AVON PARK - Before the singers, dancers, musicians and Broadway shows took the stage at South Florida State College, the auditorium's spotlight shined on one man, who made the introductions and then stepped aside to watch the performances along with about 1,500 other community members.
For nearly 30 years, and since the inception of the Cultural/Artist Series, the person who made those introductions and brought a variety of national and international talent to the college has been Doug Andrews.
The curtain will go down on Andrews' 32-year career at the college as a music educator and administrator when he retires in May.
Now the dean of cultural programs, Andrews reflected on his arrival at the college in the fall of 1982.
The original auditorium was built in 1978 and the gymnasium had just been built, he said.
"For the size of the community, I remember just coming here and being taken aback by this wonderful 1,445-seat auditorium that was new at the time, which seems funny to think back about that."
Prior to coming to the college, Andrews was the choral director for 13 years at Montoursville High School in Pennsylvania.
Many of his high school students became choral directors or band directors, Andrews said.
One of his high school students was Luanne Hawk, who was a music instructor at the college and is currently Sebring High School's choral director.
In 1984, Andrews headed the effort to start the college's Cultural Series, which is now known as the Artist Series.
The Cultural Series started out small with "non-national or international artists," he recalled.
"The first artist that really was kind of a major name at the time was Victor Borge," Andrews said. He was one of the first for the college "with a pretty large name with a very large artist fee attached to him. That certainly was memorable.
"There have been a lot of artists or performers who have been wonderful and some have been colossal disappointments."
Andrews placed singer/musician Michael McDonald, who performed Wednesday at the college, in the "wonderful" category.
"Michael was very gracious, very humble, very nice guy," Andrews said.
As he taught and performed administrative work at the college, Andrews said that over the years his administrative work increased as the Cultural/Artist Series grew larger and larger and with the start the Kaleidoscope Series and the Jazz Series. Also, he also oversees the auditorium rentals and the Museum of Florida Art and Culture (MOFAC).
So, as the position "blossomed" he became a full-time administrator in 2005, Andrews said.
But, this semester, after a 10-year hiatus from teaching, he has one independent-study student.
"I am teaching her elementary music theory and I am loving that," Andrews said.
Andrews cited the renovation of the theater as a high mark during his tenure along with the accompanying capital campaign.
After retiring Andrews said he will continue to write, primarily choral music, arrange and perform at the piano.
"Even though my job description really doesn't call for me to do anything with music, music continues to be a big part of my life," Andrews said.
He summed up his efforts by stating, "Just developing the programs, adding the Jazz Series, seeing us offer more to the community in terms of opportunities for enrichment for enjoyment for performances so they don't have to get in their car and drive to Orlando or Tampa. It's been fun."
SFSC has 33 applicants thus far for Andrews' position. The college will start reviewing the applications on Jan. 6, said Human Resources Director Susan Hale.