Music Educator at Trinity is Top Professor
Faculty member receives Fellowship for innovative teaching, dedicated mentoring
Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Diane Persellin, professor of music education at Trinity University, has been named the 2017 recipient of the Dr. and Mrs. Z.T. Scott Faculty Fellowship in recognition of her outstanding abilities as a teacher and mentor.

The Z.T. Scott Fellowship includes a cash award to be used for professional development and research. Trinity University Trustee Richard M. Kleberg III established the Fellowship in 1984 in honor of his grandparents, Dr. and Mrs. Z.T. Scott. The award, announced May 13 during Trinity’s undergraduate commencement, is the most prestigious faculty award the University bestows.

As a teacher-scholar who has taught at Trinity since 1982, Persellin has brought her scholarship of learning and teaching into the classroom and community. She sets high expectations for students while consistently providing support and encouragement and is writing a book on “desirable difficulties,” a learning task that requires a considerable, but desirable amount of effort with an eye toward improving long-term performance. Her teaching and her previous book on student learning inspired this new area of study. She has also published research papers with Trinity music education students. When advising students she employs the approach of encouraging, listening, and teaching – a process that led to her recognition in 2011 with the Trinity Outstanding Advising Award.

At Trinity, she has taken a leadership role in the development of a Quality Enhancement Plan to improve first-year student success, has helped develop and serve as interim co-director of the Collaborative for Teaching and Learning, and served as a mentor for the Arts, Letters, and Enterprise internship at the San Antonio Symphony. She also directs the Trinity Handbell Ensemble and has been named a Murchison Term Professor through 2020.

Outside of Trinity, Persellin was a volunteer education director for the San Antonio Symphony, where she planned children’s concerts, wrote education materials for programs in K-12 schools, and prepared and recruited volunteer docents. For this service, she was inducted into the San Antonio Women’s Hall of Fame in 1997. Persellin serves on the board of directors for the San Antonio Symphony and co-chairs the Symphony Education Committee. Her handbell ensemble also regularly performs with the Symphony at their annual Holiday Pops concert at the Tobin Center.

Persellin has directed her students to volunteer off campus by teaching or leading music activities to benefit families displaced by Hurricane Katrina, and more recently at the Battered Women’s Shelter, the Children’s Center of San Antonio and the University Presbyterian Children’s Center. She serves on the advisory board for the Children’s Chorus of San Antonio and is frequently an organist for holiday concerts.  

She has directed the summer Orff-Schulwerk music teacher certification program for 17 years and was editor of General Music Today from 2004-10. In addition, she was president of the Texas Music Education Conference from 1998 - 2000.

A former student who went on to become a music educator recalled his early days at Trinity and not even knowing what a handbell choir was, but said his encounter with Persellin led to his career decision. “Dr. Persellin showed a level of enthusiasm and love for music that was unmatched by any other,” said John De La Rosa Burke ’14, ’15.

A faculty colleague, psychology professor Carolyn Becker lauded Persellin as a “triple threat” for excellence in teaching, scholarship, and service. The two professors have collaborated on work in the Faculty Senate, during summer sessions at the Associated Colleges of the South Teaching and Learning Workshop, and during development of the Collaborative for Learning and Teaching.

Susie P. Gonzalez helped tell Trinity's story as part of the University communications team.

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