New fine arts dean has operatic forte

8:24:08 AM CDT - Thursday, May 13, 2004

By Shannon Littlejohn

Rodney Miller, dean of the College of Fine Arts and Humanities at the University of Nebraska-Kearney since 1998, has been named the new dean of the College of Fine Arts.

Miller will arrive on campus June 6.

"I'm very excited to be coming to WSU," said Miller. "I've long admired Wichita State and its reputation especially in the fine arts."

Miller received his bachelor of music in voice from West Texas State University in 1974 and his master of music in voice performance from Indiana University in 1977, and was accepted to the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia in 1978-79. He completed his doctoral degree in higher education administration from Illinois State University in 1988.

Rodney Miller
Rodney Miller
As a professional singer, Miller has toured the United States, Europe and Asia in opera and concert performances since 1977. His repertoire of nearly 50 roles includes Mephistopheles, Figaro, Don Pasquale, Don Basilio and Emil deBeque. He has been on national broadcasts in the United States and in Europe, and has recorded for labels on both continents. Opera magazine has called him "a bass-baritone giant."

Although he served as an associate instructor of voice for Indiana University during his graduate studies from 1974-1977 and coordinator of voice instructor for Taylor University from 1977-78, Miller didn't commit to a full career in higher education until 1983. That year he became coordinator of voice and assistant/associate professor at Illinois State University. He later was director of vocal studies and associate professor at New York University from 1991-1998, and assistant arts dean at Montclair State University from 1995-1998.

Miller's creative successes and awards are myriad, and his community ties run deep in the areas he has served. He has cultivated a reputation as an enthusiastic and knowledgeable interpreter of 20th century operatic repertoire and has performed in the world premieres of nearly a dozen works for the Philadelphia Opera Company and Regensburg Stadttheater, among other companies.

Beyond music, Miller's research interests include the socio-cultural dynamics of higher education, particularly at the chair and dean's level.

Miller will take over for interim dean Elaine Bernstorf, a longtime faculty member who stepped up to serve the College of Fine Arts last summer when Steven Hedden left WSU after a year for a similar position at his alma mater, the University of Kansas.

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