Texas Tech University

Acclaimed Composer, Music Researcher Selected as VPA Dean

Heidi Toth

May 20, 2016


Noel Zahler has been an administrator and professor at Long Island University, Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Minnesota.

Noel Zahler
Noel Zahler

Noel Zahler, dean of the College of Arts, Communications and Design at the C.W. Post campus of Long Island University (LIU), has been selected as the new dean for the College of Visual & Performing Arts (VPA) at Texas Tech University.

Zahler, who has extensive experience in administration, fundraising and both international and interdisciplinary collaboration, said the research-intensive environment at Texas Tech drew him to the position. When he visited the campus, he also was impressed with the quality of the faculty and staff and the insatiable curiosity of the students.

“After being recognized by the Carnegie Foundation as one of the 81 public institutions in the top tier, Texas Tech is soaring as one of Texas' national research universities, and I want the College of Visual & Performing Arts to be part of the scholarship and creativity that drives the university to new heights,” he said. “I want to raise the visibility of the arts on campus, in the community, throughout the region, the nation and the world.”

Zahler has been dean of the College of Arts, Communication and Design at LIU since 2011. Prior to that he was head of the School of Music at Carnegie Mellon University for four years and University of Minnesota for three years. He spent 20 years at Connecticut College, ending his career there as the Sylvia Pasternak Marx Professor of Music.

While at LIU, Zahler increased recruitment among international students, authored articulation agreements with institutions in Norway, Saudi Arabia, Italy, China and others and created a Summer High School Honors Institute residency program for prospective students. He also worked with other colleges on campus, including the School of Health Professions and Nursing and the College of Management, to create collaborative programs.

“Dr. Zahler is an eminently qualified musician, composer and scholar, and we are excited to welcome him to the College of Visual & Performing Arts,” said Texas Tech Provost Lawrence Schovanec. “His experience working not only with other musicians but also in a college overseeing such a broad array of arts and communication will make him a great leader of this diverse college that plays such an essential role in our university and the community.”

In addition to raising VPA's profile throughout the nation, Zahler wants to create new multidisciplinary programs to give arts students a diversity of offerings, including collaborations with science and technology, health care, media, businesses, the social sciences and engineering, akin to the programs he implemented at LIU.

He trained as a classical guitarist and also plays, but does not perform on, the piano. His compositions, which are mostly in the post-modernist style, are for instrumental, vocal and electronic media. He has composed music for a variety of instruments and groups as well as interactive dance music, a virtual reality soundscape, a documentary, a number of computer animated videos and a chamber opera. In addition to writing and recording, Zahler created original software for musicians, including Score Follow, which follows a live performer and provides automatic accompaniment or spatialization as prescribed by the composer.

Zahler holds bachelor's and master's degrees from City University of New York's Queens College, a master of fine arts degree from Princeton University and a doctor of musical arts from Columbia University as well as a Certificato di Perfezionamento from L'Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, Italy. He also has studied at The Juilliard School.

He is the recipient of numerous awards and prizes, including a National Endowment for the Arts Consortium Commission, a Fulbright/Hayes Fellowship and an Aaron Copland Foundation Grant. Zahler has received funding from the National Science Foundation, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the Italian National Research Council.

He will start his new position on Sept. 1.