Oberlin Names Innovative Leader as Dean of the Conservatory of Music

December 10, 2019

Communications Staff

Bill Quillen man in navy suit and blue tie wearing glasses.
Photo credit: Tanya Rosen-Jones '97

Following an extensive national search, William Quillen has been appointed dean of the Conservatory of Music at Oberlin College. An innovative, forward-looking leader, Quillen has served as acting dean of the renowned institution since the fall of 2018, and has been instrumental in shaping its vision for 21st century musical education. 

He will begin his new role on January 1, pending approval by the Board of Trustees.

“I am excited that Bill will continue to provide thoughtful guidance and leadership as dean of the conservatory,” says President Carmen Twillie Ambar. “He has demonstrated a vision for excellence and creativity that will allow Oberlin College and Conservatory to maintain its position as a leader in higher education for decades to come.”

A musicologist and former tubist, Quillen joined the conservatory in August 2017, as associate dean for academic affairs. He oversaw the conservatory’s academic programs, including curricular development and academic policy, and played a key role in guiding Oberlin’s reaccreditation process by the Higher Learning Commission. He was named acting dean in November 2018, following the departure of Andrea Kalyn, who left Oberlin to become the president of the New England Conservatory.

During Oberlin’s recent Academic and Administrative Program Review, Quillen was vice chair of the leadership team charged with making recommendations to ensure long-term financial sustainability while enhancing the institution’s academic excellence.

"On behalf of the conservatory dean search committee, and the staff, students, and faculty representatives who worked tirelessly since May, we are so pleased and excited to welcome Dean Bill Quillen into the ranks of history of our cherished institution,” says Richard Hawkins, professor of clarinet and chair of the search committee.

“With Dean Quillen’s leadership and creativity, we look forward to the significant work that ensures future generations experience the highest level of education and innovation the Oberlin Conservatory of Music has to offer,” Hawkins says.

Quillen previously served as legacy and major gifts officer at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He also has served in the administrations of Berkeley Symphony, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, and the San Francisco Symphony.

He has held teaching appointments at the University of Cambridge (as a Research Fellow of Clare College) and the University of California at Berkeley. He has lectured widely and published on topics in Russian music, 20th- and 21st-century music, and the sociology of music. He has also assisted with the organization of concerts, conferences, and other events in the United States, UK, and Russia.

"I am honored and humbled to have been chosen as the conservatory's next dean, and I am overjoyed at the opportunity to continue working with our esteemed students, faculty, and staff, ’’says Quillen.

‘‘The conservatory represents the single best education of its kind in the world. I look forward to working with President Ambar, the Board of Trustees, and the entire Oberlin community to shepherd the conservatory into its next era of unparalleled excellence and innovation."

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