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U-M selects Sphinx’s founder as new dean of School of Music, Theatre & Dance


Aaron Dworkin, the founder and president of the renowned Sphinx Organization who is recognized internationally for his leadership and advocacy of diversity in the performing arts, will serve as dean of the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance (SMTD) beginning July 20, 2015.  

Dworkin’s appointment for a five-year term was approved on March 19 by the Board of Regents. He was also appointed as the Paul Boylan Collegiate Professor of Music and tenured professor of strings.

Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Martha E. Pollack referred to Dworkin as a “visionary leader and award-winning teacher with a passion for transforming young lives through art.”

“His lifelong commitment to excellence in arts education is widely recognized in the United States and abroad,” Pollack said. “I look forward to welcoming alumnus Aaron Dworkin back to campus next summer and working together with the U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance as they prepare and inspire the next generation of performing artists.”

An accomplished violinist who holds both bachelor of music and master of music degrees in violin performance from U-M, Dworkin founded the Sphinx Organization in 1996. It is now a leading national non-profit, based in Detroit, which was established to increase diversity in the arts through a variety of programs that address four main areas:  education and access, artist development, performing artists, and arts leadership.

A MacArthur Fellow, President Obama’s first appointment to the National Council on the Arts, Governor Rick Snyder’s appointee to the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and member of the Royal Philharmonic Society in London, Dworkin is recognized as one of the foremost international leaders committed to arts education and advocacy.​

Dworkin will succeed Christopher Kendall, who steps down as dean in July after serving two consecutive five-year terms, the current U-M limit.

“The School of Music, Theatre & Dance will be in excellent hands with Aaron Dworkin as dean,” said Kendall. “A major focus during my tenure has been the development of programs and curriculum to help our students become artist-citizens who see in their art the capacity to contribute to their communities and to the human condition. Aaron, a U-M alum, is a shining example of this kind of 21st century artist. Through his remarkable achievements, he has proven himself a singular leader in the performing arts, with a deep commitment to fostering the next generation of leaders in the field. I wish him all the very best.”

The search for a new dean was announced last spring with the formation of a Search Advisory Committee. Jason Corey, chair and associate professor of SMTD’s Department of Performing Arts Technology, was appointed chair of the committee.

"Aaron Dworkin is a forward-looking, inspiring, and visionary leader who understands arts education for the 21st century,” said Corey. “His career trajectory displays distinguished cultural entrepreneurship, an outstanding track record of fundraising, a deep commitment to community engagement through arts education, and extraordinary leadership around issues of diversity and inclusiveness in the arts. The members of the dean search advisory committee are all tremendously enthusiastic about the possibilities that his leadership will bring to the School of Music, Theatre & Dance."

Dworkin will be the first African-American dean of the U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance, which is widely recognized as one of the preeminent performing arts schools in the nation. Distinguished by its synergy of scholarship, artistry, and comprehensive education in all disciplines of performance as well as in research and pedagogy, SMTD is known for interdisciplinary training that is unique to a highly ranked research university.

"I am tremendously honored to be joining a community comprised of leaders committed to scholarship and artistic excellence,” Dworkin said. “As we progress into an age that redefines artistic pursuits, I am eager to bring my experience and skill sets to bear as we nurture and empower a diverse student body."

Board of Regents Chair Katherine E. White said that Dworkin’s “drive to change attitudes about diversity in the arts with education and access make him an excellent fit at the university.”

Regent Andrea Fischer Newman said, “This is an exciting out-of-the-box appointment of a multi-talented, extremely successful entrepreneur. Aaron's previous accolades and support, including a MacArthur Genius grant, and his insistence on breaking new ground and excelling at everything he does, bodes well for the School of Music, Theatre & Dance.”


past news

November 2015
October 2014

Anisha Nandi, from The Michigan Daily, sat down with professor Michael Gould to talk about his "Remember Me" show. The video can be seen on the Michigan Daily website.   10/01/2014

July 2014

Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Dance, Peter Sparling is a recipient of a Distinguished University Professorship. Effective September 1, Sparling will be a Rudolf Arnheim Distinguished University Professor. This appointment is one of the highest honors the University can bestow upon a faculty member.   07/18/2014

