Dean David Stull took over leadership of the Oberlin Conservatory one year
ago. This week The Review sat down with him to see how things were
One of the major things we talked about last time was the desire to
integrate the Con more into the College as a whole. What steps have been taken
toward this goal?
We’ve added a whole series of courses. Plus there are
now more seats available in theory sections. We’ve also added another
choir for people who wanted to sing and two beginning piano classes. The
concerto soloist who won the concerto competition this year was a college
student. I was really happy to see that.
How has fundraising been going this year?
Fundraising has been going
very well. College fundraising is all done through the development office but
deans are there to be used as a resource. We’re in a period now where
we’re able to bring a lot more people into the life of the conservatory. I
see fundraising as something that is important for all of Oberlin, not just the
conservatory. It raises all boats. This is money we can use to support students.
What about the Conservatory’s goal of enhancing its international
We’ve done several things in this area. The first is the sort of
outreach events we’ve had. The second is actually visiting other
countries. We had a phenomenal performance this year at the Kennedy center after
which the Washington Post singled us out and called Oberlin a national treasure.
We had a delegation go to China over Spring Break. We’re seeing a lot
more students from China as well. We just finished hosting a delegation from the
We want to see more of those events and spend more time thinking about the
future of the Conservatory in the context of the world.
An interesting side note: the Shanghai Conservatory was actually co-founded
by an Oberlin grad in the 1930s and curriculum that he brought over introduced
the study of Western music to China.
What about the efforts to find new space for the jazz department?
are still working with the architects to see what the costs would be.
It’s a matter of weighing the costs of renovating the gym against building
a small new facility. We hope to have an estimate very soon.
What was your involvement in the strategic planning process?
been involved in the process since its conception. For the Conservatory
we’ve put together a comprehensive implementation plan. We plan to focus
more on outreach and chamber music. We will have a reduction of five positions
primarily in piano. While the faculty would get smaller we would be looking to
hire new accompanists and artists in residence for that department. This is a
way to meet the economic demands of the plan while strengthening the department.
This way we can also relieve some of the accompaniment burden from students.
Why do you think it is that the faculty reduction process has cause so
much less friction and argument in the Conservatory than in the College?
of my goals is to see Con and College come closer together. I would say that in
the Conservatory we’ve talked about reductions. We’ve also done that
within the context of it being in relation to a specific department and combined
the notion of a faculty reduction with the idea of strengthening the
department.To be fair, the Conservatory is smaller and allows for more dialogue
about these kinds of issues. I really hope that as we move forward we are able
to work even closer together
What is your overall assessment of your first year?
It’s been a
great year in the Conservatory. It’s been a pleasure to do the job. You
always reach the end of the year and there’s a lot you still want to do
but the good news is you always have another year in front of you.