Potterton to leave after four years at Baker


Story by Jenna

Matthew Potterton, assistant professor of music and director of choral activities, will be leaving Baker University at the conclusion of the school year to become the director of choral activities at East Tennessee State University.

This is Potterton’s fourth year at Baker.

“I’m very happy at Baker, and I’m proud of everthing that has happened over the last four years,” he said, “but this is an opportunity that’s going to be better financially and also promote me to the next level of my career, which is important to me and my family.”

Before coming to Baker, Potterton taught high school music for six years in California before getting his doctorate at the University of Colorado-Boulder, where he both studied and taught from 2006 to 2009.

Potterton said he loves the small campus atmosphere of Baker and “being able to walk across campus and know quite a few of the kids.”

In addition to teaching classes, he conducts the three choirs at Baker: chamber choir, concert choir and commnuity choir.

“The community choir is something that I started my first year and that’s been growing and I’m very proud of that group,” Potterton said.

He also served as the adviser for the Gay-Straight Alliance group on campus.

Sophomore Jillian Miller, a member of theater and the concert and chamber choirs, said it’s the little things she and the rest of the music department will miss about Potterton.

“I’m obviously going to miss him as a teacher, because he loves his job and he knows what he’s doing,” Miller said. “I’m also just going to miss his closeness with all of us and the fact that we can go to him about anything. He’d take us out to choir dinners and stuff like that, so kind of all the little things he did for us, as well.”

Potterton and his family are members of the Baldwin City community, and his wife helped start the Baldwin City Children’s Choir four years ago.

One event in particular Potterton will miss is the Annual Christmas Candlelight Vespers performance.

“I just am fortunate to be a part of that tradition for the last four years, and I think we’ve done some really awesome concerts that feature our whole music department,” Potterton said.

Senior Paul Eltschinger has had the chance to spend his four years at Baker working with Potterton, as well.

“I was really thankful that I’ve had four years with him,” Eltschinger said, “because I know if I was a junior right now it would have been even harder. But he’s got to do what’s best for him and his family and it sounds like he’s going to a really great place and he’ll definitely be missed in the music department here.”

Potterton hopes the faculty member who replaces him will continue to raise the bar, as he strove to do when replacing the choral director who came before him.

“I just wanted to keep building where (former choir director John Buehler) left off and we took it to a certain level and I want the person who takes over for me to just keep that progress going,” Potterton said.

Eltschinger said Potterton’s goal each year was to keep building on the year before, and that is exactly what he did.

“One of the things he keeps saying over the years has been, ‘we’re going to build on what we did last year, we’re going to keep going up from there,'” Eltschinger said. “And we have. It’s been kind of crazy to watch how the program … just keeps getting better and better.”