Director finalists make their cases

Three candidates discussed their success with fundraising and plans for the school.

From the left: Michael Kim, Gary Mortenson and Daniel Melamed

From the left: Michael Kim, Gary Mortenson and Daniel Melamed

Taylor Nachtigal

The three candidates looking to secure the University of Minnesota School of Music’s director position started making their cases for hiring last month, highlighting their past successes and plans for the school.

The candidates — Michael Kim, Daniel Melamed and Gary Mortenson — discussed fundraising, leadership styles and increasing enrollment numbers in on-campus interviews that began in February.

Matthew Mehaffey, search committee member and associate professor of music, said he and other school leaders are looking for someone who can successfully represent the music school in the University community and at state and national levels.

“Everybody in the School of Music is looking for a leader who brings strong administrative skill and strong artistic and scholarly background,” Mehaffey said.

The College of Liberal Arts restructured the school’s administration last summer, moving then-director David Myers to a faculty position and cutting  Anne Barnes’ assistant department director position.

Kelly O’Brien, the College of Liberal Arts’ communications director, told the Daily last summer the cuts were part of a larger effort to ensure the departments and schools within CLA didn’t have multiple leaders.

“Last spring was a time of big change for us, and as a faculty, we’re ready to move forward,” Mehaffey said.

Fundraising, planning

Mehaffey said the position requires a strong ability to work with existing donors and attract new ones, as well as to strategize long-term goals for the school.

Gary Mortenson, Kansas State University’s School of Music, Theatre and Dance director, highlighted his past successes in landing major donations during his interview presentation.

Mortenson said he once persuaded a family to donate a piano to his school and then persuaded a different donor to upgrade all of the school’s pianos.

“You need to be persistent without crossing over into the realm of being a pest, and that’s a fine art,” Mortenson said.

Michael Kim, Brandon University’s dean of music, also touted his experience overseeing his school’s fundraising — a task that he said he would carry if chosen by the University. Kim said he would put fundraising dollars toward scholarships for students.

“Scholarships and the resource base is essential,” Kim said. “Active fundraising is a very important part of that.”

While Kim and Mortenson emphasized the importance of donor funding, Daniel Melamed, chair of Indiana University’s Department of Musicology, focused much of his public presentation on aligning his plan for the school with CLA’s.

Melamed said he hopes to bring more attention to the music school in an effort to attract students from both the state and the region. He said he hopes to make the School of Music a destination school, an idea that’s echoed in CLA’s plan for the future.

 “[The school] should be a destination for students, it’s where they should be thinking about coming to go to school, it should be a part of the community, and those two things are, in fact, connected.” Melamed said.

The role of administration

The candidates have different leadership styles and experiences.

Kim said it’s important to use short-term and long-term planning while administering. He said in the past, he’s used guides — like one- to 10-year plans — for his school.

 “I don’t think a one-size-fits-all approach works, especially within the context of a school of music,” Kim said. Mortenson said if chosen, he’d like to establish interpersonal relationships with his co-workers before making changes.

“I don’t think it is a director’s place to immediately come in and develop a vision,” Mortenson said. “I think that is something that you have to develop through conversations.”

Melamed said his strength as an administrator comes from his thorough understanding of music in multiple contexts.

“I understand both the liberal arts context of the study of music and a ‘school of music conservatory’ context as well,” he said.


Michael Kim

Education: Bachelor’s in Music, University of Calgary; Master of Music, Doctor of Musical Arts, Juilliard.

Current position: Dean and Professor of Music at Brandon University.

Expertise: Piano.


Daniel Melamed

Education: Ph.D., Harvard University; Master of Arts, Stanford University; Master of Arts, Harvard University; Bachelor of Arts, Harvard University.

Current position: Professor of Music (Musicology); Chair, Department of Musicology at Indiana University.

Expertise: 17th- and 18th-century music, J.S. Bach.


Gary Mortenson

Education: Bachelor of Music Edcuation, Augustana College; Master of Music, Ithaca College; Doctor of Musical Arts, the University of Texas.

Current position: Kansas State University’s Director of the School of Music, Theatre and Dance; Professor of Trumpet.

Expertise: Trumpet.