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A U-M Homecoming for SMTD’s New Dean, Aaron Dworkin


Seventeen years after earning his master's degree from the University of Michigan, Aaron Dworkin has returned to his alma mater in his new role as the dean of the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, officially beginning his five-year term on Monday, July 20. His appointment was announced in March.

Dworkin, the founder and former president of the Sphinx Organization, took up residence at his new office in the Earl V. Moore Building, which is in the final stages of a $29 million renovation and expansion project.

"I am deeply honored as I join the truly world-class faculty, vibrant and engaged students and talented staff at the School," said Dworkin. "This work we engage in will not only transform the lives of those within our Michigan family but also our art forms and the communities they touch. I am truly excited to begin this phenomenal journey!"

Aaron Dworkin is the seventh dean of SMTD, the first African American to hold the position, and only the second African American dean of a major music school in the United States. As dean, he will oversee a budget of $44 million, a $140-million endowment and more than 200 faculty and staff.

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 founded the Detroit-based Sphinx Organization in 1997 when he was a violin student at U-M, where he also received his bachelor's degree. The organization, founded with the goal of increasing the participation of blacks and Latinos in classical music, has awarded nearly $2 million in scholarships and prize money to young musicians and is credited with helping to double the number of African Americans and Latinos in American orchestras.

At the time of his appointment, 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."

Regent Andrea Fischer Newman echoed the sentiment, saying, "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." 



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Photography Credits:

U-M Photo Services

Joe Welsh

Peter Smith

David Smith

Glen Behring

Tom Bower