By Cara Miller to Carrol McLaughlin

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Their harps belong to Carrol McLaughlin.

McLaughlin, head of the University of Arizona harp program, was awarded the 11th annual Five-Star Faculty Award yesterday afternoon.

The student-sponsored teaching award is based on the quality of faculty teaching ability, availability to students, clarity in delivering the material, and ability to hold a student's attention, said Sharlene Mann, honors center program coordinator.

McLaughlin was one of five finalists for the award. Originally, there were 119 faculty members nominated.

"She's one of the most inspirational people I have ever met. She makes you believe you can do anything if you try hard enough," said Shana Turrell, a biology senior who has been playing the harp for three-and-a-half years.

McLaughlin, who has played for Diana Ross, Sammy Davis Jr., and on the soundtrack of "Star Wars," began her music career at age 4 playing saxophone in her father's jazz band.

She received her doctoral degree from the UA in 1980, and began teaching in 1982.

Since returning, McLaughlin has developed a harp ensemble known as Harpfusion, named for its fusion of many different styles and cultures. It is the only program in the United States that provides technical training in jazz and pop as well as classical, she said.

"I have a very high concern that if a student pays money to attend this institution, it must pay off in career opportunities," McLaughlin said. "I am maximizing their probability of success in their career."

Harpfusion is in the process of recording its second compact disc, "Desert Reflections." The first one, "The Trouble With Angels," was released in 1990. to study under McLaughlin and be a part of her unique program. She currently has students from Japan and Croatia.

"My students are incredibly special and it wouldn't work if it were a one-way street. It's a complete synergy," McLaughlin said. "Harp music is breaking out of the image of credenzas and Disney music." Read Next Article