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Eastman School of Music Dean Jamal Rossi to step down after 2023–24 academic year

May 17, 2023

Rossi has served as the dean since 2014, presiding over a transformational period for the renowned music school.

Portrait of Jamal Rossi.

Jamal Rossi

Jamal Rossi, the current dean of the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester, announced that he will not seek reappointment following his current appointment term, which ends following the 2023–24 academic year. Rossi has served as the Joan and Martin Messinger Dean since 2014, presiding over a transformational period for the renowned music school.

Prior to his appointment as dean, Rossi served as the executive associate dean at Eastman from 2005 to 2014, as well as interim dean and acting dean. During his tenure, Rossi hired more than 60 percent of the current Eastman faculty and oversaw several capital and infrastructure projects: the construction of the Eastman East Wing and renovations to Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, Kilbourn Hall, Lowry Hall, Messinger Hall, Howard Hanson Hall, and the Student Living Center. Rossi created several new divisions and programs at the school, including the Beal Institute for Film Music and Contemporary Media and Eastman Performing Arts Medicine, and spearheaded numerous new degrees and certificates, including the master of music in film music and contemporary media, the master of arts in music leadership (fully online), and the advanced diploma in performance. Under Rossi’s leadership, Eastman secured 138 new endowed scholarships (in addition to adding significant gifts to 74 existing endowed scholarships) and created 11 new endowed professorships, all thanks to the philanthropy of generous donors.

“Serving as the Joan and Martin Messinger Dean of the Eastman School of Music has been the greatest honor of my life,” Rossi says. “The opportunity to work with tremendously talented and dedicated faculty and staff colleagues in service of educating future generations of musicians has been an extraordinary privilege. I am proud of all that the Eastman community has accomplished together over the past ten years, and I look forward to an exceptionally bright future for Eastman and the University.”

As a leader deeply committed to issues of equity and inclusion, Rossi established Eastman’s first diversity committee; led the creation of the ROCmusic Collaborative, a partnership program with other arts and civic organizations to provide tuition-free music instruction at recreation centers throughout Rochester; forged a formal partnership with Gateways Music Festival; formed the Eastman Action Commission for Racial Justice; created the George Walker Center for Equity and Inclusion in Music; and hired the school’s first associate dean for equity and inclusion.

Internationally, Rossi created or renewed conservatory exchange agreements between Eastman and 13 leading music schools and conservatories around the world; cofounded the Global Music Education League to promote collaboration and shared teaching, learning, and music-making with more than 70 member institutions around the world; and supported Eastman ensemble tours to Austria, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Mexico.

“The University of Rochester, the Eastman School of Music, and the city of Rochester have benefited greatly from Jamal’s leadership and service,” says University Provost David Figlio. “An extraordinary judge of musical talent, Jamal has led Eastman with an eye to the future and reverence for the past for nearly 20 years.”

Most recently Rossi spearheaded the celebration of Eastman’s centennial, which included hosting national conferences and symposia and inviting countless guest artists to Eastman’s campus. Additionally, Rossi, who also serves as the director of the Howard Hanson Institute for American Music, commissioned more than fifty composers to write new works that premiered throughout the centennial celebration. To date, the Centennial Campaign for Eastman has raised more than $66 million toward its $100 million goal.

“Dean Rossi’s extraordinary commitment to the students, faculty, staff, and alumni of the Eastman School has paved the way for a future filled with even greater possibilities, both for the school and for the University,” says President Sarah Mangelsdorf. “We deeply appreciate his years of dedicated service.”

In his final semesters as dean, Rossi remains focused on leading the school through a successful reaccreditation by the National Association of Schools of Music, continuing the significant fundraising progress made on the Centennial Campaign, and advancing the initiatives outlined in the school’s current strategic plan. The University will soon initiate a national search to identify the next dean of the Eastman School of Music. Figlio will name a dean search committee in the coming weeks.

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Category: University News