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Reappointment of Jim Undercofler as Dean of Eastman School of Music

March 30, 2006

Jim Undercofler

Jim Undercofler

I am pleased to announce the reappointment of Jim Undercofler as Dean of the Eastman School of Music for a five year term beginning with the expiration of his current term in 2007.

After careful consideration of all of the evidence, I am convinced that Jim Undercofler is the wisest possible choice to be Dean of the Eastman School during the next term. During his tenure, Dean Undercofler has maintained the distinguished national and international reputation of the school, established a strong record of faculty hiring and retention, maintained high standards of student quality, and originated widely admired new programs such as the Institute for Music Leadership and the recent amplification of the Community Music School. In addition, Dean Undercofler enjoys a position of national leadership among music educators, has established strong working relationships with community and political leaders, and enjoys the deep admiration of leading alumni and friends of Eastman.

This decision was made after a full decanal review. Provost Chuck Phelps interviewed approximately 30 department chairs and senior administrators. A separate faculty review committee interviewed virtually the entire tenured faculty. The provost or I also received correspondence from several faculty and administrators associated with Eastman. In addition, we spoke to prominent Eastman alumni, members of relevant University of Rochester boards, local community and political leaders, and several national figures in higher education in music at other distinguished institutions. We also extensively reviewed history and data relating to Eastman's preeminent position as a leading school of music including faculty retention and hiring, student body applications and quality, fundraising, and strategic planning. Finally, separate from this review but during this period of time, I also met on two occasions with Eastman students in Town Hall meetings. I am grateful to all who participated in the decanal review, particularly those who took the time to write to me, often at length, with their views and aspirations for Eastman. Let me especially express my gratitude to the Faculty Review Committee (Donna Brink Fox, Ralph Locke, Richard Killmer, and Elizabeth Marvin) for their thoughtful and hard work.

In my interviews and discussions with faculty, students, and administrators, space needs, particularly for more practice rooms and rehearsal studios was stressed. I was pleased that the move to the Gibbs Street campus concept, including the acquisitions of Messinger Hall for the Community Music School and the Miller Center for administrative offices will lead to the creation of more practice rooms and rehearsal studios for collegiate programs in the Main Building and Annex. I have also been impressed by Jim's pivotal role in ongoing discussions with County and State governments with respect to Renaissance Square and the Eastman Theatre renovations and have seen the close bonds he has developed with many great supporters of the school, both past and prospective. I also believe, with Jamal Rossi as Eastman's Academic Dean, that Jim currently has a strong leadership team in place.

In the years to come, the role of Eastman's Dean will change somewhat as a result of two factors. First, the University of Rochester is determined to accelerate the progress of all of its schools and programs. Second, several music schools across the country have been strengthened in recent years by significant resource enhancements. I expect the Eastman Dean's role increasingly to focus on working with the faculty and administrators on an ambitious strategic plan and particularly devoting time to galvanizing resources to fully realize that plan. I anticipate that Dean Undercofler will work with Jim Thompson, our Senior Vice President for Advancement, to significantly strengthen fundraising at Eastman that, among other areas, will address scholarships and a replacement program for pianos and other instruments. I look forward to joining Dean Undercofler on calls to major supporters of the School.

Jamal Rossi's role as Academic Dean will also become increasingly vital to the sound administration of Eastman. His role with regard to the undergraduate curriculum at Eastman was much noted and I expect that as Jim's focus becomes somewhat more external, Jamal will continue his strong teamwork with Jim focusing on the internal administration of the school.

I look forward to working with all of you at Eastman to make a great music school even greater in the years to come. Every time I hear an Eastman musician play, I realize what a precious jewel Eastman is. Our challenge in the years to come will be to work together to focus on augmenting Eastman's great strengths.