CFA Mourns the Passing of Susan Wharton Conkling

BU College of Fine Arts is saddened to announce the passing of Susan Wharton Conkling, Professor of Music Education in the School of Music.

Dr. Conkling joined the Music Education department in the School of Music as a Professor in 2010. “Susan was fiercely devoted to her family, her students, her teaching colleagues, and a broad network of friends and associates,” says Shiela Kibbe, Director ad interim of the School of Music at the College of Fine Arts. “Within the field of Music Education she leaves a legacy of ardent pursuit of and dedication to research and scholarship, as well as faithful instruction, service, and mentoring to hundreds of music educators.“

As a conductor, Dr. Conkling was praised for sensitive and expressive performances at conferences of the American Choral Directors Association, American Orff-Schulwerk Association, and MENC: National Association for Music Education. She was known as an advocate for Women’s Choirs and contemporary women composers, and she conducted honor choir performances throughout the United States.

As a teacher and scholar, Dr. Conkling led efforts to develop a Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in the field of music, beginning with a Carnegie Fellowship in 1999. At Boston University College of Fine Arts, she taught graduate and undergraduate courses in choral conducting, methods, and curriculum, and she designed and implemented courses to prepare DMA candidates for their roles in higher education. She was also well known for her efforts to create professional development partnerships between public schools and collegiate schools of music.

Dr. Conkling served the profession as a board member of the Massachusetts chapter of the American Choral Directors Association, the International Society for Music Education’s Commission on the Education of the Professional Musician, and the Society for Music Teacher Education. She served on the College Music Society as its Music Education board member, and also served on the editorial board of Advances in Music Education Research. She was also a board member of the Boston Children’s Chorus.

The CFA community mourns the loss of our colleague and friend. Her family requests that, in lieu of flowers, donations may be sent in Susan’s memory to Boston Children’s Chorus, Be The Match, and/or Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. 

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