Campus News

Stull to Lead San Francisco Conservatory

March 20, 2013
Cathy Strauss
David Stull
David Stull Photo credit: Tanya Rosen-Jones ’97

David H. Stull ’89, dean of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and professor of brass studies, will assume his new role as president of the San Francisco Conservatory on July 1, 2013. This appointment closes his 13-year tenure at Oberlin, first as associate dean and subsequently as the chief academic officer of the conservatory.

“It has been a privilege and honor to serve the Oberlin Conservatory of Music as dean,” says Stull. “These last nine years have been the most extraordinary of my professional career, and the opportunity to work with such tremendous colleagues and phenomenal supporters in building this great school has been energizing and rewarding in every respect.

“Oberlin is my alma mater and will always be my home, and I am proud to pursue another endeavor knowing that the Conservatory of Music at Oberlin is truly the best undergraduate training program of its kind in the world.”

“Over the past decade, David Stull has been an incredible visionary leader for the conservatory,” says Timothy Weiss, director of Oberlin’s Contemporary Music Ensemble and professor of conducting. “He has taken the conservatory to a new level of leadership in higher education. To say he will be missed is a great understatement.”

Stull’s wide range of achievements at Oberlin includes securing several major collections, professorships, scholarships, building projects, equipment donations, and instruments—his fundraising efforts total nearly $40 million. Under Stull’s direction, from proposal through completion, the conservatory opened the Bertram and Judith Kohl Building in 2010. The spectacular three-story, 37,000 square-foot is home to Oberlin’s Jazz Studies Division. Its dedication weekend featured special guests Stevie Wonder and Bill Cosby. This state-of-the-art facility houses the largest privately held jazz recording collection in the United States, a world-class recording studio, Clonick Hall, and the McGregor Skybar. It is also the world’s first dedicated music-teaching facility in the world to attain a gold LEED rating.

Under Stull’s leadership, the conservatory unveiled initiatives aimed at delivering the most rigorous professional training to young artists to prepare them for thriving careers in the 21st century. These initiatives included critically acclaimed student ensemble tours of such major national and international cultural centers as the Getty Center and Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, Cleveland’s Severance Hall, New York’s Carnegie Hall and Miller Theatre, the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre in San Francisco, Benaroya Hall in Seattle, and premier concert halls in Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan, and Singapore. Stull led the conservatory’s founding of the Oberlin Music recording label with distribution through iTunes; live-streaming concerts from five campus venues; implementing young artist and community music programs such as the Cooper International Competition; establishing the Creativity & Leadership Project, an initiative that supports student entrepreneurial endeavors; and introducing Music in America, an initiative aimed at identifying and launching transformative music programs with a focus on underserved schools.

In recognition of the success of its comprehensive and cutting-edge academic programming, President Barack Obama presented the Oberlin Conservatory of Music with the National Medal of Arts, which Stull accepted on behalf of the institution in February 2010.

Stewart Kohl ’77, a member of Oberlin’s Board of Trustees and co-chief executive officer of the Riverside Company, shared his admiration for Stull’s work. “Under his visionary leadership, the Oberlin Conservatory didn’t just enter the 21st century, but leapt ahead in amazing ways. Over the prior 139 years it built a reputation as one of the world’s leading conservatories based on rigor and musical excellence. In his nine years as dean, this tradition of excellence has been meaningfully enhanced while the program, faculty, students, and physical plant have each benefited from his enormous energy and innovation.”

Kohl adds, “I had the privilege of working side by side with Dean Stull on the planning, fundraising and construction of the new jazz studies building. Through this project my wife, Donna, and I were able to witness firsthand the leadership he brought to all of his work at Oberlin. First as an Oberlin student and then an administrator, David demonstrated both his love for the institution and his passion for driving it to excel and reach its highest ideals and greatest potential. This building will forever stand as a tribute to David’s vision and accomplishment as dean.”

James David Christie ’74, Oberlin’s professor of organ, says, “The legacy of David Stull's tenure as dean of the Oberlin Conservatory will be remembered as one of the most brilliant in the history of Oberlin College. David’s work began with incredible vision, unrelenting diligence, hope, charisma, and love for his alma mater at the beginning of the 21st century. The reputation of the Oberlin Conservatory has never been better than at present, thanks to his work. He always worked on behalf of his faculty, and we knew we were in the best hands ever. Most of all, this allowed us to do what we are supposed to do, and that is teach. In his all too short time as our leader and friend, David accomplished more than many deans and leaders accomplish in their entire careers. The conservatory grew in ways none of us would ever have dreamed possible, and the awards and accolades bestowed on the conservatory these past nine years are simply amazing. I personally have never served under anyone in my entire teaching career who cared more about his faculty, students, and both the conservatory and the college as much as David Stull. Our sincere congratulations to the trustees of the San Francisco Conservatory on having hired David as their president—their gain is our great loss!"

“David Stull has provided many years of outstanding service and leadership to Oberlin as associate dean and then dean of the Conservatory of Music,” says Oberlin’s president Marvin Krislov. “His vision, drive, and expertise have carried the conservatory to new heights of excellence and international recognition. As a double-degree alum, he embodies Oberlin’s unique liberal arts tradition, and he will always be a valued member of the Oberlin family.”

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