The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us


100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0072; fax (319) 384-0024

Release: Aug. 18, 2000

Nelson named director of new Division Of Performing Arts

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Linda Maxson, dean of the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Iowa, has announced the formation of a new unit in the college: the Division of Performing Arts, combining the department of dance, the department of theatre arts and the School of Music.

Professor David Nelson, who has headed the School of Music since 1991, was selected by the combined faculty of those areas as director of the new division.

Following Nelson's selection to head the division, the music faculty chose Kristin Thelander as the director of the School of Music. Thelander joined the music faculty in 1989 to teach horn. She served as associate director of the School of Music in 1990-91 and was associate director for instructional support during the past academic year.

Other chairs within the division -- Professor David Berkey in dance and Professor Alan MacVey in theatre arts -- will continue in their current positions.

The three academic units in the division will continue to operate their academic program independently, Maxson said, while their performance programs and administrative functions would operate jointly under the director.

The Division of Performing Arts was formed July 1, after a vote by the faculties of the three areas. That decision followed two years of discussion by the separate faculties.

"I am delighted that the faculty chose David Nelson to head the division," Maxson said. "David is well acquainted with the activities of each department in the division and will work with their chairs and director to stimulate and support the artistic and academic interaction of students and faculty across the division.

"The college's strength in the performing arts is long-standing," she said. "Our history of excellence in these areas goes back to the leadership of Philip Greeley Clapp and Himie Voxman in music and of E. C. Mabie in theatre arts. Dance, which emerged as a full-fledged department in 1990, quickly rose to distinction under the leadership of Françoise Martinet."

The closer interaction of dance, music, and theatre arts within the Division of Performing Arts is expected to give added stature and visibility to these programs. The division is also planning a more coordinated performance schedule for the three departments and more coordinated educational programming for the state and region.

The creation of the division is an innovation for liberal arts as well as for these three units, since no similar collaborative structure exists elsewhere in the college. "The divisional structure recognizes the potential for excellence of our three performing arts units, which have many strengths

in common," Maxson said. "In their public outreach, all three units emphasize the production of new works. All have young and highly promising faculties who are making themselves nationally known in performance, design, choreography, playwriting, and musical composition, as well as in the history and theory of music, theatre, and dance."

Nelson is a music educator and conductor as well as a violinist with professional orchestral and chamber music experience. Before coming to the UI, he was on the faculty and directed the School of Music at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He also served as director of the School of Music Institute, director of Summer Music Clinics, coordinator of String Development and director of Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras.

He is the author of scholarly articles in music psychology, music cognition and pedagogy. His articles have appeared in scholarly and professional publications, including American String Teacher, the Journal of Research in Music Education, Psychology of Music and Canadian Music Educator. He holds degrees from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and the University of Texas at Austin. He has served as editor of the journal Dialogue in Instrumental Music Education, was a member of the Council for Research in Music Education, and served on the Commission on Accreditation for the National Association of Schools of Music.