Conservatory Dean Update: Planning for 2020-21 Academic Year

June 10, 2020 2:45 PM

Office of the Dean of the Conservatory

June 10, 2020

Dear Conservatory students and parents,

I hope this message finds you healthy and safe, and that you’re doing as well as possible during these challenging times.

I hope you’ve had an opportunity to watch President Ambar’s video announcement about Oberlin’s plans for the 2020-21 academic year and read her message to the community.

As President Ambar noted, we plan to resume on-campus, in-person instruction in Fall 2020. Classes will begin on campus on August 31.

Moreover, to help de-densify campus facilities, we will shift the school from a two-semester system to a three-semester plan for the 2020-21 academic year.

In accordance with this plan, the Conservatory will operate during Fall 2020 and Spring 2021, per usual, while instruction in the College of Arts & Sciences will be distributed over all three terms (Fall 2020, Spring 2021, and Summer 2021).  Specific residential and educational plans for Double Degree students will be developed on a case-by-case basis, in close consultation with students’ advisors (in both the Conservatory and College of Arts & Sciences) and in accordance with students’ degree requirements.

As President Ambar emphasized, the health and safety of all members of our community—students, faculty, staff, and Oberlin residents—is our top priority, and the campus’ reopening plans have been, and will continue to be, developed and implemented in consultation with public-health officials and according to public-health guidelines.

Because of the public-health situation, many routine activities in the Conservatory will look a fair bit different next year.  For example, because of physical-distancing requirements and other factors, our large-ensemble program will look quite different than before, with our large orchestras, for example, replaced by numerous smaller and mid-sized ensembles. Some forms of instruction which customarily take place in person may take place in adapted forms (e.g., through the low-latency, high-fidelity studio-to-studio transmission systems we’re presently installing in the Conservatory). Performances will almost certainly remain closed to the general public for the time being, though we will continue webcasting them all, and numerous music-academic classes which customarily meet in person will likely be shifted online, to open up space for performance and rehearsal.  

The Conservatory faculty and staff are hard at work developing and implementing plans for next year.  We know that you have numerous questions.  To echo President Ambar’s comments, in her message to the community, we do not have all of the answers yet.  In the coming weeks, we will begin publishing Conservatory-specific information and FAQs for 2020-21 for students and parents (similar to the Conservatory FAQs for Spring 2020 published in late March), and we will continue updating this content as additional plans come into focus.

In the meantime, I wanted to give everyone an opportunity to ask questions directly in a series of Town Halls for Conservatory Students and Parents. The Conservatory deans, Division Directors, and I would like to invite anyone who’s interested to join us for a Zoom webinar on Thursday, June 11 from 7:00-9:00 p.m. ET and again on Monday, June 15 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. ET to ask questions about next year. Information about connecting to the meetings have been emailed to each student and parent (reference email of June 10).

The Conservatory faculty, staff, and I miss you all tremendously and can’t wait to welcome you back to campus in the fall, and to welcome our first-year students to Oberlin. Though the circumstances may prove difficult at times, we are confident in our ability to deliver a world-class musical education, all the while taking appropriate steps to support the health, safety, and well-being of everyone in our community.

Thank you, everyone, and we look forward to seeing you soon.


Bill Quillen, Dean
Oberlin Conservatory of Music

Town Halls for Conservatory students and parents - to discuss 2020-21


From the Conservatory Deans’ Office:  William Quillen (Dean), Peter Swendsen (Senior Associate Dean), Chris Jenkins (Associate Dean), Catherine Sherman (Associate Dean), Michael Straus (Associate Dean)

Representatives from the Conservatory’s Division Directors:  Prof. Brian Alegant (Director, Division of Music Theory), Prof. David Breitman (Director, Historical Performance Program), Prof. Alvin Chow (Director, Division of Keyboards), Prof. Bobby Ferrazza (Director, Division of Jazz), Prof. Richard Hawkins (Director, Division of Winds, Brass, and Percussion), Prof. Raphael Jiménez (Director, Division of Conducting & Ensembles), Prof. Andrea McAlister (Director, Pedagogy, Advocacy, and Community Engagement Program), Prof. Steven Plank (Director, Division of Musicology), Prof. Peter Slowik (Director, Division of Strings), Prof. Tim Weiss (Director, Division of Contemporary Music), Prof. Greg Ristow (Director, Division of Vocal Studies)

Town Hall #1
Thursday, June 11
7:00 - 9:00 p.m. ET

Register in advance for this webinar via the link emailed on June 10.
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Town Hall #2
Monday, June 15
5:30 - 7:30 p.m. ET

Register in advance for this webinar via the link emailed on June 10.
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Each session will be hosted as a webinar.  Attendees will have an opportunity to ask questions via the Q&A and chat functions in Zoom.  These optional events will be identical; individuals are welcome to attend either (or both) of them.  The purpose is to provide students and parents opportunities to ask the Conservatory deans and Division Directors questions about 2020-21.

Thank you, everyone, and we hope to see you soon!