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Dean Robert Blocker to retire in August 2023

Dean Robert Blocker

Dean Robert Blocker. Photo by Matt Fried

Today we share the bittersweet news that after 28 years, Robert Blocker, the Henry and Lucy Moses Dean of Music at Yale, will retire at the end of August 2023. Dean Blocker will continue to serve on the Yale School of Music faculty as Professor of Piano, and at the Yale School of Management as an affiliate Professor of Leadership Strategies.

Prior to his appointment at Yale, Dean Blocker was the founding Dean of the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture, and held a joint appointment at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management. He also served as Dean at the University of North Texas College of Music and at Baylor University’s School of Music. An accomplished pianist, Dean Blocker has performed for audiences around the world and has been described by the Los Angeles Times as an artist of “great skill and accomplishment” who performs with “a measurable virtuoso bent and considerable musical sensitivity.”

“Serving our School of Music and Yale University as the Henry and Lucy Moses Dean of Music has been an unimaginable privilege and joy,” Dean Blocker said in an email to the YSM community. “What makes this School truly special to me are the people who have taught, studied, performed, and worked here.”

In an announcement to the Yale community, University President Peter Salovey said, “It has been a privilege to work closely with Dean Blocker. His wisdom and vision, commitment to excellence in education and scholarship, bold creativity, and principled leadership have redefined the School, and his immense contributions will be felt for generations to come.”

“Since he arrived at the Yale School of Music in 1995,” Salovey said, “Dean Blocker has established a thriving intellectual and creative environment” and has secured extraordinary gifts that have provided full-tuition scholarships to all YSM students, formalized the Music in Schools Initiative, and dramatically transformed the School of Music campus with major renovations to Sprague Memorial Hall and Leigh Hall and the construction of the Adams Center for Musical Arts, which is home to School of Music and Department of Music facilities. Dean Blocker has also overseen renovation projects at the Yale Summer School of Music/Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, the Morris Steinert Collection of Musical Instruments, and the building at 143 Elm Street.

During his time at Yale, Dean Blocker developed relationships with colleagues in China, organizing a Cultural Olympiad in partnership with Central Conservatory of Music (Beijing) President Wang Cizhao that presented the Yale Philharmonia in performances in Beijing, Shanghai, and Seoul on the eve of the 2008 Summer Olympics. Dean Blocker’s vision of a more hopeful world is also reflected in his “belief that increasing access to education is essential for creating lasting, positive change in society,” Salovey wrote.

“As I prepare to pass the keys of responsibility to my successor,” Dean Blocker told the YSM community, “I do so with the confidence and comfort of knowing the School is in your caring hands and hearts.”

Salovey said he “will soon form a search advisory committee to identify candidates to serve as the next dean of the School of Music” and “will be in close communication with the school’s community throughout the search process.”

In April, the School of Music will hold an event to celebrate the remarkable legacy Dean Blocker will leave when he retires from the deanship. His retirement will also be celebrated in the next issue of the School’s alumni magazine, Music at Yale.

Please join us in celebrating Dean Blocker’s visionary leadership and the dedication he has brought to his immeasurably consequential work.