Ph.D. University of Kentucky 1987
M.A. Tulane University 1982
B.A. Washington and Lee University 1973
American music, Appalachian region
At UK since: 1991
Ron Pen received his Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky in 1987, with a dissertation on the biography and works of the American balladeer and composer, John Jacob Niles. He has continued his research in the area of American vernacular music with an emphasis on the music and culture of the Southern Appalachian region. Publications include book reviews, articles, forewords, book chapters, encyclopedia entries, and documentary films focusing on topics such as shape note hymnody, early folk music collections, fiddle tunes, and traditional, country, and bluegrass musical styles.
Ron was elected to the board of the Society for American Music and served as Vice President as well as both Program Chair (Madison, WI) and Local Arrangements Chair (Lexington, KY) for annual conferences. In addition, he served several terms as the book review editor for the journals American Music and Journal of the Society for American Music.
Currently, Ron is a Professor at the University of Kentucky where he also serves as Director of the John Jacob Niles Center for American Music. His ongoing scholarship includes publication of I Wonder As I Wander: The Life of John Jacob Niles (University Press of Kentucky, 2010), and research on the history of old time music and early folk music collections. Pen is also the recipient of both the University of Kentucky Great Teacher Award and the Provost's Award for Excellence in Teaching.