An accomplished jazz musician who has written about both the power of a liberal arts education and the need for small private colleges to transform their classroom teaching was named the 11th president of Goucher College on Wednesday.
Jose Antonio Bowen, dean of the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University in Dallas for the past eight years, will take over from Sanford J. Ungar on July 1. Ungar announced last year that he would step down after leading the college for 13 years.
"I am thrilled with the selection. He brings a body of work that would be the envy of most any tenured professor anywhere," said Steven Klepper, president of the Goucher College Alumni Association. "He is energetic. He is forceful, and he is somebody who is not afraid to make changes to meet the challenges of the future while still holding true to the liberal arts education."
The 52-year-old pianist has spent most of his career teaching and writing about music, but he is also author of "Teaching Naked: How Moving Technology Out of Your College Classroom Will Improve Student Learning." The book won the Ness Award from the American Association of Colleges and Universities.
Bowen argues in the book that the goal of a liberal arts college should not be to stuff students full of information but to teach them how to filter, synthesize and analyze information.
"The goal of learning is learning how to learn," he said in an interview.
Bowen said he was attracted to Goucher because "it is a very serious place, really focused on changing lives and really dedicated to teaching."
Colleges and universities should be rethinking the job of a professor, he said, "because what we have to do is prepare the mind for the unknown. ... If you learn how to learn and how to integrate new facts and change your world view," the degree is worth far more.
La Jerne Cornish, chair of the faculty, said Bowen was "electric in his presentation to the faculty. My colleagues are impressed with his accomplishments to date."
She said he seemed like a man with new ideas who understood the importance of access, diversity and inclusion, values espoused by the institution.
The 52-year-old California native began an accomplished career in music at 23 when he composed Symphony No. 1, which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. That might have launched a career as a composer, but he became disenchanted when he went to graduate school. He said he wanted to compose in the style of the Romantics, but his professors wanted him to write contemporary works, which he said he tried unsuccessfully.
"I couldn't write because I couldn't do what I wanted to do," he said.
He turned to jazz, and in 1982 became director of jazz ensembles at Stanford University. In 1994, he moved to England to become the director of the Centre for the History and Analysis of Recorded Music at the University of Southampton. There he taught performance, the history of music and composition.
In 1999, he returned to the United States to become the Caestecker Chair of Music at Georgetown University, where he created and directed the department of performing arts. He was dean of fine arts at Miami University in Ohio before taking the job at SMU.
He has a band, called Jampact, that plays occasionally around the country and abroad. He has performed worldwide with Dizzy Gillespie, Bobby McFerrin, Dave Brubeck, and Liberace.
His wife, Kimberly, retired after 24 years in the field of aerospace adhesives. Their 21-year-old daughter will graduate this year from SMU. He and his wife will live on the Goucher campus.
He holds four degrees from Stanford: a bachelor's in chemistry, a master's in music composition, a master's in humanities and a doctorate in both musicology and humanities.
For Goucher students interested in music, the new president may become a fellow performer on campus. He can be found every few weeks playing on the steps of a building with Meadows School of the Arts students.
Jose Antonio Bowen
Personal: married to wife, Kimberly; 21-year-old daughter
Work highlights: Dean of the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University; Caestecker Chair of Music at Georgetown University; director of jazz ensembles at Stanford University; dean of fine arts at Miami University
Education: bachelor's in chemistry, master's in music composition, master's in humanities, doctorate in both musicology and humanities, all from Stanford UniversityCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun