Glenn Watkins teaching at Moore Building in the 1980s
Watkins upon recipt of Univ. of Rochester Distinguished Scholar Medal, May 2012

Professor Glenn Watkins Funds Academic Lecture Hall

by Marilou Carlin


Given his long history with the Earl V. Moore Building, it is particularly fitting that Glenn Watkins’s title is the Earl V. Moore Emeritus Professor of Musicology. He was there in 1964, as a newly tenured professor, when the brashly modern building was dedicated. Also there were Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein, at the height of their careers, and Aline Saarinen, journalist, art critic, and widow of the building’s famous architect, Eero Saarinen. All three were awarded honorary doctorates as part of the festivities. 


Watkins, who retired in 1996, vividly remembers the excitement among faculty and students when the facility first opened. “We were all tickled pink to get into the new building,” he said. “It was the first time an attempt was made to house all the music departments under one roof. Before that, we were spread out over 13 different buildings.”


Although many of the musicology and ethnomusicology faculty are still based at Burton Tower on Main Campus, because they also teach at LSA, Watkins is hopeful that the new renovation and addition to the Moore Building will do much to bring all the School’s departments closer together. His generous contribution to the project will fund a state-of the-art lecture hall, partly to provide the best possible environment for academic studies, but also to accommodate events similar to the Musicology Distinguished Lectures currently being offered at Burton Tower, in which the country’s finest music scholars present lectures on a vast spectrum of topics. The majority of performance majors and others who study primarily at Moore would then have greater access to such a series. “A suitable lecture space that can host an excellent lecture series will be an enrichment for the entire school,” he said.


“Glenn Watkins is a Renaissance man, not just in his deep authority on that period of music history, but in the incredible range of his interests and expertise,” said Dean Christopher Kendall, who enthusiastically shares Watkin’s vision of a dynamic integration of the scholarly and performance disciplines at the School. “It is an honor to be able to name such a significant new development in the School after this beloved, distinguished, and generous emeritus professor.”


A specialist in Renaissance and 20th-century studies, Watkins’s illustrious career includes a Fulbright Award, an American Council of Learned Societies Grant, and Senior Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the U-M Institute for the Humanities. He is co-editor of the complete works of Gesualdo, and his critical study of that composer, which carries a preface by Igor Stravinsky (Oxford University Press, 1973), was a 1974 National Book Award nominee.


Watkins’s office in the Moore Building was first on the lower level and later located next to the School’s beautiful library, which, by the 2000s, was in need of updating. “The music library was my second home, and I wanted to help restore its luster,” he said. His gift helped fund a new audio-visual seminar room, a renovated circulation desk, and new flooring, lighting, and furniture, including one of two famous “womb chairs” by Eero Saarinen for the reading room. As a knowledgeable fan of mid-century modern architecture and design (his own home an award-winning example of the style), he would like more students and visitors to be aware of the Moore Building as the only one on campus that Saarinen personally designed, making it architecturally significant both at U-M and in the country at large.