the Music Teacher National Association and serves as the treasurer for the Tennessee Music Teacher Association and media chair for the Chattanooga Music Teacher Association. She is also the adviser for the collegiate chapter of MTNA at Bryan College and is certified to teach Suzuki piano.

Olivia is a 2009 graduate of Carson-Newman University where she studied with Dr. Ryan Fogg and earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance, with honors. After CN, Olivia completed a Master of Music degree from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (Piano Performance) and a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree from the University of Oklahoma (Piano Performance and Pedagogy). Her DMA document was entitled “Clara Schumann’s Character Pieces: A Pedagogical Approach to Selected Works.”




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