Farewell From Karen Wolff


(img: Karen Wolff)IT IS WITH ENORMOUS RESPECT and affection that I write my last message to the friends and alumni of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. You have made my life in the Conservatory exciting and meaningful for nearly eight years and I value our relationship more than I can say.


The enduring meaning of an education at this institution lies in the vision and determination with which each graduate is able to go forth to further the cause of music in our society. In small towns and large cities, with children and adults, with professional musicians and amateurs, with audiences large and small, in schools, churches, synagogues and on the concert stage, Oberlinians, for more than 135 years, have met the high standard of musical responsibility their Conservatory education mandated. My tenure at Oberlin has instilled in me the same spirit of resolve with which you are imbued, and I look forward to joining the worldwide Oberlin "network" in finding a means to continue to serve the art we all cherish.


Meanwhile I offer to David Boe, and later to my permanent successor, my best wishes for continuing the marvelous traditions of the Conservatory of Music. I also would remind all who have graduated from this institution that, in these times of transition, the Conservatory will need your support and help as never before. I hope you will be generous in your support and unstinting in your determination that your school maintain its high standards of musical quality.


Thank you for the privilege of serving this great school.

Karen Wolff, Gifted and Popular Conservatory Dean, Resigns


In December 1998, Karen Wolff, dean of the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, announced her resignation, effective February 1, 1999. Wolff had held this post since August 1991.


"I've worked in higher education since 1978 and in administration since 1984," said Wolff. "I am feeling a need for change in my life. It has been gratifying to have worked for an institution that has demonstrated more than a century's commitment to music and music education. I am enormously grateful for the privilege of serving Oberlin for seven and a-half years. I wish my successor well in continuing its remarkable success."


Wolff added, "It is especially gratifying that the Oberlin community reaches every area of the globe; Obies are found in every music community in the United States. I am proud that our graduates leave our practice rooms and classrooms not simply in search of 'jobs' but rather in search of a way to help shape the future of music."


Wolff's tenure was notable for her visionary leadership, her thorough understanding of how to create and nurture a music school of the highest quality, and her rare ability to persuade faculty members of divergent views to work together toward a common goal of excellence.


Under Wolff's tutelage, the Conservatory revamped the music theory curriculum and increased scholarship funds. Her leadership focused on increasing students' musical and intellectual versatility to prepare them for survival in the evolving music industry. Wolff renewed the Conservatory's commitment to recruit, admit and retain the finest students and the most engaged faculty in the country. Wolff initiated numerous education and outreach programs in communities surrounding Oberlin, and in the process introduced the riches and rewards of music and music study to area public school children (and often, their parents).


Wolff had previously served as faculty member and director of the University of Minnesota School of Music, and as faculty member, acting dean and associate dean for administrative affairs at the University of Cincinnati College - Conservatory of Music.


Wolff holds a B.M.E. degree from Morningside College and M.M. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Michigan. She is a specialist in the training of youth choral groups, and she has appeared frequently as a clinician, guest conductor and speaker. She has been a member of the board of numerous professional music organizations including the Minnesota Orchestra, Minnesota Opera and the Ohio Chamber Orchestra. Wolff has served on the editorial boards of music education journals. She has been elected to offices in the National Association of Schools of Music, and has served as consultant to the U.S. Department of Education and the National Endowment for the Arts.

David Boe Named Acting Director of the Conservatory


David Boe, professor of organ and harpsichord, has been named acting dean of the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music. Boe served as Conservatory dean from 1976 to 1990 before stepping down to devote himself to teaching full time. During his 15-year tenure as dean, Boe guided the Conservatory through a period of renewal and growth and built the foundation for its current status as one of the finest conservatories in the country. He developed a summer program that grew to include 11 different workshops, as well as the internationally known American Soviet Youth Orchestra. He also spearheaded three major capital projects: the Conservatory's $1 million renovation of Warner Concert Hall, a Conservatory library addition that increased its size by 150 percent, and the development of the electronic and computer music complex.


"I am honored that President Dye has asked me to resume an administrative role with the Conservatory's gifted faculty and students as a national search is conducted for a permanent replacement," said Boe.


"I look forward to working closely with Professor Boe," said Nancy S. Dye, president of Oberlin College. "He is the consummate professional who helped elevate the Conservatory to its current status, which is surpassed by none."


Boe joined the Oberlin faculty in 1962 after teaching at the University of Georgia in 1961-62. From 1981 until 1987, he served as elected secretary of the National Association of Schools of Music and has continued to serve that organization as a consultant or chair of music accreditation teams at more than 35 institutions. He is a past president of Pi Kappa Lambda, the national music honor society, and he is currently vice president of the American Organ Academy. While on leave from the Oberlin Conservatory during the 1990-91 school year, he served as a visiting professor at Florida State University. For the fall semester of the 1991-92 academic year, he was a visiting professor at the University of Notre Dame.Boe and his wife, Sigrid, reside in Oberlin.

From the Dean

The thought was not present, even in the remote reaches of my imagination, that I would be greeting you again from this page. But as I now return to the dean's office, albeit only temporarily, there are observations about the health of the Conservatory that I eagerly share with you.

The Conservatory has benefited enormously these past few years from the vision, leadership and wise stewardship of Karen Wolff. She leaves the Conservatory with the scope of its curricular programs broadened and enhanced, its faculty strengthened, and its student body more selectively admitted from the largest applicant pools ever. Moreover, the next dean will find in place within the Conservatory an administrative and professional team that is highly skilled and totally dedicated. Alumni support and involvement remain strong. Throughout this issue, you will find news of our students, faculty and alumni that can only confirm your pride in the Conservatory.

Yet some things never change. As I now recall vividly from my years as dean, each day is filled with tasks that range from the trivial to the significant and that are enormously varied: many gratifying, others challenging, some frustrating. But given the excellence and durability of our traditions at Oberlin, the rewards far outweigh the disappointments.

I take on this assignment over the coming months out of deep affection for this great institution, and I look forward to renewed contacts with the many friends and supporters of the Conservatory.

David Boe
Acting Dean of the Conservatory


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