Published: Oct. 13, 2022 By

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Tayloe Harding, Dean, University of South Carolina School of Music; John Richmond, Dean, UNT College of Music; and our Dean John Davis.Dear friends,

The First Amendment protects individual expression in music as a form of free speech. Indeed, music is one of our most powerful forms of free speech and arguably one of the best ways to connect with diverse populations.

So when I see the headlines decrying declining university enrollment rates across the board—exacerbated by the pandemic—I remain optimistic. Because what we offer at the College of Music is more relevant to education’s role in preserving democracy than ever before.

A few weeks ago, in Chancellor Philip DiStefano’s first in-person State of the Campus address in three years, he said, “If we as a university are to help form a more perfect nation, we must ensure that every person regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual identity, disability or background has the opportunity to participate.”

By preparing multi-skilled, multifaceted universal musicians to innovate, influence and impact a diversity of disciplines, I believe that—at the College of Music—we’re doing exactly that: creating a broad range of opportunities for inclusive participation, thereby instilling collaboration and community among our students, faculty and staff in our myriad roles as emerging creatives and changemakers, accomplished professionals, active allies and engaged community members with heart.

Talk about relevance! At a time rife with political pressures and societal divisions, we at the College of Music aim for consensus and collaboration.

The way I see it, developing universal musicians who demonstrate diversity in all forms is both a mission and a process that directly supports and sustains democracy. Our diversity of experiences and abilities, perspectives and opinions, races and ethnicities, and genders and sexual identities enhances our conversation, ignites and expands our awareness, and makes us better when we come together.

At its core, music making is inherently about listening to one another, respecting and discussing differences, sharing leadership and coming together around a common goal, a unified whole … the same values that form the bedrock of a well-functioning democracy.

To that end, we’re working continually to refine and flex our offerings, update our applied curriculum, implement ever more diverse programming and repertoire, and nurture intentional inclusivity in everything we do … all to expand our students’ agency and self-determination in meeting and exceeding their aspirations. Instead of being prescriptive, the College of Music asks students their passions and what most resonates with them, and then advises them accordingly. 

I’ll continue to share our progress, and always welcome your thoughts as our mission unfolds. Contact me anytime at

Photo: Dean John Davis at the annual National Association of Music Executives of State Universities [NAMESU] conference recently: “Expanded preparation of our students for the multifaceted world they face—what I call the universal musician—is a hot topic!" Left to right: Tayloe Harding, Dean, University of South Carolina School of Music; John Richmond, Dean, UNT College of Music; and our Dean John Davis.

Together, we’re making a difference toward inclusive excellence at the College of Music by developing multi-skilled, multi-faceted universal musicians of tomorrow. We invite you to contribute to the Dean's Annual Fund to ensure our timely, flexible response to the rapidly changing critical needs of our students, faculty, staff and programs throughout the College of Music. Your gift to the Dean’s Fund enriches student and faculty experiences through diversity, equity + inclusion (DEI) initiatives, faculty and staff professional development, student performances at Boettcher Concert Hall, distinguished visiting lecturers ... and so much more. Thank you!