HFC will dedicate the Rick L. Goward Band Room in August

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Student and Culinary Arts Center, M Building, then walk over to F-110
Rick Goward conducting.

The HFC Board of Trustees voted unanimously to rename the Band Room (Room F-110) in the MacKenzie Fine Arts Center (Bldg. F on the main campus) after the late HFC music instructor and administrator Rick L. Goward.

The room will be renamed the Rick L. Goward Band Room in time for the Fall 2023 semester. There will be an open house celebrating this milestone on Tuesday, Aug. 22, immediately following the dedication of the John McDonald Student & Culinary Arts Center. Afterward, our community will have the opportunity to tour the Goward Band Room, which has undergone renovations and will have entryway plaques with the new name.

“Of course, there will also be music playing,” said recently-retired HFC Director of Choral and Vocal Music G. Kevin Dewey, who worked with Goward for 28 years.

HFC President Russ Kavalhuna highlights Goward's focus on students and on creating meaningful community connections.

“Rick loved students, loved to perform, and loved the way music could inspire educators and education," said Kavalhuna. “This is the heart of our College. Rick embodied the idea that our College is the gem of our community. And he made a lasting difference in the lives of his students and teammates, which is the mark of a true teacher.”

“If the walls could talk”

Goward passed away Jan. 29, 2022. He is survived by his wife Andi; their two daughters, Emily and Erin; and their two grandchildren, Harrison and Lennon (both of whom are the namesakes of the late George Harrison and the late John Lennon of the legendary Beatles).

Emily Goward, who once taught dance at HFC while her father taught music, was happy to learn about this tribute.

“If there’s any room where my father’s spirit resides, it is the Band Room at HFC,” she said. “My first vivid childhood memories were learning how to alphabetize music with my dad in that exact room. If the walls could talk, oh, the stories they would tell! The amount of passion, laughter, talent, and excellence that entered that setting is beyond measure. Rick L. Goward inspired and guided numerous students of all ages over the years. His legacy, spirit, and influence will forever be hovering over whoever is teaching in Room F-110.”

HFC music instructor Anthony Lai agreed.

“I can’t express enough how happy I am to see Rick’s legacy at the College live on in this beautiful tribute. He did so much for so many,” said Lai. “His energy really lives in that room, and I am proud to direct the ensembles he started there, with his name officially looking over that space. He is deeply missed, so I’m glad a part of him will now always be here.”

Influencing thousands of lives

Goward dedicated nearly 40 years to HFC, where he taught music and later served as the associate dean for the Fine Arts and Fitness division (a precursor to the School of Liberal Arts) from 1998 to 2007. He also founded HFC’s Big Band, the Metropolitan Symphony Band, the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, and the Studio 110 Jazz Orchestra.

Goward and Dewey co-founded the President’s Collage Concert. This was one of Goward’s proudest contributions to the College.

“Rick’s personality, musical expertise, and work ethic were greater than the whole campus of HFC,” said Dewey. “The Band Room is where a large percentage of his genius resides, so it’s fitting that it should be renamed in his honor.”

“Rick deserves every recognition given to him for his work at the College over the years,” said HFC Manager of Recording Arts Jeremy Palmer. “He was always a great mentor to me through the years and, over time, became a good friend too. I loved playing in his bands, especially the Jazz Band, which he directed.”

Getting international attention for the music program

During his time at the College, Goward brought national and international attention to HFC’s music program. A detailed tribute to him and his many accomplishments at the College was published earlier this year.

“What a great tribute to Rick to have the Band Room named in his honor!” said retired HFC theatre instructor Dr. George Popovich. “I don't know how many times I walked past that room and heard Rick rehearsing with his fantastic bands. Often, I would stop by and talk with Rick between and after rehearsals. We talked about everything from how to grow foxgloves to how to install windows. This is an apt legacy for the HFC community and the thousands of lives influenced by Rick's humor, generosity, and knowledge.”

A space to honor his legacy

Even after Goward retired from the College in 2007, he continued serving the HFC community by conducting concerts. He also continued serving the Dearborn community. He was an active member of the Rotary Club of Dearborn. He was president-elect for 2021-22. The Rotary’s centennial celebration on March 18 was dedicated to Goward, who would’ve been Rotary’s centennial president for 2022-23.

“Rick was a man of passion who cared deeply about HFC and the students and the community we serve,” said HFC political science instructor Dr. Eric Rader. “Rick retired soon after I was hired, so I got to know him well in the years after his retirement. For several years, he served as the retiree representative on the Local 1650 Executive Board, and his wisdom and sense of humor were always welcome at our meetings.”

Rader continued: “I also knew Rick through Rotary, where he sponsored me for membership. Rick was a prodigious fundraiser for Rotary. He was slated to be president this year, our centennial year. Our recent 100th anniversary gala honored his inspired vision and helped to raise money for necessary renovations to the Henry Ford Centennial Library. Rick loved this community and HFC. It's fitting that our music students will practice and learn in a room named after him.”

His largest body of work and a big part of his heart

CMU Associate Director of Bands Dr. James Batcheller was one of Goward’s first students in his early teaching days.

“Rick Goward was the heart and soul of every music ensemble and program he had anything to do with,” said Batcheller. “It is entirely fitting that the Band Room at HFC bear his name. Of the high school, college, and professional groups Rick led and mentored, the bands at HFC represent his largest body of work and a big part of his heart. What a fine way to honor his legacy!”

HFC President Emeritus Dr. Andrew A. Mazzara, who knew Goward for 40 years, is happy about the honor for Goward's legacy.

“I’m pleased the Board of Trustees recognized Rick for his numerous contributions to the College and the community,” said Mazzara. “Rick did so much for the music program. He established its national visibility. It was always a pleasure and a privilege to work with him during my years at HFC. I wish he and John McDonald were here to see the expressions of gratitude from the College and the community.”

VIDEO: The Big Guy: A Loving Tribute to Rick L. Goward