Last Thursday, President Joel Seligman announced the reappointment of Jim Undercofler as the Dean of the Eastman School of Music for a five year term beginning with the expiration of his current term in 2007.

Seligman is confident in Undercofler’s ability to continue the success that Eastman has been having since his hiring nine years ago. “Eastman is a truly stellar institution,” Seligman said. “[Undercofler] has continued to recruit and retain faculty at a very high level. He has added quite significant new programs like the Institute for Music Leadership.”

Provost Chuck Phelps led the review committee, seeking input from 30 department chairs and senior administrators, a faculty review committee, Eastman alumni, members of relevant UR boards and local community and political leaders.

He also worked with Seligman in reviewing the history and data relating to Eastman’s position as a leading school of music including faculty retention and hiring, student body applications and quality, fundraising and strategic planning.

“Undercofler has led the way in how people think about music education,” Phelps said. “Eastman is one of the best music schools in the country. I am delighted to have him returning.”

Undercofler has expressed to Phelps and Seligman a clear vision of where he hopes to take Eastman in the next five years, focusing on the fundraising efforts along with finishing many of the innovative projects he has started. “Jim is clearly someone who has a well-defined vision for where he would like the school to proceed over time,” Seligman said. “During the search, it became clear that while Eastman from time to time has been leading, there is a lot of competition out there. There has been very successful fundraising at Yale University, The Julliard School and a rise of new schools of significance. It was clear that what I most wanted going forward was a leader for Eastman that would work on a bold strategic plan and could execute.”

This reappointment allowed Seligman to have his first major influence on Eastman. “This was my first time focusing hard on the music school,” Seligman said. “There was a great deal of education involved.”

In terms of bridging the gap between the River Campus and the Eastman School, Seligman admits that this is something he would like to see. “Bridging the gap is going to be explored,” he said. “Dean of the Faculty Peter Lennie will be coming into The College and has articulated an interest in the performing arts. This is something that is going to be further explored in strategic planning.”

Many of the additions that Undercofler has made at Eastman are very appealing to River Campus students, and have attracted a lot of attention. “He has had a huge influence with respect to Renaissance Square and the Eastman Theatre renovations,” Phelps said. “In addition, he has transformed music education. He prepares students for a broad set of careers and teaches them innovative ways of interacting with the audience.”

Seligman and Phelps are both thrilled, knowing that the high standard of excellence that Eastman has had lately will continue.

“Jim is regarded as a music leader, if not a visionary,” Seligman said.Paret can be reached at eparet@campustimes.org.



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