I was hired at The University of Akron immediately after earning my Master of Music (University of Arizona) in 1981, at the age of 23. As the first American DMA in guitar was not issued until the following year, I was "grandfathered in," permitting me to serve as any other faculty with a terminal degree. As a result, I never pursued a doctorate. I started as an Assistant Professor, and was tenured and promoted to Associate Professor in 1989. I received my final promotion to Full Professor in 1997.
In 1992, I was invited onto the faculty at Oberlin Conservatory of Music, as an adjunct (part-time) faculty member; I have held both teaching positions for 22 years. The Oberlin position began with three students only, but soon grew to a full studio of, normally, ten performance majors. Along with two Ensemble classes and a weekly Studio Class, it has felt every bit the full time job that my post at The University of Akron was. I have managed for twenty years to pack my full-time post into three days and my "part-time" post into two days. I have driven an hour-long commute each way, all five days.
When the governor and legislature of Ohio made changes to the pension system recently, they created incentives for public employees who've served a certain length of time to retire, as staying longer would now decrease their pensions (Akron is a public institution). I fell into this category. So, it was a decision that wasn't difficult. Going forward, I will dedicate myself to the musical life of Oberlin--a rich cultural environment indeed, and have some time to do other things as well, both musical and not.
My time in Akron was always fantastic. I had terrific, dedicated students, many of whom have remained great friends to this day and are a regular part of my life. I had wonderful, interesting colleagues, many of whom joined me over the years for chamber music or in the creation of new music, or, of course, in socializing. I always felt lucky to have the job. I often heard complaints from colleagues at the University about administration policies or budget cutbacks or other perceived indignities but I never payed much attention. I literally never got over the childishly gleeful sensation that I got to teach and listen to great music all day and got paid for it! To me, it was pure bliss. I knew all along about my many guitarist colleagues who were unemployed or underemployed, and how lucky I was. I worked hard at it--recruiting students, sponsoring events, performing locally, trying to be a part of the community there and impact the students, especially, in the most positive way possible. Much was achieved in my time there.
Forty-three MM candidates and forty-four BM candidates completed their degrees in guitar during my tenure at Akron. Guitar students presented chamber music by over 200 composers. We presented over 150 concerts by over 100 guest artists. I hosted the 1988 GFA Convention at U. Akron (featuring Julian Bream, Jorge Morel, Eliot Fisk, David Tanenbaum, David Russell, the LA Quartet and more). We had a lengthy series of mini-festivals and many summer workshops. I oversaw the placement of the GFA Archive at the University and, with the help of nearly a dozen Friends of the Library grants, built one of the largest classical guitar score and CD collections in the country in the University library. We established an endowed classical guitar major scholarship. Guitarists had a constant and vibrant presence in the School of Music, playing regularly in department recitals and special events in addition to their many solo and chamber music performances. I made great friends.
But this will be my final semester. I will turn my attention firmly towards Oberlin and my many other projects and let the future of the Akron program fall into new hands.
What will come of the position?? I've been waiting for a decision on whether or not the position will be filled this season by a regular national (or international) search, but I'm dismayed to report that it looks like this won't happen. While a firm decision still hasn't been made, it looks instead like the position will go to a one-year interim (full-time) teacher, with the prospects for a full, proper search taking place next year and a permanent replacement teacher starting in the fall of 2016. So, if you are interested in applying for the position, taking my place at The University of Akron, you'll have to stand by and check back. I will certainly post any news here and on Facebook, if there are developments. I am very interested in what happens. To the extent that any of us can leave a legacy, I'd love to see mine at Akron carried forward. But this is out of my hands. We can only wait, and see.
In the meantime, wish me well!!