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Benjamin E. Juarez New College of Fine Arts Dean

Conductor, producer, educator has worked internationally

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Benjamin E. Juarez’s arts career spans four decades. Photo by Vernon Doucette

Benjamin E. Juarez considers himself a conductor first, and with good reason: he’s led orchestras in venues from Shanghai to the Champs-Élysées. On August 1, he’ll take a new podium as dean of the College of Fine Arts.

Juarez, 59, is now the director of culture, technology, and development at the Dr. José María Luis Mora Research Institute, which focuses on social sciences, history, and culture, in his native Mexico. He has also directed the Centro Nacional de las Artes, Mexico’s national arts center, running professional schools in music, dance, arts, theater, and film, research centers, the organization’s TV channel, and more than 20 theaters and performing spaces.

Juarez takes over from Walt Meissner (CFA’81), who has been dean ad interim for eight years.

“I come here as a student,” Juarez says, referring to his learning curve at BU. Of course, few students arrive speaking five languages and having been honored as the first Latin American to conduct an orchestra in China (in 1984). The CFA deanship, he says, engages his career-long interest in arts education. “It doesn’t matter if it’s rock or watusi or Mahler. When students become passionate about an arts discipline, they can go out and explore others.”

“Benjamin brings to Boston University an impressive spectrum of experience as an artist and leader in the performing and visual arts, a passion for creating a world-renowned conservatory, and a vision for the role of the arts in the fabric of a modern research university,” says President Robert A. Brown. “I have great optimism for the future of the College of Fine Arts under his leadership.”

Juarez is “a true renaissance man of the arts,” says Provost David Campbell. “His background in academia, his positions as an accomplished conductor and producer of radio and television programs, and his artistic integrity and management skills will bring a rich and diverse presence to CFA. His broad background will help create new synergies among its three schools and will offer our students within CFA and elsewhere at BU many exciting new opportunities.”

William Carroll, head of the search committee that recommended Juarez, says the committee was taken by Juarez’s artistic accomplishments and administrative experience. But even those “seemed pale and flat in comparison with the remarkable man we spoke with,” says Carroll, a College of Arts & Sciences professor and chair of the English department. “His knowledge of the world of the arts was international in scope. He was full of ideas about the development and sustenance of the arts. We concluded that he will make new connections for the school — both within Boston and nationally and internationally.”

That’s important, Juarez says, because among his tasks as dean will be fundraising for continuing CFA renovations. At the Centro Nacional de las Artes from 2007 to 2009, he oversaw 600-plus employees, 1,800 students, and an $8 million annual budget. He signed student and faculty exchange agreements with other art schools in Mexico and the United States and launched joint programs with such places as the Kennedy Center, hosted international arts conferences, and presided over a 30 percent increase in visitors to the center.

Earlier, Juarez was director of cultural activities for Universidad Anáhuac del Sur. For a decade, beginning in 1992, he led an international research project on Mexican cathedral music that provided for the transcription and performance of hundreds of works composed between the 16th and the 19th centuries. The work, bankrolled by UNESCO and other funders, yielded a dozen CDs.

From 1978 to 1979, he was head of music and dance at the National University of Mexico, where he inaugurated Mexico’s major 2,100-seat concert hall and oversaw its international programming. He founded Cantar y taner, an ensemble that used original Mexican instruments and performance practices, in 1975. He was principal guest conductor and assistant conductor of the State of Mexico Symphony Orchestra from 1979 to 1981, associate conductor of the Mexico City Philharmonic Orchestra from 1983 to 1987, and music director of the Gran Festival de la Ciudad de Mexico in 1989 and 1990. He has lectured and run workshops on music and the arts in Mexico and abroad.

Juarez earned a bachelor’s degree in 1969 from Centro Universitario Mexico, a master’s of fine arts in music from the California Institute of the Arts in 1973, and a certificate in business administration from Universidad Anáhuac del Sur in 2002.

He has studied voice, piano, violin, and harpsichord. His wife, a flutist, will join him in Boston. They have two grown children in Mexico.

Rich Barlow may be reached at barlowr@bu.edu.

2 Comments

2 Comments on Benjamin E. Juarez New College of Fine Arts Dean

  • Stephen Burch on 06.14.2010 at 7:01 am

    new dean of CFA

    Welcome to our new Dean. I especially like the California connection (the MFA from Cal Arts). Here’s to building bridges.
    Stephen Burch
    DMA student
    Thousand Oaks, CA

  • Sam Lacombe on 06.14.2010 at 12:03 pm

    Dean Meissner

    Thank you, Walt Meissner.

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