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Vassar College announces new Dean of the Faculty Jonathan Chenette

Poughkeepsie, NY — Vassar College today announced the appointment of Jonathan Chenette, Associate Dean of the College and Blanche Johnson Professor of Music at Grinnell College, as Dean of the Faculty at Vassar College. Chenette, whose appointment will be effective July 21, also will be a Professor of Music on the Vassar faculty. He succeeds Ronald A. Sharp, who has served as Dean of the Faculty since 2003 and who is returning to his teaching and scholarship as a Professor of English at Vassar.

"We are extremely gratified with the selection of Jon Chenette, a gifted composer and highly respected teacher and administrator," said Vassar President Catharine Bond Hill. "His diverse experiences over a 25-year career at Grinnell, another top liberal arts college, will serve him and Vassar well as he assumes the Dean of the Faculty position here. I very much look forward to his joining us."

Chenette received his Ph.D. in Music Composition from the University of Chicago, following an M.M. in Music Composition from Butler University (Indianapolis, Ind.) and a B.A. in Mathematics from the University of Chicago. He has had fellowships or grants from the MacDowell Colony, the Iowa Arts Council, the American Composers Forum, and the American Music Center, among others.

Chenette has composed vocal and instrumental works in diverse genres, often treating the relationships between people and the land as a central theme. His major choral-orchestral work, Broken Ground, written in collaboration with six Iowa poets, premiered with the Des Moines Symphony in a concert broadcast statewide over public television. His music has had international recognition, including performances on the ISCM World Music Days in Amsterdam, at the World Harp Congress in Vienna, at the Bishop Auckland Early Music Festival in the U.K., and on international tours by several ensembles. His courses include music theory, composition, electronic music, counterpoint, computer music, orchestration, technology and the arts, multimedia art, Celtic music, and a freshman tutorial.

Other major works include the opera Eric Hermannson's Soul (1993), the song cycle Oh Millersville! (1990), and the orchestral works Chamber Symphony for 31 Instruments (1983), Triple Feature (1994), and Rural Symphony (2000). Commissioned works include Elegy and Affirmation for the Iowa Arts Council's "American Spirit" project in memory of the September 11 terrorist attacks, a collaboration with folk singer Bonnie Koloc on a choral-orchestral arrangement of her Love Song for Iowa for the Blanden Memorial Art Museum, an orchestration of the song cycle Oh Millersville! for the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra, and The Pale Queen of the Silent Night for the London-based early music group Virelai.

Chenette joined the Grinnell College faculty in 1983. He has served as department chair for eight years and was chair of the Humanities Division in 2003. He assumed the position of Associate Dean of the College in 2004.

As Associate Dean, his major responsibilities have included faculty contract review support, instructional and curricular support, off-campus study and internationalization, new faculty orientation and mentoring programs, and the oversight of a number of major grant-funded initiatives, including grants from the Lilly Endowment, the Freeman Foundation, and the Mellon Foundation. He also has had active roles in Grinnell's strategic planning process and on its campus-wide budget steering committee.

Chenette also has been active in the broader context of higher education, giving presentations on place-based education and teaching with technology at annual meetings of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, serving as the Grinnell College representative for a Consortium of Liberal Arts Colleges conference on "Teaching with Technology" and for the Associated Colleges of the Midwest conference on "Engaging Today's Students with the Liberal Arts: the First Year and Beyond," as well as serving as Grinnell's liaison to the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education. He served as chair for the Associated Colleges of the Midwest task force for revising the Chicago Arts Program and serves on a Fulbright Senior Specialists Peer Review Committee for Music.

He is married to Jeanmarie Kern Chenette, a harpist and music educator. They have three children, ages 25, 23, and 21.

Posted by Office of Communications Wednesday, May 28, 2008