In an email to the Yale community Wednesday morning, University President Peter Salovey announced that Robert Blocker will continue in his fifth term as Henry and Lucy Moses Dean of the School of Music.
Blocker first assumed the deanship in 1995. He will begin his fifth term as dean in July 2016. Appointment terms in the School of Music last five years, after which period a University committee reviews a given staff member’s performance and decides whether to retain him or her in that position. In the announcement, Salovey noted that Blocker’s continued work as a performing pianist is particularly inspiring to students, many of whom see him as a role model.
“I have now, and have always been, humbled to serve the School of Music and Yale,” Blocker said. “It is a great privilege to work with faculty, staff, administration and most of all, incredible students.”
Blocker’s tenure has seen a large growth in fundraising and an expansion of faculty at the school. Salovey noted that Blocker’s leadership extends beyond the University into the international music community.
According to Blocker, 40 percent of students in the School of Music hail from abroad — a statistic that has held steady since the 1970s.
As a result, Blocker sees international opportunities as necessary for the creative growth and networking of students. He cited the “Cultural Olympiad,” a festival cosponsored by the Yale School of Music and the Central Conservatory of Music before the 2008 Beijing Olympics, as the biggest project the school has done on an international level.
Looking forward, Blocker said prominent issues facing the School of Music involve the changing opportunities for young artists as well as incorporating the redesigned Hendrie Hall into campus. The center has been renamed the Adams Center for Musical Arts after Stephen Adams ’59, who donated $100 million to the school in 2005 as well as an additional $10 million toward the renovation in 2013 .
More specifically, he noted that the school is rethinking how to prepare students for professional careers, adding that traditional music venues have changed and that the public’s musical interests have shifted. Blocker also noted that he wants to engage faculty in a conversation about the dissemination and accessibility of music through performances and interactive lectures.
Blocker emphasized that his musicianship sustains his role as dean and motivates his continued involvement in the school. He added that his three roles — a performer, a teacher and an administrator — work in tandem with one another.
“I’m a pianist, and I would say that being a musician really feeds me to do this as work,” he said. “Being so involved in music brings me incredible joy, and I’m still learning from students, faculty, and colleagues.”
Associate Dean Michael Yaffe added that the relationship between the teacher and the student is extremely important in a school that teaches music composition, and that Blocker has done a great job in choosing faculty. He added that he believes Blocker’s time as dean has transformed the school through fundraising and musical programs.
Both students and faculty in the school reacted positively to Blocker’s reappointment.
Stephanie Tubiolo MUS ’16 said Blocker’s music and personal involvement in the school make him a highly regarded dean.
Blocker was preceded in his role by Ezra Laderman, who served from 1989 to 1995.