A! Magazine for the Arts

Dr. Charles (Ted) Olson

Dr. Charles (Ted) Olson

ETSU Professors Receive Recognition

December 28, 2010

JOHNSON CITY, TN -- East Tennessee State University recently presented its 2010 Distinguished Faculty Awards for Teaching, Research and Service. The winners were nominated and selected by their faculty peers.

Among the winners were:

Dr. Charles (Ted) Olson, professor in the Department of Appalachian Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences, is the recipient of the Distinguished Faculty Award for Research. Since joining the ETSU faculty, Olson has
produced a remarkable body of rich, multifaceted work. His interests encompass fiction and poetry, photography, musical performance, and writings on subjects as diverse as the Civil War, Southern literature, African-American folklore, and bluegrass and country music.

Recently, he produced a documentary recording for Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP). In 1939, when the park was being created, a graduate student from California arrived to record the speech and music of the area before it changed forever.

Recently the GSMNP released a CD of those recordings. The collection, Old-Time Smoky Mountain Music, contains 34 songs, ballads and instrumentals. Among the selections in the collection is a ballad found only in the Smokies entitled "Up on Big Pigeon," as well as widely known material including "Sourwood Mountain," "Don't Forget Me Little Darling," "On Top of
Old Smoky" and "Mule Skinner Blues." Olson selected the recordings, wrote an introductory essay and contributed liner notes.

During the past five years, Olson has penned a book of poems, authored six books, co-authored or co-edited three books, and produced seven essays or works of fiction, seven works of poetry, multiple entries in 19 encyclopedias, six sets of recording liner notes, 13 book reviews, and 14 conference

In 2008, Olson was awarded a Fulbright Senior Scholar grant to lecture and conduct research in Spain regarding the influence of Spanish culture on the cultures of Appalachia and the South. Olson edits the Journal of Appalachian
and has also edited and been closely involved with CrossRoads: A Southern Culture Annual. Olson won Appalachian Book of the Year Awards in 2002 and 2006. Among his notable works are Blue Ridge Folklife and . He has edited several volumes of works by the influential Appalachian author James Still, and, with the late music historian Charles K. Wolfe, Olson edited the award-winning scholarly study The Bristol Sessions: Writings About the Big Bang of Country Music. He served as co-editor, with
ETSU professor Anthony P. Cavender, of the book A Tennessee Folklore Sampler: Selections from the Tennessee Folklore Society Bulletin, 1935-2009.

As a musician, Olson performs folk songs and ballads, singing and accompanying him-self on guitar, banjo and dulcimer. He has served as
a consultant on several films about the region and at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.

Melissa Shafer, an associate professor of Theatre and Dance in the Department of Communication, received the Distinguished Faculty Award for Service.

Shafer is the set and lighting designer and technical director for ETSU Division of Theatre and Dance productions, while also teaching a range of theatre courses. She is noted for her distinguished teaching and creative efforts in
set construction, scenery, properties, lighting and audio needs for productions.
Her reputation for "going above and beyond" extends well past theatre and other divisions and departments in the College of Arts and Sciences, into such areas as storytelling, opera and bluegrass.

"Working tirelessly and without much recognition, she has been a driving force in the Tennessee Theatre Association. It culminates this year in her being named president of the organization," a colleague wrote.

Shafer's service to theatre companies outside ETSU includes serving as a special effects consultant to Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Va. and as technical director for Shakespeare and Friends in the Park in Rogersville, Tenn.