AUSTIN, Texas—Dr. Robert Freeman, an accomplished pianist and musicologist who served as director of the prestigious Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester for 24 years, has been named dean of the College of Fine Arts at The University of Texas at Austin. His appointment is effective Jan. 16, 2000.
Dr. Sheldon Ekland-Olson, UT Austin executive vice president and provost, announced Freeman’s appointment Tuesday (Nov. 30). Freeman replaces Dr. David Deming, who left the University to become president of the Cleveland Institute of Art.
During his tenure at Eastman from 1972 to 1996, Freeman strengthened the faculty and the concept of faculty self-governance, improved alumni relations and oversaw $50 million in new construction and $20 million in rebuilding on campus. He also reorganized the school’s admissions program, resulting in a 90 percent increase during the period 1974-92 in numbers of completed applications, and he played a leading role in the University’s fundraising efforts.
In its most recent rankings, the U.S. News & World Report named the Eastman School of Music the nation’s leading music school.
“Bob Freeman brings a wealth of experience and an energetic, broad-based understanding of the fine arts to our campus,” Ekland-Olson said. “We are delighted he will be joining us at this critical time.”
Freeman received an undergraduate degree from Harvard College in 1957 and his master’s degree and Ph.D. from Princeton University. Before becoming the director at Eastman, Freeman taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton, and was a visiting associate professor at Harvard University. Most recently, he served as president of the New England Conservatory of Music.
“I have spent my entire career looking for ways to connect music to other disciplines, and I hope to continue this at Texas,” said Freeman. “I look forward to presiding over a lively discussion of what the arts will look like in America in the year 2025 and even 2050 — and of what education and skills students in the fine arts will need to be professionally successful at that time.”
Freeman said it was important for faculty and administrators at any college or university to provide not only the best artistic training for its students, but to try to see that they receive as broad a general education as possible, too. “A student should aim continually for the highest artistic level, but at the same time realize the breadth of other challenging opportunities in the arts and elsewhere. Not everyone can be Itzhak Perlman or Yo-Yo Ma.”
Dr. Oscar Brockett, UT professor of theater and dance and chairman of the search committee, said Freeman is an extremely effective leader, having served as head of two leading American music schools.
“We believe that his broad-ranging interests will serve to support and strengthen the many excellent programs already in place in the College of Fine Arts,” said Brockett, who is a member of the UT Academy of Distinguished Teachers. “We also believe that his relationship with numerous supporters of the arts both in America and abroad will help gain great recognition of Texas’s strengths. We look forward to working with him.”
Freeman has written articles and delivered numerous papers on the subject of musical education. He also has received several fellowships, including a Fulbright Fellowship, and research grants from the Whiting Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. In 1982, he received the Civic Medal from the Rochester Chamber of Commerce for his efforts in downtown revitalization.