Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Music names new dean

Northwestern’s first black female dean will head up the School of Music with a focus on expanding funding for the arts.

University officials announced Dec. 17 that Toni-Marie Montgomery, dean of the University of Kansas School of Fine Arts and a concert pianist, will take over the position July 1.

Montgomery succeeds Bernard Dobroski, who is stepping down this summer after serving 13 years as Music dean.

Montgomery, 46, said she hopes to see more females and minorities join the university ranks because it is important for students to have diverse role models.

“(My hiring) is a strong statement because it’s easier for many institutions to continue with the model,” Montgomery said in a phone interview from her home in Olathe, Kan. “Here I am — this is going to be a first for Northwestern. It means that the university is going to be scrutinized more so, and I think the School of Music will get attention.”

Dobroski said her appointment is significant because of her qualifications, not her ethnicity or gender.

“It’s splendid. I couldn’t be more honored to have a successor of her stature and experience to move the trajectory and goals of the school and faculty, and she’s the person who can do it,” Dobroski said. “She is a real head-turner in the sense of the importance and the impact of her ideas.”

The Philadelphia native first told NU she was not interested in the position, but the prospect of becoming dean of the nation’s sixth-ranked music school, located in a vibrant urban location, in the end made the offer impossible to refuse.

“I wanted to be dean of a major school of music,” Montgomery said. “I am accomplishing that.”

Montgomery will come to the Evanston campus on Monday to meet with faculty and students.

During her tenure at Kansas, Montgomery increased annual gifts to the school from nearly $400,000 in fiscal year 2000 to more than $2.8 million in fiscal year 2002.

Topping her list of priorities at NU are improving music facilities and strengthening academic programs, such as arts technology and other joint degrees, she said.

“In the next two to three years, we’re not going to have a new building,” Montgomery said. “That’s going to be a priority I have to address. It’s a need — the separation of academic faculty and performance faculty.”

She estimates it will take $30 million to $40 million to construct a new music building, but “fund-raising and friend-raising takes a while.”

“I do know that there have been great strides and progress made in renovating (the Music Administration Building),” Montgomery said. “I wouldn’t want to describe the facilities as sorely inadequate. I know they are crowded and weren’t designed for music.”

Because there are few funding sources for the arts, the music school must turn to individual gifts, she said.

“I hear faculty saying it’s the life sciences getting the attention,” Montgomery said. “That’s never going to change. International programs and life sciences are really sexy things.

“We have at our fingertips those people who are lovers of the arts. I see those individuals as the priority.”

Montgomery told the Kansas City Star that her new post will involve a substantial increase in salary from the $135,000 she earns at Kansas but declined to cite the figure. Kansas offered to match NU’s salary, but Montgomery already chosen NU.

Before working at Kansas, Montgomery served in academic posts at Arizona State University, Western Michigan University and the University of Connecticut.

Dobroski said he will help Montgomery during her transition as dean.

“My staff and I are really trying to make sure the baton is ready to be passed, that anything that can be finished will be finished,” he said.

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Music names new dean