David Stull is the Acting Dean of the Oberlin Conservatory for this semester. He previously held the position of Associate Dean of the Conservatory for four years. Stull is also an accomplished tubist who has performed at such venues as Lincoln Center, Town Hall and Merkin Hall and extensive tours.
How are you enjoying the job so far?
Just fine. I’m very busy, but it’s been enjoyable.
You’re an Oberlin graduate, aren’t you?
Yes. I graduated from the double-degree program. I majored in tuba and English literature.
Do you still get a chance to perform?
On a rare occasion. This semester I’ve been especially busy and you have to balance your time.
What do you think makes the Oberlin Conservatory different from other institutions around the country?
It has one of the most extraordinary faculty who are uniquely committed to teaching undergrads. Our faculty come from the highest levels of the profession and as a result we have an absolutely first-rate professional training program. It’s also unique for students who are pursuing music at this level to have such a tremendous access to a liberal education.
How do you feel the expectations for music students have changed in recent years?
The level of expectation has risen significantly. You really have to be one of the best in order to perform consistently. We’re now participating in a world community and the market now includes people from all over the planet. Many of these people are beginning study at a very young age.
In your view, what are the immediate institutional goals for the Conservatory?
We want to continue to increase the profile of the Conservatory throughout the world. This is something that we need to do more of. We want study and performance opportunities for our students to extend beyond the campus so we can demonstrate the high level of performance at Oberlin.
How does the Conservatory fit into Oberlin’s current strategic planning initiative?
The Conservatory and the College are both looking at what our strengths are and how to build on those going forward. We each want to utilize the other for our students. We want to get more College students involved in the Con and vice versa. The combination of the two divisions is one of the most distinctive aspects of Oberlin and we want to build on that relationship. We’d like Oberlin to be known not only as a place that believes deeply in social achievement and academic rigor but a place where you can find a unique cultural and artistic experience as well.
How are you planning on making the Conservatory more accessible to College students?
You’re going to see enhancements to the curriculum which will increase access. We’ll have courses which are readily accessible to students with a general interest in music at all ability levels.
At the last Conservatory faculty meeting, President Dye talked about making policy changes so that the Conservatory could “fulfill its mission” better. How well do you think the Conservatory is fulfilling
I think it does an excellent job of fulfilling its mission. Our goals for the future primarily have to do with reaching a greater audience than we do now. We want to increase community outreach in Cleveland and the surrounding areas and have more students performing off-campus. We also have to look at how students need to be prepared for careers in music in the 21st century.
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