Text title treatment: Dialogue with the Deans

School of Music

Gary Mortenson, Dean


What is the greatest challenge or opportunity that students in Baylor's School of Music will face, and how is Baylor preparing them to face/address it?

Both a challenge and an opportunity for the School of Music is to prepare our students for how quickly music is changing in the world today. We have a responsibility to uphold the traditions of the past, but every day new types of music are being added to that repertoire. Musicians who thrive in the future will need to be versatile and adaptable as the creative process changes all around them.

What do you hope students in the School of Music gain during their time at Baylor?

Our students must always strive toward ever higher musical goals. I hope that they never get comfortable in their studies as I believe we need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. History has taught us that great music is born out of coming to terms with challenge and disruption. It's always been that way and will always continue to be that way.

What is the most significant thing Baylor graduates from the School of Music offer to the world?

Baylor graduates exude the highest artistic ideals grounded in their strong faith in Christian principles. In an increasingly secular world, that is a wonderful distinction to carry out into the world.

What is the most exciting/meaningful thing about being dean of Baylor's School of Music?

The most meaningful aspect about people placing their trust in me as a leader is the strong sense of responsibility I feel to live up to that trust, and always to strive to represent the University and the discipline of music to the very best of my ability. Servant-based leadership is the only model I'm interested in pursuing as my career in administration unfolds.

Do you have a mentor/memory or experience from your time at Baylor (or elsewhere) that deeply influenced who/where you are today?

In my last trumpet lesson with Raymond Crisara at the University of Texas at Austin, I asked him if he could distill his educational philosophy down to its simplest form. He thought for a moment and then said, "I try to treat my students as though they are colleagues with less experience." Those words have stayed with me all during my professional and educational career. Mr. Crisara was a fantastic musician and teacher, but an even greater human being.

Is there anything you want alumni or parents to know about you or your plans for the School of Music? Please explain.

When parents trust the education of their sons and daughters to Baylor University, I want them to know that I feel a personal sense of responsibility to do the best I can for our music majors and minors at every phase of their student careers, and that this sense of duty extends into our graduates' lives after they leave the University.

The School of Music at Baylor University will constantly strive to get better and will never rest on our past accomplishments. To move forward you have to strive to do your best in each class, lesson and performance, every semester. If you are not working at getting better each day, you are losing momentum and that is simply not acceptable in today's competitive world.