Message from the Dean

Dean Kendall


“Christopher Kendall is a tireless advocate for the arts … enunciating a vision of the arts as integral to the life of the University. He has fostered a climate of openness that allows the School’s community to think creatively and passionately about aspirations and goals to achieve them.”

                                           —PROVOST TERESA SULLIVAN ON KENDALL’S REAPPOINTMENT

Five years ago, as new Dean of the School of Music, I wrote my first Message for what was then Music @ Michigan. Now, five years later, as I look ahead to a second term, I am honored to write you as Dean of the School of Music, Theatre & Dance for this spring issue of Michigan Muse.

As if to make those name changes manifest, the opening of the Walgreen Drama Center and Arthur Miller Theatre in the spring of 2007 brought theatre & drama and musical theatre within close working proximity to the School, opening up possibilities for the kind of collaboration that can only happen face to face. Our dream of bringing dance to North Campus will make the picture complete.

As I look back on the past five years, I think of Arts on Earth, a project launched by the North Campus deans, as the collabora­tive embodiment of what the arts can become in a major research university. This vehicle for arts action and ideas was conceived to foster cross-disciplinary creativity and raise the profile of the arts at the University of Michigan.

Since its inception, Arts on Earth has created forums to explore arts and war, arts and the environment, arts and the mind. Student grassroots groups have sprung up around it, among them Arts Enterprise, which brings together students from the Ross School of Business with our own to explore fresh ways of thinking about careers that conjoin creativity with the entrepreneurial spirit.

It was Arts Enterprise that sparked the recent American Orchestras Summit (see article, this issue) where representatives from symphony orchestras around the country came to Ann Arbor for two days to rethink the future of this revered institution. And this fall, Living Arts, set to launch at Bursley Hall, will bring together some 80 students from all disciplines to share both living space and a mutual journey of creative exploration.

More and more these days, the arts engender the kind of creative thinking that increasingly drives our new global economy. This sort of confluence could happen only at a place like the University of Michigan, which is powerfully enriched by its abundance of artistic offerings.

In this spring issue, we celebrate the 25th anniversary of Performing Arts Technology. Mary Simoni, recently appointed associate dean for research and community engagement, was a major force in the development of PAT, turning it into the great success it is today. As we move into the next five years, we look forward to an ongoing exploration of the complex relationship between arts and technology, both distinguishing and essential aspects of the human species since its origins.



Christopher Kendall

Dean, School of Music, Theatre & Dance