Panola College opens new music building with ribbon cutting

Frances B. Ross Music Building

Panola College officially opened its new Frances B. Ross Music Building on Thursday, Jan. 6 with a celebratory ribbon cutting ceremony. The first classes will take place inside the state-of-the-art building on Monday, Jan. 10, lining up with the beginning of the spring semester.

“We would like to welcome you all to the Frances B. Ross Music Building,” said Dr. Gregory Powell, Panola College President, at the start of the ceremony. “We are very excited to have this new facility, which is about 11,000 square feet.” He went on to thank the voters of Panola County, the Board of Trustees, Frances B. Ross, Evelyn Sharp, those who worked on the creation of the building, and a number of others who were instrumental throughout the process.

The building is named in honor and memory of long-time benefactor to the College, Frances B. Ross. Inside the building is the Evelyn D. Sharp Band Hall, named in honor of Panola College alumna, long-serving Board of Trustee member, and benefactor, Evelyn Sharp. Inside the band hall sits a Yamaha AvantGrand N3X piano, donated by the Panola College Foundation. The building also features a choir room, piano lab, music library, and a number of practice rooms accessible to music majors for extended hours.

“Frances B. Ross was a remarkable woman, and this honor is going to be something that we remember – and I hope all will remember – in the future,” said Carol Vincent, a close friend to Ross, before sharing a personal story about the struggle Ross faced during her early life related to education. “I think this is one of the reasons that she became a donor to education, and a patron to Panola College. She did not want that door to be shut for other students, that their dreams could in fact be realized.”

“We want to thank Dr. Powell and the Board of Trustees for this beautiful building that bears her name: Frances Baldwin Ross,” Vincent added.

Following the remarks, the ribbon was cut by Powell, Vincent, and Ray Schieffer, who were surrounded by the Board of Trustees, representatives from the Panola County Chamber of Commerce, faculty and staff members, and individuals from the community. While guests toured the building, Lydia Lim, Professor of Music and Collaborative Pianist, performed a number of songs on the piano for entertainment.

Construction of the building was approved in September 2020 by the Board of Trustees, and was completed in November 2021. The building was designed by Corgan, an architecture firm that has designed other buildings on the Panola College campus, and was built by Jacobe Brothers Construction of Tyler, Texas.

Throughout the construction process, an acoustical engineer from a firm in Houston was present to ensure that the acoustics inside the building would meet the needs of the band, choir, and other music groups that will utilize the building.

“Not many music programs are building new facilities right now, especially with all of the incredible features that the Frances B. Ross Music Building has to offer,” said Dwaine Hubbard, Director of Bands at Panola College. “The students in the music program at the College really have something incredible in this building that they will be able to use for generations to come.”