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A Symphony of Numbers

October 28, 2008

With one foot in each of the diverse worlds of music and accounting, Dr. Norman Sunderman has been using his talents to benefit both ASU students and the San Angelo community for more than two decades.

A 22-year member of both the ASU Accounting, Economics and Finance Department and the San Angelo Symphony, Sunderman is as accomplished on the clarinet as he is behind the lectern.

In fact, this fall he received the 2008 Outstanding Accounting Educator Award for small colleges from the Texas Society of CPAs.  Earlier in the spring, Angelo State students voted him the recipient of the 2007-08 “Rammy” Award as outstanding professor in the ASU College of Business.

“It has certainly been a good year,” said Sunderman, an Ohio native who started his career as a band and music instructor before making the move to accounting.

“There were more opportunities in accounting than there were in teaching clarinet,” Sunderman said.  “Plus, I’ve always been a numbers person.  Even way back a long time ago when I was a music major, I had to take 12 hours of science and/or math.  I took trigonometry, Calculus I, Calculus II and Calculus III because I didn’t want to take any lab courses.”

So, after teaching music for two years in Ohio public schools, four years at Nebraska-Wesleyan University and 10 years at Texas A&M-Kingsville, Sunderman got his M.B.A. and M.P.A. and started teaching accounting at A&M-Kingsville.  In 1987, he joined the ASU faculty and has since become a highly respected accounting professor. 

Even though he changed his teaching field, the talented clarinetist never turned his back on music.  He played with the Lincoln Symphony in the Nebraska and the Corpus Christi Symphony while at A&M-Kingsville.  He then joined the San Angelo Symphony as soon as he arrived at ASU, though in recent years he has moved to part-time status.

“A two-and-a-half hour rehearsal on Friday and a four-and-a-half hour rehearsal on Saturday with a concert Saturday night was starting to be a strain,” Sunderman said.  “I didn’t want to give it up completely, but I wanted less time.  So, this will be my third year as substitute or auxiliary clarinet.”

As a musician, Sunderman has played in all types and sizes of venues in several different states.  But, it was perhaps the smallest place he ever played that remains his favorite, the Art Gallery at Nebraska-Wesleyan.

“It only seated about 100 or 110 people,” Sunderman said.  “We would be playing and there would be people sitting on the floor almost looking up your horn.  It was really fun to have that intimacy.  There was always a packed house and the audience really enjoyed it.  So, it was the venue that was exciting, not really the location.”

Location, however, is why Sunderman and his wife of 44-years, Carolyn, have formed such a bond with ASU and San Angelo.

“The town has a symphony, an art gallery, movie theaters, shopping and medical facilities,” Sunderman said.  “It’s big enough that you live pretty nicely here.  It doesn’t have just 20,000 or 30,000 people.  The living is pretty nice.”

The living has been nice enough to keep Sunderman around and to feed both of his passions, which are also embodied in his family.  Carolyn is a retired music teacher and son, Kurt, is an investment banker in Chicago.