Office of University Communications & Marketing

Department of Entertainment Industry Celebrates Recent Achievements
Feb. 22, 2012



FLORENCE, Ala. – The 2011-2012 academic year has brought good fortune to the Department of Entertainment Industry at the University of North Alabama, according to Dr. Robert Garfrerick, department chair and professor.

In August of 2011, songwriter, producer and music industry insider Walt Aldridge came on board as a full-time faculty member in the entertainment technology area. Students have had the chance to benefit from Aldridge’s 35 years of experience while in a UNAclassroom. Aldridge is the recipient of 20 gold and platinum certifications, seven No. 1 Country Music Association (CMA) certificates and 30 performance awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP).

Toward the end of the fall 2011 semester, Garfrerick began negotiations with local Grammy-winning writer and producer Gary Baker to lease space and move the department to downtown Florence, adjacent to Baker’s Noiseblock studio. An announcement was made Feb.3 that a deal was reached with the university and the department would move into the 9,600 square foot space.

In addition to office space, two smart classrooms, a small recording space and MIDI lab, the department and its students will operate a 400+ person performance venue called the Mane Room. The new space will allow the department to better serve students to gethands-on experience and expand learning into the live performance aspect of entertainment, which is the largest income stream for most artists.

As an added bonus to the year, Entertainment Industry alumnus John Paul White (99) of the Civil Wars won two Grammy awards for his part in the duo’s debut project "Barton Hollow" for Best Duo/Group Performance and Best Folk Album. White has remained engagedwith the program since graduation and resides in Florence.

The Department of Entertainment Industry became a stand-alone department with two emphases in the fall of 2010 and now serves approximately 150 majors. The new program replaced previous programs in music, business and communications. Music industry studieshave existed at UNA since 1975.

For more information about the department, contact Dr. Robert Garfrerick at 256-765-4369.