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Week of 15 October 1999

Vol. III, No. 10

Feature Article

SFA Dean MacCombie to step down

Bruce MacCombie, dean of the School for the Arts at Boston University, recently announced that he will step down as SFA dean at the conclusion of the 1999-2000 academic year. MacCombie, who is also a professor of composition and theory in the school's music division, plans to take up his faculty post following a sabbatical leave during the 2000-2001 school year.

"This will be my 20th year of administrative work: from six years as a New York music publisher, then six years as dean at Juilliard, to eight years as dean here at the School for the Arts," says MacCombie. "While I have enjoyed these positions enormously, I now look forward to a period of full-time creative work followed by a return to teaching."

Boston University officials praise MacCombie's contributions as an artist and an administrator. "As a composer, Bruce MacCombie has a splendid range of romantic and modernist sensibility," says President Jon Westling. "Critics have rightly praised his musical intelligence, wit, sparkle, and intensity. As dean of the School for the Arts, he has also succeeded in blending tradition and innovation to enhance the school's outstanding educational programs in music, theater, and the visual arts."

SFA Dean Bruce MacCombie

SFA Dean Bruce MacCombie Photo by Vernon Doucette

Provost Dennis Berkey adds, "It has been a rare opportunity to have as dean a person who combines a rich creative career as a composer with such a solid grounding in academic administration. Bruce MacCombie has enriched the School for the Arts through his leadership, and I am delighted that he will remain a member of our faculty."

This past summer MacCombie was commissioned to compose a work for the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival in New York, and he has recently been commissioned to compose a new piece for the International Guitar Festival in Bath, England, for the year 2000.

MacCombie began his academic career in 1975 as an assistant professor, then became associate professor, of composition and theory at the Yale University School of Music. In 1980 he moved to New York City to become vice president and director of publications for G. Schirmer and Associates Music Publishers, and in 1986 was appointed dean of the Juilliard School. He has served as dean of the School for the Arts at BU since 1992.

During MacCombie's tenure as dean, enrollment at SFA increased from 854 to 1,050. Applications grew from 1,930 to 2,692, and the combined average freshman SAT scores went from 1080 to 1252. In addition, numerous alumni and professional artist connections have been developed in recent years, including residencies with the conductor Robert Shaw and master classes by Jason Alexander (SFA'81, Hon.'95) and Geena Davis (SFA'79, Hon.'99).

MacCombie has also worked closely with International Programs at BU to develop one-semester residencies for theatre arts students in London, visual arts students in Venice, and music students in Dresden. The first groups of BU students participated in the London and Venice programs in the spring 1999 semester.

Alumni donations to SFA have increased over the past seven years, capped by the gift of a $704,000 art collection from alumna Janice Walker Miller last spring. Support for the BU Tanglewood Institute, a program for high school students, was enhanced this summer by a three-year $225,000 grant from the Surdna Foundation.

"Our 11-member Advisory Board, chaired by Fidelity Foundation Director Anne-Marie Soullière, has helped a great deal in expanding our horizons for the School for the Arts, through assistance with increased residencies by visiting professional artists, higher quality publications, and the stewarding of alumni and friends," says MacCombie. "While many areas of the school are positioned well, there is a major need for new facilities, particularly a large concert hall for our flourishing chorus and orchestra programs. I do hope a new arts center will be high on the agenda for the University's future capital campaign."

MacCombie has agreed to continue to assist and advise Westling and Berkey in the development of arts programs and projects in the coming years.