The Robert Fink Administration (1978-1993)
Robert R. Fink was appointed Dean of the College in the spring of 1978, and arrived on campus that summer. He had been a member of the music faculty at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo since 1957, and had served as Department Chairman beginning in 1972. His first initiatives at the University of Colorado included the addition of three staff positions, the creation of a Concerts Office to manage all aspects of the College’s performance and publicity activities, and the acquisition of control of Macky Auditorium and the Artist Series from the office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. He also created an Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies position. The governance system of the College was reorganized by replacing the “division” system with “faculty” units and elected chairs who also served as the College’s Advisory Council. This group replaced the previous Executive Committee in providing guidance to the Dean regarding College programs and policies. An elected Curriculum Committee consisting solely of faculty members became an equally important aspect of faculty governance.
During Dean Fink’s administration, a number of improvements in music facilities occurred. The opera workshop/orchestra rehearsal room in the north addition was converted to the Music Theatre with 200 fixed seats and extensive theatrical lighting. The performance area of Macky Auditorium benefited from a 3.5 million dollar renovation (1985-86) which included new opera boxes, an expanded orchestra pit with lift, and a moveable acoustical shell on stage; the Music Library stacks were expanded with a second level (1989), and a graduate student reading room was added. The recital hall (then known as the Music Hall) was renovated, thanks to a gift from alumnus Dave Grusin, and named the Grusin Music Hall.
Numerous faculty retirements occurred just prior to 1978 and in the 1980’s. Replacements coupled with ten new positions increased the size and diversity of the music faculty significantly including new specialists in world musics, jazz, and theatrical production. The band program began emphasizing contemporary wind ensemble literature and presenting spectacular “collage” concerts involving wind/percussion groups of varied instrumentation. Also, during this time, the opera/musical theatre program was renamed the Lyric Theatre Program and began presenting three fully staged productions during the academic year and two in the summer. During the Imig and Fink administrations and continuing into that of Dean Daniel Sher, the choral groups and the orchestra continued their high levels of performance.
Undergraduate music major enrollment was limited to around 300 in the 1980’s and early 1990’s in order to raise the academic and musical standards of the students. During the same time graduate enrollment flourished reaching over 200 with many highly talented students from throughout the world.
Artists in residence continued to be a part of the curriculum. The Takács String Quartet, which was invited to Boulder in 1983 and is still in residence as of 2006, maintains the tradition of outstanding resident faculty chamber music groups that began with the Hungarian Quartet followed by the Pablo Casals Trio.
Significant steps were taken in music history. In the fall of 1988 the American Music Research Center was acquired from the Dominican College in San Rafael, California. This collection, consisting primarily of 18th-century materials, supplemented existing holdings of Americana in the Music Library and, together with many new acquisitions made in its first few years of existence in Boulder, has enabled the Center to become a leading research and programming institution of its kind in the nation. In 1989 the College became one of seven regional centers for the Thesarus Musicarum Latinarum, a nationwide project to put early music theory texts online, including printed editions and manuscript sources. During the 1990s and into the next decade, three ethnomusicologists were added to the faculty, and several world music courses and ensembles in Latin American, Asian, and African music augmented the curriculum.
The 1980s and 90s also saw expansion in music theory. Eventually three positions for music theorists, as distinct from composers, were filled (previously composers had taught many of the theory courses), and new music theory courses were offered. In 1989 a Director of Music Technology position was created, and an existing classroom was turned into a computer-assisted music laboratory (CAML) that gained enthusiastic student interest and use.
Music Education, while not making any structural additions or changes, continued to serve the state and nation as it had done earlier. Many primary and secondary music teaching positions throughout Colorado are held by College graduates, and music educators hold the largest number of Ph.D’s awarded by the College. The Music Education Faculty continues to play a leading role in the administration and activities of the Colorado Music Educators Association.
During the 1980’s and early 1990’s many College faculty members and student performing groups traveled internationally to present concerts and represent the U.S.A. in festivals and competitions. In 1991 the College received considerable recognition when it was selected as one of only ten American Schools of Music to be invited to perform at the Mozart Bicentennial celebration at Lincoln Center in New York. Many of the College’s graduates have secured teaching and performing posts throughout the country and in Europe. International students, particularly those from Asia, have taken graduate degrees here, and some have returned to their home countries to practice their specialties.
State financial support became even more limited during the 1980s and created the need for increased fundraising from alumni and friends of the College. Annual fund drives began, and large contributions were solicited on a regular basis. To aid in this effort an external Advisory Board for the College was appointed, which provided valuable curricular input and financial help. By 1993 the College’s endowment had tripled and scholarships and tuition waivers had increased substantially. These helped to raise the quality of the undergraduate student body and supported the graduate program, which became increasingly recognized in national rankings.
High school students and the general public in Boulder and throughout Colorado have benefited for many years from the College’s hosting of the All-State Orchestra, the Madrigal Festival, and Band Day, all of which began in the Imig era. In the 1980’s a high school Honor Band was created with similar success. Local audiences were substantially increased in 1986 when College holiday concerts and events by various choirs and instrumental groups were combined into a Festival of Christmas, which has since continued to attract large audiences. A larger and more diverse faculty has resulted in more numerous recitals, lectures, and colloquia. These are supported by many people throughout the region as well as the immediate University community.
During Dean Fink’s years, the College focused on building infrastructure through strong support for the Music Library, increasing the size of the faculty, staff, and graduate student body, providing more financial aid for students, and upgrading facilities. The only new academic programs that were introduced during his tenure were undergraduate certificates in jazz studies and music technology; however the strengthening and expansion of existing programs and faculty as well as the large infusion of support from alumni and friends kept the College well abreast of leading music schools in the nation.