Professor Patricia Hall will be presenting her paper, "Alban Berg's 'Guilt' by Association to the Music, Censorship and Meaning in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union conference at the Colburn School in Los Angeles this August.   07/12/2014

April 2014

Prof. Ed Sarath Receives U-M's "Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Award" 04/21/2014

Professor Kuster Wins Prestigious OPERA America Grant 04/04/2014

Professor Mukherji to Speak in London this July 04/04/2014

Áine Heneghan, Assistant Professor of Music Theory, will present her research on Schoenberg's Formenlehre at the following conferences, all in 2014: Music Theory Midwest (Appleton, WI), the Eighteenth Biennial International Conference on Nineteenth-Century Music (Toronto, Canada), EuroMAC (Leuven, Belgium), and the annual meeting of the Society for Music Theory (Milwaukee).   04/01/2014

March 2014

U-M UpstART Festival Begins 03/31/2014

A Multimedia Installation on Climate Change 03/28/2014

Wayne Petty, Associate Professor of Music Theory, will read his paper, "Some Multimovement Designs in C. P. E. Bach's Late Keyboard Sonatas" at the Seventh EuroMac conference, which will gather scholars from all music theory societies in Europe in Leuven, Belgium, from 17 to 21 September, 2014.  An adaptation of the paper will be presented to the Society for Music Theory in Milwaukee in the Fall of 2014.   03/26/2014

Walter Everett, Professor of Music Theory, announces the publication of Los Beatles como músicos: De Revolver de la Antología (Buenos Aires: Eterna Cadencia, 2013), the Spanish translation of his The Beatles as Musicians: Revolver through the Anthology (Oxford University Press, 1999).   03/21/2014

Celebration of Professor George Shirley's 80th Birthday 03/19/2014

Prof. Korsyn presents keynote in The Hague, serves in scholarly appointments 03/14/2014

December 2013

In January 2014 Professor Wayne Petty will read the paper, "Wilhelm Fischer and the Fortspinnung-type Sonata Exposition," at the Seventh International Conference on Music Theory in Tallin and Pärnu, Estonia.  The conference theme is "Musical Form: Mapping the Territories."   12/17/2013

AmeriGrove II, edited by Professor Charles Garrett, is published 12/13/2013

November 2013

Gosman Presents Beethoven Research 11/16/2013

Department of Music Theory Announces Visiting Speakers of 2014 11/16/2013

Everett Launches Beatles Observances 11/16/2013

Interarts professor Holly Hughes presents The Dog and Pony Show (Bring Your Own Pony) in a webcast performance at the Chicago Humanities Festival on Mon., Nov. 4 at 7:30 p.m. Her newest performance work, the piece offers a poetic and comic meditation on midlife crises in the key of canine.   11/01/2013

September 2013

SMTD Welcomes New Faculty 09/27/2013

Ramon Satyendra, associate professor of music theory, has published his essay, "Morphisms of Generalized Interval Systems and PR-Groups" (co-authored with Thomas Fiore and Thomas Noll), in Journal of Mathematics and Music 7/1.   09/20/2013

Alan Gosman Co-authors New Beethoven Book 09/06/2013

July 2013

Professor Ashley Lucas and three Theatre & Drama students are engaged in an intensive exchange program with UniRio in Rio de Janiero, Brazil this summer, where they are blogging about their experiences in UniRio's prison arts program and more.   07/12/2013

June 2013

SMTD Mourns Professor Emeritus Erling Bengtsson 06/10/2013

Holly Hughes, professor of interarts performance in the Department of Theatre & Drama, was profiled in Hyperallergic, an online magazine about art and culture, which included a Q&A with Hughes about her role as one of the "NEA Four."   06/06/2013

Music theory professor Walter Everett's role as an expert on the music of the Beatles was the subject of an article in      06/06/2013

Hall presents in Copenhagen 06/03/2013

May 2013

Robert Hurst, associate professor of jazz and contemporary improvisation, was featured in a Q&A article in on the occasion of the release of his new CD, BOB: a palindrome.   05/01/2013

November 2012
November 2011
February 2010
Current Faculty News
Prof. Ellen Rowe honored as Arthur F. Thurnau Professormore
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Peter Smith

David Smith

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