Joan and Martin Messinger Dean, Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester
Years in current role: 8
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I am privileged to work with a remarkable group of colleagues and extraordinarily talented students. My faculty colleagues are renowned internationally as artists, scholars, composers, and teachers. The dedication and commitment of our staff is inspirational. And our students, who come to Eastman from around the world, are passionate about making a difference in society through their music. Additionally, I have become friends with so many alumni and music patrons who care deeply about the future of music, and Eastman. The essence of music is joy, and I relish sharing this musical journey with wonderful people.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve dealt with over the past year?
Keeping the entire Eastman community safe and healthy, while simultaneously enabling our students to study and make music in person, was certainly a challenge we hadn’t experienced before. We implemented protocols that required our students to wear masks while practicing and performing — including our wind instrumentalists and singers. Musicians had to be distanced from one another — in some cases as much as 12 feet. Rehearsals had strict time limits imposed so the air in any given space could be refreshed. Our students performed concerts and recitals, but in concert halls without audiences. Fantastically, our students made wonderful music and remained safe.
What do you see as the biggest changes in the higher education industry in the next 3-5 years?
COVID-19 forced us to think creatively, and to embrace technology — in many cases more than we ever imagined possible. We learned that things we previously thought were impossible were, in fact, very feasible. I believe the influence of technology to teach, make, and share music will increase exponentially in the coming years. As we have for the last 100 years, our goal at Eastman will be to provide our students with an exceptional musical foundation enhanced by the technical skills they will need to thrive in an ever-changing music profession.